: Rental Car Upgrade: 2011 Cadillac STS 3.6DI



gdwriter
01-23-11, 10:16 PM
At the rental car counter in Phoenix last weekend, the agent asked if I was interested in an upgrade for ~$90 with my AAA discount. I asked if they had a CTS, since that's what I want for my next car, but they didn't. But they did have a STS, and since it has the same 3.6DI engine as the CTS, I figured it would be worth a try.

I put about 600 miles on it over four days driving around Phoenix, then down to Tucson and Green Valley, over Gates Pass back to Tucson and then back to Phoenix. So I got a pretty good exposure to different driving conditions.

http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/hs062.snc6/167271_499015398093_776743093_5929681_6157758_n.jp g

http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc4/hs1396.snc4/164808_499015433093_776743093_5929682_4100913_n.jp g

http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash1/hs739.ash1/163128_499015443093_776743093_5929683_2739505_n.jp g

http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash1/hs783.ash1/167387_499015468093_776743093_5929685_6364324_n.jp g

http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc4/hs1359.snc4/163182_499015533093_776743093_5929686_3155178_n.jp g

Overall, I liked it a lot, and it was certainly nicer than the very worn-out 4-cylinder Saturn Aura I had on my trip to Arizona last year (and the Cadillac cost just $30 more than last year's rental).

The car was good on gas. I averaged ~25 MPG in a mix of city and highway driving.

http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/hs253.snc6/180139_499015548093_776743093_5929687_7068895_n.jp g

http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/hs242.snc6/179034_499015578093_776743093_5929689_2555018_n.jp g

I zeroed out the average MPG when I got on the freeway in Tucson to head back to Phoenix and did even better. This was with the A/C running and cruise set at 77 MPH:

http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/hs055.snc6/168577_499015603093_776743093_5929690_7801822_n.jp g

The hard shell case for my golf clubs is bulky, but I can fit it straight across in the trunk of my Seville. In the STS, I had to wedge it in diagonally:

http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/hs061.snc6/167126_499015633093_776743093_5929692_1395764_n.jp g

creeker
01-23-11, 10:29 PM
What about over all enjoyment and performance ?

I~LUV~Caddys8792
01-23-11, 10:35 PM
The mid-run facelift (2008?) makes it look a lot better, but I'd still prefer a 98-03 STS or 08+ CTS.

Jesda
01-23-11, 10:40 PM
Jeremy Clarkson always jokes about how luxury car design is often driven by the needs of golfers.

ben.gators
01-23-11, 10:45 PM
what about suspension? Are FE3 and F45 standard on the new STS? and what about the engine? Did you feel that there is no V8 under the hood or not?

gdwriter
01-23-11, 10:48 PM
My review, with comparisons to my '01 Seville:

Engine: The 3.6DI V6 impressed me. I nailed it a couple of times on freeway on-ramps, and acceleration was strong. It's smooth and quiet in normal driving, and when you nail it, it's still smooth and sounds good, although not as good as a Northstar at WOT. It did seem less willing to rev than the Northstar in my Seville, but maybe that's because the gas pedal felt stiffer. Gas mileage was good, a couple MPGs better than what I get with the Seville. I think I'll be perfectly happy with this engine when I buy a CTS.

Transmission: Typically GM smooth. The manual mode was much more responsive in the STS than the essentially useless one in last year's Saturn.

Steering: Heavier than in the Seville, especially at parking lot speeds. And that heaviness did not translate into noticeably better feel on winding roads. Straight line tracking on the freeway was excellent.

Handling: I did not notice a clear RWD advantage in the STS, but that may be because even on the winding roads through Tucson Mountain Park, there were not many sharp turns when the FWD Seville will understeer noticeably. It was responsive and fun to drive on those roads, but I think my Seville would have been just as much fun.

Ride: Excellent on the highway and around town. But on rough roads, it felt rather stiff. My Seville is more compliant on bad pavement.

Exterior styling: Taken on its own, the STS is a nice looking car, but not striking like the second-generation CTS or timelessly elegant like the Seville. The CTS-style grille on the 08+ STS was a big improvement, but the front fender vent looks tacked on, which it is. In profile, it's too slab sided.

