2007 Cadillac STS

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2005 Cadillac STS

This 2005 review is representative of model years 2005 to 2007.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
Rating: 8

Bottom Line:

A very capable new sports-luxury sedan with an accent on American luxury.
Pros:
  • Nicely styled
  • Fast
  • Good ride and handling
Cons:
  • High cost of optional all-wheel drive
  • Other expensive options
  • Interior needs more work

The new Cadillac STS sedan can be favorably compared with BMW 5-Series or Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedans, but has an American luxury car feel that isn't on the menu of those German automakers.

That American feel mainly makes the STS fall short of being a sports-luxury sedan that is a direct rival to BMW, Mercedes—or to the German Audi A6. It makes the STS a closer rival to the softer, more American-style Lexus LS 430.

Other STS faults include an interior that, while pretty upscale, falls short of those in some rivals and an enormously costly all-wheel-drive system. Some also may consider the audio settings to be too complicated for easy driver use.

However, in fairness, BMW and Mercedes have gone overboard with technical features—a move that is causing those automakers to back off a little from such features because they confuse American customers.

Not that the STS doesn't have its share of high-tech items. For example, a driver can start and stop the STS by pushing a dashboard rocker switch as long as a standard-looking fob is in, for instance, a pocket or purse in the interior. Also, the STS can be remotely started from as far as 200-feet away.

Seville Replacement
The STS essentially is a stretched version of Cadillac's hot CTS sedan and is arguably the best-looking Cadillac. The 196-inch-long STS replaces the aged, venerable Seville, which was Cadillac's most "European-style" model. The 2005 STS model designation might confuse some folks because the Seville's high-performance version was called the "STS."

The 2005 STS is considerably different than the Seville. One major change is the new rear-wheel-drive design, shared by BMW and Mercedes, instead of the Seville's front-wheel-drive design. Rear-wheel drive allows better weight distribution and thus sharper handling.

Costly All-Wheel Drive
The new STS also is offered with all-wheel drive, which is a "first" for a Cadillac auto (but not for its Escalade or SRX sport-utility trucks). But it's not really necessary unless an STS owner lives in extremely slippery areas because the STS has standard stability control and anti-skid systems, along with anti-lock brakes.

Alas, you can't get the all-wheel-drive system unless you order the more costly V8 version and add the (gasp!) $13,115 Preferred Equipment Group 1SG. That group also contains items such as upgraded leather upholstery, wider tires on larger 18-inch (vs. 17-inch) wheels and higher-performance steering and brakes.

Two Engines
The 2005 STS is offered with a 255-horsepower V6 for $40,300 or with a 320-horsepower V8 for $46,800. Cadillac says some 70 percent of STS buyers will get the V6 and about 10 percent will order all-wheel drive.

Base list prices of the STS give it a leg up because they are significantly lower than those of major rivals. And both STS versions are loaded with comfort, convenience and safety equipment.

Costly Option Packages
On the other hand, the STS offers attractive option packages that can considerably raise its base price. They cost from $730 to $13,115. Offered are everything from heated-cooled front seats to a touch-screen navigation system with voice recognition and adaptive cruise control, which maintains a set following distance.

My $40,300 test car had an $8,595 option that contained lots of items, including a navigation system, but raised its price to $48,895. Add $695 freight and the car stickered for nearly $50,000.

Fast Acceleration
The smooth V6 in my test STS gave the car fast acceleration for a 3,857-pound sedan. The V8 version weighs 3,921 pounds with rear-wheel drive and a 4,230 pounds with all-wheel drive.

The V8 really isn't needed unless its driver needs lots of extra punch for merging into very fast-moving traffic—or lives where there is frequent high-speed passing on two-lane roads.

Responsive Transmission
Both engines work with a responsive 5-speed automatic transmission, which is the same Hydra-Matic unit put in BMWs. The transmission has an easily used manual shift feature that seems superfluous for most driving.

The V6 only requires 87-octane gasoline, while the V8 calls for 91-octane fuel. The V6 provides an estimated 17 mpg in the city and 24 on highways. The rear-wheel-drive STS is rated slightly higher at 17 and 26 because that engine's larger size lets it use a more economical rear-axle ratio. The all-wheel-drive V8 version is rated at 16 city and 22 highway.

Agile Handling
The STS can get you to destinations quickly and safely. The fast power steering is on the heavy side, but feels good. The car is agile, although the BMW 5-Series feels sportier.

A $795 Performance Handling package, with such things as larger 18-inch wheels and wider tires gives the STS slightly sharper reflexes—but only is offered for the STS V8 and also requires the $13,115 1SG option.

The best ride is gotten with General Motors' optional Magnetic Ride Control, which provides superb control over unwanted body motions when encountering such things as severe dips.

Nice Ride
However, even the ride of the STS with the base suspension is good, thanks largely to a cleverly designed all-independent suspension with weight-saving aluminum. Those who don't want to spend the money for Magnetic Ride Control will find the most comfortable ride is with the standard suspension and 17-inch wheels, which are plenty large.

The brakes are strong and activated by an easily modulate pedal with a nice progressive action.

Roomy
The quiet interior provides good space for four tall adults. The rear seat area is especially roomy, although the center of the back seat is too hard to be comfortable.

The driver's seat is well-bolstered and back-lit gauges are easy to read under various lighting conditions. Cupholders and controls are easily reached. There are large ventilation and sound system controls, but some audio control settings are absorbed by a large color dashboard touchscreen that makes their use more complicated than it should.

The front console has a roomy covered storage bin, and doors have pockets for small items. The trunk is large, with a low, wide opening and a lid with hinges that don't consume cargo space.

The STS V6 with a few options is the best buy in the STS line. No STS possesses the harder-edged sporty flair of rivals such as the BMW 5-Series. But this new Cadillac is a sound alternative for those wanting a solidly built sports-luxury sedan with an accent on good old-fashioned American car luxury.

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BB05 - 7/31/2014 10:37:34 AM