: Comparison. 1997 Seville SLS v. 1999 M-B S320

03-30-08, 05:49 PM
I work at a Chevy dealership, in service, and every so often our used car department will get a cool car in on trade. Yesterday we got a '97 Cadillac Seville SLS in on trade. Now I always liked the 92-97 Sevilles....thought they were beautifiul cars, inside and out. I always thought highly of the power made by the 4.6L Northstar V8, and I always enjoyed the performance (http://www.benzworld.org/forums/#) afforded by the engine, transmission and sophisticated suspension design. Then I bought the Benz last summer and sort of forgot about the 92-97 Sevilles. But I'm not one to not drive a nice car like this, especially when there's no obligation to buy and no salesman riding shotgun.

Exterior design:
Winner goes to the Benz. The 140 series, IMO, is the most beautiful European car produced ever. The 92-97 Seville is an AMAZING looking car too, arguably the best looking American sedan ever, especially the 1992-94 STS, when they had the first type of wheels. The 1992-97 Seville has an amazing profile, but the blackout grille, lack of hood ornament, different wheels, foglamps and lack of chrome really make the STS the more beautiful of the two. The SLS, with the additional chrome, hood ornament and different wheels doesn't look as nearly as good as the early STS's. The Seville looks much smaller and more lithe than the Benz. It looks Italian to the Benz's very Germanic design.

Interior design:
Again, to the S Class. The Seville, especially post 1995, has a great interior design, but there are some things I don't like about it...the higher dashboard hinders frontward vision for short guys like me, and it lacks that solid, heavy feeling that the 140 has. When looking at the dashboard and center console design in the Seville, you can definitely see the M-B inspiration though.

Tough call. They are both DOHC, four valve per cylinder designs, but the SLS, obviously, is a fairly good sized V-8, and the S320 is a small I-6. On paper, it seems as though the SLS would be MUCH quicker than the S320, but I gotta admit, after driving the same route in both cars back to back, the S320 is almost as, if not as, fast as the SLS. The SLS gets it's acceleration power from the power of the Northstar. The S320 gets it's power from a slightly less powerful I-6, but a much more useful five speed transmission. The gearing in the Benz is much tighter than the SLS. It's never really out of it's sweet spot, and it's very quick to shift when you need it to be. There were some times when I'd be driving the SLS and I'd punch it, and it would sort of bog down because the transmission was in a dead zone and it wouldn't downshift so you'd have to wait until the motor reached 3500-4000 RPMs to open up and fly by.

I did three different WOT exercises in both cars, from the exact same speeds, at the exact same locations. 20-50 going downhill and 20-70 on an entrance ramp, and lastly, 60 MPH. On the 20-50, it seemed very tight, but I think the SLS might have edged it out. On the 20-70, it seemed the Benz would edge it out because it would just keep pulling at the same rate once it shifted into third, and not bog out. During the 60 mph WOT, it was too close to tell. I was surprised by the SLS though, I did a 60 MPH WOT in a '98 DeVille a few years back, and that thing was FAST from that speed, but this SLS wasn't. I thought 60 was the best spot for the LD8.

As far as the suspension and handling was concerned, I can't really comment. The SLS had worn out struts (or atleast I'd hope that what it was), so every time you'd hit a bump, dip or hump, it would bounce and jiggle like an overweight belly dancer. And then every time that would happen, I'd hear a loud thunk coming from the RF corner.

As far as the transmission goes, the 722.6 does a better job of keeping the M104 in it's sweet spot at all times, and shifts quickly and easily when need be, but sometimes it can act quirky. The 4T80-E doesn't do as well as keeping the Northstar in it's sweet spot, but it's shifting is always predictable and smooth. Not to mention that transmission is as durable as anything. But....the 722.6 has that driver adaptive feature, the 4T80-E wouldn't until a few years later, so for as far as this comparison goes, 722.6 for the win.

Benz for the win. They both take the same amount of effort, but it seems as though the S Class has better, more direct, steering feel and therefore enhances confidence behind the wheel. Also, the Seville, like most other GM cars from that era, only has four or five detents the wheel can tilt to...The steering column in my car is electrically adjustable for tilt and reach.

