: Test Drive Review: 1996 Fleetwood Brougham.

06-09-09, 12:28 AM
Surprisingly road-able for such a levithian.


Exterior design: 8/10
Interior design: 7/10
Powertrain: 9/10
Acceleration: 8.5/10
Suspension: 8/10
Steering: 7.5/10

Overall: 8/10

This one was built in July of '96, has 73k miles and they want $6995 for it.

Ok, let me start this off by saying that I was honestly SURPRISED at how nicely this car drives. No, not in the traditional land-yacht sense, but how firm and controlled it was, for a car of it's size and magnitude. It actually seemed rather....European in the way it didn't bob or bounce after it hit a bump or undulation in the road, especially at speed. It was a lot firmer and controlled than the Roadmaster I drove a few months back (or the one I owned...). I just felt more confident doing evasive maneuvers in this, and even with the way it takes corners at low speeds is better than the Roadmaster or Town Car (the last one I drove being a 1996 Executive Series withOUT the handling package). No, it's no 7 Series or S Class in the way it handles, but it's VERY good for a car two hundered and twenty five inches long. At speed, even the steering seemed more direct than in the Roadmaster, but at low speeds, it's two-finger easy.

I think even compared to the 1992 Sedan deVille I owned, this one rode firmer and more controlled, but my friend Kevin, who rode along with me on the test drive (I like a second opinion) didn't agree. He did agree that the FWB offers a much more controlled ride than the 1994 Town Car I looked at a few years back (that one made him carsick). I seem to remember the SDV bouncing more on the highway when I'd hit a rough patch of pavement, or a dip.

The LT1 power is very good, not as fast as I remembered, but the mind warps over time, am I right? It's definitely a few classes (pun intended) above my little twin cam 3.2 liter inline six. Torque is immediate and endless, power never seems to top off and it's velvet smooth, and just loud enough so you know something's brewing down there, but never intrusive. I noticed a definite loss in power after jumping back into the Mercedes, so I'd guesstimate at it being atleast a second quicker in the 0-60 than mine, so figure about 7.5 or so, on the high end. I was going down a paved road with a lot of peat gravel on it, and I gave it about 1/3-1/2 throttle while doing about 30 mph and I felt the traction control kick in, and the road was dry! Is it as quick as the Regal GS I like (more)? Probably not, but it's quite close, and the power is more attainable. There's no replacement for displacement.

This one did not have the mechanical fan, so it did not have the trailer tow package, which means it has the 2.93:1 open rear differential, same ratio as my Roadmaster, except mine was posi-traction, which meant that it had the trailer tow package, with the mechanical fan (hated that, so loud).

I always liked the styling of these 1993-1996 Fleetwoods. They were a definite product of early '90s GM (big and rounded) and when you combine that with the sheer size of the car, along with my favorite exterior design cue; the HUGE grille, give it much presence, especially considering how rare they are. They still don't grab my eye as much as a clean 1990-92 does, but it's certainly more eye catching than anything else Cadillac was making than, aside from a white STS or ETC. Unlike the new-for-'90 Town Car, the Fleetwood is easily identifiable as a product of the '90s. The TC looks much more clean cut and proportionally correct, much less radical than the FWB. In a different sense, the 90-97 Town Car looks like what would have come in between the 1992 Brougham and 1993 Fleetwood....it's a much more natural progression.

The interior, while very clean and in my favorite color, lacks any visual excitement. There are lots of big, flat surfaces and not a lot of small details, like in the older Broughams. The instrument cluster is extremely simple, just a fuel gauge, digital :bigroll: speedometer, odometer and trip odometer. The Town Car definitely has the advantage there...atleast it has the trip computer and two trip odometers. But then again, considering the demographics of these cars, anything more would be a surprise. Like I said before, I never really liked the dash in these.....it's huge. Deep and tall, but for no good reason. Is there really that much stuff in there? It hinders front legroom, because it hangs down so low, which means we've gotta push the seats back for good room, which hinders the rear legroom. Other than those two things, the interior is very good for it's main duty....cross country travel.

