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Engine comparisons

1300 Views 9 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  JimmyH
I have a 99 seville and am generally pleased with it. Hate the expensive parts but not much I can do about that. So far I have not had the HG problem and hope I never do, but I am curious about the Northstar and if one of you GM engineers could answer, I am curious as to why GM would not have simply stuck an LS1 in the Cadillac instead of the Northstar? Seems like the LS1 has more HP (which many owners would like to see) it has more torque, is less costly to mfg (I think) has more standard parts, is about the same weight, is very dependable, does not have HG failures and is relatively easy to work on. This is not to say the Northstar is bad, it just seems that having two very similar powerplants is redundant and costly. Seems to me like picking one and developing that to the fullest is a better way to go
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They are not similar. The N* was designed to fit the transverse mounted FWD application.
I'n not a GM engineer - consumer results may vary...
The Northstar was designed to compete with the "high status" German and Japanese DOHC 32V V8's used in luxury cars that was becoming the norm back in the late '80s, early '90s. Also, Cadillac has always had a history of using their own motors and not borrowing from other GM divisions...that way it gives them a sense of individuality and exclusivivity (sp?). When you pay $45,000 for the top of the line american luxury car, you wanna feel like you're getting something special and different, which is part of the reason that Cadillac has always used it's own engines. But I agree, it would have made things soooo much easier and cheaper down the road if Cadillac used the small block Chevy in more of their cars, but it wouldn't work until the LS4 (I can't remember the RPO code, but it's the 303hp 5.3 liter used in the Impala SS and GP GXP) came out with the FWD setup, as I don't believe any other Chevy small blocks were installed transversely.
it just seems that having two very similar powerplants is redundant and costly. Seems to me like picking one and developing that to the fullest is a better way to go
Variety is the spice of life...

Besides they could do like Nissan has done; commit to the VQ35 and have oil consumption problems in all their V6 cars instead of just some of them. (and of course then deny that a problem exists, but that's another issue)
My neighbor, who works for GM brought home a new STS the other day and let me take it for a ride. Guess what. It had a 3800 V6 in it. Was not mounted transversely. While it did not have the torque of the Nstar it was pretty quick. My guess is that 90% of people would not care. With that engine it will be trouble free and last 200,000 easy. So I guess GM is coming around to my way of thinking. If they can do it with a tried and true 3800 then they can do it with any engine. I also understand variety is nice but if you asked all the people who have had headgaskets go, I bet you would hear it sure was not worth it. I also think GM could have fixed the problem years ago. Last to oil consumption. If the hone type is to help longevity, then why does the 3800 last forever and it does not use oil or have any of the problems associated with the N star?
As far as I know the new STS (rear wheel drive) comes with the DOHC, 24 valve 3.5 liter V6 and NOT the 3800 GM pushrod V6. As good as the 3800 is, it is NOT as smooth, fast reving, nor the top end pull of the 3.5 liter multi-valve V6.
I meant to type 3.6 liter not 3.5.

GM also has a 3500, which is a 3.5 liter pushrod V6 designed to go into base model V6 powered cars.

I've sampled the 3500 in a Pontiac G6. Nice engine during normal driving. It's even got good power. But it is uninspiring to drive. Push it beyond just normal and it feels lethargic although it moves the car pretty good. It just doesn't sound happy.

I've also driven the 3800 in the Impala. Not bad. Much better than the 3500. The bigger motor has more top end and is smoother and more willing.

Neither of these engines should EVER be put in a Cadillac. The multi-valve V6's are so much better overall except during normal driving wherein the pushrods have more torque so it comes off the line stronger. After that, it's all multi-valve.
Just remember that a RWD STS bears no mechanical resemblance to the FWD versions. Totally different animals. (And you can now spec a couple of engine options) BUT, and this is subjective, I prefer the '99-'03 body style.
I have heard that 3800 (even in supercharged form) is a workhorse, great torque and reliable.
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