Expert Review:New Car Test Drive
New Car Test Drive
Responsive handling with smooth luxury.
STS is a Cadillac for people who like to drive. It benefits from GM's newest V6 and V8 engines, which boast the latest in computerized engine management and variable valve timing. The result is smooth, efficient power. For more powerful grand touring, the super-performance STS-V adds supercharged velocity.
The Cadillac STS offers a choice of suspensions, from the standard setup designed for smooth, comfortable commuting to an active performance suspension that instantly adjusts to any driving situation, whether cruising through a sea of potholes or accelerating around a sweeping turn.
Rear-wheel drive provides the balance and control that serious enthusiasts demand. All-wheel drive is also available, for handling stability in inclement weather.
New for 2007, a six-speed automatic transmission is standard on all V8 models. And OnStar features a fully integrated GPS navigation system, a powerful combination of human beings and satellites always ready to assist you.
STS offers Cadillac's best interior ever, with comfortable but supportive seats that are infinitely adjustable, ample storage space, and superior sound systems. State-of-the-art occupant safety comes standard.
The Cadillac STS comes with a choice of V6 ($42,390) or V8 ($51,810) engines. The high-performance STS-V ($75,010) comes with a supercharged V8. The V6 comes with a five-speed automatic transmission. Both V8s come with a six-speed automatic.
All-wheel drive is available for the V6 ($1900) and base V8 ($1550), but not the STS-V.
Luxuries that come standard with the V6 include leather trim, dual-zone automatic climate control, Bose AM/FM/CD stereo, and the usual lineup of power creature comforts and driver aids. OnStar telematics (with one year's service), StabiliTrak electronic stability control, automatic headlamp high-beam control, and rear park assist are also standard.
The popular V6 Luxury Package ($3,690) adds two-driver memory for seats, mirrors, climate and radio controls; Rainsense wipers; 6-disc in-dash CD-changer; Eucalyptus wood trim on the instrument panel, steering wheel, console and center stack; dual heated and ventilated front seats with four-way power lumbar, heated rear seats; heated steering wheel; tire pressure monitor, universal home remote; and a cargo net.
To that list the V6 Luxury Performance Package ($5,995) adds a limited slip rear differential, Premium ZF steering gear, performance cooling package, rear spoiler, Brembo performance brakes, and P235/50R18 front tires and P255/45R18 rear tires on 18-inch, 9-spoke polished aluminum wheels.
The V8 Luxury Package ($4,295) includes Bose 5.1 surround sound, Xenon HID headlamps with washers, IntelliBeam automatic high/low beam control with flash to pass feature, interior auto-dimming rearview mirror with OnStar controls, and heated and ventilated front seats. (Most of the content of the V6 Luxury Package is standard on the V8 model.)
The V8 Luxury Performance Package ($8,190) includes all Luxury Package features plus Premium ZF steering gear, performance cooling package, Magnetic Ride control, rear spoiler, Brembo performance brakes, P235/50R18 front tires, P255/45R18 rear tires, and 18-inch, 9-spoke polished aluminum wheels.
The Performance Handling Package ($1,600) offers special springs and shocks for rear-drive V8 models.
Options for V6 and V8 models include a Bose 5.1 surround-sound stereo ($2,145), premium leather seats ($1,295), a power glass sunroof ($1,200) and the Brembo brakes ($3950). Two of the nine exterior paints, Infrared and Diamond White, cost extra ($995). Adaptive cruise control ($2,300) is also available for both models, as is an engine block heater ($100).
STS-V comes with a higher level of standard equipment, including EZ Key with remote start, XM Satellite Radio, rear AV jacks, rear climate system controls, rear obstacle detection, hand-wrapped leather surfaces with suede seat inserts, Olive Ash Burl wood and aluminum interior accents. Special paint and the engine block heater are the only options; the sunroof can be deleted for credit.
Safety features that come standard on all models include dual two-stage frontal airbags, front seat mounted side airbags and front-and-rear side curtain airbags. Four-wheel anti-lock brakes are standard along with StabiliTrak electronic stability control. Tire-pressure monitors are standard on V8s and available as part of the Luxury package on V6. OnStar comes standard; its operators when send out the rescue squad if your airbag goes out and you don't respond to calls.
The Cadillac STS was introduced as an all-new model for 2005, and remains unchanged in appearance for 2007. Its look is both new and familiar. In some ways strikingly dissimilar to previous Cadillacs, STS is the latest example of Cadillac's Art and Science design motif, which can also be seen in the SRX crossover sport utility and the XLR sports car.
