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1998 Cadillac Seville

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1998 Cadillac Seville
Available in 2 styles:  Seville 4dr Sedan SLS shown
Asking Price Range
Estimated MPG

17 city / 26 hwy

Expert Reviews

    Expert Reviews 3 of 10
1998 Cadillac Seville 4.8 5
$ 655-6,411
April 17, 1998

I was riding on the wheels of a dream, the 1998 Cadillac Seville STS. It is a luxury car -- and much more. It is a fantasy, a motorized talisman, a car that seems to make everything okay.

Unfortunately, it is a Cadillac in a world where Cadillac no longer means automotive excellence. It is what happens to a dream deferred. Things turn ugly and remain that way, at least in public perception,even when beauty takes root again.

Everyone wants to be respected. There was a time when owning a Cadillac did the trick. You were somebody in a 1948 Cadillac Fleetwood 60 Special Derham sedan, with its rear aircraft fins, big whitewall tires, and mighty V-8 engine. People took notice.

Cadillacs then, and for two decades thereafter, were regarded as the finest cars in the land. People dreamed of owning them, of movin' on up in self-esteem. But those dreams turned to lust; and lust, in this case, corrupted what was good.

As Cadillac gained mass appeal, division executives did their bit to hurt the image of the car. They stripped out quality in favor of gimcrackery, and substituted marketing for technological innovation. Meanwhile, competitors were closing in; and Cadillac's ranks of admirers were reduced to people who were old enough to remember Cadillac's glory days.

Overcoming such history is difficult, as evidenced by much of the public's reaction to the 1998 Seville STS. Some people dismissed it automatically, because it wore the Cadillac badge. But when they sat in it, rode in it, drove it, they were overcome with awe. "This is a Cadillac!?" they asked.

I assured them that it was, indeed, a Cadillac. They compared it favorably to a Lexus LS400, a Five-series BMW, an E-Class Mercedes-Benz. They said it was a competitor, but . . . "I just feel funny driving a Cadillac," one woman said.

Too bad. The 1998 Seville STS (Seville Touring Sedan) is a splendid car, capable of running against any luxury car in the global auto market, which is where Cadillac hopes it will sell. The new Seville can be ordered with the steering wheel on the left or the right, with the right-hand models headed overseas.

The car's overall bona fides are genuine, beginning with its Northstar V-8 engine, which compares favorably to any engine in its class. In the Seville STS, that double overhead-cam, 32-valve V-8 can produce 275 horsepower at 5,600 rpm and 300 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm. A 300-horsepower version of that engine is available in the Seville SLS (Seville Luxury Sedan).

But Northstar is more than a power plant. It is a complete drive and suspension system, with one part working in precise cooperation with the other. Don't just take my word for it. Drive it against, say, a Mercedes-Benz E420. Compare the prices and see for yourself which car comes out ahead.

An electronically controlled, four-speed automatic transmission is standard in both the Seville SLS and STS. Other standard items include power four-wheel disc brakes with antilock backup and traction control.

The layout is front-engine, front-wheel-drive. The car seats five adults in sophisticated interior comfort -- an ergonomically excellent instrument panel, Zebrano wood trim, deep-pile carpeting, leather-faced seats, dual-zone temperature controls, the works. A very fine car.

1998 Cadillac Seville STS

Complaints: Actually, more of a concern: How do you keep the music playing when almost everyone in the audience wants you to change the name of the tune?

Praise: Overall excellent craftsmanship and build quality on the production models. I've been monitoring this car's development for a couple of years. Some pre-production versions had some fit-and-finish, computer and handling glitches that Cadillac corrected as soon as they were pointed outby test drivers. There was a time when Cadillac would have ignored those complaints.

Ride, acceleration and handling: Aces all around. An indisputably comfortable and capable long-di tance runner. Excellent braking.

Safety: Top marks for body structure, including a seamless floor pan and reinforced door hems, all designed to reduce the chances of interior intrusion in crashes. Dual front and side air bags, four in all. Lap-shoulder belts at all five seating positions. Active safety, highlighted by Cadillac's StabiliTrak traction control system, which helps the driver control the car in panic situations and on slippery roads.

Head-turning quotient: Younger people ignored it. Older people were impressed.

Sound system: Eight-speaker AM/FM stereo radio and cassette with mini-CD changer. Patented Radio Data System that tells you more than you'll ever want to know about what's playing. Bose speakers, which are excellent.

Mileage: About 26 miles per gallon on recommended premium unleaded. Fuel tank holds 18.5 gallons. Estimated range is 463 miles in highway travel on usable volume of fuel.

Price: Base price of the tested Seville STS is $48,995. Dealer invoice price on the base model is $39,038. Price as tested is $51,494, including $1,834 in options and a $665 destination charge.

    Expert Reviews 3 of 10

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