: Fleetwood Review: September 6, 1992

04-26-06, 06:51 AM
Jim Mateja

Chicago Tribune
September 6, 1992
If big is better, just how good is a behemoth? For the 1993 model year, Cadillac has taken the oldest model in its lineup, the rear-wheel-drive Brougham, and given it even more size along with a new look-and a new name.
Actually, Brougham gets an old name. What had been the Brougham is now called the Fleetwood and Fleetwood Brougham. Fleetwood had been the moniker on the up level Deville, but for 1993 that model is the Deville Sixty Special. For1994, the Sixty Special becomes the Concours, when the Deville line gets restyled. Oops, back to `93.
Call it what you will, the `93 Fleetwood we test-drove is massive. Many automakers boast that they offer a six-passenger car. Most fall short of six people by at least one or two bodies.
Not the Fleetwood. You get six people in, and each can wear a coat and hat and a couple of them can carry a briefcase. A 4.1-inch stretch in length and roughly 2.5-inch expansion in width helps provide family den-type room. Wheelbase stays 121.5 inches, but length swells to 224.9 inches.
The larger dimensions not only provide greater leg and arm stretch room in the front and back, but enough space in the trunk to hold each occupant's luggage. The only problem is that if all six occupants are golfers, you'll never fit all their clubs. You probably could fit only four sets-and the caddie-in this Caddy.
While styling is fresh, thanks to slightly more rounded bodylines, the distinctive Cadillac look is evident from the egg-crate grille and stand-up hood ornament to the vertical taillight treatment.
In terms of old Brougham versus new Fleetwood, old Brougham owners are in for a few pleasant surprises in ride, handling and performance. Though bigger, the Fleetwood feels much more nimble than the old Brougham. You donít have to start turning the wheel two blocks before the corner to make the swing.
Speed-sensitive power steering contributes to more precise, more effortless maneuverability when you head at low speed into the corner or turn or into or out of the narrow parking space-and when youíre in a 78-inch-wideFleetwood, every parking space becomes narrow. Power steering effort increases at higher speeds so you have a greater feeling of being in control moving into or out of the passing lane or taking that bend in the interstate at 65 miles per hour without floating. The steering system is designed so that the Fleetwood doesnít handle like a truck, even though it's larger than most pickups.
However, donít expect sports-car suspension. As Cadillac officials explained, those who opt for a Fleetwood or the top-of-the-line Fleetwood Brougham want a softer ride. Thatís what youíll get. But there was a bit more up and down movement over bumps than weíd like to put up with day in and day out.
Power is provided by the 5.7-liter, 185-horsepower V-8 thatís standard for `93 after being optional in the Brougham for 1992. Itís teamed with a quiet four-speed automatic. So me Cadillac loyalists might ask why the new 4.6-liter, 295-h.p. 32-valve North Star V-8 wasnít put under the hood of the new car. Cadillac says a new engine, in addition to new styling, would have been too much at once.
Despite more rounded bodylines to reduce air drag; the mileage rating for the `93 Fleetwood is the same as for the `92 Brougham-16 miles per gallon city and 25 m.p.g. Highway, which may be another reason the 295-h.p. North Star wasnít added. Cadillac wanted to avoid a gas-guzzler tax.
But thatís not to say Cadillac couldnít come up with a more fuel-efficient version of the North Star for the Fleetwood soon. That should be priority No. 1 at Cadillac.
The aerodynamics of the sheet metal helps in a couple of respects, however. Even with the windows down, wind noise and turbulence was noticeably lower than in the `92 version. And with rounded corners reducing air drag, the5.7-liter V-8 seemed even quicker. You find yourself looking at 70 M.P.H. on the speedometer when youíd swear you were at 55.
The added size and bevy of standard equipment meant added weight and no gain in mileage. Cadillac officials boast that at least they didnít lose mileage and still avoided the gas-guzzler tax. We hope theyíll take the offensive to boost mileage rather than being defensive on fuel economy and settling for less than a mileage improvement.
And there are a couple of other changes weíd make soon. The first would be to toss the side view mirrors and replace them with a couple more practical units.
