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Expert Reviews 1 of 3
By Jim Flammang
February 5, 2003
Vehicle Overview The 2003 Cadillac DeVille gets only modest changes, which include new Michelin tires for the DTS edition that promise improve ride and handling. An XM Satellite Radio system became optional during the 2002 model year. A tire-pressure monitor is now standard, the taillights have been revised, and the mirrors now sport turn-signal indicators. A fixed shoulder-belt tower replaces the prior movable version, and a navigation system is newly available for the base DeVille.
Cadillac redesigned its full-size front-wheel-drive sedan for the 2000 model year, softening its shape and making it the first car to offer Night Vision. Employing infrared, heat-sensing technology, Night Vision projects an image of the road ahead into a head-up display ahead of the windshield.
Exterior More rounded and bulky in appearance than DeVilles of the recent and distant past, the sedan is 207 inches long overall and rides a 115.3-inch wheelbase. GMs StabiliTrak electronic stability system is standard on the DTS sedan and optional on other trim levels.
Interior A split, front bench seat is standard in the base and DHS models. The DTS comes only with front bucket seats and a floor-mounted shift lever. The backseat has ample legroom even when the front seats are moved all the way back. The trunk lid swings open 90 degrees, and the trunk has a low liftover height for easy loading. Its cargo volume is 19.1 cubic feet.
GMs standard OnStar communication system can be fitted with premium services. Personal Calling allows hands-free voice-activated calls from the car without an additional cellular phone contract, while Virtual Advisor provides Internet-based information through voice activation.
Under the Hood The base Deville and DHS are equipped with Cadillacs 275-horsepower, 4.6-liter Northstar V-8, while the DTS comes with a 300-hp version of that engine. Both power plants can run on regular fuel, but Cadillac recommends the use of premium gasoline for the best performance and fuel economy. Each V-8 works with a four-speed-automatic transmission.
Safety Using infrared, heat-sensing technology, optional Night Vision uses a camera mounted in the grille to let the driver see three to five times farther than the headlamps can reach. An ultrasonic rear parking-assist system is optional.
Side-impact airbags are standard for the front seats and optional for rear-seat positions. The front airbag on the passenger side also protects the middle passenger.
Driving Impressions The DeVille is a Cadillac in the old mode, but it comes packed with modern technology and gadgetry. Strong Northstar V-8 performance blends with admirable transmission operation in the smooth-functioning powertrain. Downshifts are prompt and certain, yet smooth and nearly gentle. From a standstill, the DTS practically leaps ahead, responding almost as effectively for passing and merging. At certain speeds, response is a little less vigorous.
The DeVille steers with a light touch and doesnt feel as taut as some competitors, especially among the import brands. The easygoing, genteel ride isnt as woozy or floaty as Cadillacs of the past.
The seats are big, relatively soft and reasonably supportive. The instruments in the DTS are exceptionally easy to read. Engine noise is blissfully subdued and muted, and other sounds are minimal. Visibility is generally good, but the back window is a tad squat and massive rear roof pillars may limit the drivers view for parking and lan