C/D Road Test - 2005 Cadillac STS

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Jul 28, 2004.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    The kindly old barber of Seville trades scissors for a switchblade.

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    BY JOHN PHILLIPS
    PHOTOGRAPHY BY AARON KILEY
    August 2004

    It's the end of Seville-ization as we know it. No more jokes about Seville disobedience, Seville affairs, Seville rights. That's because the name, first trotted out in 1956 to designate a special Eldorado model, has been deep-sixed. Again.

    What was formerly the Seville—in its fifth generation, no less—is now simply an STS, and it rides on the Sigma platform that has so far distinguished itself in the CTS sedan and SRX sport-ute.

    The STS comes in three aromas. There's the starter-kit version ($41,690) powered by a 255-horse, 3.6-liter V-6. There's the V-8 rear-wheel-drive model ($47,495) featuring a 4.6-liter Northstar producing 320 horses, 20 more than the old STS's output. And there's a V-8 all-wheel-drive STS, with a mandatory heavy options load ($62,765) whose driveline is yanked intact from the SRX.

    You want options? Cadillac's got your options right here, pal. How about four tire-and-wheel combos and three final-drive ratios? How about ventilated seats (part of the $8695 1SG package), which turn out to be the coolest feature since air conditioning? Our V-8 rear-drive test car, with the 3.42:1 axle and 18-inch all-season Michelins, arrived pretty much blinged out, lacking only a sunroof ($1200). Such profligacy bloated its sticker to $62,215, a sum that may induce chest pains in more than a few diehard Cadillackers.

    The STS now rides on a wheelbase 4.2 inches longer than the old car's, yet in overall length the STS is 4.7 inches shorter. Glance at the car in profile and you can see what got chopped. The trunk's volume is down by two cubic feet.

    Rear-seat dimensions, though, aren't much changed. It's still snug back there, at least for a luxury sedan
    , okay for two adults and their mocha lattes. It would have helped if the seat cushion weren't so low and you could insert both feet entirely beneath the front seats. A third adult betwixt? For 20 minutes maybe, but remember that with rear drive there's again a transmission hump to battle, and Hump Man has no choice but to stick one Florsheim into each of his colleagues' footwells.

    The front seats, for hips and shoulders alike, are surprisingly well-bolstered and BMW-firm. No complaints. The gauges' illuminated white numerals are set against a black background—simple, ever legible. The center stack is clean and well-ordered, dominated by an eight-inch-diagonal "infotainment" screen, whose face can be tilted up to 15 degrees to cut glare. And the cockpit is warmly trimmed in eucalyptus that looks very much like real wood because it is.

    What you notice first about the STS is that there's no ignition keyhole. Instead, you carry a standard-looking fob that signals the car to unlock its doors as you approach. After that, all you do is put your foot on the brake, then press a rocker switch to the right of the steering column. Voilà , the Northstar stirs to life. Press the bottom of the rocker to shut off the engine. In theory, you stash the fob in your pocket or purse and never have to remove it. If you don't care for that method of cranking, you can also fire up your STS remotely, from as far away as 200 feet.

    What you notice next is that this is a vault-like Seville—sorry, STS. Cadillac has run amok with sound-deadening materials, which no doubt contribute to this car's 4148-pound heft. Special mats and blankets have been inserted in the dash. The shock towers, driveline tunnel, and wheelhouses all benefit from rubbery sound-absorbing goo, and the doors are triple-sealed. At 60 mph, there's negligible wind noise at the A-pillars, making this a soothing, almost meditative place to conduct highway business. Fact is, the Northstar's silky snarl is now clearly audible only at wide-open throttle.

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    Idle quality is excellent, and step-off is gentle and controlled. Gone are the bad old days, when an inch of GM throttle induced a kind of rocket launch.

    The STS's steering is odd. The effort is fairly high, and there's little detail telegraphed—minimal info regarding road surfaces or front-tire side slip, for instance. Yet for any given increment of steering input, the ZF rack (included in the 1SG package) delivers a predictable, repeatable course alteration. In that sense, the steering is accurate but, at the end of the day, not very satisfying. It's lucky that the chassis takes such a firm set in turns and is so conscientious about path control, because this steering is not especially adept at quick one-or-two-degree corrections.

