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First Drive: 2005 Cadillac STS
A Fitting Final Piece

By Ed Hellwig
Date posted: 07-01-2004

When Cadillac introduced its Evoq concept car over five years ago, it was a clear signal that it was no longer business as usual at GM's premier luxury brand. Fins and flabby rides were clearly out. In their place would be sleek, distinctive cars that delivered equal parts luxury and performance — or so the sales pitch went.

Since then, Cadillac has made good on the promise of the Evoq by introducing a string of new vehicles that not only wear similarly distinctive lines but deliver equally attention-getting performance. First, it was the in-your-face Escalade in 2002, followed up by the hard-edged CTS sedan a year later. The conversion continued with the SRX crossover and the XLR roadster (the production version of the Evoq) shortly thereafter. And now, in what Cadillac calls the final piece of the puzzle, comes the fully redesigned STS flagship, a sedan that may be a little late to the revival but no less important to its success.

In fact, after driving several preproduction versions of the STS, we think Cadillac may have been saving the best for last. Unlike the previous Seville STS that lacked the refinement, performance and aesthetic appeal necessary to compete against the best from Europe and Japan, the 2005 STS (the Seville name has been dropped) is a slick-looking, no-excuses package that gives up nothing to its competition.

Defining who that competition is exactly can be a little more difficult. Like the CTS, the slightly larger STS doesn't fit squarely into the well-defined size categories of the luxury class. It's slightly bigger than most midsize luxury sedans in both length and wheelbase, yet with a starting price of around $41,000, it's positioned to contend with a number of considerably smaller import competitors. With V6 or V8 power and available all-wheel drive, the STS can effectively compete with everything from a base model BMW 5 Series to a Mercedes-Benz E500 4Matic.

And we're not just talking price, either, as the STS delivers a level of performance that places it alongside the world's best without qualifications. Utilizing the same rear-wheel-drive Sigma platform as the CTS and SRX, the STS now has the setup required of a proper performance luxury sedan. It also boasts one of the stiffest frame structures in the industry, yet the car's mass was kept to a minimum through the careful use of lightweight components. With a curb weight of 3,921 pounds, a V8 STS is only about 100 pounds heavier than a comparably equipped 5 Series sedan despite its larger size. Add to that a nearly endless list of advanced chassis, suspension and drivetrain technologies, and you can begin to see why the STS is now the best car in Cadillac's lineup.

The lack of overbearing weight gives the STS a far more nimble feel than its dimensions might suggest. It's not exactly sport sedan-quick in its movements, but with only moderate body roll in corners and minimal dive under braking the STS can be pushed hard without losing its composure. With the rear wheels providing the power, Cadillac's engineers were free to focus on the kind of precise steering feel that's nearly impossible to achieve with front-wheel drive. The result is a delicate feel through the steering wheel without a numb on-center sensation or overly aggressive assistance. It's not perfect just yet, but combined with the solid chassis, it's one of Cadillac's best setups to date.

The Magnetic Ride control (MR) system that was first introduced on the previous-generation STS remains an option for those who desire some adjustability in the vehicle's ride quality. With two different settings to choose from, it can be tailored for either day-to-day comfort or back-road performance. We found either setting capable of handling most situations, but the sport mode does sharpen things up a bit. For the dedicated enthusiast, there's also a new sport package offered that serves up variable-ratio steering, heavy-duty brake linings and high-performance 18-inch Michelin Pilot Sport rubber.

As impressive as the STS is when it comes to ride and handling, the aspect of the car that impressed us the most was the drivetrain. Whether it was the surprising power of the base V6 or the smooth delivery of the Northstar V8, we found little to complain about under the hood. Both power plants use advanced overhead cam designs and variable valve timing to deliver broad power bands and refined operation.

With 255 horsepower and 252 pound-feet of torque, the standard 3.6-liter, six-cylinder engine is able to get the big sedan up to speed with surprising gusto. Unlike some of its competitors whose six-cylinder offerings provide merely adequate performance, the V6 in the STS rarely feels underpowered. It doesn't snap off the line like the bigger V8, but with solid midrange torque and a willingness to push hard to the redline, it's more entertaining than you might expect.

