: It's not new, it's what next.

01-19-09, 12:51 PM
I've written a completely new review on Seville. This one focuses more on the car itself, and not entirely mine. This review is also more in-line with that would have been written in the late 90's, as opposed to my other, which is focused from my point of view 9 years after the car was sold originally.

ďItís not new, itís what nextĒ. This was the tagline to describe the all-new 1998 Cadillac Seville when it was introduced. I think this was supposed to get hordes of Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, and BMW buyers into Cadillac showrooms for the first time in decades and show them how much better the Seville was. Unfortunately, no one bought that cheesy campaign and much like ďThe Caddy that zigsĒ, it didnít attract those customers into showrooms and the sales faltered. We cannot blame an ad campaign on the Sevilleís failure as a sports sedan. Quite simple: the car isnít a sports sedan. Itís a luxury car that has the added benefit of handling pretty decently in the corners. As Car and Driver to eloquently put it ďItís a luxury sedan that simply doesnít embarrass in the hillsĒ. I think that sums up the 1998-2003 Seville STS quite well. However, the car itself is great. Perfect? God no, but itís amazing in its own little way. It surprises you in ways that other cars could never do, and itís styling continues to be timeless.

A stylistic evolution of the í92-í97 Seville which was a hit from the start, Cadillac figured it was smart not to mess with a great thing. Actually, a freaking great thing as the Seville STS remained a sexy masterpiece right up until they killed Seville in Ď04. The new car was definitely subtle, but it was a great evolution of the í92. The lines were more rounded; the car was wider, yet shorter by 3 inches. The wrap-around headlights and redesigned bumper added appeal to the car, and integrated fog lamps look very neat and well matched. The side profile is similar, but again more rounded with a more European look. Clean, sophisticated, elegant, and all badass American Cadillac. The flair of the 50ís and 60ís, and the drabness of the 70ís and 80ís were replaced by a purely American design that showcased the finest Detroit built. Lincoln had the boring and unstylish Continental, and Chrysler wasnít even a player in the field anymore. Lexus had just redesigned the GS400 as a bloated pig; the Mercedes E420 was stodgy and clinical looking. The BMW 540i was really the only car that could compare to Seville, but even then looked quite pale next to it. The best part of the Seville design is the crease in the trunk, which offers a kind of integrated spoiler, and then the line flows down the side of the car into the hood.

The Seville STS would be nothing without a great motor. Luckily, Cadillac was smart enough to realize in the early 90ís they would need a premium power plant to compete with brands like BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Lexus. You know, Lexus? The one that completely changed the face of the luxury automobile market showed Cadillacís that building crap is not acceptable. So the premium power plant in question here is the 4.6L DOHC 32 valve North star: A wonderful pain in the ass; 300 powerful, beautiful sounding horsepower that launch the STS to 60 in 6.8 seconds. Not bad for a 4,000 pound car. Along with that is the so-called ďNorth star SystemĒ, which integrates the motor with the suspension, brakes, and transmission. The tranny in Seville is a typical 4-speed unit, which compared to the others 5 speeds seems quite pale. However, the beauty behind this tranny is something called PAS, or Performance Algorithm Shifting. The car automatically detects driving habits and holds the gear and you maneuver the car. HmmmÖ sounds a lot like a manual tranny. Unfortunately, it only works optimally half the time.

As for the overall handling of the car, itís pretty good. Remember, this is a 2-ton, FWD luxury car so handling usually isnít something that captures attention. Cadillac figured out how to make it handle decently, using technologies such as StabiliTrak and CVRSS. Stabilitrak is the ultimate traction system, keeping the car firmly planted when you come up on broken down power lines, and automatically puts pressure on one of the front brakes to put the car back on track. Now this may sound like a normal traction control system to you, but in real world uses itís much better than the systems offered on other cars. CVRSS, or Continuously Variable Road Sensing Suspension automatically adjusts the shocks on each road type, and helps smooth out the ride. It also helps the handling and keeps the car more firmly planted through the corners. Unfortunately this is a FWD car, so all the electronic wizardry in the world canít hide that fact. The car pushes in the corners and understeers often. The PAS does help the power situation, but youíre still reminded youíre not driving a Bimmer. Thatís ok though, as the target audience for the Seville really arenít canyon carvers, regardless of what those commercials say. Handling is predictable though, and offers a great sense of control.