Only the grille and headlights pretend to keep faith with what came before. Viewed head on, there's no mistaking STS for anything but a Cadillac. The trademark egg-crate grille and stacked headlamps are starkly functional in appearance. No wasted motion or volunteer excess there, to be sure.
You could be forgiven, however, for mistaking an STS for the smaller CTS. The two are almost indistinguishable to the casual observer, even when parked side by side. Both cars present only minimally different iterations of the same sharp angles and flat planes. The wheelbase of the STS is three inches longer, and its body is six inches longer, but they share a common platform.
From the side, the crisp lines of the STS draw an almost box-like silhouette that somehow still looks aerodynamic. Perhaps it's the gently curved A-pillar and C-pillar that tend a bit more toward art than science. Sharply contoured lower rocker panels tracking rearward from the front fascia's bottom edge pull the body down, adding a stylistic ground-effects look.
The backside is vaguely reminiscent of the old Eldorado coupe, with vertical taillights bracketing a tall, squared-off boot. Recessed in the boot's rear vertical is a trapezoidal inset, long enough for European-spec license plates, housing large backup lights at the left and right extremes. American-tradition dual exhausts exit below and at each end of the rear bumper. The optional rear spoiler, running the width of the trunk lid, adds stabilizing rear downforce without spoiling the look.
The super-performance STS-V is distinguished from the other STS models by its unique engine hood; a larger, polished stainless steel wire-mesh front grille; a lower front fascia with a larger, lower grille, brake ducts and splitter; lower side rockers; 10-spoke wheels; a higher rear spoiler; a lower rear fascia with wire-mesh accenting; and V-Series badging along with Supercharged badges on the doors.
The Cadillac STS cabin is warmer in appearance than the exterior, with soft leather surfaces complemented by warm wood accents. Those wood accents cost extra, but we much prefer them over the standard brushed aluminum trim, which looks and feels cold and reflects sunlight to the point of annoyance. Get the wood.
Seats are refreshingly supportive, for a Cadillac, without being overly firm. Arm rests and head restraints are a degree or two softer than the cushions and side bolsters, boosting the comfort factor a couple notches. All essential controls are within easy reach, although there could be more clearance between the lower door panels and seat bottom to access the front seat adjusters. For this reason, we were especially grateful for the seat memory feature, which often saved us from having to reach down there. The interior is noticeably roomier than that of the marginally smaller CTS.
Instruments are easily scanned, white-on-black round analogs, with a large nested tachometer and speedometer between the smaller fuel and engine temperature gauges. The speedometer changes between English and metric electronically, so there's only one set of numbers around its circumference. Cruise control and running lights are managed via a stalk on the left side of the steering column, windshield wipers and washers with a stalk on the right. Buttons in the steering wheel spokes provide redundant controls for audio and driver information functions. A word of caution: the top-level stereo system, although delivering superb surround sound, is multi-tasked with a navigation system that, in combination, demands an extensive study of the owner's manual to operate with any degree of alacrity and confidence.
All four doors boast map pockets. The front center console is deep and wide and pre-wired for cellular and Bluetooth (to wirelessly tie a cell phone into the car's audio system, allowing hand-free operation). The glove box, though, is barely sufficient to hold the navigation DVD case and owner's manual. Two cup holders are provided front and rear. The trunk is fully lined, with articulated, gas-pressurized struts.
Fit and finish are top grade, with notably tight trim tolerances. Careful attention was paid to reducing noise, vibration and harshness, with remarkable and commendable success. Specially laminated windshield and front door glass, wind tunnel-tuned outside mirrors and high-density/low-mass sound-deadening padding combine to deliver the quietest Cadillac interior in memory.
The 2007 OnStar system features a new fully integrated GPS navigation setup called Turn-by-Turn Navigation. Turn-by-Turn allows drivers to talk to a live advisor, who in turn sends complete step-by-step directions to the vehicle through the OnStar system. These audio directions automatically play through the vehicle's stereo as needed, triggered by the OnStar system's GPS capabilities. This enables drivers to be led to their destination while keeping their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.
The Cadillac STS is everything it should have been from its inception, and more.
The 3.6-liter V6 engine generates 254 horsepower, the base V8 produces 320 horsepower, and the supercharged V8 delivers 469, making it the most powerful engine ever produced for a Cadillac. But even the V6 does a more than adequate job of moving its 3,857-pound burden down the road. While the sound of the V6 isn't as robust or viscerally satisfying as that of the V8, it's nothing to be ashamed of either.
