2006 Cadillac DTS
This 2006 review is representative of model years 2006 to 2011.
By Ann Job of MSN Autos
The 2006 version of the Cadillac DeVille is an elegant-looking car. But how can that be?
It's the latest Cadillac to wear the brand's edgy design, which I have never warmed to. Yet, I like the formal, impressive style of this large sedan. I'm not the only one. On congested Los Angeles freeways, I noticed a number of other drivers—none of them looking to be anywhere near the DeVille buyer's median age of 68—giving this new car a good look.
Maybe practice makes perfect. After all, Cadillac officials have been working at their edgy styling since 2001, when it debuted in showrooms on the Cadillac CTS entry luxury car. In the ensuing years, they've put it on the Cadillac XLR convertible and the STS sedan.
Maybe by the time they got to the refreshed DeVille, they got it right. They sure seemed to take a milder approach. Sheet metal angles are less pronounced. And while the modern, vertical headlights and prominent Cadillac grille are there in a familiar presence, the combination this time is upscale, not jarring.
The back of this new car also is nicely done. There's a long, formal rear uncluttered by the license plate, which has moved below, to the bumper. The overall style here reminds me of an earlier Cadillac Eldorado, which I had liked, too.
What else is new?
There are new, more ergonomic seats, upscale, clean interior, updated suspension tuning and the first-ever 18-inch factory wheels.
There's a new name, too: DTS.
It follows the nomenclature that Cadillac started to adopt some four years ago when it introduced its CTS entry luxury sedan. So the DeVille name is gone. By the way, DTS may sound familiar. It was the name of one of the trim levels of the DeVille in the 2005 model year.
Also noteworthy: Starting manufacturer's suggested retail price for the 2006 DTS is $41,195. This is $4,850 less than the base, 2005 DeVille and makes the base DTS less pricey than many full-size, luxury sedan competitors such as the 2006 Lexus LS 430, which starts at more than $50,000.
At introduction, the DTS even had a lower starting MSRP than the Lincoln Town Car—by some $800. The DTS will be available in dealerships this fall.
Still front-wheel drive
Still, Cadillac's DTS offers the cushioned, quiet ride that buyers in this segment seek.
Even in the test DTS with performance package and new 18-inch wheels, the car sort of bobbed up and down over sizable highway expansion cracks, but I was never jolted. The DTS seemed to absorb much of the impact from potholes, too, and there was no roughness conveyed to passengers.
Long straight stretches of road were delightful, because the 4,000-plus-pound DTS sometimes seemed to skim the road surface lightly, rather than heave itself along.
But in mountain twisties, I readily noticed the back-and-forth weight transfer going on as this more than 17-foot-long auto took a left-hand curve, then a right-hand curve. The tires didn't seem to be particularly performance-oriented, as they chirped easily in these maneuvers.
Front suspension is an independent MacPherson strut design with sizable stabilizer bar, while the rear uses an independent multi-link design and stabilizer bar.
Overall, the ride is quiet. Even with semi-trailers driving nearby on a freeway, I could talk in conversational tones to passengers. I didn't notice much road noise, even with the larger tires, and wind noise seemed mild.
Cadillac retains the two versions of Northstar V8 for this car that were in the 2005 DeVille, and power has been subtly tuned.
The base, 4.6-liter double overhead cam engine generates 275 horsepower at a lower, 5200 rpm now, rather than the 5600 rpm of last year. Torque is a healthy 292 lb-ft at 4400 rpm for noticeably quick get up and go.
But the uplevel V8 that comes with the performance package has more horsepower—291. Peak torque is 286 lb-ft at 4400 rpm and came on smartly—and always smoothly. The engine sounds had a satisfying, big-engine quality to them but didn't deter from the comfortable, luxurious ride.
Note the DTS powertrains compare with the 239 horses and 287 lb-ft at 4100 rpm in the Lincoln Town Car with 4.6-liter V8. The Lexus LS 430's 278-horsepower 4.3-liter V8 provides 312 lb-ft of torque at a low, 3400 rpm.
Fuel economy isn't great in this big-sedan segment, and the DTS is estimated to carry a rating of 17 miles a gallon in city driving and 27 mpg on the highway. This is a bit less than the 18/25 mpg of the LS 430.
I wish the DTS came with something other than its 4-speed automatic transmission. It dates back to the early 1990s, and while it has shown to be durable, it doesn't include a shift-it-yourself manumatic feature, much less a higher number of gears that could improve fuel economy and responsiveness.
The Lexus, for example, has a 6-speed automatic. The long-running Town Car retains its four speed.
Seats for five or six
And of course, the back seat is a highlight. There's good room for three adults to sit back there without them having to squeeze tightly against each other. The middle passenger, however, has a slight hump to contend with in the middle of the rear floor and also doesn't have a height adjustable head restraint.
Note that the Town Car still is wider than this car, so hip and shoulder room in the Town Car's back seat are a bit more.
Dimensions for the new DTS are pretty close to that of the 2005 DeVille. Overall length of more than 17 feet, for example, has grown just 0.6 inch. And while the DTS is nearly an inch taller than its predecessor, front-seat headroom remains the same and back-seat headroom is reduced 0.3 inch.
Cadillac officials said they provided about an inch greater track for the front seats to go forward and back, but measured back-seat legroom is 41.6 inches now compared with 43.2 inches in the 2005 car.
I expected the DTS trunk to be larger than 18.8 cubic feet. The trunk opening is nice and wide, but the trunk seems a bit shallow and total cargo room is less than the 21 cubic feet in the Town Car.
Also, I wasn't quite sure why a couple exterior items on the DTS were sloppily done. For one thing, when I drove behind a DTS, I had an unsightly view of the car's exhaust system—specifically where the pipe comes back from the front of the car and splits into two to route to two mufflers and four tailpipes. I kept wondering why all this wasn't tucked up under the car. Alternatively, I wondered why the rear bumper didn't descend a bit lower to reduce this view.
And the window details were odd in the DTS. As I walked up to the car from the outside, I could see window sealing and other trim items in one corner of every door window. This cluttered area was all under the glass, and it was something I hadn't noticed in other luxury cars.
About those features
I liked the high-grade Tehama leather on the DTS seats for more than just its quality looks and seeming durability. The test car with this leather didn't have quite the pungently sweet leather smell as many other Cadillacs I've been in, and I appreciated that this smell was toned down. The Tehama leather, by the way, was a DTS exclusive when the car was introduced.
I also appreciated that Cadillac officials got rid of front-seat shoulder belts that used to be attached to the seats. They never felt like they fit me as well as those that are anchored on the car body pillar between the front and rear doors. This now is the anchoring point used in the DTS. Still, Cadillac might want to adjust it some because in the test cars, it didn't adjust high enough to comfortably accommodate my 6-foot-4 driving partner.
Other standard DTS safety equipment includes anti-lock brakes, stability control, six airbags and improved structural reinforcements. But some safety items available on other luxury cars aren't on the DTS, even as options. For example, BMW is adding an automatic brake drying system to its sedans to help ensure good brake performance in wet weather, and Mercedes-Benz and Lexus have pre-collision safety systems that help prepare passengers and the vehicle for impact during an impending crash.
Indeed, the DTS arrives in showrooms without a factory-installed rear entertainment system. Officials said they're still studying their choices for this feature.