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By Jim Flammang
July 31, 2003
Vehicle Overview An armored edition that is available in both standard and stretch versions joins the Cadillac DeVille lineup for 2004. Heated and cooled front seats are now standard in the DHS and DTS sedans and optional in the base DeVille; a heated steering wheel is included. Cadillac’s adaptive seat feature has been dropped, and a manual parking-brake release is now used.
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 into a head-up display ahead of the windshield. Thus, the driver can see three to five times farther than the headamps’ reach. Night Vision is newly optional for the base DeVille. Two versions of Cadillac’s Northstar V-8 engine are available.
Exterior The DeVille is more rounded and bulky in appearance than models of the 1990s and before. The sedan is 207 inches long overall and rides a 115.3-inch wheelbase. GM’s 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 holds 19.1 cubic feet and has a low liftover for easy loading; its lid swings open 90 degrees.
GM’s standard OnStar communication system can be fitted with premium services. An XM Satellite Radio and a navigation system are offered as options.
Under the Hood The base and DHS versions are equipped with Cadillac’s 275-horsepower, 4.6-liter Northstar V-8, while a 300-hp version of that engine is installed in the DTS. Both V-8s works with a four-speed-automatic transmission and can run on regular fuel, but Cadillac recommends premium gasoline for peak performance and fuel economy.
Safety 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. An ultrasonic rear parking-assist system is optional.
Driving Impressions The DeVille may be a Cadillac of the old school, 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. The DTS practically leaps ahead from a standstill and responds almost as effectively for passing and merging. At certain speeds, the response is a little less vigorous. The DeVille steers with a light touch and doesn’t feel as taut as some competitors, especially those in the ranks of some import brands. The easygoing, genteel ride isn’t as woozy or floaty as Cadillacs of the past.
The seats are big, relatively soft and reasonably supportive, and 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; the back window is a tad squat, and massive rear roof pillars may limit the driver’s view for parking and lane changes.