Before you ask, yes, I do carry an AARP card. So what? You get to be my age, and the bones ache and joints squeak and you remember walking to school barefoot for six miles in 18 inches of snow -- but I digress. Suffice it to say that I'm just as interested in acceleration and handling as I ever was, but creature comforts and a nice, smooth ride are appreciated, too.
Fortunately, as I mature, so does technology. The Europeans were the first to successfully integrate comfort into performance in modern-day luxo-sedans, followed by the Japanese luxury brands, and now the Americans have pretty much caught up. The 2008 Cadillac STS can make you forget the numb, flaccid handling of Cadillacs of yore, and the styling isn't bad. But the most interesting thing about the new STS you can't see unless you open the hood.
The 2008 STS is available with a V-8 engine, but it's the base 3.6-liter V-6 that's the marvel. Yes, there was a 3.6-liter V-6 under the hood of the 2007 model, but this one is considerably different, with a host of internal and electronic changes, as well as direct injection, which is a more efficient method of delivering fuel to the cylinders.
The result is a V-6 that runs on regular fuel, and isn't supercharged or turbocharged, and still pumps out 302 horsepower -- 47 more than last year -- delivered with silky smoothness to a perceptive six-speed automatic transmission. The potent Ford Mustang GT has 300 horsepower, but it's from a 4.6-liter V-8. Suddenly, when nobody was looking, GM snuck in a powertrain that is absolutely on par with any comparable engine and transmission, brand regardless.
So considering the fact that the STS V-6 starts at $42,390, and the STS with a 4.6-liter, 320-horsepower V-8 starts at $51,810, it's easy to identify this a place to save some money.
The 2008 STS is not an all-new car, but gets what is referred to in the industry as a "mid-cycle enhancement," a major freshening that falls short of a redesign. The new, bigger grille, similar to the one on the more extensively overhauled 2008 CTS model, makes the STS look like what it is -- the CTS's bigger brother. Inside the STS, quite a bit of interior changes were made, and the result is a handsome, very comfortable cockpit.
A lot of safety equipment comes standard on the new STS, including stability control, side and side-curtain airbags, OnStar, rear parking assist, traction control and antilock brakes with brake assist. Other features are optional, such as a lane-departure warning system that reads the stripes on the pavement, and alerts the driver when the car crosses them.
The test vehicle had quite a few options, including two luxury packages filled with things I could do without, such as heated rear seats and rain-sensing wipers, and a few I liked, such as a sunroof and a navigation system. With options and shipping, the STS listed for $51,320.
Cadillac has done a commendable job of updating an already competitive car, especially with that new V-6 engine, which will show up in the new CTS and other models. I'm checking to see if there's an AARP discount.