The seats are awesome...just the perfect balance of firmness and cush, with many adjustments and heat, all covered in a very soft leather. The back seat, for whatever reason, was quite firm. No, not like my S Class, but surprisingly so for a Cadillac. Maybe they were never sat in? FWIW, the seats in my DeVille were much more plush, but lacked the lumbar and heat of these. In the long run, I'd say the FWB seats are more comfortable, only because they're probably more orthopedically correct.

It didn't seem to have the abundant interior space of the SDV though. There definitely wasn't as much front legroom, and I could have sworn it had less rear seat legroom, but that's probably because it's got to deal with the rear axle and differential, and FWD cars always have more interior space, it's a design trait.

Would I buy it?

I liked it a lot, but the Regal GS still is top dog. Why you ask? Well the Regal is much easier to live with on a day-to-day basis, not only because it's like three feet shorter, but because I wouldn't be so paranoid about it, because it's just a souped up family sedan, not the king of Cadillacs. At this point in my life, I don't want a car I have to baby and pamper. I just want something I can enjoy, but as a regular car, not some super rare, semi collectible relic of a past era, and I mean that in the good way. I wonder if maybe I would like a 4.9 DeVille more? They're like twenty inches shorter, or the same size as my S Class, and have more creature comforts than the FWB, and are a bit more maneuverable and road-able. The 4.9 offers about 80% of the power of the LT1, and it's just as reliable. Too bad it's FWD. :anger: I was gonna go look at a 1993 SDV for sale later on tonight, but everyone at the Saturn dealer in which it was located was busy. I'll have to find a 94-95 SDV to drive. They have a much more modern interior than the 1991-93's do, but have those wheel skirts, which throws off the proportions and makes it look rather frumpy.

06-09-09, 08:29 AM
Awesome review. I love that color combo! If it had the Moonroof, I would be all over it.

Do the FWB and Regal GS get similar gas mileage? I know the FWB takes 87 octane, what about the Regal GS?

Hopefully I can take you for a ride in mine at the Chicago meet... if I still have it then :shhh:

06-09-09, 09:03 AM
I'm glad you liked it. Does it sound pretty similar to yours when it was stock? The Regal gets better mileage, it's rated 18/27 and the FWB is rated 16/25. But knowing how the 3800 works, it'll probably get close to 30 on the highway, and the FWB will always get 25-26, and I really doubt it'll get 16 mpg in town, probably closer to 14-15. The Regal is supposed to take 91 though.

06-09-09, 09:20 AM
When I bought mine, I was looking for a '94-96 Impala SS and I had never driven a '94-96 Fleetwood (I bought mine sight unseen on eBay in 2005). To be honest, I hated the stock ride of my Fleetwood! I upgraded the suspension during the first month of ownership. My front end suspension parts were all worn out, so that may have been the cause of the sloppy feel... maybe the one you drove already had the front end rebuilt?

Other than that, your review pretty much sums it up!

06-09-09, 02:14 PM
That is a stunning car, Chad! Too bad it doesn't fit your life right now. I could see you cruising along in that.

06-09-09, 09:42 PM
Nice review Chad. I drove the last '93 FWB Elias owned and I would say it is about right, but it had the TBI 350 so it was slower. It rode, handled and drove very nicely though, not nearly as tiring to drive as mine (the steering is feathery light, even on the highway and eventually it gets to you).

You really should try driving a '94 or '95 DeVille. I had mine up to 110 with the windows down and I was still able to talk to my friends without raising my voice. They were so well engineered they completely blow away the C-body DeVilles. The windows are very thick, there are dual seals at every door and lots of sound absorbing material so wind noise is almost nothing on the highway. Mine was getting 17 in the city and 25-28 on the highway depending on use of AC and direction of the wind. The seats up front were also closer to bucket seats than benches, very comfortable. They soaked up every bump but that thing could corner like you wouldn't believe. The road I was doing 110 on was out in farm country by my grandma's house and it has a few S-curves in it but I didn't even have to slow down. They may look like a bloated, constipated whale but they drive like a dream.

