Cadillac DTS (DeVille)

Debut: 1999
Maker: General Motors
Predecessor: Cadillac DeVille (1993)

Deville is the last breed of American extra-large luxurious sedan alongside Lincoln Town Car. However, the latest Deville, which launched in 1999, is a completely different vehicle. Based on GM’s G-platform sharing with Oldsmobile Aurora, Pontiac Bonneville, Buick LeSabre, Buick Park Avenue and Cadillac Seville, the Deville is no longer that old fashion long car. Everything is modernized such that there is hardly any trace of the old car.... excluding the styling.

Obviously, Cadillac wants to keep the old customers loyal to Deville, so the exterior design remains very conservative, very boxy and have long overhangs. I’d rather prefer the styling of the outgoing Deville, at least every inch of its body conforms to the honest, straightforward design theme. In contrast, the new Deville’s body is basically boxy, but the irregular-shaped headlights and slightly curvy grille / front bumper cannot match the rest of the car. As a result, the front end looks odd.

Styling aside, the Deville is vastly improved from the previous one. Admittedly, I have no respect at all for the old Deville. It’s so mechanically outdated that people outside the States saw it as a stone-age Dinosaur. Therefore, unlike the American journalists, I’m not going to focus on how much improvement the new car has made and then praise it like jewel of the crown. Instead, let us see it in a global view point.

Unlike the more European-feel Seville, the Deville is constructed directly on a stretched G-platform with the same semi-trailing arm rear suspension. World standard it may not be, but at least it is rigid enough to prevent chassis flex. In dimensions, it is the second largest American sedan (just shadowed by Town Car), with an overall length of 5258 mm, that is, 100 mm longer than a long-wheelbase Mercedes S-class ! On the other hand, its 2929 mm wheelbase is, although already longer than other G-platform derivatives, shorter than even a standard S-class (2965 mm). You can see the Cadillac still doesn’t use space very efficiently.

Deville isn’t a very dynamic car, despite of the powerful Northstar V8. Long overhangs, front-wheel-drive and heavy nose create fundamental problems for handling, say, lack of agility, understeer, so-so steering feel and torque steer under full throttle, that is not the StabiliTrak electronic stability control can overcome. American journalists praised its handling mostly because they had not prepared to see the new Deville improved so much from the old car, yet they admitted it is not as driver-biased as the Seville. In fact, the Seville doesn’t qualified as a driver’s car in European point of view, so you can see why the Deville is not exported.

While the standard and DLS model feels lack of body control, the sportier DTS model with its stiffer suspension setup feels unsettled over rough surfaces that Mercedes and BMW can overcome with ease. Here, the semi-trailing arm suspension is the one to be blamed. It could be worse without the adaptive damping, which was borrowed from Seville.

Power, however, is not short of. The 4.6-litre Northstar V8 produces 300hp under the bonnet of DTS or 275hp for lesser models, giving it a performance matching BMW 740i, if not Lexus LS400 or Audi A8.

The interior of Deville looks much more modernised than the exterior. It looks like a Seville, with similar fluorescent back-lit gauges, ergonomically-positioned controls, adaptive seats and excellent Bose sound system, but it has more room. DTS model has a console-mounted shifter instead of column shifter to please those love driving. There are some equipment unique to the Deville, such as massager-fitted front seats, ultrasonic parking sensor and Night Vision system. The latter is a world first for automotive industry. It was developed from military technology, using infrared camera at the front grille to scan the road far beyond the reach of headlights, then project the image to the Head-Up Display (that is, a virtual image on the windscreen). This enhances night vision very much because infrared has a longer range than headlights.

As seen, the Deville has even more electronic gadgets than the Seville, but I’d rather have a simple but fundamentally healthy car.
The above report was last updated on 8 Jan 2000. All Rights Reserved.


General remarks

DeVille DTS

Front-engined, FWD

Steel monocoque

Mainly steel

Length / width / height 5258 / 1891 / 1439 mm

Wheelbase 2929 mm

V8, 90-degree

4565 cc

Valve gears
DOHC 32 valves


Other engine features

Max power
300 hp

Max torque
295 lbft

4-speed automatic

Suspension layout
F: strut
R: semi-trailing arm

Suspension features

Tyres front/rear

Kerb weight
1845 kg

Top speed

0-60 mph (sec)

0-100 mph (sec)

Performance tested by: *C&D

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