The car is as big, if not bigger, than some boats, but the outside mirrors are a pair of dinghies. Visibility suffers. On Detroit expressways, we found we didnít have a full field of vision, and cars coming up in the passing lane often surprised us when they pulled dead even. We felt as if we were trying to navigate a battleship by looking out a porthole.
If, as Cadillac says, its owners are older and supposedly their vision isn't what it was when they were 21, why penalize them with such tiny mirrors? It seems even odder that Cadillac got stingy on the mirrors when it went all-out for safety on the `93 Fleetwood by making driver- and passenger-side air bags standard, as well as anti-lock brakes and traction control. ABS helps stop you in a straight line by keeping the wheels from locking up even if the pavement is covered with snow, ice or rain; traction control keeps the wheels from spinning while starting off on slick surfaces. If the wheels start to spin, computer sensors first activate brakes, and then reduce throttle power to maximize traction.
The passenger-side air bag is unusual. Unlike cars in which the air bag is stored where the glove box used to be on the face of the dash, the bag in the Fleetwood is on top of the dash. You can see a large rectangular cover hiding the inflatable cushion. With that location, Cadillac said, it can direct the bagís inflation so it protects the person sitting in the middle of the seat as well as the far right-hand passenger.
Other notable features for `93 include a thick steering wheel to give the driver more of a feeling of control than with one of the wafer-thin decorative variety; a convenient cassette and compact disc holder in the center console; dual cupholders and coin holder in the center console; garage door opener and sunglasses holders in the roof above the rearview mirror.
Also, front seat bottoms that move forward or backward independently of the seat back; rust-resistant lower body side moldings; side-window defoggers; lighted driver and passenger window switches for convenient use at night; speed-sensitive volume on the radio-the faster you go, the louder it plays on its own, so you donít have to fiddle with the knobs; long-life platinum-tipped spark plugs; long-life stainless steel exhaust; and anti-theft pass key that fits only your ignition.
Also, thereís retained accessory power so you can keep listening to the radio or raise and lower the windows even after youíve stopped and turned off the ignition; rear-seat air/heat ducts; a horizontal track in the door pillar holding the shoulder belt that avoids tangles in the belt and makes it much easier to use (so why not a sliding up-and-down track so the belt can be adjusted for a variety of occupant heights?); the turn signal indicator gets louder if left on (another concession to older drivers, so again, why minuscule side view mirrors?); and a special power drain feature so that if you exit the car and leave lights or any power accessory on, itíll shut off after a few minutes to save the battery from losing all power.
We also appreciated the expansive dash, which in some respects resembled that on the front-wheel-drive plastic-body GM mini-vans such as the Pontiac Trans Sport.
Base price for the Fleetwood is $33,990. Cadillac is quick to point out Fleetwood is about $10,000 less than a Lexus.
Add $1, 680 for a Fleetwood Brougham, which differs from the Fleetwood by adding a full vinyl roof top covering, power memory seats, articulating headrests, rear-seat armrest stowage with dual cupholders, rear-seat vanity mirrors, cast aluminum wheels, CD player, full-size spare rather than the mini in the base model, leather seats and standard 7,000-pound trailer towing (optional in Fleetwood). With the trailer-towing package, Cadillac boasts the Fleetwood has the highest-rated capacity in the industry.

04-26-06, 09:47 AM
Interesting...I like the comparisons to the 1992 models. Also, I like how they explain why Caddy didnt install the N* in the Fleetwoods.

04-26-06, 10:17 AM
Yes, it is interesting about the Northstar. I drove a 98 Eldorado recently with a N* and I was amazed at the power! Whoa! The power pushed me back in the seat.

04-26-06, 11:23 AM
It's interesting though, that they didn't bother to mention how while the N* has 295 horsepower, it doesn't have the low-end grunt to move a Fleetwood Brougham. Still, an interesting review, but I disagree with his opinion on the side mirrors. The mirrors on the 80-92's are even smaller, but I think they're just fine. Someone once commented on my small mirrors. I just said, "no, they're not small, everyone else's mirrors are too big."