The sportiest setup, not counting the monster STS-V, is the V8 with the optional performance handling package. Nudge the shift lever over to the right, into the manu-matic gate, where the selected gear will hold all the way up to redline. Base V8 models now come with the same Hydra-Matic 6L50 six-speed automatic that was exclusive last year to the STS-V. It features a generous 6.04:1 maximum overall ratio for rapid launching off the line, while also providing tall overdrive ratios that decrease engine rpm and reduce noise levels while cruising at highway speeds.
Alternating between the accelerator and brake pedal allows frolicking at extremes heretofore beyond the reach of sedans wearing the wreath and crest. Cadillac's suspension engineers have demonstrated they understand the difference between stiff and firm. Thankfully, all the sound filtering and deadening doesn't keep the V8's throaty exhaust note out of the cabin. Who needs a stereo with these tones to enjoy?
The all-wheel-drive system is a hard package to top, however, complemented by Magnetic Ride Control and the latest generation StabiliTrak, though this adds some weight and isn't available with the handling package. Still, body lean in even the tightest switchbacks is almost non-existent, and mild whoop-de-doos barely give occupants' stomach a flip. Biasing 60 percent of the power to the rear wheels gives the all-wheel-drive STS the sporty dynamics of rear-wheel drive while sending enough power to the front wheels to pull the car through and out of corners with sureness and confidence.
The electronic steering is a delight, its only shortcoming a slight softness on center. The STS tracks well through corners; and turn-in is crisp, especially with the 18-inch, low-profile tires.
The brakes are up to the car's potential, with a firm pedal and a feel that's more linear than not. Cadillac has ratcheted the StabiliTrak back a smidgen from its earlier aggressiveness, and it now waits a bit longer before stepping in. And when it does, it does so less abruptly, too. That's an improvement from a driving enthusiast's point of view because the electronic aids are less intrusive.
All three engines are GM's latest designs with double overhead cams, four valves per cylinder and variable-valve timing. Called VVT, this latter system continuously varies valve operation to generate the most power from the least amount of fuel with the lowest emissions possible. Torque is what most of us experience as power in everyday driving; torque is what gets a car moving in the first place, like when accelerating from an intersection. Recognizing that, Cadillac engineers designed the STS engines to generate lots of torque throughout the rev range for responsive performance at all engine speeds.
The 3.6-liter V6 gets a dual-stage intake manifold that makes available 90 percent of the engine's peak 252 pound-feet of torque from 1900 to 5800 rpm.
The 4.6-liter V8 uses electronic throttle control, sometimes called drive-by-wire, to match the engine's performance to a variety of driver demands, from sedate highway cruising to rambunctious back-road motoring. The V8 generates 315 pound-feet of torque at 4400 rpm.
The STS-V's 4.4-liter supercharged V8 pumps out 439 pound-feet of torque, with 90 percent of it available in a wide sweep from 2200 to 6000 rpm. This enormous thrust is delivered smoothly through the six-speed automatic trans.
The Cadillac STS offers a smooth and powerful driving experience with warm and luxurious accommodations. The supercharged STS-V delivers serious performance but sacrifices some comfort and drivability. People who enjoy getting where they're going as much if not more than being there, but who pine for luxury touches and good ol' American V8 power, need no longer compromise. Come on home.
NewCarTestDrive.com correspondent Tom Lankard reported on the STS, with Greg Brown reporting on the STS-V.
Cadillac STS V6 ($42,390); Cadillac STS V8 ($51,810); Cadillac STS-V ($75,010).
Options As Tested
all-wheel drive ($1,550); Luxury Performance Package ($8,190) includes Bose 5.1 surround sound with navigation, Xenon HID headlamps with washers, IntelliBeam automatic high/low beam control with flash to pass feature, interior auto-dimming rearview mirror with OnStar controls, heated and ventilated front seats, premium ZF steering gear, performance cooling package, Magnetic Ride control, rear spoiler, limited slip rear differential, P235/50R18 front tires, P255/45R18 rear tires, Brembo performance brakes and 18-inch 9-spoke polished aluminum; Tuscany premium leather-trimmed seats ($1,295); adaptive cruise control with head-up instrument display ($2,300); power glass sunroof ($1,200).
Cadillac STS V8 ($51,810).
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