2005 Cadillac STS
This 2005 review is representative of model years 2005 to 2007.
By Ann Job of MSN Autos
For the last few years, new Cadillacs have been coming to market without word names—just a series of letters serving as their nameplates.
The CTS, SRX, XLR are all examples, and despite the fact the nomenclature is still confusing to consumers, Cadillac has added another to the mix: STS.
The 2005 STS is Cadillac's newest luxury sedan, but it looks a lot like another Cadillac—the angular and edgy CTS entry-luxury sedan. In fact, during my test drive, I didn't notice other drivers craning to look at the STS. I wondered if they thought I was driving the CTS.
Alas, the STS is more expensive, slightly larger, has more features and technology and offers something no Cadillac car has had before—all-wheel drive. And with a starting manufacturer's suggested retail price of more than $40,000, the rear-wheel-drive STS is a four-door car meant to compete against the most prominent luxury sedans. These include the 2005 Mercedes-Benz E-Class and the 2005 BMW 5-Series.
In contrast, the Cadillac CTS starts some $10,000 less than the STS base price.
Now, though, STS—all by itself—is the full name of the new Cadillac sedan. Seville is gone.
Indeed, there's only one Cadillac car left with a name, and that's the DeVille, which probably will get a name change, too, down the road.
The distinctive styling that first debuted on the CTS production car and now graces the STS drives home the point the STS is a contemporary Cadillac. But people seem to love or hate the look. It's worth noting that on the STS, the edginess is restrained a bit, especially at the front of the car.
The STS interior also comes across as more luxurious than what's in the CTS, with materials that look softer and have a nicer feel to them.
Fine V8 power
While the base engine is a commendable, 255-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 that powers the car well, the uplevel Northstar V8 is the one that really shines. This 4.6-liter double overhead cam V8 generates 320 horsepower and 315 lb-ft of torque at 4400 rpm.
This meant I didn't dawdle when passing other drivers on the freeway and zipping around double-parked cars in the city. The V8 seemed to hold more power than I could possibly use. And the engine sound during acceleration was perfectly tuned to convey confidence and power.
Too bad fuel economy isn't better. The STS with V8 is rated at 17 miles a gallon in city driving, which is on par with some sport-utility vehicles. On the highway, the STS rating is 22 mpg.
Other performance luxury sedans aren't much better. The Mercedes E500 with 302-horsepower 5.0-liter V8 develops 339 lb-ft of torque as low as 2700 rpm and is rated at a similar 16/25 mpg, for example.
No matter which engine you get in the STS, the transmission is a 5-speed automatic with a shift-it-yourself mechanism that adds to the sporty flavor of the car.
But note that BMW's 5-Series models are available with 6-speed manual as well as 6-speed automatic, and Mercedes has a 7-speed automatic for its 2005 E500.
Interior is pleasant
Cadillac worked to isolate the interior from outside noises, using a special windshield glass, for example, and noise-deadening padding here and there.
It seems to have worked, because my passengers and I talked in normal voices—even listening to the people in the back seat from my spot behind the steering wheel.
The STS can hold three adults in back there, but because this is a rear-wheel-drive car, the center person has to contend with a large hump in the floor. And three people sit a bit closely.
Seats are comfortable, though. I sank into them a bit but also had enough support that a nonstop, three-hour drive at night didn't fatigue me.
I enjoyed the uplevel, High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlights that spread a bright and broad light beam across the road in front of the STS.
But it took most of a trip to get accustomed to the Intellibeam system that automatically turns on and off the high beams when the system sees fit. Intellibeam isn't like the old General Motors Corp. on/off high beams. This new system uses a metal-oxide semiconductor light sensor that's on the back of the rearview mirror.
It worked effectively during my test, but was a distraction at first as I tried to figure out if it would turn off the beams before I got too close to a car down the road.
It wasn't the only thing working automatically in the STS. Rain-sensing wipers, which already have been on other cars for years, took care of raindrops without me doing a thing.
And the suspension with optional Magnetic Ride Control that was on the test car worked to ensure the tires had maximum road contact, no matter what the surface was or how sloped the road was.
The system uses magnetized particles to change the viscosity of a fluid inside dampers to make constant changes in the ride quality. The result was a feeling of being in control at all times, even on scrub board road surfaces where a lesser vehicle might "hop" or jitter.
In addition, a lot of aluminum parts went into the front and rear suspensions to help reduce weight at the car's corners and alleviate stresses on the wheels and suspension management.
Stability control and traction control are among the safety features, but I still could get a quick chirp from the tires at startup.
All-wheel drive also is available. The power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering on the STS, however, had a bit of loose feeling on center, however.
Last but certainly not least is the keyless entry and push-button ignition system in the STS. No key is used. A driver only needs to carry a proximity-measuring fob with him. The fob, which works via antennas, can be in a pocket or a purse. Walk up to the STS, pull the handle and the door unlocks.
Once inside, with the fob inside the car, too, a driver presses the brake pedal while pushing a rocker switch on the dashboard to start the engine. But with no key for me to retrieve and pull out of the dashboard, I found myself starting to exit the STS after shifting into park and with the engine still running!
A final note: Cadillac plans to add a supercharged V8 with more than 400 horsepower to the STS during calendar 2005.