Interior styling: Again, it's nice, but not as good as either the newer CTS or the older Seville. The shapes are too angular; both the CTS and Seville look more stylish and luxurious. Build quality and materials is mostly good and probably better than the Seville. The top of the door panels is hard plastic, but it's that tight pebble-grain BMW uses. Both the wood trim and leather are nicely done, and the seats are quite comfortable. Oddly, the STS still uses the old-style GM cruise control stalk. I much prefer the steering-wheel mounted cruise buttons on the Seville.

Bottom line: A car I thoroughly enjoyed for the long weekend, but I can understand why it has not been successful in the market. It doesn't have the style of the second-generation CTS, and it's not competitive against cars like the BMW 5-Series, Mercedes E-Class or Lexus GS.

It's also way overpriced. When I went through the Build Your Own process at the Cadillac website, this loaded STS stickered at close to $60,000. That's probably $10K more than a comparably equipped CTS and not much less than a CTS-V. And resale value on these cars drops like a rock.

So for now, I'm happy to continue driving my Seville. It's better looking inside and out, and overall performance is comparable. Cadillac did an outstanding job with the second-generation CTS, but it needs to replicate that formula and kick it up a notch for the STS/DTS replacement.

ben.gators
01-23-11, 11:01 PM
Thanks for review, especially comparing the STS with Sabrina. By the way, may I ask what is your Seville's suspension package?

Jesda
01-23-11, 11:10 PM
I cant remember what magazine it was, but the V8 STS went up against the 5-series and a couple others and beat them on handling, but like you they thought the ride could be better and the steering could use more feel.

If depreciation stays low on the STS, I'll probably end up in one instead of a CTS.

I'm most surprised about where they put the cruise functions. What did you think of the sound system?

Playdrv4me
01-23-11, 11:11 PM
I really I really hate those amber colored LCD displays. The ones in the Escalade are white and MUCH MUCH easier on the eyes. You would think they would have figured out how out of place that orange crap looks by now.

gdwriter
01-23-11, 11:20 PM
Thanks for review, especially comparing the STS with Sabrina. By the way, may I ask what is your Seville's suspension package?My Seville is a base SLS, so I'm sure the suspension settings are softer than a comparable Seville STS or the STS I had in Arizona.


I'm most surprised about where they put the cruise functions. What did you think of the sound system?Yes, I thought that was odd as well. Still some old-style GM-think got through on that car.

I liked the sound system, especially that there were real buttons and not just controls via the Nav screen. But it doesn't have what you'd consider normal iPod connectivity. Usually, there's an aux port on the head unit. Not one there. Not one in the console, either, nor was there a USB port. What there was were two RCA jacks. So I bought an cable with RCA jacks on one end and an iPod audio output jack on the other and managed to use my iPod in the car. Which beat the hell out of listening to regular radio, which sucks balls.


I really I really hate those amber colored LCD displays. The ones in the Escalade are white and MUCH MUCH easier on the eyes. You would think they would have figured out how out of place that orange crap looks by now.I didn't like the amber LCDs, either; I think it makes the interior look cheap. Infiniti uses them too, I believe. I have no problem with the green LEDs in the Seville, and I think the CTS is like the Escalade and uses white LEDs on a blue background.

Jesda
01-23-11, 11:21 PM
Orange text makes me think its 1987 and I'm at the DOS command prompt.

C:\> CRUISE.EXE
***WELCOME TO CRUISE CONTROL 1.0! PLEASE ENTER A COMMAND***
SET CRUISE 90
***CRUISE ERROR. A)bort, R)etry, F)ail?***


2006 DTS also uses white text. Looks clean and pleasant.

http://www.q45.org/uploads/NashNICO2007/IMG_0592.JPG

Playdrv4me
01-23-11, 11:28 PM
I liked the sound system, especially that there were real buttons and not just controls via the Nav screen. But it doesn't have what you'd consider normal iPod connectivity. Usually, there's an aux port on the head unit. Not one there. Not one in the console, either, nor was there a USB port. What there was were two RCA jacks. So I bought an cable with RCA jacks on one end and an iPod audio output jack on the other and managed to use my iPod in the car. Which beat the hell out of listening to regular radio, which sucks balls.

I didn't like the amber LCDs, either; I think it makes the interior look cheap. Infiniti uses them too, I believe. I have no problem with the green LEDs in the Seville, and I think the CTS is like the Escalade and uses white LEDs on a blue background.