06-09-09, 09:51 PM
They may look like a bloated, constipated whale but they drive like a dream.

GM should hire you to write ad copy! :p

06-09-09, 10:56 PM
I really wanna drive a 94-95 DeVille, but so many are too high mileage, or are in the wrong color (white or light blue), and so many have the maroon (awful) or blue (not the most desirable IMO) interiors. Yours was beautiful John....maroon with tan!

06-10-09, 01:16 AM
Just got our '93 FWB in March 09. I'm real happy how tight the car is especially front end, but very disappointed in the lack of legroom and I'm not tall.

06-10-09, 07:30 PM
The more I think about it, the more I really want THIS Fleetwood, mainly because of the color combination (IMO the best one possible, along with the Slate Green/Neutral), and the overall condition. There was no rust, no dents, no scratches, and it's fresh to MN (originally came from PA), so that means I could justify getting vanity plates (CHADLAC) or (THEBIG1) on it, because there are no plates on it currently. And much like my Mercedes and the deVille I had, it came from out of state. The S Class came from Naples FL and the SDV came from Nebraska. Both of them were rustfree "snowbelt virgins" when I bought them.

But the thing is, if this car sold and I found another LT1 FWB in a less desirable color combo, I'd probably pass on it. The Carmine Red/Neutral makes this car to me. Suddenly I don't mind the thought of parallel parking it, the big dash and the lack of road feel as long as it looks as good as this one does.

This specific car is optioned beautifully too. Leather, CD Player, Chrome Wheels, Full Size Spare, Autodimming Inside Mirror, V4R Security Package. The only thing I wish it had was the Astroroof, but it's not a deal breaker. The V4P package is not needed for me either, the loud mechanical fan would annoy me, and the 3.42:1 gearing would make mileage even worse, and it's fast enough as is...

06-10-09, 09:34 PM
Chad, keep in mind that you are already driving a relic from a by-gone era, the Fleetwood is kind of the same thing. I personally couldn't bring myself to drive that through a MN winter, its way too nice. Besides, I thought you wanted something smaller and sportier anyways.

Although if that car were for sale locally, I might have bought it on impulse and sold my 1991. That color combo really suits the car well. Its bright, brash, bold, and in your face like the rest of the car.:cool2: I never understood why somebody would order a Fleetwood in silver or grey.

06-10-09, 11:17 PM
Chad, keep in mind that you are already driving a relic from a by-gone era

Hey now, let's watch what we say about the Bangbus!:p

Seriously, Chad, this is not the car for you right now. Maybe when you're a bit older and more financially secure, but not now. And certainly not until the S has sold (I'm assuming it's still nailed to your driveway).

DopeStar 156
06-10-09, 11:41 PM
I don't see why you're not online right now looking for job openings at MotorTrend or Car & Driver.......

06-11-09, 08:27 AM
It will not be a daily driver per se... he has his Astro for that. This would be a weekend cruiser, right?

I bet you could snag that beauty for $5,500 if you showed up with the cash.

06-11-09, 08:35 AM
The Astro is a work vehicle that I spend 8-11 hours in per day, only for work. If I go anywhere at night or on the weekends, I take my car.

06-11-09, 03:24 PM
Yes, and that car is really too nice to be exposed to MN winters and salt and ick. Stick with the planned Regal GS for now.

06-11-09, 06:06 PM
Dangit, you're right. A 4.9 DeVille is still doable also. It wouldn't be as much of a crime to put that thru the salt. The Regal GS makes the most sense, but I still want a Caddy, dammit!

06-11-09, 08:38 PM
Bah, cars are meant to be driven. I felt bad putting the Fleetwood through winter duty but I put some Blizzaks on it and it never let me down. You bet it got a nice thick coat of wax every time I washed it though!

