For 2008, the Cadillac STS sedan has undergone one of the more dramatic restylings you're likely to see outside of a complete redesign. After a CTS sedan whose styling went a little too far, the current STS generation's styling didn't go far enough. Cadillac has addressed that with another installment of "The Attack of the Grilles."
Also new are a more powerful base engine, a performance option and a few new high-tech safety options.
(Skip to details on the: STS-V)
Similar to the redesigned 2008 CTS' nose, this is one for which the word bold seems inadequate. The bumper is prominent and the grille is dominant. Like it or not, you have to admit that the elements are in proportion, from the plunging grille to the stacked headlights and fog lights.
New rocker-panel moldings and a small spoiler give a sportier presence. The door handles are now chrome, echoed by polished-aluminum dual exhaust tips and optional 18-inch wheels.
Cadillac cites its Sixteen concept car of a few years ago as the inspiration for the side vents on the front fenders. They were indeed on that show-stopping car, but the fact that practically every new production model to hit the market in the past year or so also has these vents will unavoidably make Cadillac appear to be the copycat.
Though it's not as dramatic a change as the CTS' 2008 redo, the STS has gotten some interior improvements — and it didn't need as many to begin with. The car shown at the New York auto show was well-appointed, with wood Cadillac describes as Sapele Pommele. There's more of such wood on the dashboard and console than in the previous generation, and it can be added to the top quarter of the steering wheel as an option. The wheel itself is new and can now be had with a built-in heater. The metallic trim here and on the dashboard seems to be real metal. Hurray!
Now available on V-6 models as a supplement to the blue-backlit gauges is a head-up display that projects vehicle speed and other selectable readouts on the windshield in front of the driver. This was previously offered only with the V-8.
Under the Hood
The base STS model's 3.6-liter V-6 now has direct injection and produces 298 horsepower and 268 pounds-feet of torque, up from 258 hp and 252 pounds-feet. The direct injection improves emissions and should increase efficiency, but Cadillac has no mileage estimates. Given the increased output, the numbers might not improve. The former five-speed automatic is replaced by a six-speed for the first time with this engine.
Providing a sport level between the regular STS and the no-compromises STS-V is a performance handling package, which includes Brembo brand four-piston calipers. It also provides sportier variable-effort power steering for more direct road feel. The wheels are chrome 18-inchers fitted with summer tires. Though both trim levels offer all-wheel as well as rear-wheel drive, the performance package only comes with rear-wheel drive with the V-6.
New in the 2008, the optional StabiliTrak stability system employs active power steering that works with the usual antilock brakes to control the car's direction if traction is lost.
Added to the usual standard complement of frontal and side airbags, antilock brakes and other passive safety features are a couple of new options: lane-departure warning and blind-spot alerts. Lane-departure warning, already offered on a few competing models, sounds a warning tone and flashes a light if the car wanders out of its lane. More unique is blind-spot detection, in which radar watches the blind spots and illuminates an indicator on the side mirrors when another vehicle is in the way.
Another arguable safety feature is Intellibeam headlamps, which adjust their intensity based on the oncoming or leading vehicles. They sense headlights and taillights and adjust the beams as any conscientious driver would. In other words, thank God it's finally automated.
The performance V-Series edition of the STS, the STS-V, is powered by a supercharged 4.4-liter V-8 that produces 469 hp at 6,400 rpm and 439 pounds-feet of torque at 3,800 rpm. The STS-V can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in less than 5 seconds. The supercharged Northstar engine teams with a six-speed automatic transmission. In our experience, the STS-V is an excellent example of a high-performance car that is more than livable in day-to-day driving.
The STS-V has fewer changes in 2008 than the regular model, seeing how its exterior was more aggressively styled to begin with. Its special sculpted hood allows space for the engine's supercharger, and its 10-spoke, painted aluminum-alloy wheels are exclusive. The differences from the 2007 that do appear are best seen from the side and include the added front fender vent and reshaped rocker panels. Distinguishing touches include a polished stainless-steel wire-mesh grille, brake-cooling ducts and a splitter to counteract aerodynamic lift.
Likewise, the STS-V already had an exclusive interior design, and the 2008 is virtually unchanged.
The interior is adorned with hand-wrapped leather surfaces, Olive Ash Burl wood appointments and suede fabric seat inserts. Back to top