Yea that SuperNav is a great example of inconsistencies throughout GM again. The 2011 Escalade SuperNav, which is essentially the identical unit, now has a 1/8" AUX jack right on the front under the screen AND USB for iPods.. And my 2007, which doesn't have rear seat entertainment, has NO aux input at ALL. Not even RCAs! I have to burn MP3 CDs which is acceptable, but silly for 2007.

As for the green stuff in your Seville, those actually aren't LEDs at all... they're expensive vacuum fluorescent displays and I've always loved Vacuum FL for ANY display screen, from VCRs, to cars to high end electronics... they just are that extra touch of class with their intensity and high contrast. Those FL displays are even better by far than the white on blue Escalade and CTS displays.

It's easy to confuse LED and VFD too, since VFDs can come in a variety of shapes. The most common are "stick" segments just like your traditional LED alarm clock or what not... Not sure which car this came out of, but it looks like a Ford product (from Wikipedia):

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/db/Vfd_car.jpg/800px-Vfd_car.jpg

Can you tell I am a nut about display technologies, Gary?

I~LUV~Caddys8792
01-23-11, 11:35 PM
I hate the orange text in many of the late model Nissans I drive at work, the worst being the 04-07 Maximas.

SDCaddyLacky
01-23-11, 11:37 PM
That is such a cheap bland looking display unit. You would think Cadillac would strive for better stylish speedometers especially whats been seen in non luxury mid size cars recently.

The interior is very generic-conservative.

SDCaddyLacky
01-23-11, 11:41 PM
But I do actually like early 90's Town Car spedo's. Like the one above, lot's of info given to you, it's big and easily readable. Mid to late 90's they went to both analog and digital, I personally prefer the all digital layouts, it just fits better, and looks a lot cooler.

ga_etc
01-24-11, 12:04 AM
Great review Gary. The 3.6DI is a really intriguing motor to me. It'll be really interesting to see how it olds up as they age. I would love to have a 2nd gen CTS, as well.

Ian, that display looks like an early '90s Lincoln Continental.

drewsdeville
01-24-11, 12:17 AM
Ian, that display looks like an early '90s Lincoln Continental.


Close: That's the display Ford used on the panthers (for a LONG time). It was optional on the Vic and Grand Marquis, standard on the Town Car.

thebigjimsho
01-24-11, 02:11 AM
But I do actually like early 90's Town Car spedo's. Like the one above, lot's of info given to you, it's big and easily readable. Mid to late 90's they went to both analog and digital, I personally prefer the all digital layouts, it just fits better, and looks a lot cooler.
Yeah, if it were 1984...

Aron9000
01-24-11, 02:47 AM
I actually like the vacuum florescent displays in my 1991 Caddy, its period correct kitschy late 70's/early 80's tech. I thought that it was pretty crap in the 93-96 Fleetwood and 94+ Deville though, times had moved on, the digital microwave was no longer $400 and state of the art.

As for the STS, its a car I could really love if it weren't for the interior. I think its kind of bland, cheap looking/feeling, rear seat space could be better, and I HATE those orange displays(I flat out will not buy a newer Nissan/Infiniti for that sole reason) The older Seville/Eldorado interiors were styled much nicer, even if the assembly left something to be desired.

Playdrv4me
01-24-11, 04:51 AM
I actually like the vacuum florescent displays in my 1991 Caddy, its period correct kitschy late 70's/early 80's tech. I thought that it was pretty crap in the 93-96 Fleetwood and 94+ Deville though, times had moved on, the digital microwave was no longer $400 and state of the art.

As for the STS, its a car I could really love if it weren't for the interior. I think its kind of bland, cheap looking/feeling, rear seat space could be better, and I HATE those orange displays(I flat out will not buy a newer Nissan/Infiniti for that sole reason) The older Seville/Eldorado interiors were styled much nicer, even if the assembly left something to be desired.

It didn't mix well in the Deville and Fleetwood, but the VFD still works beautifully when properly applied, like they did in combination with the electroluminescent gauges in the DTS and Seville from 98 to '04.

Stingroo
01-24-11, 10:20 AM
I think they look good in the FWB. I can't imagine one of those with an analog gauge layout honestly.