It's a tough call. The Cadillac uses soft, deep, plush seats and the Mercedes uses firm, stiff seats. The M-B has 12 way power adjustable seats and I think the Cadillacs only adjust six ways. So upon first sit, the Cadillac seems more comfortable, but M-B took orthopedics into major consideration when they designed their seats, so I'd safely assume they're more comfortable over the long haul. In the rear quarters, the S Class has much more legroom, so I'd say it's more of a limousine, thereby better for long road trips with many passengers. The Fleetwood's rear seat room is comparable to the S, so it would make for the best comparison.

The Seville was slapped together by union slobs. The Mercedes was meticulously assembled in Germany, Stuttgart I believe.

Mercedes for the win. Double paned glass, self closing doors, xenon headlamps, headlamp wipers and washers, etc etc. But the SLS does have a trip computer, the S does not.

The Benz feels better, looks better, is engineered better, but really, it's in a whole different class from the SLS. It's a silly comparison really. The SLS is the value leader, and is much cheaper to own outright, and in the long run.

04-01-08, 12:12 AM
Nice review!

04-01-08, 12:38 AM
Oh, I should mention that this SLS was in very good shape in and out, and only had 93k on it. So it's not like it was a POS 190k mile beater SLS. This was one man's pride and joy (I actually talked with the owner earlier that day) and he took care of it, but didn't have enough time to tend to it. Which probably explains why the struts were shot so bad.

04-01-08, 01:19 AM
i personaly like the SLS/STS 95 - 2002 a lot better than the S320 or S430, if it's a S600 or S500, then it's another story. i seen a 08 black deville, with the presidential grill at the dealership just a few weeks ago, i was going to have an orgasm, that was the most beautiful car I've ever seen.

04-01-08, 04:27 PM
Nice review! I am glad you are still so happy with your Mercedes. You are correct the cars are really not comparable; seeing as the M-B S series is a much more expensive car, even in its' economy editions. Styling is always a subjective thing and it's a "what ever turns you on" judgement call. I personally prefer the STS version of 92-95 Seville, those years M-Bs always bring the term "Fat Burgher" to mind. I much prefer the recently departed S series cars .... before they "bangle-butted" the model. I quess my biggest complaint with Mercedes is that they are so obscenely heavy requiring more and more horsepower to get them to move with any alacrity.
Build quality certainly seems better, but I've always wondered whether this is an impression given off by their shear weight as opposed to some quantum leap in the quality of materials. Your comment about Detroit's "union slobs" I think is a bit misguided; as it is a misconception that Mercedes built in Germany are assembled by Germans ........ the assembly line workers are predominately unionized Turkish nationals (guest workers) and other Eastern Europeans and Mediterraneans and have been since the 1950's. I thinks Detroit's deficit in this area has more to do with the speed of the assembly lines and price engineering, than with the conscientiousness of the assembly work force. Having lived, and overseen workers, on four continents I have only good things to say about the American worker. As always I enjoy your reviews of various cars and products, and always look forward to hearing your personal insights. Keep those reviews coming.

04-01-08, 06:44 PM
Thanks for the positive feedback everyone! I wanted to test drive that '96 FWB on Friday, but didn't feel like dealing with sales people. so I gave up on that. Luckily we got that '97 SLS in on Saturday, so I got my Cadillac fix.

Now what will I drive and review next??

04-09-08, 06:10 PM
The first car I ever drove on my own was a 94 SLS. It was really my first car because I drove it most of the time because my parents right after I got my license didnt want my driving my brand new truck at night lol. If I had to choose between the two I would have taken the Caddy for sure but then again Im a little biased lol. There are very few new cars I would choose over that old Caddy lol. That model is kinda of special to me. Glad you like your car.
Now im starting to remember all the crazy $hit we use to do in that car lol.

04-14-08, 02:18 AM
That was a good read. I'd pick the STS over the S320, and both over the SLS. But a W140 with a bigger engine versus a 98+ STS would be very hard to choose between.

08-24-08, 03:27 PM
W140 was very nice car. But as you say , SLS is not in the class which S320 belongs. You should compare SLS with Mercedes E class or something like that, and believe me Cadillac will beats. Especially 1998 E class has not got even trip computer! Lol...

08-24-08, 09:17 PM
I realized that you said " S class has not got trip computer " , after I posted. It is interesting, are you sure?

08-25-08, 12:02 AM
Yep, no trip computer in the S Class until the W220 debuted in '00.