AW Cover Story - 2005 Cadillac STS

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Jul 7, 2004.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    The Beat Goes On: Cadillac’s Metamorphosis Continues With STS

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    By ROGER HART
    (08:30 July 12, 2004)
    (Photos by Jim Fets)

    Executives at the launch of the Cadillac STS talked a lot about "renaissance." The company is changing, certainly, although at times it seems more like a crusade than a renaissance. In reinventing itself, Cadillac is walking a razor’s edge, bringing out products to attract new customers (younger, hipper) while trying to build in enough "Cadillacness" that loyalists (older, unhipper) still want the new models. A tough task, to be sure.

    Through extensive marketing and the classic rock tunes of Led Zeppelin used in its advertising, Cadillac is trying to change people’s perceptions. But the guy in charge of building the cars knows slick presentations and rock ’n’ roll is not enough.

    "We’re changing people’s attitudes by putting great products on the road," said Jim Taylor, GM vehicle line executive for prestige vehicles. The new models, like the CTS-V, XLR and SRX, are damn good. Now you can add the STS to that list.

    The STS brings to eight the number of new Cadillacs released since 2001
    (Escalade, CTS, Escalade EXT, Escalade ESV, SRX, XLR and CTS-V), all dressed in the now-familiar Cadillac style. STS sports several evolutionary refinements of that style, softening the harsh edges a bit, and making the car that goes on sale this fall the best-looking of them all. And the STS drives even better than it looks.

    STS replaces the Seville—a Cadillac standby since 1976—and in a major switch, the new car moves from a fwd platform to a rwd or awd. It is the third domestic car built on GM’s global Sigma platform, along with the CTS and SRX. We sampled all three versions of the STS—rwd V8 and V6 models, and an awd V8—in pre-production forms. Production cars will begin rolling off the Lansing, Michigan, assembly line later this summer.

    When STS was unveiled just before the New York show, Cadillac general manager Mark LaNeve said the car would play against the BMW 5 Series and 7 Series (falling between those two models), not to mention competing squarely against the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Audi A6 and the Lexus GS 300 and LS 430. That’s a pretty tough crowd, but STS belongs in the same discussion. It is that good.

    "The prestige luxury segment is where the big guys play, and that’s where we want to be. The key is finding the sweet spot between luxury and performance. And we have to include the latest technology that is reasonably customer-friendly," Taylor said.

    By customer-friendly, Taylor means Cadillac customers want to be able to tune the car’s radio without an hour-long ground school from their dealer. Taylor didn’t mention BMW’s infamous iDrive by name, but the point was taken. Customers of high-end luxury cars demand a level of technology that requires more than a radio with a couple of buttons, and try as they might, designers haven’t yet figured out how to put the features in an easy-to-use package. The STS has all the electronic goodies you would expect in a luxury car, and while some may find the controls easier to use than iDrive, others may disagree.

    Our evaluations began in what was jokingly referred to as "the doctor’s car," a Northstar V8 in base trim, with 17-inch tires and the standard (meaning softer) suspension—an independent front using aluminum upper and lower control arms with monotube Sachs shocks. The fully independent multilink rear has aluminum upper control arms, knuckles and brake calipers.

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    An eight-inch color screen for the navigation/surround-sound system dominates the dash. Keyless access with a remote start feature is part of the package.

    Before heading out to the freeway, we sampled the car’s electronic features, plugging in our destination in the nav system and switching on the 15-speaker 5.1 Bose surround-sound system, pre-loaded with CDs and DVDs. The controls combine hard buttons under the eight-inch nav screen and several touch-screen buttons. Not all of the operations are straightforward. We needed to pull off the highway and spend about 10 minutes pushing buttons and touching the screen in order to eject a CD we didn’t want to hear. We even tried using the voice-recognition system, asking it to eject the disc, but the words we were using were not recognizable commands to the system. It was frustrating enough that we wished we had iDrive, since we’ve invested enough time figuring that system out.

