2006 Cadillac DTS
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Review and photos by Peter Bleakney

While cocooned in the sybaritic splendour of the 2006 Cadillac DTS, a Caddy ad featuring the music of Led Zeppelin came blasting forth from the eight-speaker Bose audio system: “Been a long time since I rock and rolled” What the hell, I asked myself out loud, does Robert Plant’s banshee wailing have to do with this car?

Granted, some of Cadillac’s other offerings, especially the performance oriented V cars, rock pretty hard, but this DTS (nee Deville) is aimed squarely at the old school Cadillac customer. Think Florida, fake landau roof and the “eventual left” turn signal flashing from Ft. Myers to Naples.

But then I got it. It’s a more literal message. They’re trying to tell us that their new cars don’t rock (pitch) and roll (list) as much as the land yachts of yore. Very clever.

Be that as it may, after a few clicks behind the wheel of the DTS, I felt my prostate enlarging, my pant line rose to just below my sagging breasts, and all I could think about was my RRSPs. Plus I couldn’t find my way home.

Which leads me to believe that Cadillac has no intention of alienating a very big slice of its customer demographic. Despite the large egg-crate grill, LED taillights and a few extra creases in the bodywork, the DTS cuts a fairly conservative and stately profile. It has an upright greenhouse and a big long trunk – perfect for the golfers and Goodfellas.

2006 Cadillac DTS
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The DTS is a front-wheel-drive sedan, and motivation comes courtesy of Cadillac’s excellent 4.6-litre DOHC 32-valve Northstar V8, transversely mounted here and mated to a Hydra-Matic four-speed automatic. In this age of seven-speed Mercedes transmissions, that may seem a bit lo-tech, but for the car’s intended audience, four gears should be just fine. Shifts are seamless and power flow is smooth and uninterrupted.

The base DTS, with a price of $52,680, keeps a 275-hp LD8 Northstar under its hood. My tester was fitted with the Preferred Equipment Group 1SE Performance Package that upgrades the engine to the higher-revving 291-hp L37 HO Northstar that puts out 286 lb-ft of torque at 4400 rpm. The price jumps to $63,835.

This V8 certainly propels the 1836 kg sedan with authority and makes the most un-geriatric noises when the pedal hits the metal. If you’re in a real hurry to get to bingo, however, you’ll feel some torque steer under hard acceleration, but otherwise the proceedings are suitably civilized.

Along with the engine upgrade, the Performance package adds 18-inch alloys, xenon headlamps, heated and cooled front seats with power massaging lumbar, heated rear seats with power lumbar, driver seat memory package, heated and power adjustable wood-trimmed steering wheel, power-folding and auto-dim mirrors, StabiliTrak electronic stability program with panic brake assist, parking assist, 8-speaker Bose system with in-dash 6-CD changer, XM satellite radio, rain sensing wipers, heated washer nozzles, universal home remote, and power rear window sunshade.

In addition, Magnetic Ride Control is included, which is a computer controlled suspension system that can adjust the shock stiffness according to road conditions up to 1000 times per second. The shock oil contains tiny metallic spheres that change orientation when exposed to an electrical current, thereby instantly increasing or decreasing the viscosity of the fluid.

2006 Cadillac DTS
Click image to enlarge

Despite having this clever system and wearing large 245/50R18 H-rated tires, there isn’t much dynamically about the DTS that encourages spirited driving. Your first on-ramp adventure confirms Cadillac’s largest sedan (23 cm longer than that BMW 7-Series) is mainly tuned for comfort. Don’t want to be scaring away the traditional Caddy crowd.

Just to make sure, the Magnasteer steering is effortless and Novocain numb, and the marvellously comfy, heated, cooled, massaging and infinitely adjustable seats offer little lateral support. GM seems to have engineered in just the tiniest bit of float too, which should make those trading up from previous generation Devilles feel right at home.

But enough of what the DTS isn’t. What it does best is coddle its occupants in opulent luxury and offer all the mod-cons one expects from this class of car. Tri-level automatic climate control with back seat air-con controls? Check. Park assist, remote starting and a plethora of airbags? Yup. A general sense of complete isolation from the outside world? You got it. The DTS is unabashedly American and quintessentially Cadillac.

2006 Cadillac DTS
Click image to enlarge

The all-new interior is nicely conceived and build-quality is first-rate, with expensive feeling leather, plastic and wood surfaces. Adorning the top of the centre stack is a rectangular art-deco inspired analogue clock. All the controls are easy to use and easy to find, which is thankfully at odds with the current European luxury car trend wherein one must spend an hour with the “control interface” manual just to find out how to change radio stations. A DVD-based satellite navigation system is available for $3,335.

This tester’s interior was a sombre black. The DTS pamphlet showed one in light brown and cream, which looked infinitely more inviting to these eyes. Not only does a lighter shade bring the car into the 21st century, it also contrasts nicely with the burled walnut trim that was essentially lost in my car’s sea of black.

2006 Cadillac DTS
Click image to enlarge

My tester was also fitted with the $2,200 optional Adaptive Cruise Control that will, via radio waves, maintain a set distance between you and the car in front. The system works well, with acceleration and braking forces limited to .25 gs. If it senses emergency braking is necessary, an alarm will sound to rouse you from your reverie.

I must confess, the more time I spent in the DTS, the more I appreciated its ventilated seats, magic carpet ride and the satellite radio, which was blasting a continuous flow of classic rock from XM 46 Top Tracks. Very cool.

Then it happened. I looked down and my blinker was on. Oh gawd! How long has that been flashing away? Then a sale sign at our local golf store caught my eye. And I don’t even play golf. Noooo! Did that blue-haired honey just give me the eye? Say it isn’t so!

A shot of Led Zeppelin was just what I needed. Ironically, a line from the very song Cadillac uses for its ad campaign would do the trick: “Lemme get back, lemme get back, lemme get back, baby where I come from.”

Pricing: 2006 Cadillac DTS with 1SE Performance Package


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Crash test results

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