I apologize for the delay in re-posting, but....;
Coming from previous 6 year ownership of a 1995 Eldorado, as well as having a 1997 Deville and a 2002 STS in my father’s and father-in-law’s respective garages, gives me great perspective on where Cadillac has come from, and where it’s going in the future.
First, let me say I loved my Diamond White Eldo! Great looks, backed up by very nice, reliable performance, combined with a roomy and luxurious interior, made that car one of my all time favorites. The new STS has a very big shoes to fill indeed!
After a few weeks of shopping, looking at everything from Audi A6s to GMC Denalis to BMW 5series to late model DTSs, my wife found this car on eBay, for sale in a little town in Ohio, 45 minutes from Pittsburgh. It’s a 2005 STS4 all wheel drive with the 1SG performance package. It has 18” wheels, and all options save the Adaptive Cruise Control and Heads Up Display were checked on the order sheet. We flew out on a Saturday, planning on enjoying ourselves and our new-to-us Cadillac on the 1400 mile journey home.
The first thing we noticed is that the car doesn’t look anything like any of the Caddys that have preceded it, save the CTS. It looks much taller, but less lengthy and more compact than our Eldo, but in reality it’s less than a foot shorter bumper to bumper. The height is visually offset by the spoiler perched atop the short decked, high waisted rear end, and the overall package looks nicely balanced. It’s not nearly as elegant as the Eldorado, but not many cars are! Let’s open the door and have a peek inside.
The interior is awesome! The fit and finish is above average, and the materials are a top notch product. The storage and amenities are light years ahead of the Eldo, which was my biggest gripe concerning Caddys of yesteryear. The front seats are firm, but comfortable, thanks to the near infinite adjustability, and are heated and cooled for your driving pleasure. The steering wheel is just the right size, smaller diameter than the Caddys I’m used to, with just the right amount of thickness for a firm but delicate grip. It’s laid out nicely with volume and channel controls on the right side, and mute, voice activation, and heater on the left. Yes, heated steering wheel! Too cool!
The center stack is laid out nicely, just above the dual gate chrome plated shifter plate. Driver and separate passenger climate controls near the bottom, radio and navigation in the middle, and a touch screen at the top. On the screen, you can access a whole plethora of options, including navigation, radio, and vehicle personalization.
The instrument panel is a true thing of beauty, clearly lit and easy to see in any lighting condition. I wouldn’t change a thing!! The DIC is easily operated, and scrolling as well as resetting is accomplished with the buttons to the left of the instrument cluster. They make the DIC in the Eldo seem far outdated and difficult to use.
To fire up the 320hp Northstar, leave the keys in your pocket. Just push the green lit Start button while keeping one foot on the brake, and the car rumbles to life. Out on the road, the engine pulls smoothly and quietly, with the transmission going about it’s duty in a most unassuming way. It runs and drives just like a Cadillac should, elegant and effortless, although it’s easy to tell that this is not your father’s Cadillac. The suspension is firm yet supple, but on a whole different plane of reality than our old Eldo. The low profile 45 and 50 series tires add to this sensation, resulting in ride characteristics comparable to the German marques in the same target demographics. Then, if you’re really in the mood for some fun, move the wood and leather covered shift knob to the right side of the chrome plated shifter gate, and you and the car are transformed to an asphalt devouring, corner gripping, high revving, driving machine! The sport mode automatically comes on, but will continue to do the shifting work for you, unless you make the moves on the sequential, slap-stick style shifter. The gears are held longer, and the tranny doesn’t automatically upshift when you let off the throttle, making it a joy to throw the car into a corner, knowing it won’t have to downshift as you leave the apex. It stays in the gear you want!! The suspension tightens up a bit in sport mode, and with the traction control combined with the other built in safety controls, it’s difficult to feel anything but supreme confidence in the twisties.
Now, the bad news. Fuel consumption is not what we’ve come to expect from Cadillac! I suppose it could be the extra ponies that need to be fed, or possibly the parasitic drivetrain losses associated with AWD, or most likely, a combination of both. We saw just over 21mpg on our trip home, mostly interstate driving. A far cry from the high 20s we were used to in the old ride. After nearly 2 months of ownership, we’re seeing ~16mpg around town, which I think I can live with, even with the high price of premium fuels these days.
Ingress and egress is not as easy and trouble free as it was with the Eldo, the doors are too short, and the B pillar is too far forward for my tastes, but I’m 6’3” tall, so that may have something to do with it. The knee room is also less than I’m used to, and I had a hard time staying comfortable after a few hours on the road. The trunk space is also smaller than I like in a luxury car, much smaller than the Eldo, and I had trouble getting 2 sets of golf clubs and 1 push cart to fit. There is a pass-thru between the rear seats that extends the trunk, which would be handy for skis, but not much else. Lumber maybe?
All in all, I really like the direction of this latest version of Cadillac, away from the Blue Hair specials and into 21st century performance. It’s a world class luxury performance sedan that doesn’t take a back seat to anything in it’s price range.