The Cadillac DTS might be among the last of the big boats, but it's no ordinary land yacht.
This car has the comfort of a cruise ship, and all that's lacking is white-clad waiters bringing food and drink.
With a car such as this one, you could ride in the spacious back seat while someone did the driving for you, and enjoy food, libations and the car's excellent audio system.
Don't permanently relegate yourself to the back seat, though. Our test vehicle, as comfy and cushy as it was, offered a bit of driving fun, too. You might want to take the helm (before imbibing) for at least part of your journey.
Our vehicle was the 2007 DTS Performance Sedan ($48,540 plus $820 freight), which comes with the uplevel 4.6-liter V-8 engine, rated at 292 horsepower (vs. 275 for the base 4.6 engine). Besides the more-powerful engine, the performance model has GM's patented Magnetic Ride Control system, Stabilitrak electronic stability control, a performance suspension, 18-inch chrome wheels (17-inch wheels are on the base model), and upgraded H-rated tires.
There is a slight decrease in fuel-efficiency with the more-powerful engine - 17 miles per gallon city/24 highway vs. 17/25 with the base engine. But the extra peak horsepower adds some fun to the mix for that slight drop in highway mileage. This could be improved upon if Cadillac would upgrade the DTS from its four-speed automatic transmission to perhaps at least a six-speed. In this area, the DTS is lagging other luxury cars in today's market - most have at least six speed automatics, and the new Lexus LS has eight speeds.
The Performance Sedan's price includes almost everything you can get on a DTS, whose base model begins at just $41,390. Leather seats are standard, of course, but ours came with the upgraded Tehama leather ($1,995), as well as the optional GPS/DVD navigation system ($1,945). These extras raised the sticker price to $53,300 (including freight).
Besides the performance upgrades, this version also has a long list of convenience items that are included in the higher price. Among them are tri-zone automatic climate control, power massaging front seats, heated and cooled front bucket seats, heated outboard rear seats, heated leather/wood steering wheel, memory for two drivers, heated outside power mirrors with turn-signal indicators, ultrasonic front and rear parking assist, heated washer fluid, remote start, four-way power lumbar control for the rear seat, eight-speaker Bose audio system with CD changer (replaced in our car by the nav system upgrade), power tilt/telescopic steering column, dark walnut interior trim, and rain-sensing windshield wipers, one of the great new auto technologies.
As for the DTS in general, this is the car that Cadillac called the DeVille until last year, when it was significantly upgraded and renamed.
For 2007, the DTS, comes with a few enhancements. Among new standard equipment this year are chrome wheels, which come with new center caps featuring the Cadillac wreath-and-crest badge in color.
GM says options such as XM satellite radio, a cargo mat and rear sunshades - previously offered only in the most-expensive packages, are now more readily available. Some changes in exterior colors have been made for '07, as well. And inside, the dark Cashmere accent and aniline leather have been replaced with a cocoa hue, Cadillac said. In addition, the center stack is now dark argent metallic.
A new Cadillac key fob makes its debut as well, not only with the DTS but on several other Cadillac models as well.
And indicative of GM's expanding global marketing of Cadillac, the navigation system now is offered with maps for Korea and Taiwan, and Arabic is available as one of the languages on the driver-information center, replacing Italian. The analog clock on the instrument panel also been improved to make it easier to read.
Just as with the DeVille, the DTS is aimed almost entirely at the over-60 crowd, with no obvious features to appeal to younger buyers except for the performance package. This is understandable, as Cadillac already has a full stable of new vehicles designed for younger buyers.
The DeVille became the DTS to follow the same pattern as the other alphabet names of recent new Cadillac cars - such as CTS, SRX, XLR, STS - but otherwise remained much the big boat that its predecessor was. It also retained its front-wheel drive, while all of the other Cadillacs now come with rear- or all-wheel drive.
Some restyling was involved with the change to the DTS, even though its overall look is clearly DeVille-like. The "art and science" design theme of other recent Cadillacs is evident in the front and rear of the DTS. The front end has all-new sheet metal, along with a new grille, fascia and high-intensity-discharge Xenon headlamps. Cadillac says that the deck lid, rear quarter panels, rear fascia and taillights also are new.