Step up to the 4.6-liter V8 and the STS really shows its mettle. With 320 hp and 315 lb-ft of torque, there's more than enough power to make this car feel quick. Cadillac claims a 0-to-60-mph time of less than six seconds and it feels that fast behind the wheel. Some of the credit has to go to the standard five-speed automatic transmission, as it serves up perfectly executed shifts no matter how hard the pedal is pressed. Eight-cylinder models also offer the option of all-wheel drive for those who live in harsher climates. The added weight of the extra hardware slows things down a bit, but you would be hard-pressed to detect the system's presence during everyday driving. It's yet another sign of just how well the drivetrain components work together to help push the STS up another notch when it comes to overall performance and refinement.

Much the same could be said about the interior of the STS. This is an area where Cadillac has never put its best foot forward, but the STS shows signs that progress is finally being made. Panel fitment was generally good and the underlying structure seemed solid even in our preproduction test cars. The wood trim is richer-looking than before, and the seat materials feel a grade higher. Given that a few of the interior pieces weren't quite production quality, we'll reserve our final judgment for now, but our initial impressions were of a cabin that looks and feels as it should in a sedan of this class.

Beyond the more simplistic renovations, the STS also incorporates a vast array of high-tech features buried within its spacious cabin. A push of the remote button can not only start the car from up to 200 feet away, it can also activate the climate control system to heat or cool the vehicle depending on the outside temperature. Once inside, the driver can get information through a four-color head-up display projected onto the windshield while every occupant can enjoy the sounds of an optional 15-speaker Bose 5.1 surround sound audio system. Other options include a DVD-based navigation system with an eight-inch color screen, Bluetooth wireless cell phone connectivity and an Intellibeam headlight system that automatically switches between high and low beams according to oncoming traffic.

Needless to say, the STS has been designed to go heads up with the most technologically advanced vehicles in the world. Better yet, it is also endowed with the more fundamental requirements of a true luxury car like a sturdy chassis, precise steering and the latest drivetrain technology. Throw in the fact that it wears Cadillac's design language better than any other car in the lineup, and the STS rightfully deserves its place as Cadillac's flagship sedan. It may not be as nimble as the CTS or as flashy as an XLR, but for buyers looking for a complete package of luxury and performance, the STS is Cadillac's best offering yet.
 

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WOW, great article!
 

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Article calls the new Cadillacs SLEEK? First distortion of reality. Oops...avoidance of reality. No Cadillac made now could ever be called sleek. They are all choppy, edgy, unrefined planes, and a mismash of distortions that never look good from all angles or even from one view. The interiors are hardly as Edmunds calls "improved" despite the loanshark prices that are now being assessed to purchase Cadillacs.

Cadillac has managed to offer superb engines and handling in mediocre designs. Yes, sales are up, but from what level? Cadillac was moribund years ago and there is nothing to suggest that there is any hope of improvement on the aesthetic quality of Audi or Mercedes. GM has seen to it that Cadillac is its BMW and that is no compliment. While Ford hired Audis interior and exterior design managers, GM has apparently hired migrant workers who know nothing of aesthetics.

This article is merely a Michael Moore examination of a car that is ho-hum at best from the outside, mediocre on the inside, and a waste of a platform for driving. It might be a joy to drive, but so would be this platform surrounded by a casket.
 

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Congratulations GM! It looks like they hit a home run with the STS. Let's see great products like this from other divisions please!

Mark
 

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Originally posted by laserwizard@Jul 2 2004, 03:43 AM
Article calls the new Cadillacs SLEEK? First distortion of reality. Oops...avoidance of reality. No Cadillac made now could ever be called sleek. They are all choppy, edgy, unrefined planes, and a mismash of distortions that never look good from all angles or even from one view. The interiors are hardly as Edmunds calls "improved" despite the loanshark prices that are now being assessed to purchase Cadillacs.

Cadillac has managed to offer superb engines and handling in mediocre designs. Yes, sales are up, but from what level? Cadillac was moribund years ago and there is nothing to suggest that there is any hope of improvement on the aesthetic quality of Audi or Mercedes. GM has seen to it that Cadillac is its BMW and that is no compliment. While Ford hired Audis interior and exterior design managers, GM has apparently hired migrant workers who know nothing of aesthetics.