    Once we did work out Cadillac’s interface, we loved the audio system. We may have to rethink using Lexus’ Mark Levinson unit as the gold standard of OEM sound. Cadillac’s 5.1 Bose system offers true surround-sound and its integrated six-disc CD/DVD changer will play DVD-A and MP3 formats. Audio input plugs in the center armrest compartment can connect to your portable music player, and there is optional Bluetooth connectivity as well.

    We had all afternoon to enjoy it on a drive from San Francisco to the Monterey Peninsula. On a stretch of freeway, we slotted in with traffic at about 80 mph, and found the STS a comfortable cruiser. That we expected. The suspension eats up expansion joints and the car is Lexus-quiet. We could detect just a hint of wind noise and little tire noise. Laminated "quiet steel" in the firewall, laminated acoustic glass in the windshield and front windows, triple-sealed doors and sound-deadening foam throughout the chassis cut down on noise intruding into the cabin. A high-density, low-mass foam mat on the engine side of the firewall keeps noise out. The exterior mirrors are designed to minimize wind noise at speed. All this effort has paid off—the cabin is quiet.

    Top-of-the-line power comes from the familiar, all-aluminum 4.6-liter Northstar V8 with variable valve timing. With 320 hp at 6400 rpm and 315 lb-ft of torque at 4400 rpm, the potent engine is a good match for the car. Power is routed through a five-speed automatic, the only transmission available, although we wouldn’t be surprised to see a six-speed manual gearbox down the road at some point.

    You can manually shift the automatic, and it will stay in the gear you choose right up to redline, a nice feature when you’re driving the car hard. Hit the throttle, and besides feeling the thrust, you hear an exhaust note tuned to remind you that you’re driving a modern-day muscle car. In cruising mode, it quiets down considerably.

    That we enjoyed the wide powerband of the Northstar V8 came as no surprise. How much we enjoyed it with a 3.6-liter V6 was a surprise. This aluminum engine is similar to the one found in the CTS, generating 255 hp at 6500 rpm and 252 lb-ft of torque at 3200 rpm. We thought the V6 would struggle to haul the car’s 3857 pounds, but we were wrong. The only time we longed for the Northstar was when trying to pass a line of cars on a two-lane road. The V6 is a bit slower going from 0 to 60 mph—6.6 seconds compared to 5.8 seconds for the V8—but for most everyday driving, the V6 would suit us just fine. For comparison, the BMW 530i (3.0-liter I6) goes from 0 to 60 mph in 6.8 seconds, with the quickest 540i (4.0-liter V8 with six-speed manual) needing 6.0 seconds.

    The base STS has a firm ride with a slight bit of body roll, but nothing you would deem offensive, and certainly nothing like the old rolling living rooms that were once Cadillac’s trademark. The base car gets a hydraulic steering rack from Visteon, and we found the steering to be somewhat light and lacking in on-center feel. GM engineers have since told us they recalibrated the feel to be a bit more in line with the rack from ZF found on the cars with the optional Magnetic Ride Control suspension.

    Once we got off the freeway, we could push the STS a bit harder in some twisty turns between Gilroy and Watsonville on Route 152. We ran the route three times and enjoyed each trip, pushing the car into corners a little harder as we became familiar with the route. The brakes are simply spot-on, with vented discs all around, ABS and panic brake assist.

    Base-model cars receive aluminum trim, but this being a Cadillac, there is plenty of optional wood trim. We like the look of the aluminum in the cabin, giving it a more sporty feel.
    But the aluminum surrounding the center stack that houses the navigation screen reflects so much sunlight that at times we had trouble seeing the screen. The screen is adjustable to reduce glare, but it does nothing to cut the glare from the surround.

    Real eucalyptus wood is available in two different stains. The plastic parts on these pre-production testers didn’t look to be up to final standards; we hope the finished versions look and fit better than some of these pieces. All storage compartments are lined with a material that makes them soft to the touch.

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    At 196.3 inches in length, STS is five inches shorter than Seville, the car it replaces in the Cadillac lineup.

