Versus the competiton:
Like most couples, we don’t see eye-to-eye on many things. And, like most couples, we usually can find some common ground or compromise that satisfies both of us. But not on the 1999 Cadillac Seville STS.
Paul thinks the latest edition of the STS may just be the best car built in America. Anita dismisses it as “stodgy” and wouldn’t buy one on a bet. Not surprisingly, Paul gave it four stars, our top rating. Anita agreed to give it three stars only because “my respect for old geezers bumped it up a notch.”
She: OK, so I snuck out of work one afternoon last week to visit my parents at their condo, which is the center of the universe for aspiring Cadillac owners. It is the vehicle to have if you’re trying to impress your neighbors there. And therein lies the tale of this test drive from my perspective. If you’re over 70 and retired, you’ll go bonkers over the 1999 Seville STS we tested. I’m happy to report that I’m still young enough that I just don’t get the appeal of the STS. Even its high-tech veneer doesn’t eliminate the stodginess factor. It’s still the car my parents want to drive. Not me. I guess it’s more for your age group, dear. I know you love it.
He: Hey, I’m not ashamed to admit two things. One, I’m considerably older than you. And I have more facial hair. Oh, sorry, what I really meant was, I love the STS. Is it better than a BMW 540i? No, but it’s darn close, not to mention several thousand dollars cheaper.
Skip some of the fancy stuff we had on our test car, such as the sunroof and adaptive front seats, and the sticker price comes in under $50,000. Not bad for a vehicle that will run circles around a Lincoln Continental and most of the Japanese competition. My biggest complaint concerns the exterior design, which I think is unduly conservative, given the grace, performance and comfort of the STS.
She: Let’s go back to those adaptive seats, which have a Norman Bates-y cheap-motel kind of creepiness. Not to mention that they cost an extra $1,627. I don’t care if they’re used in burn units or whatever. I don’t want the seat in my car massaging me.
He: I can arrange to have the chauffeur massage you.
She: That would be much better. You do have to give Cadillac credit for making a car that will get you safely down to Florida and back. I really like features such as the built-in seat belts in the seats. They’re far more comfortable than the ones mounted on the center pillar, which can sometimes make you feel like you’re on the gallows. The Seville has front and side air bags, standard anti-lock brakes and traction control and even an advanced stability-control system similar to the ones offered on BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
He: You can keep making all the old-people jokes you want, but I’m still impressed by a luxury sedan that can zip from zero to 60 in 6.7 seconds. And with the optional Z-rated Goodyear Eagle LS tires that came on our test car, the STS has a top speed of 150 mph. But more than those raw numbers, it’s the sheer handling capability of the car, and its superior ride quality, that leave a lingering impression. If I had to pick a car to make a 1,000-mile round trip, or better still, to live in for a year, the STS would be at the top of my list.
She: I couldn’t live in it with that intimidating all-black interior. And I didn’t much care for that glossy, artificial-looking wood Cadillac uses on the interior. You know what? They need to take the car over to Audi to have the cabin redesigned. At the very least, I would pick the oatmeal interior over the black.
He: Sorry, kiddo. I love the black cockpit. Very Germanic. And totally macho. The backlit gauges are pretty cool, too. And it seems like the trim fits and the quality of the material keeps getting better and better.
She: Wait a minute. Did you say “Germanic?” Isn’t this car built at the Poletown plant in Detroit? Who are you kidding?
He: So it doesn’t push yourem ional or ethnic buttons. Tough. I’m giving it four stars. And hope I make enough money some day to own one.
She: I know exactly the condo you’ll end up in.
1999 Cadillac Seville STS
Anita’s rating: above average
Paul’s rating: world class
Type: Front-engine, front-wheel-drive, five-passenger luxury sedan.
Price: Base, $48,050; as tested, $53,242 (including $670 destination charge).
Engine: 4.6-liter V-8; 300 hp at 6,000 rpm; 295 lb-ft torque at 4,400 rpm.
EPA fuel economy: 17 mpg city/26 mpg highway.
12-month insurance cost, according to AAA Michigan*: $1,517. (Estimate. Rates may be higher or lower, depending on coverage and driving record.)
Where built: Detroit.
What we liked: May be the best car built in America (Paul); superb dynamic behavior (Paul); good value (Paul); excellent application of advanced technology (Paul); love the all-black interior (Paul); impressive safety features; terrific acceleration.
What we didn’t like: Feels like an old person’s car (Anita); technology that borders on the creepy, like massaging seat (Anita); too expensive (Anita); all-black interior looks intimidating (Anita); boring exterior design.