    Our test car was fitted with Magnetic Ride Control ($1850), which offered two firmness settings—touring and performance. Good luck switching between the two. You have to stop the car and toggle through a six-step interrogation on the big screen. Why not a simple switch on the center console, next to the traction control? Maybe it doesn't matter. In either mode, the dampers and bushings are about as stiff as Al Gore at a séance. The ride is never downright harsh, although there's some crash-through on Michigan potholes. Rarely do high-frequency road pimples find their way through, nor is much road noise transmitted. But this is a ride as firm as any you'll likely encounter in a true luxury sedan, sufficiently unyielding that the seats sometimes rattle in their tracks. We're glad our tester wasn't fitted with the summer-only Michelin Pilot Sports.

    Of course, the upside to such firm tuning is that body motions are marvelously controlled, and there's never a disruptive moment of weight shift, either at turn-in or mid-turn. Fact is, this new STS pulled 0.86 g on the skidpad, only a whisker behind a BMW 745i we recently tested and way, way beyond the old car's 0.79. Our STS attacked our handling loop like a badger after pork rinds, achieving big velocities. In tight turns, you can steer the tail with the throttle a baby step or two—there's a fine line here before the standard stability control steps in and spoils the fun—but in that moment you'll notice that the chassis is neutrally balanced. If you don't want the tail hung out, maintain a steady throttle deep into the turn and you can scrub speed at the bow, just like the old front-drive STS.

    The brakes are strong and easy to modulate. Your foot quickly learns where anti-lock manifests. During nonpanic stops, you can brake right to the edge of ABS or push through for one cycle or two before withdrawing. Our car, fitted with the "European" brake pads (another part of the 1SG package—see what we mean about options?), stopped from 70 mph in 177 feet, 15 feet better than the old STS, one foot better than a Benz SL600. Think of that.

    Disable the traction control, summon some minor brake torque, and you can paint 10 feet of rubber stripes. Sixty mph arrives in six seconds flat, same as what a 745i can manage. Course, the BMW goes on to eat the quarter-mile in 14.6 seconds at 97 mph. Whoa! Same as the STS. What the Cadillac does that the $69,195 BMW doesn't is achieve a top speed of 154 mph. Moreover, Cadillac has calibrated the traction control to allow you to bark the tires at step-off without imposing Big Brother's mechanical hand of moderation. Nice.

    The twin-cam V-8 is abetted in its labors by a five-speed Hydra-Matic 5L50-E that may be the best transmission GM has ever produced. Why do we say that? Because you're almost never aware that it's doing anything. This is especially true during kickdowns, even two-gear kickdowns, which are as fast as they are unobtrusive. You know that embarrassed feeling you get when you're about to pass a guy on a two-lane road, and you nail the throttle and get a huge neck-snapping kickdown, only to abandon the maneuver when you discover a car in the oncoming lane? In the STS, all that happens is a nearly instantaneous increase in engine revs. No jolt. No roar. Passengers don't have to suffer for the driver's bad timing.

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    Every STS is fitted with a simple and effective manumatic—tip forward for upshifts, backward for downshifts, just as God intended. And Cadillac has mercifully abandoned the Louisville Slugger shift knob that drew complaints in the old car.

    Fact is, the previous STS was never really a performance car. It was a luxury sedan that simply didn't embarrass itself in the hills. This new STS, in contrast, is barking at the city limits of hot-rod-dom, notably in its edgy ride, booming acceleration, and tenacious handling.

    For decades, Cadillac seemed content to stay a step ahead of Lincoln. Now, with the STS—and the SRX before it—you really do get the feeling the division is serious about competing with foreign luxury brands. When our test car arrived, chief engineer Jim Federico—no longer responding to Seville-engineering jokes—pointed proudly at panel gaps that have been narrowed to three millimeters from the old car's five. Then he pointed to the top of the door frames, which blend almost invisibly into the roof in a costly "Dutch hem" design. "Let's see Mercedes match that," he said.

    When's the last time you heard a Lincoln guy say that?

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    THE VERDICT

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    Highs: Thoroughbred acceleration, tenacious grip, flawless transmission.

    Lows: Stiff ride, artificial steering, snug rear seat.

    The Verdict: Here is the STS that Cadillac promised from the git-go.


