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Expert Reviews 2 of 3
By Jim Mateja
September 6, 1992
If big is better, just how good is a behemoth? For the 1993 model year,Cadillac has taken the oldest model in its lineup, the rear-wheel-driveBrougham, and given it even more size along with a new look-and a new name. Actually, Brougham gets an
old name. What had been the Brougham is nowcalled the Fleetwood and Fleetwood Brougham. Fleetwood had been the moniker onthe uplevel DeVille, but for 1993 that model is the DeVille Sixty Special. For1994, the Sixty Special becomes the Concours, when the
DeVille line getsrestyled. Oops, back to `93. Call it what you will, the `93 Fleetwood we test-drove is massive. Manyautomakers boast that they offer a six-passenger car. Most fall short of sixpeople by at least one or two bodies. Not the
Fleetwood. You get six people in, and each can wear a coat andhat and a couple of them can carry a briefcase. A 4.1-inch stretch in lengthand roughly 2.5-inch expansion in width helps provide family den-type room.Wheelbase stays 121.5 inches, but length
swells to 224.9 inches. The larger dimensions not only provide greater leg and arm stretch roomin the front and back, but enough space in the trunk to hold each occupant`sluggage. The only problem is that if all six occupants are golfers,
you`llnever fit all their clubs. You probably could fit only four sets-and thecaddie-in this Caddy. While styling is fresh, thanks to slightly more rounded body lines, thedistinctive Cadillac look is evident from the egg-crate grille and
stand-uphood ornament to the vertical taillight treatment. In terms of old Brougham versus new Fleetwood, old Brougham owners are in for a few pleasant surprises in ride, handling and performance. Though bigger,the Fleetwood feels much more nimble
than the old Brougham. You don`t have to start turning the wheel two blocks before the corner to make the swing. Speed-sensitive power steering contributes to more precise, moreeffortless maneuverability when you head at low speed into the corner
or turn or into or out of the narrow parking space-and when you`re in a 78-inch-wideFleetwood, every parking space becomes narrow. Power steering effort increasesat higher speeds so you have a greater feeling of being in control moving intoor out of the
passing lane or taking that bend in the interstate at 65 milesper hour without floating. The steering system is designed so that theFleetwood doesn`t handle like a truck, even though it`s larger than mostpickups. However, don`t expect sports-car
suspension. As Cadillac officialsexplained, those who opt for a Fleetwood or the top-of-the-line FleetwoodBrougham want a softer ride. That`s what you`ll get. But there was a bit more up and down movement over bumps than we`d like to put up with day in
and dayout. Power is provided by the 5.7-liter, 185-horsepower V-8 that`s standardfor `93 after being optional in the Brougham for 1992. It`s teamed with aquiet four-speed automatic. So
me Cadillac loyalists might ask why the new 4.6-liter, 295-h.p. 32-valve North Star V-8 wasn`t put under the hood of thenew car. Cadillac says a new engine, in addition to new styling, would havebeen too much at once. Despite more rounded body
lines to reduce air drag, the mileage ratingfor the `93 Fleetwood is the same as for the `92 Brougham-16 miles per gallon city and 25 m.p.g. highway, which may be another reason the 295-h.p. NorthStar wasn`t added. Cadillac wanted to avoid a gas-guzzler
tax. But that`s not to say Cadillac couldn`t come up with a more fuel-efficient version of the North Star for the Fleetwood soon. That should bepriority No. 1 at Cadillac. The aerodynamics of the sheet metal help in a couple of
respects,however. Even with the windows down, wind noise and turbulence was noticeably lower than in the `92 version. And with rounded corners reducing air drag, the5.7-liter V-8 seemed even quicker. You find yourself looking at 70 m.p.h. on
the speedometer when you`d swear you were at 55. The added size and bevy of standard equipment meant added weight and nogain in mileage. Cadillac officials boast that at least they didn`t losemileage and still avoided the gas-guzzler tax. We hope
they`ll take theoffensive to boost mileage rather than being defensive on fuel economy andsettling for less than a mileage improvement. And there are a couple of other changes we`d make soon. The first wouldbe to toss the sideview mirrors and
replace them with a couple more practical units. The car is as big, if not bigger, than some boats, but the outsidemirrors are a pair of dinghies. Visibility suffers. On Detroit expressways, wefound we didn`t have a full field of vision, and cars
coming up in the passinglane often surprised us when they pulled dead even. We felt as if we weretrying to navigate a battleship by looking out a porthole. If, as Cadillac says, its owners are older and supposedly their visionisn`t what it was when
they were 21, why penalize them with such tiny mirrors? It seems even odder that Cadillac got stingy on the mirrors when it wentall-out for safety on the `93 Fleetwood by making driver- and passenger-sideair bags standard, as well as anti-lock brakes
and traction control. ABS helpsstop you in a straight line by keeping the wheels from locking up even if the pavement is covered with snow, ice or rain; traction control keeps the wheels from spinning while starting off on slick surfaces. If the wheels
start tospin, computer sensors first activate brakes, then reduce throttle power tomaximize traction. The passenger-side air bag is unusual. Unlike cars in which the air bagis stored where the glove box used to be on the face of the dash, the bag
inthe Fleetwood is on top of the dash. You can see a large rectangular coverhiding the inflatable cushion. With that location, Cadillac said, it candirect the bag`s inflation so it protects the person sitting in the middle of the seat as well as the far
right-hand passenger. Other notable features for `93 include a thick steering wheel to give the driver more of a feeling of control than with one of the wafer-thin decorativevariety; a convenient cassette and compact disc holder in the center
console; dual cupholders and coin holder in the center console; garage door opener and sunglasses holders in the roof above the rearview mirror. Also, front seat bottoms that move forward or backward independently ofthe seat back; rust-resistant
lower bodyside moldings; side-window defoggers; lighted driver and passenger window switches for convenient use at night;speed-sensitive volume on the radio-the faster you go, the louder it plays on its own, so you don`t have to fiddle with the knobs;
long-life platinum-tippedspark plugs; long-life stainless steel exhaust; and anti-theft pass key thatfits only your ignition. Also, there`s retained accessory power so you can
keep listening to theradio or raise and lower the windows even after you`ve stopped and turned off the ignition; rear-seat air/heat ducts; a horizontal track in the door pillar holding the shoulder belt that avoids tangles in the belt and makes it
mucheasier to use (so why not a sliding up-and-down track so the belt can beadjusted for a variety of occupant heights?); the turn signal indicator getslouder if left on (another concession to older drivers, so again, whyminuscule sideview mirrors?); and
a special power drain feature so that if youexit the car and leave lights or any power accessory on, it`ll shut off after a few minutes to save the battery from losing all power. We also appreciated the expansive dash, which in some respects
resembledthat on the front-wheel-drive plastic-body GM mini-vans such as the PontiacTrans Sport. Base price for the Fleetwood is $33,990. Cadillac is quick to point outFleetwood is about $10,000 less than a Lexus. Add $1,
680 for a Fleetwood Brougham, which differs from the Fleetwood byadding a full vinyl roof top covering, power memory seats, articulatingheadrests, rear-seat armrest stowage with dual cupholders, rear-seat vanitymirrors, cast aluminum wheels, CD player,
full-size spare rather than the miniin the base model, leather seats and standard 7,000-pound trailer towing(optional in Fleetwood). With the trailer towing package, Cadillac boaststhe Fleetwood has the highest-rated capacity in the industry.