2001 Cadillac DeVille

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2001 Cadillac DeVille
Available in 3 styles:  2001 Cadillac DeVille 4dr Sedan shown
Asking Price Range
$1,767–$8,079
Estimated MPG

17 city / 27 hwy

Expert Reviews

    Expert Reviews 2 of 3

By 

chicagotribune.com
Once the industry's top-selling luxury car, Cadillac now ranks fifth behind Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Lincoln.

Lots of reasons for the decline, one being more luxury cars from which to choose, especially entry-level vehicles around $30,000, where Cadillac flubbed with the Catera in the 1997 model year, a nice midsize, rear-wheel-drive sedan that failed to generate interest because it looked like a Chevy.

Fool 'em once, as Cadillac tried with the Cimarron, a Chevrolet Cavalier with leather seats and Cadillac crest in the grille in the '80s, but not twice, as it tried with Catera.

Others argue Cadillac suffers from styling gone bleak. Valid argument, except that nothing in the luxury segment forces eyes to pop from sockets.

One reason for Cadillac's woes hasn't gotten a lot of notice. Cadillac has been a technological innovator (OK, some flubs, like the V-8-6-4 as well as diesel engines in the '80s) and has pioneered of a variety of high-tech systems the luxury crowd craves.

But the systems are inside or underneath so you can't see, smell, taste or touch them.

For example, Cadillac brought out StabiliTrak to keep the vehicle pointed in the direction you wanted to go regardless of road surface thanks to sensors that corrected for oversteer or understeer to prevent slip, slide or skid.

And then it added road-sensing suspension to even out the rough spots on the pavement by adjusting suspension softness or firmness every 6 to 7 inches of roadway travel to control body and wheel motion.

And the Cadillac Northstar V-8 is every bit as good as the V-8-6-4 was bad.

Cadillac also pioneered OnStar emergency communications to summon mechanical or medical help, and Night Vision, an infrared heat imaging system to project on the lower windshield whatever is lurking in or along the road regardless of darkness or weather.

Yet these are all take-it-for-granted systems. When you don't skid, you don't tip your hat to StabiliTrak, you pat yourself on the back for being a skilled driver.

We tested a pair of offerings that epitomize Cadillac's past, the 2001 DeVille DTS, and its future, the 2002 Escalade all-wheel-drive sport-utility vehicle.

The '02 Escalade has been redesigned so it doesn't look like the thinly disguised (leather seats/Cadillac crest in grille) derivative of the GMC Yukon/Chevy Tahoe SUVs it has been since it was rushed to market in the middle of the 1999 model year, when Cadillac saw folks standing in line for large SUVs with Lincoln logos in the grille.

The 2002 Escalade sports the Cadillac look of the future, with sharply chiseled body lines and grille/hood that borrows its design from Cadillac concepts, the Evoq roadster in 1999 and the Imaj sedan in 2000. That's the same design theme to be used in the Catera replacement; a Luxury-Activity Vehicle, or LAV, sport-ute/wagon; and a two-seat roadster in the '03 timeframe, as w ell as an assortment of redesigned vehicles beyond that, many rear-wheel-drive.

With its bold front end; flared, sharply creased wheel wells; and large, protective plastic lower body extensions, the '02 Escalade doesn't look like a Yukon/Tahoe.

And Escalade has StabiliTrak to help it behave like a family sedan; road-sensing suspension to ensure the boat doesn't float; responsive steering system so it acts like a sport-ute half its size; and OnStar in case you need mechanical or medical help, or, heaven forbid, to locate the vehicle if stolen with the system's global positioning satellites.

And there are little touches, like pushing a button so the power outside mirrors fold up and aren't bumped in the carwash; perforated leather seats that breathe so you stay dry in the summer; enough power plugs for a fleet of cellphones or computers; and three rows of seats to hold the family.

However, with three rows of seats in use, you don't have a lot of car room behind. And to get to the third seat, you have to fold the second seat back and climb over. At least when you need more cargo room, the third row quickly flips and folds out of the way.

The 6-liter, 345-horsepower V-8 in the 4WD Escalade we tested is alert off the line or into and out of the passing lane, while being smooth and quiet.

At a time when many folks are hiding their eyes when passing SUV showrooms and/or gas pumps, Escalade sales are up 38 percent since March, when the 2002 model began arriving at dealerships.

Base price: $49,290. Only option is a power sunroof, overpriced at $1,550. A less expensive $47,290 two-wheel-drive Escalade for the Sun Belt with a 5.3-liter, 285-h.p. V-8 has been added for 2002.

David Schiavone, assistant brand manager for Escalade, said the sales target for this year is about 32,000 units. In the fall, Cadillac will add an EXT, basically Escalade with a small pickup bed, a luxury clone of the Avalanche SUV/truck hybrid from Chevy.

Turning to DeVille, we tested the five-seat DTS (with buckets and a center console; six seats in DHS with bench), which has all the electronic magic in Escalade. It has the size and weight that luxury buyers favor, at least the older luxury buyers to whom bigger is better and who still weep at the loss of tailfins. (The new breed of luxury buyer tends to favor smaller, lighter, more nimble entry-level types.)

DeVille is powered by a quiet, yet powerful 4.6-liter, 300-h.p. Northstar V-8 (275 h.p. in DHS) with another novel but rarely noticed feature, starter disengage so that if you mistakenly twist the key to the "on" position while idling, the starter disengages to prevent the metallic grind that notifies all around that a goofus forgot the engine was running and tried to start it again.

Continuously variable, road-sensing suspension provides a smoother ride and more sure-footed handling without lean, sway or float than many luxury sedans deliver. While Japanese luxury sedans tend to rock you to sleep if not bore you to tears, DeVille, like European luxury sedans, allows you to enjoy the driving experience.

And there's StabiliTrak, OnStar, Night Vision, four-wheel anti-lock brakes, all-speed traction control, rain-sensing wipers with wiper-activated headlamps, 12-way power heated and massaging (rollers that move up and down) front seats/heated rear seats and ultrasonic rear parking assist that uses visual and audio warnings of how close you are to objects (a car when parking, a child on a bike when leaving the driveway) when backing up.

The cabin is roomy and cozy, front to rear, and the trunk lets you slip the golf bags in and out without hang-up.

A fault? Sure, the tail end looks bulky and bulbous. And the DTS designation leaves us cold. But DeVille can't be blamed for its biggest fault, the fact Cadillac doesn't have a noteworthy $30,000 companion to get young folks into the family so they'll move up to DeVille and eventually Escalade as income and age increase.

Base price: $46,267. Only option really needed is Night Vision, at a stiff $2,250.

For 2003 the Catera replacement, to be called CTS, will be built off GM's new Sigma platform, which reportedly will be shared by the LAV and next-generation DeVille and Seville, but not Eldorado, which will be dropped.


    Expert Reviews 2 of 3

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