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    COUNTERPOINT

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    STEVE SPENCE
    Here, finally, is something I thought I'd never see: a Cadillac that wants to get into the ring with the big cars from BMW and Mercedes. Those "postmodern" Caddys of the '90s made gestures in that direction, but they always carried the burdensome trappings of the big sprawling American car: sleepy suspensions, big for bigness's sake, styling that seemed behind the times. This new car has a sport ride as hard as any BMW's, a very strong V-8, a sporty manual-style shifting function, and a rock-solid feel much like an ... E-class Mercedes. The STS's price undercuts that of the S-class and 7-series, but the real problem is this: Will buyers accept the idea of a $62,000 Cadillac?

    CSABA CSERE
    Cadillac has finally endowed one of its new-generation four-doors with an interior that needs no excuses. The cabin of this STS not only looks and feels sumptuous but is also largely devoid of the visual and electronic overkill that infests many of its competitors. As we've come to expect from the Sigma-platform cars, the STS drives beautifully with quick reflexes, excellent grip, and the kind of honest responses that let you drive it perfectly smoothly without brain-straining concentration. The ride could be more absorbent on rough city streets, and such a large car deserves more rear-seat and trunk space, but this STS is unquestionably the best Cadillac I've ever driven.

    BARRY WINFIELD
    The Cadillac team is utterly upbeat about this car. If American luxury-sports-sedan buyers have been jumping ship to European cars and their peculiar set of sensibilities for a concrete reason (and we think they have), then the people at Cadillac have seen the light. Hallelujah! Here's a Caddy that drives like BMWs did before that company's infatuation with technology began injecting Novocain between driver and machine. Damn, this STS unwinds a chunk of California's coastline like no Cadillac ever has, and that's in the cushy-riding model without the 1SG package that I drove on the Left Coast. Thanks, Cadillac.

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    C/D TEST RESULTS

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    ACCELERATION: Seconds
    Zero to 30 mph: 2.3
    40 mph: 3.3
    50 mph: 4.6
    60 mph: 6.0
    70 mph: 7.7
    80 mph: 9.7
    90 mph: 12.2
    100 mph: 15.7
    110 mph: 19.6
    120 mph: 24.1
    130 mph: 29.7
    Street start, 5-60 mph: 6.3
    Top-gear acceleration, 30-50 mph: 3.4
    50-70 mph: 4.1
    Standing 1/4-mile: 14.6 sec @ 97 mph
    Top speed (drag limited): 154 mph


    BRAKING
    70-0 mph @ impending lockup: 177 ft

    HANDLING
    Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.86 g
    Understeer: minimal


    FUEL ECONOMY
    EPA city driving: 17 mpg
    EPA highway driving: 26 mpg
    C/D-observed: 14 mpg

    INTERIOR SOUND LEVEL
    Idle: 42 dBA
    Full-throttle acceleration: 73 dBA
    70-mph cruising: 67 dBA

    CADILLAC STS V-8

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    Vehicle type: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan
    Price as tested: $62,215

    Price and option breakdown: base Cadillac STS V-8 (includes $695 freight), $47,495; 1SG package (includes performance brakes, limited slip, 3.42:1 final-drive ratio, 18-inch wheels, Magnetic Ride Control, decklid spoiler, navigation system), $8695; 1SE package (includes 6-CD in-dash changer, heated front and rear seats and steering wheel, XM satellite radio, wood trim), $2525; adaptive cruise control and head-up display, $2300; Tuscany leather, $1200

    Major standard accessories: power windows, seats, and locks; remote locking; A/C; cruise control; tilting and telescoping steering wheel; rear defroster

    Sound system: Bose AM-FM-satellite radio/CD changer/DVD player, 14 speakers

    ENGINE
    Type: V-8 , aluminum block and heads
    Bore x stroke: 3.66 x 3.31 in, 93.0 x 84.0mm
    Displacement: 279 cu in, 4565cc
    Compression ratio: 10.5:1
    Fuel-delivery system: port injection
    Valve gear: chain-driven double overhead cams, 4 valves per cylinder, hydraulic lifters, variable intake- and exhaust-valve timing
    Power (SAE net): 320 bhp @ 6400 rpm
    Torque (SAE net): 315 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm
    Redline: 6600 rpm