This article is merely a Michael Moore examination of a car that is ho-hum at best from the outside, mediocre on the inside, and a waste of a platform for driving. It might be a joy to drive, but so would be this platform surrounded by a casket.
im sorry but i have to strongly disagree with your reasonings, styling is vastly improved (some would say best in class) the cars are more refined than ever, and more refined than most rivals. the cars are edgy, yes. at the same time they are very sleek in aperiance. cadillac has moved forward faster than any other brand in recent history. not only in product but in image, it was once thought of as a fallen giant, and in some cases still is thought of that way, but the majority of people see it as a worthy compititor to the germans.

im not understanding your referance to michael moore... but ive never seen his movies so that might help :rolleyes:

anyway, car and driver, motor trend, edmunds, autoweek, and road and track have given the STS, in all tested trims, a rave review. i dont think this is false hype by a single media source, its just that good of a car, like many jouralists have already stated.
 

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Originally posted by laserwizard@Jul 2 2004, 03:43 AM
Article calls the new Cadillacs SLEEK? First distortion of reality. Oops...avoidance of reality. No Cadillac made now could ever be called sleek. They are all choppy, edgy, unrefined planes, and a mismash of distortions that never look good from all angles or even from one view. The interiors are hardly as Edmunds calls "improved" despite the loanshark prices that are now being assessed to purchase Cadillacs.

Cadillac has managed to offer superb engines and handling in mediocre designs. Yes, sales are up, but from what level? Cadillac was moribund years ago and there is nothing to suggest that there is any hope of improvement on the aesthetic quality of Audi or Mercedes. GM has seen to it that Cadillac is its BMW and that is no compliment. While Ford hired Audis interior and exterior design managers, GM has apparently hired migrant workers who know nothing of aesthetics.

This article is merely a Michael Moore examination of a car that is ho-hum at best from the outside, mediocre on the inside, and a waste of a platform for driving. It might be a joy to drive, but so would be this platform surrounded by a casket.
First of all, the new Caddy looks beautiful! I can see some people who don't like the bold, in-your-face look but who wants just another car in this price range? I can't imagine that so many rave reviews from normally anti-domestic sources can be considered a distortion of reality.
 

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Dont mind Lazer.... hes just unhappy. Bob Lutz ran over his dog.


Awesome, superfantasticly awesome. STS is a upper deck home run. When Edmunds and C&D bow down to GM, then you know its alllll gravy. Cant wait for the first 5series vs STS.

Congrats Caddy. Now get cracking on that 7/S/A8 series car.
 

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I can't say I am a super huge fan of Cadillac's new styling, but these reviews sure do make the STS sound like a super car. Finally, GM has let its engineers go without much of a leash. The interiors are getting better, but I'm not convinced yet.

I don't know if I would call these cars sleek, with the exception being the XLR, but when I think of sleek Art & Science type styling, the first thing that comes to my mind is the Cadillac Sixteen concept car. That would be the ultimate Cadillac.

Anyhow, great reviews for the STS and a "job well done" for Cadillac.

Oh, I forgot to add that the dark red STS on another thread looked stunning from the back. I think it was the Car & Driver article. I think I like the looks of the car in darker, richer colors. I'm tired of silver.
 

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Its ok Laserwizard, we all know you're a Lincoln fan, and as such dont have much to live for except for being bitter at Caddy because they are superior in every way.
 

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While I wasn't a huge fan of Caddy's styling at first, I have to say it's really grown on me. The STS I think wears its sheetmetal quite well.

I'll have to reserve my final opinion until I actually sit in and drive one, but if it's as good as Edmunds and every other publication says, then it seems the General has yet another hit on its hands.
 

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Originally posted by laserwizard@Jul 1 2004, 10:43 PM
Article calls the new Cadillacs SLEEK? First distortion of reality. Oops...avoidance of reality. No Cadillac made now could ever be called sleek. They are all choppy, edgy, unrefined planes, and a mismash of distortions that never look good from all angles or even from one view. The interiors are hardly as Edmunds calls "improved" despite the loanshark prices that are now being assessed to purchase Cadillacs.

Cadillac has managed to offer superb engines and handling in mediocre designs. Yes, sales are up, but from what level? Cadillac was moribund years ago and there is nothing to suggest that there is any hope of improvement on the aesthetic quality of Audi or Mercedes. GM has seen to it that Cadillac is its BMW and that is no compliment. While Ford hired Audis interior and exterior design managers, GM has apparently hired migrant workers who know nothing of aesthetics.

