: Cadillac builds the best midsize luxury sport sedan in the world.



gothicaleigh
08-15-04, 07:47 PM
MARK PHELAN: Cadillac gets its wish

STS beats BMW 5-series and Mercedes E-class luxury sport sedans with its unmistakable style and value

August 12, 2004

BY MARK PHELAN
FREE PRESS AUTO CRITIC



Pigs just flew.

Cadillac builds the best midsize luxury sport sedan in the world.

The all-new 2005 Cadillac STS edges out the legendary BMW 5-series and Mercedes-Benz E-class in value and overall excellence.

Equally important, the STS is unmistakably a Cadillac. Lincoln misfired when it made its LS luxury sedan too derivative of BMW, and the Lexus LS 430 - for all its strengths - is essentially a Mercedes clone with a lot more standard features and a more luxurious interior.

Nobody is going to mistake the STS for anything but a Cadillac. Its body is a softened, more distinguished interpretation of the sharply creased design theme that distinguishes the Cadillac CTS, SRX and XLR, and its interior is roomy and inviting, reeking of soft leather and trimmed in opulent eucalyptus wood or contemporary brushed aluminum.

BMW, Mercedes and Cadillac have long heritages tied to specific characteristics. BMW is defined by performance and artistic design, Mercedes by bank-vault solidity and old-world prestige. Cadillac's hallmarks were a combination of room, power and styling.

It's been a generation since Cadillac built a large car that followed that tradition.

A procession of lackluster front-wheel-drive sedans with mediocre performance made the brand more of an afterthought than a legitimate competitor to the world's best.

The tide began to turn when Cadillac launched the CTS sedan in 2002. The car's arresting looks caught the eye, and its excellent handling and performance put Cadillac back on the map for sport-sedan enthusiasts.

The STS, which just started showing up in dealerships, grows straight out of Cadillac's historic roots. It's about six inches longer than either of the German cars and offers considerably more interior space. It is also five inches shorter than the front-wheel-drive Seville it replaces, a change that contributes to its sparkling performance but reduces passenger room slightly.

The Lexus LS 430 is about an inch longer and has a slightly larger interior than the STS. The LS 430 is available only with a 290-horsepower 4.3-liter V8.

Those three key competitors all cost thousands more than a comparably equipped STS.

Interior room notwithstanding, the STS is infinitely more car than the Seville. It's a joy to drive. It's also powerful, nimble, accommodating and bristling with sophisticated features that range from a best-in-class navigation system to intelligent high-beam headlights that automatically dim when another car comes near.

The STS gets the nod as best-in-class because of its excellent value and because it avoided the electronic glitches that marred my tests of the E-class and 5-series while providing similar levels of luxury and driving pleasure.

The STS also has the power and performance to run with BMW, Lexus and Mercedes. Two engines are available, a 3.6-liter 24-valve V6 that produces 255 horsepower and a 320-horsepower 4.6-liter V8. Both engines are teamed with a quick-shifting and smooth five-speed automatic transmission. Cadillac's switch to rear- or all-wheel-drive improves the STS's balance, handling and overall performance drastically compared to the far less sporty front-drive Seville. Sophisticated electronic controls - and the optional all-wheel-drive - allow the car to achieve its new sporty character while remaining practical and safe on wet or slippery roads.

If the GM genie granted me three wishes, I'd ask for a manual six-speed in the STS. The car's excellent balance, superb brakes and precise steering invite the kind of hard driving best done with a manual. Profit trumps prestidigitation, though. At best, GM would sell just a handful of those cars, and the STS is an excellent sport sedan as is.

Its V6 is more powerful than the 5-series or E-class' six-cylinder engines, while the V8 produces slightly less horsepower than the comparable BMW and more than the Mercedes or Lexus.

The V6 and V8 both provide plentiful power for acceleration, passing and high-speed cruising. Zero to 60 miles an hour takes 7 seconds for the rear-drive V6, 5.9 for the rear-drive V8 and 6.6 for the heavier all-wheel-drive V8 model.

STS prices start at $40,300 for a rear-drive V6 model. A base rear-drive V8 will cost $49,645, while prices for the top of the line the all-wheel-drive V8 start at $61,815. All prices exclude destination charges.

The well-equipped V6 I drove for most of my test stickered at $49,015. I also spent a few hours at the wheel of an all-wheel-drive V8 model.

Both cars had the smooth ride required of any Cadillac, but their good weight distribution - 52/46 front to rear for the V6; 54/46 for the V8 - and precise speed-variable rack-and-pinion steering give the car an excellent blend of luxurious bump absorption and sticky road holding in quick maneuvers.

The V8 features an electronically controlled suspension that should do an even better job of combining those virtues.

To my mind, the new car's much more elegant interior and vastly superior performance more than make up for the loss of a little rear-seat room. Traditional Cadillac owners could feel differently, though, so if the GM genie were still around, my second wish would be for a few more inches between the front and rear seats.

That leaves me with one wish left, but the STS is good enough that the genie can save it for the next car.

Contact MARK PHELAN at 313-222-6731 or phelan@freepress.com.
http://www.freep.com/money/autoreviews/phelan12e_20040812.htm


http://www.freep.com/art/2004/aug/12/cadillac_sts.jpg
The 2005 Cadillac STS's body reflects the creased
design theme also found in other Cadillac models.
Electronic controls and the optional all-wheel-drive give
the car excellent performance while remaining safe on
wet or slippery roads. The STS follows the Cadillac
tradition of room, power and styling.

illumina
08-15-04, 10:49 PM
:banana: :banana: :banana:

Ralph
08-15-04, 11:16 PM
You're right Goth, THEY DO! (just don't mention LEXUS :shhh: ) ;)

megeebee
08-16-04, 11:48 AM
Let's see how long it takes jerseyvette to seize on the back seat thing.......