    DRIVETRAIN
    Transmission: 5-speed automatic with manumatic shifting
    Final-drive ratio: 3.42:1, limited slip
    Gear, Ratio, Mph/1000 rpm, Max test speed
    I, 3.42, 6.7, 44 mph (6600 rpm)
    II, 2.21, 10.3, 68 mph (6600 rpm)
    III, 1.60, 14.3: 94 mph (6600 rpm)
    IV, 1.00, 22.8, 151 mph (6600 rpm)
    V, 0.76, 30.0, 154 mph (5130 rpm)

    DIMENSIONS
    Wheelbase: 116.4 in
    Track, front/rear: 61.8/62.3 in
    Length/width/height: 196.3/72.6/57.6 in
    Ground clearance: 5.5 in
    Drag area, Cd (0.32) x frontal area (26.3 sq ft, est): 8.42 sq ft
    Curb weight: 4148 lb
    Weight distribution, F/R: 55.0/45.0%

    Curb weight per horsepower: 13.0 lb
    Fuel capacity: 17.5 gal

    CHASSIS/BODY
    Type: unit construction Body material: welded steel stampings

    INTERIOR
    SAE volume, front seat: 56 cu ft
    rear seat: 48 cu ft
    luggage: 14 cu ft
    Front-seat adjustments: fore-and-aft, seatback angle, front height, rear height, lumbar support
    Restraint systems, front: manual 3-point belts; driver and passenger front, side, and curtain airbags
    rear: manual 3-point belts, curtain airbags

    SUSPENSION
    Front: ind, unequal-length control arms, coil springs, anti-roll bar
    Rear: ind; 1 upper control arm, 1 lateral link, 1 trailing link, and 1 toe-control link
    per side; coil springs; anti-roll bar

    STEERING
    Type: rack-and-pinion with variable hydraulic power assist
    Steering ratio: 18.2:1
    Turns lock-to-lock: 3.1
    Turning circle curb-to-curb: 37.7 ft

    BRAKES
    Type: hydraulic with vacuum power assist and anti-lock control
    Front: 12.7 x 1.3-in vented disc
    Rear: 12.6 x 1.0-in vented disc

    WHEELS AND TIRES
    Wheel size/type: 8.0 x 18 in/cast aluminum
    Tires: Michelin Pilot HX MXM4 Radial SXE M+S; F: P235/50ZR-18 97W, R: P255/45ZR-18 99W
    Test inflation pressures, F/R: 30/30 psi
    Spare: high-pressure compact on steel wheel

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  2. kRySs

    kRySs OT Supporter

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    looks good
     
  3. Dr. Woo

    Dr. Woo Guns don't kill people

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    I still say Seville > that in terms of looks.
     
  4. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Such a shame it wasn't RWD, it'd be an even better used bargain.
     
  5. racerchris

    racerchris Guest

    Looks even better inperson. :bowdown:
     
  6. autoracer1

    autoracer1 Rallyx postponed :wtc: Next one May 10.

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    .86 with garbage allseasons :eek3: In a cadillac :eek3:

    Too bad it looks pathetic.
     
  7. linenoyz

    linenoyz OT Supporter

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    I'd pimp that. :coold:
     
  8. Dr. Woo

    Dr. Woo Guns don't kill people

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    If it were RWD, I'd be SO tempted.

    Damn cost-cutting. Damn it to HELL.
     
  9. n2_space

    n2_space Space > *.*

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    Looks nice :cool:
     
  10. Caddy is back baby! :coold:
     
  11. ak700rmk

    ak700rmk New Member

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  12. Intellex

    Intellex Dogs love me cause I'm crazy sniffable OT Supporter

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    I like it, but it seems like it should be wider...
     
  13. Bobby Ballsack

    Bobby Ballsack I could be a friend to you

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    Caddy is not messing around.

    Beautiful.
     
  14. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    I wonder what they'll use to power the STS-V?

    I've heard blown Northstar, or heavily breathed on LS2. :naughty:
     
  15. Platinum_Thunder

    Platinum_Thunder Reliability for life and liberty

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  16. spydaman54

    spydaman54 Guest

    the sts-v is coming out soon
     
  17. MAD PUNK inDC

    MAD PUNK inDC Sic Semper Tyrannis

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    took them long enough, I've been waiting to see something like this from Cadillac since the mid 90s. :cool:
     
  18. Kerpal

    Kerpal handlobraes

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    caddy is coming out with some mean cars these days :eek:
     

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