December 6, 2006
The DTS is the classic smooth, special-occasion Cadillac. It’s the long sleek sedan that you’re likely to get a ride in at a wedding, or perhaps a funeral (hopefully not your own – it may also be the hearse).
The DTS is a direct successor to Cadillac’s famous DeVille nameplate and continues its premium luxury sedan traditions: a plush ride and an amazing array of passenger comfort features pamper and protect its intended upper-crust occupants to the hilt.
Power goes to the front wheels from a whisper-quiet Northstar 4.6-litre V8 engine. It’s no sports car but it’s certainly no slouch either. My test DTS also came with a “Performance Package” (an extra $2,200) that included a high-output version of the 4.6-litre engine with some extra power.
Its freshened design has new-shape Xenon headlights and tall slender LED (light emitting diode) lights on its rear. It’s a more rounded conservative design compared to sharper-lined Cadillac designs, like the CTS or XLR.
The DTS is obviously aimed at more mature, traditional Cadillac buyers and has a presence and understated charm that’s quite appealing. What surprised me was the age range of people who really liked it – including my seventeen year-old son.
On the inside, my DTS came with black leather, wood panel inserts and chrome trimmings inside. Packed with a whole host of electronic features, it’s hard to know where to start. The front seats were amazing: in addition to a complete range of power adjustments, both seats were cooled (through perforations in centre leather panels), heated and they could give you a massage too, while you drive. Bring-on those long rush-hour commutes!
The DTS comes with six standard air bags and the front passenger position has an industry-first ‘dual depth’ bag. This technology deploys either a small or large air bag dependent on crash severity, seat belt usage and seat position.
Considering the generally mature adult oriented market for Cadillac’s the DTS is surprisingly “child seat friendly”. It comes with a bonus centre-rear UAS (or LATCH) child seat attachment but I found the rear seat upper tether anchorages awkward to use. Although the front passenger seat got a ‘good’ booster seat rating, a rear seat position is still considered safer and a preferred location.
On the highway, the DTS glides along on a compliant suspension that hides or softens most road imperfections and it gobbles up the highway with the classy comfort you’d expect in a Cadillac. Although no “corner carver” the DTS did surprise me by the calm and stabile way it got around the bendy bits.
There’s a lot going on behind the scenes to make the big car agile. Sophisticated electronic drivability enhancers make DTS the road equivalent of a Stealth fighter plane, which I’m told would fall from the sky if its computers died. There’s Magnetic Ride Control, a system that continuously monitors and can instantly vary suspension damping to maintain a level ride. In addition, Stabilitrak is an electronic stability control system that helps correct “understeer” or “oversteer” by applying the brakes at selected wheels.
It “Magnasteer” speed-sensitive variable-assist rack-and-pinion steering system offers a light touch for parking and more feedback at highway speeds. The rear suspension has an automatic load-level system that maintains suspension height when you fill the trunk with golf gear.
The DTS is a big vehicle, so parking it can be an issue. However, Cadillac has that covered too with Ultrasonic Parking Assist. Both the front and rear had this obstacle detection system, which gives an audible and a visible warning of an approaching impact.
I have to confess to being a bit of a ‘gadget geek’ and the DTS is ‘gadget wonderland.’ The only thing it didn’t have was a navigational system, but it is an option. In addition to stuff already mentioned, the test DTS came with IntelliBeam (auto dimming) headlights, a radar-based adaptive cruise control (you set the distance from the car in front); an adaptive Remote Start system with personalized settings, the OnStar system, tri-zone climate control and a power tilt/telescopic steering wheel that’s also heated. Even the rear seats were heated and came with power lumbar supports.
The audio system included an MP3 player hook-up and XM Satellite Radio. You pay a user fee and get over 140 stations and it gives a digital readout on each artist and song title. Not sure why you need 140-plus stations but it was as clear as a bell in most situations, except for wooded areas – Mother Nature’s revenge!
It may old-age creeping up, but this big classic Cadillac is sure appealing. I enjoyed my time in the new Cadillac DTS.
Manufacturer’s web site