Versus the competiton:
People above a certain age will remember that, when something was the best, it was called the “Cadillac” of its class.
Alas, quality control problems and bad marketing decisions in the ’70s and ’80s turned that into an anachronism.
But things changed when the Seville STS was introduced in the early ’90s, and the new interior and drive train refinements of this year’s model enhance the experience it offers.
Start with looks. This crisply formed car stands out in a broad-shouldered, crisp manner that’s elegant and sporty at the same time. With its deep white paint and sparkling chrome wheels, it’s clearly distinguished in a sea of bland black blobs that pass themselves off as luxury cars. No, the STS looks more like Arnold in a tuxedo.
It drives that way, too. Thanks to the Northstar system (that’s Cadillac-speak for their 4.6-liter, double overhead cam V-8), the car really moves. From O-60 takes a mere 7.3 seconds because this Caddy packs 300 horsepower through the front wheels. Despite full-speed traction control, this front-wheel drive sedan gets squirmy on hard takeoffs — but then, reining in all this power is half the fun.
The muscle is put down through a four-wheel, independent suspension with front and rear stabilizer bars. Additionally, Cadillac has fitted the STS with road-sensing suspension, which reads the inputs from the steering wheel and adjusts the damping at all four corners, as well as adjusting brake modulation and cornering traction.
The results of all this computerization is a firm but well-controlled ride. There’s some isolation, but cornering can be done with confidence.
It proved invaluable while piloting through the blizzard of ’96. The STS handled snow-covered, icy roads with the confidence of a four-wheel-drive vehicle. The traction control was a real boon on ice. The quick steering, GM’s electromagnetic system, varies the effort needed as speeds increase or decrease, but hasa disconnected feel to it. However, you’ll definitely still take the long way home.
That’s because this car can play the sedate luxury cruiser role very well. You glide majestically all day. But ask it to pound through the corners and the dual exhaust lets loose with a muted but audible growl. It’s sophisticated, but with a muscle-car character. As the scenery starts rolling by you faster, the only thing you’ll do is smile.
And you’ll be coddled all the way. The interior is new this year. The center console is now home to ventilation, stereo system and minor controls. The look is not too far afield of Lexus, but it’s an improvement. The radio and climate controls sport big, easy to use knobs. The AM/FM-cassette-CD player with 12-disc changer offers superb sound. The plastics and real wood veneer used are of fine quality.
By moving some controls to the center console, space was freed up to make the speedometer, tachometer and other gauges larger and easier to re ad. It’s a big improvement over last year. Door-mounted controls for windows, locks and mirrors have a more ergonomic feel this year. There are steering wheel-mounted paddles for the stereo and climate control. They’re very convenient and easier to use than the center-console controls.
Of course, a Cadillac has to pamper, and the STS does. The leather seats are rich and supportive, proving very comfortable. Heat for those seats and a power moonroof are optional. Automatic headlights are back this year, joined by a new Caddy feature, Rainsense. A module located behind the rearview mirror sends out a laser beam. This infrared beam counts the raindrops as they fall and activates the windshield wipers for you at the appropriate speed.
This car is too sweet to allow anyone else behind the wheel. From its powerful drive train to its athletic looks, the STS has tons of character, something increasingly rare in today’s automotive world.
Cadillac Seville STS tandard: 4.6-liter V-8, four-speed automatic transmission, speed-sensitive steering, Goodyear Z-rated tires, anti-lock brakes, keyless entry, Twilight Sentinel, power trunk pulldown, cellular telephone wiring, leather seats, electronic climate control, full console with cupholders, power seats, AM/FM-cassette. Optional: Upgraded stereo with trunk-mounted CD changer, chrome wheels, white diamond paint, Goodyear Eagle GA P225/60ZR16 tires. Base price: $47,495 Total: $51,693 EPA rating: 17 mpg city, 26 mpg highway.