06-11-09, 10:06 PM
Dangit, you're right. A 4.9 DeVille is still doable also. It wouldn't be as much of a crime to put that thru the salt. The Regal GS makes the most sense, but I still want a Caddy, dammit!

I am so glad I am not the only one in such a predicament. I want a Caddy, but at the same time I can not find a car I want and the Fleetwood really needs to go. :grrr:

06-11-09, 10:23 PM
Do u mean the '88 or '90?

06-11-09, 10:59 PM
Do u mean the '88 or '90?

Only his '88 is a "Fleetwood." ;)

If you can get it for $5,500, drive it year round. It is not expensive and it is not a super rare moonroof or V4P car. You could drive it 3 years and still sell it for that price.

06-12-09, 08:00 AM
Besides, I wash my cars weekly in the winter, so it gives the salt little chance to accumulate and do damage.

06-12-09, 10:20 PM

What is going on? What is this about getting rid of an S-class for a Buick Regal?!?!? And if you are getting rid of the Benz, why wouldn't you get that red car - - what a beauty!!! Life's waaaaayyyyyyy too short - - live every day like it's your last - - always drive something extraordinary and FUN!

I'm driving my trusty old '79 sedan deville every day and took this picture while in Minnesota for the memorial day weekend. The trip was about 3,000 miles round trip and fuel economy average 14 mpg. Drill here drill now! It just turned 85,000 miles this week.

Chad, get a Cadillac. It's YOU! :-)


06-12-09, 11:19 PM
I wash my cars weekly in the winter

So your cars are always encased in ice?:p

06-12-09, 11:41 PM
I use magic water that doesn't freeze. :)

06-13-09, 12:34 AM
Chad, this is perfect for you. http://www.autotrader.com/fyc/vdp.jsp?ct=u&car_id=260593254&dealer_id=100048728&car_year=1992&rdm=1244867326894&model=FLEE&num_records=25&systime=&make3=&make2=CAD&highlightFirstMakeModel=&start_year=1988&keywordsfyc=&keywordsfyc=&keywordsrep=&keywordsrep=&engine=&certified=&body_code=0&fuel=&awsp=false&search_type=both&distance=100&marketZipError=false&model2=UNAVAIL&search_lang=en&showZipError=y&make=CAD&keywords_display=&color=&page_location=findacar%3A%3Aispsearchform&min_price=&drive=&default_sort=priceDESC&seller_type=b&max_mileage=&style_flag=1&sort_type=priceDESC&address=60517&advanced=&end_year=1993&doors=&transmission=&max_price=&cardist=18&standard=false

06-13-09, 01:21 AM
So your cars are always encased in ice?:p

Yeah lol. No, I just have to be VERY careful with how I dry them.


What is going on? What is this about getting rid of an S-class for a Buick Regal?!?!? And if you are getting rid of the Benz, why wouldn't you get that red car - - what a beauty!!! Life's waaaaayyyyyyy too short - - live every day like it's your last - - always drive something extraordinary and FUN!

I'm driving my trusty old '79 sedan deville every day and took this picture while in Minnesota for the memorial day weekend. The trip was about 3,000 miles round trip and fuel economy average 14 mpg. Drill here drill now! It just turned 85,000 miles this week.

Chad, get a Cadillac. It's YOU! :-)


Jeez man, where have you been? Long time no chat! I do still have all of the brochures you gave me though. :thumbsup:

06-13-09, 07:37 PM
Chad, Talk to me - - what's up with this S-Class. Is it making you go broke? Back in 1995 I bought a 1992 500SEL and it was probably my favorite car of all time! It was under factory warranty when I owned it thankfully. I wrecked it 4 months after buying it. Also had two 1995 S420's back when they were both 5 to 8 year old cars when I had them. Both of those 420's were nice although not as exciting as the 500 I so fondly remembered. Also, both 420's seemed to be very expensive to own and had lots of annoying problems. I love giant cars and I still think fondly of my old 500 although when I see these giants on the road it gives me shivers thinking of the owner who is driving the ticking time bomb waiting for the next $2 grand repair. Is it worth it?! You really have to be in love. Remember my old Rolls-Royces? They cost way more but the fun of owning and driving them made it worth it. Old Caddies cost a bit of $dough here and there but they are entertaining fun to blow the doors off of those nerds in the Priuses. Chad, I hope the right thing happens for you and that you're shooting for the moon!!! All the best to you and it's good to be back chatting it up here on the forum! Dave