Inside, the DTS has new seats that GM says are "optimally engineered for comfort and support"; a new instrument panel; and new wood trim.
Standard or optional high-tech features include four-channel antilock brakes and traction control, four-channel StabiliTrak with brake assist, and Magnetic Ride Control. The massaging front seats come on the two most-uplevel models.
As for the stated fuel-economy ratings, many DeVille owners have reported getting even better highway mileage than the EPA estimates suggest. That's probably because these are drivers who usually take it easy and conserve fuel with their driving habits.
We earlier tested the DTS with the base 275-horsepower engine, and found it to be quite peppy and certainly more than adequate for this heavy car, which weights just over two tons..
Neither model of the DTS offers the sporty driving experience of the smaller STS and CTS sedans or SRX wagon. This car trades suspension stiffness for a softer ride to accommodate its older consumers.
Chassis tuning "focused on achieving a smooth, quiet, refined ride," the company says. Not that the previous version didn't already have that, mind you. The new one is just better, and even on some of the jarring speed bumps that dot our neighborhoods these days, the car rode quite comfortably.
The seats are quite comfortable, even in the back. While our car came with bucket seats, the DTS base model still comes with a three-person front bench seat, which remains the favorite arrangement of many older customers.
The trunk has 18.8 cubic feet of space, and the lid opens to a fully vertical position, leaving a large opening for easy loading and unloading of large objects.
The car's high-tech features - which largely go unnoticed by the driver and passengers - include four-channel antilock brakes and traction control.
Also standard are dual-stage (driver) and dual-depth (front passenger) air bags, roof-rail curtain air bags and front seat side-impact thorax air bags; cruise control; OnStar; XM satellite radio; and a tire-pressure monitoring system, among other things.
An "express-open" sunroof is optional, but was not included on our car.
Cadillac says the DTS comes with a "body-frame integral construction; strategically engineered crumple zones in front and rear; and comprehensive use of high-strength steel," designed to help protect the occupants in a collision.
All 2007 Cadillac owners - not just DTS buyers - get 12 months of access to the "Cadillac Virtual Advisor" through the OnStar system.
This feature gives the driver three-day weather forecasts and traffic reports in most major markets. The system also monitors traffic on as many as three personalized routes and reports on up to 10 selected stocks, GM says -- at the touch of a single button.
G. Chambers Williams III is staff automotive columnist for the San Antonio Express-News and former transportation writer for the Star-Telegram. His automotive columns have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 1995. Contact him at (210) 250-3236; email@example.com.
At a Glance: 2007 Cadillac DTS Performance Sedan The package: Full-size, four-door, five- or six-passenger, front-wheel-drive, V-8 powered luxury sedan. Highlights: Using Cadillac's new "art and science" design theme, the flagship DeVille sedan was renamed and slightly redesigned for 2006. It's still pretty much the same as it was, though, with lots of interior space and creature comforts, and a choice of two V-8 engines. Negatives: Still has front-wheel drive, not the optimum system for a large sedan, and just a four-speed automatic transmission, where competitors have six speeds or more for better fuel economy. Engines: Two versions of Cadillac's Northstar 4.6-liter V-8. Transmission: Four-speed automatic. Power/torque: 275 HP/295 foot-pounds (Base and Luxury models); 291 HP/217 foot-pounds (Performance model). Length: 207.6 inches. Base curb weight: 4,009 pounds. Brakes, front/rear: Disc/disc, antilock standard. Electronic stability control: Standard on all but the base model. Side air bags: Front seat-mounted side bags, and side-curtain for both rows of seats, standard on all models. Towing capacity: 1,000 pounds. Trunk volume: 18.8 cubic feet. Fuel capacity/type: 18.5 gallons/premium unleaded recommended but not required. EPA fuel economy: 17 miles per gallon city/25 highway (base); 17 city/24 highway (performance). Major competitors: Lincoln Town Car, Chrysler 300C, Acura RL, Lexus LS. Base price range: $41,390-$48,540 plus $820 freight. Price as tested: $53,300, including freight and options (Performance Sedan model). On the Road rating: 7.6 (out of a possible 10).