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2005 Cadillac STS

A Touring Sedan Fit For Seville

    Well, I can say this for certain, that is GM has managed to move light-years ahead with the new STS over the previous generation model. No longer is the STS’s sole boasting point a sweet engine. Accompanying the now longitudinally-mounted Northstar is a new performance oriented tranny, chassis, and rear-wheel drive to boot. Finally, the company that once called itself the standard of the world is willing to step back up to the plate with a serious ballplayer for the major league.
     Ironic or just plain coincidental, our STS listed out for just over $1000 more than the as-tested price of the Audi A6 we tried out a few weeks ago. Like the Audi, the Caddy came equipped with the standard V6 engine producing a comparable 255hp and twisting 252lb-ft of torque from the 3.6-liter mill first seen in the CTS. In concert with the 5-speed auto and rear-wheel drive, the STS delivered exceptional performance. The tranny was smooth and docile when left in Drive, but got down and dirty when the Sport mode was selected. Of course, the transmission came with the increasingly popular manumatic mode, and despite the computer’s best effort in answering commands, it still fell short of the Muxlow Standard For Manual Shifting, so it was left in Sport most of the time. Some people like them and find it a pleasant compromise—I just can’t get into it. It’s like running on a treadmill, you still accomplish the same task, but you miss the satisfaction of doing the real thing. Regardless, the car was quite responsive to some rather spirited driving upon command. The 17” V-rated tires had excellent grip, yet looked a little small on the vehicle. The V8’s 18”ers fill out the wheel wells much better. The steering gear in the STS was a good match for this luxury-oriented model, but a couple notches shy of anything performance-oriented. Steering feel was pretty insulated but not quite to the point that the A6 had reached, though a few of us found the A6 more willing to respond to input. Also, like the Audi and others in the class, the V8 STS also offers an all-wheel drive model to accommodate those troubling slippery situations. In whatever way you approach it, this STS is much more of an athlete than that of the outgoing front-wheel drive model.
     Stylistically, Cadillac has a winner with this whole Art & Science theme. While sharing many lines with the smaller edgy CTS, the approach with the STS is much smoother and more refined. The lines, while crisp and prominent, don’t reflect a jagged image—something the CTS has caught criticism for. Overall it looks like that of a lengthened and widened CTS with grace. Though however large the STS looks in pictures, a quick walk around reveals a significantly shorter car than the outgoing model. To better attract European customers the overall length is down to 196.3” vs. the 201” of tarmac the former Seville shaded. The wheels are also pushed out to the corners to better aid stability and handling, and ultimately lend much to a sportier appearance. Our car, while stunning to look at anyway, wearing light platinum paint, was accented perfectly by the chrome-rimmed grille and the deep blue of the tungsten halogen projector headlamps and foglamps. Chromed 17” wheels look nice, but again, 18”ers will fill the space more appropriately. Incase the front end is too friendly, the rear is all business with a flat deck, bright, prominent LED tail lamps and dual chromed-exhaust tips exiting from either side of the lower valance. Business class meets Lear jet.
     Inside we once again find that Cadillac has been working through its playbook to come up with a much-improved interior. Lines are straightforward and clean cut, without the busy factor the CTS carries. The flat center stack, while ultimately eye appealing, has a few ergonomic issues when it comes to reaching the far upper corner of the large LCD touch screen, something Audi and BMW have addressed with their MMI and iDrive controllers. Like them or not, we found the MMI in the Audi to be quite handy when surfing menus and much more user friendly than the Cadillac’s partial touch screen and push button menus. Real Eucalyptus wood trim adorns the center stack, console, shifter, doors and steering wheel and looks and feels great. Some of the plastics used leave a little to be desired but ultimately are livable. The Bose 5.1 studio surround sound system is awesome with its 14 individual speakers littered throughout the interior. DVD playback is a neat feature and supplies the best quality sound, though the usefulness of DVD video playback is rather low, as the screen will only allow use while the vehicle is in park. Oh, and probably the one piece of tech that garnered the most praise has to be the keyless entry and ignition system. Just walk up to the locked car, grab the door handle, slide in, depress the brake, hit the starter button and go. Seats are a little flat for holding on tight during cornering maneuvers but with the car designed with luxury in mind, I guess we can’t complain too much. Overall, it’s a welcome place to spend many long miles, yet not as warm and inviting as some.
     Standing alone, the STS looks like a home run, and while this is certainly a heavy hitter the General has brought up to the plate, when compared to the others in the class, this one drops the ball just inside of the fence. The mechanical hardware was all up to spec, as was the technology, but Cadillac is still lacking on fit-and-finish. GM’s cost cutting methods are still evident inside, especially when compared side by side with that of the five-star job Audi did with the A6. Our V6 STS luxury sport sedan listed out for $49,815 after the $8,595 1SC luxury performance package and $695 destination and delivery charges were added in. Don’t get us wrong, the STS is a huge step forward for the Wreath and Crest division, and we are still rooting for the home team, but like any good athlete, a little more practice will make perfect.

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