    The instrument cluster is straightforward, with tach and overlapping speedometer dominating the layout. Smaller coolant and fuel gauges bookend the larger instruments that are easy-to-read white on black. Redundant radio controls are located on the steering wheel, and the cruise control is the GM-standard turn-signal stalk unit. Adaptive cruise that uses radar to keep a safe distance behind other vehicles is optional.

    The STS seats are a little firmer and have more side bolstering than you would expect in a big Caddy, but it fits with the car’s performance bent. The headrests and armrests are softer than the seats, and the seats are heated and ventilated. Rather than blowing cool air, the seats wick away humidity, cooling you in the process.

    There was quite a contrast going from the V6 to the awd V8, with the latter car’s 400 extra pounds noticeable as we negotiated the twists and turns of California’s Highway 1. The awd system splits torque 40/60 front/rear for better dry-road performance, similar to the Mercedes-Benz 4Matic. Cadillac believes it has an edge over BMW in Snowbelt states, as there is no awd option on the 5 Series.

    Had we not gotten into the uplevel cars, we would have been satisfied with the handling and performance of the base STS, and wishing we’d gone on to med school. Only driving the cars back-to-back were we able to fully appreciate the Magnetic Ride Control suspension. There are two driving modes, touring and performance, with the latter offering a stiffer ride. Both modes seem firmer than the standard suspension in the base car—helped out no doubt by the optional 18-inch tires.

    The ZF steering rack delivers a crisp, more linear feel, and feels more in line with the sporting ambitions of the STS. Four-channel StabiliTrak is also part of the package. A spoiler adorns the trunks of uplevel cars.

    Taylor says his goal is to once again make Cadillac the Standard of the World—a reputation nearly a century in the making that was squandered in little more than a decade. "We’re getting there, but we’re not ready to celebrate just yet," he said. We imagine the crowing could start with the introduction of the 400-plus-hp STS-V, due next summer.

    Like the CTS and the SRX before it, the new STS forces us to rethink Cadillac. Just a few years ago, who would have thought you could, with a straight face, compare a Cadillac straight up against a BMW?

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    2005 CADILLAC STS

    ON SALE: Fall
    BASE PRICE: $40,995
    POWERTRAIN: 3.6-liter, 255-hp, 252-lb-ft V6; rwd, five-speed automatic
    CURB WEIGHT: 3857 pounds
    0 to 60 MPH: 6.6 seconds (mfr.)

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  2. snapa

    snapa Fake brim = Ze Hotness

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    Meh it doesn't look much different from the CTS...except less drastic lines
     
  3. grooves12

    grooves12 New Member

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    An STS-V with the LS2+AWD+6 speed would be awesome!
     
  4. JoeyCrack

    JoeyCrack Active Member

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    welcome back cadillac....oh and trishield you have pm :o
     
  5. Meeocky

    Meeocky New Member

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  6. Achmiel

    Achmiel Why do we feel it's necessary to yak about bullshi

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    Looks BETTER than the CTS - I like the CTS front end, but the rear looks out of place - the STS fuses front and rear better
     
  7. TenzoR

    TenzoR She is hot hot hot

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    the only thing i hate about this car is the rear ..so :ugh:
     
  8. MorningWood

    MorningWood Go ahead, Touch it

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    :cool: I'm actually looking at a 95-97 STS right now.
     
  9. :bowdown: cadillac
    thatguy
    lebaronlx
    laimbeer
    renaultfreak
    jailbait
     
  10. RenaultFreak

    RenaultFreak OMG

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    jeesus

    :eek:

    shame the interior looks regular :hs:
     
  11. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    On the way. :cool:
     
  12. troglodyte

    troglodyte Guest

    Cadillac seeme to be getting better overall quality but their designs are getting fuglier and fuglier. The XLR looks cheap and dated even though its new. I'd wait till Lutz's desire for fluid and sexy lines take over for the current balnd, lifeless, and robotic look.
     
  13. big_john2438

    big_john2438 Guest

    the sts-v will rock the sts rocks cadillac is american luxury RECOGNIZE
     

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