This article is merely a Michael Moore examination of a car that is ho-hum at best from the outside, mediocre on the inside, and a waste of a platform for driving. It might be a joy to drive, but so would be this platform surrounded by a casket.
Cadillac is number 3 in sales, it has surpassed mercedes benz, only behind BMW and Lexus.
 

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laser,
I've seen the STS around town here, and if you don't like the Edgy styling of the CTS or XLR, you might like the STS better. It is as the article says, a better translation of the brand design.

Also, if you haven't see the interior of this car yet, be prepared to be surprised. It doesn't take the plastic, sharkskin looking diamondplate of the CTS and SRX. It has the nicest looking graining on the I/P and Doors I've ever seen, and the waterfall Info Center looks great!!!! The leather looks very comfy. This looks like a $50-60K car for sure.

I'm glad the reviews are saying the vehicle dynamics are as good as the looks!!! Now the key will be to get BMW and Mercedes drivers to test drive one of these.
 

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" we'll reserve our final judgment for now, but our initial impressions were of a cabin that looks and feels as it should in a sedan of this class"

WOW

Finally a Journalist says the truth :p
 

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Originally posted by laserwizard@Jul 2 2004, 03:43 AM
The interiors are hardly as Edmunds calls "improved" despite the loanshark prices that are now being assessed to purchase Cadillacs.
the article plainly outlines how the interior is improved:

Panel fitment was generally good and the underlying structure seemed solid even in our preproduction test cars. The wood trim is richer-looking than before, and the seat materials feel a grade higher. Given that a few of the interior pieces weren't quite production quality, we'll reserve our final judgment for now, but our initial impressions were of a cabin that looks and feels as it should in a sedan of this class
sounds improved to me! as for mediocre design, you clearly don't like cadillac designs of late (which is certainly your perogative), but generally i think most like the direction cadillac has taken. a sales increase is a sales increase, and cadillacs are selling better than in the past. whether that's because of the powertrain or appearance or interior doesn't really matter... lincoln would love the positive buzz cadillac has these days.

if this caddy is ho-hum, then there's not much hope for the automotive world. everything else has flatlined.
 

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Originally posted by laserwizard@Jul 1 2004, 10:43 PM
Article calls the new Cadillacs SLEEK? First distortion of reality. Oops...avoidance of reality. No Cadillac made now could ever be called sleek. They are all choppy, edgy, unrefined planes, and a mismash of distortions that never look good from all angles or even from one view. The interiors are hardly as Edmunds calls "improved" despite the loanshark prices that are now being assessed to purchase Cadillacs.

Cadillac has managed to offer superb engines and handling in mediocre designs. Yes, sales are up, but from what level? Cadillac was moribund years ago and there is nothing to suggest that there is any hope of improvement on the aesthetic quality of Audi or Mercedes. GM has seen to it that Cadillac is its BMW and that is no compliment. While Ford hired Audis interior and exterior design managers, GM has apparently hired migrant workers who know nothing of aesthetics.

This article is merely a Michael Moore examination of a car that is ho-hum at best from the outside, mediocre on the inside, and a waste of a platform for driving. It might be a joy to drive, but so would be this platform surrounded by a casket.
Oh, and I'm sure there's a whole boatload of Fords with superior dynamics, build quality and design! :rolleyes:

Kudos to Cadillac for nearly completing it's return to Standard of the World.
 

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:huh: LazerWizard needs to log off and take nap...(he's a little cranky)

I love this article though! Right on Cadillac!!! Knew this car would kick butt...
 

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Originally posted by laserwizard@Jul 2 2004, 03:43 AM
Article calls the new Cadillacs SLEEK? First distortion of reality. Oops...avoidance of reality....
Laserwizard, your posts have gone from the absurd to the comical. :D

You're a very angry person, and you do an incredible job of projecting that anger. I can only venture a guess as to the havoc that serotonin and dopamine are wreaking on your brain.

Lighten up, man!
 

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Originally posted by laserwizard@Jul 2 2004, 03:43 AM
This article is merely a Michael Moore examination of a car that is ho-hum at best from the outside, mediocre on the inside, and a waste of a platform for driving. It might be a joy to drive, but so would be this platform surrounded by a casket.
You've been driving Japanese econoboxes for too long.
 
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