06-14-09, 10:58 AM
Nice review, and VERY nice example of a Fleetwood. I still miss mine, after it finally passed on to Elias and then his neighbor, and as expected have that "should have kept it" feeling a bit after the past year now without. Well, somewhat. It was time to change and I wanted new, which has been mostly fun, especially more recently.

If you find one of these cars that's been well kept, it makes a BIG difference. Mine definitely was due for brake work, suspension freshening, etc. when it went to Elias, but even then it was quite enjoyable to drive both around town when I was in PA or back home, and on my 2 hour treks between. Comfy, smooth, BIG car that really was never as much of a bear--maybe I was just too used to them--to handle. The steering on my '95 was massively different from our '93, I think a lot because of wear & tear, but also because of a revision or two. Our '93 literally feels like a frictionless boat wheel, and my '95 was certainly still Fleetwood light but felt crisp and much tighter in comparison. Oh, if ONLY I could drive it now with the rebuilt suspension, etc. Elias upgraded it with;)

Otherwise, a note or two:
-Again something I noticed with 2 different years of Fleetwoods, the rear seat in at least the '95s and '96s IS much firmer than the '93 (not sure about '94) even though visually the design and such is the same. Both our '93 and my old '95 were "never sat in back seat" cars and the '93s is like a pillow you sink down into (not bad, but I wasn't a big fan...always felt like I was being swallowed by a sponge back there), but the newer car's back seat was still soft enough but feels like it's made out of much denser, firmer foam and padding. I loved the newer, firmer seat and it made sitting back there more comfortable to me, but there's definitely a difference.
-The LT1/4L60E is still one of the smoothest, quietest, most buttery GM V8 combo's I've ever experienced. It was always odd to me, but at the time even comparing to our '04 Suburban with the LS-series 5.3L, that newer V8's felt coarser and just not as polished in comparo. They're not, really, and are a supremely refined line of more modern V8's with greater stock power, but the LT1 just always felt and sounded creamier.
-Oddly, yes, despite how huge the car is, one weird thing with the B/D bodies is the lack of front legroom...it's just so shallow up there. I got used to it but then after mine was wrecked and I had a new Malibu rental for a month, with nearly twice the front leg space and depth, I felt like I was sitting scrunched up when I got back in the Cadillac. Just a side effect of the layout.

So, awesome car, either in stock or modded form, and sometimes not necessarily the best daily poke about, but still really well balanced for a lot of use. However, they are only getting older and although the maintenance/reliability is about as good as it still gets with a car from the last decade or so, don't let the "oooh...what a car" get you into something again where you love it, but it really doesn't fit with your real wants and needs and is too much of a "pamper" baby. For mine, I don't think I wanted it as a daily driver anymore, but it definitely would be a great "other" car...that just isn't something viable for everyone, me included, or really a smart move.

06-14-09, 08:59 PM
Hi, All you guys with your BIG casino cash - - take a deep breath, get out the Jack Daniel's, and put that casino $dough into a nice Caddy that makes you feel good and makes you smile every time you sneek a peek at it! Nothing is cheap. A new car costs $. An old car costs $. I say drive what you like and your life will be a complete pleasure and you won't be 10 years down the road wondering what in the devil you were thinking all those previous years driving your Prius or whatever other unreasonable facsimile you talked yourself into thinking it was smarter than driving what your heart told you to do... :-) Trust me: no pain = no gain. ;-) Happy motoring!!! Dave