Nuance leather, zebrano wood accents, and Bose stereo? I must be talking about the Sevilleís interior, which offers a mix of luxurious leathers and sub-standard materials. Starting with the good is the elegant teardrop design of the dash, which is simple yet sophisticated. The gauges are neat, coming to life with the turn of the key, which is very Lexus-like presentation. The leather is soft to the touch and smells amazing, and the seats are perfect for those long weekend getaways, and the seat heaters work wonderfully. However there are a few downsides to the interior. The biggest is the build quality, which is quite poor for a $50k car. The Seville suffers from lots of inconsistent panel gaps, poorly constructed headliner material, and poor fitments of several interior parts. Rattles emit through the cabin over rough roads, the glove box door is misaligned. The weatherstripping constantly needs re-attachment. All of this ruin the Sevilleís cabin experience, and show that Cadillac isnít serious about competing against BMW and Mercedes. Rear seat occupants are coddled with heated seats, and just enough legroom. There isnít too much room under the seats, so if youíre above six foot you might find it uncomfortable after a long period of time. If youíre looking for lots of rear seat room, buy a Deville. There is one component of the interior that never fails to amaze, and that is the astounding Bose 4.0 425 watt stereo. This stereo was specifically designed for the Seville STS (optional in SLS) and uses DSP technology with 8 logically placed speakers that emit a sound like no other. Why canít every car have this system installed? Whether youíre a Beethoven or Def Leppard listener, this car will not disappoint. The bass is typical Bose, but I have to say that it hits harder than any other Iíve heard. The quality of sound is excellent, and it sounds like youíre sitting a few feet from the artist themselves. Very few cars can match the quality of sound and ease of use of the unit. It also includes one of the automotive industryís first RDS (Radio Data System), which allows the radio to pick up signals and transmit data on the display.

So now letís proceed to the list of problems a potential Seville owner might face. These include: random people stopping you to ask about your Caddy, street racing some punk in a BMW and beating him, then seeing him whimper away with its valves in pain, a grandma from Florida saying how much she loves your car, or just driving around with a smug look on your face feeling superior because itís so god damn sexy. But honestly, the list of Seville issues could fill up a phonebook. With all of the electronic gobbledygook and technology, itís bound to screw up one day. So, do youíre research before purchasing one of these vehicles. The 2000 Sevilleís offer a redesigned motor; maximized to run on regular gas, coil on plug (COP) ignition, and a host of other improvements. The 2003 Seville STS offers up MagnaRide, the same suspension system used in the 50th Anniversary Corvette and some Ferrariís. Iíve been told this completely makes the CVRSS obsolete, and turns the STS into quite a sporty FWD sedan.

So what about value? How does it stack up? Well the base price for a 2000 Seville STS is $48,680. Adding the heated seat package, wood package, chrome wheels, and 6 CD changer puts the price right below $53k. Thatís not bad, especially when a similarly equipped Mercedes would go for $56k and the BMW around $58k. The GS400 does tie the Seville for price, but is saddled with homely looks. The problem with the Seville is the typically lower resale value that it offers. After 5 years, the Seville will only hold 20 to 25 percent of its value, whereas the BMW and Merc will still have 40 to 45 percent. The best value in the class is undoubtedly the Lexus GS400, which offers up a price similar to Seville, better handling, better interior materials, a more comfortable rear-seat, and a much nicer Navigation system. However none of the other vehicles can match the Sevilleís styling, ease of use, and astounding stereo. I can only imagine what the Seville STS would be if it had a slightly better built cabin and RWD. It would be damn near perfect.

So what is the final consensus on the Cadillac Seville STS? Well, if youíre looking for a sports sedan, head on over to your BMW dealership to pick up a 5-series. This car is just not serious enough to be a sports sedan. Itís too heavy, too soft, and too big. If youíre looking for an extremely comfortable, gorgeous powerful highway cruiser with decent handling, the Seville is perfect. Is it worth its $50k price tag? Ehhh, not so much. The car lacks the overall refinement and status of other luxury brands. Youíre best bet is to pick up a used Seville, which are now reaching the low teens. Unless you buy one brand new, this car is the best value on the luxury car market.

01-20-09, 12:29 PM
I have to disagree with you on the build quality. MY weatherstripping never comes off, the panel gaps are a little off, specifically the wood trim from dash to doors, but I don't have any rattles.

all the rest though, top notch as always.