Though it has grown into an entirely different species, the luxury performance DNA of the Cadillac STS can be traced all the way back to the special range-topping Seville hardtop coupe of the 1950s. At that time one of the fastest, flashiest and most luxurious cars on the road, it evolved and re-emerged several decades later as the buttoned-down Seville luxury sedan, capable of sharing company with Europe's finest.
2008 Cadillac STS Luxury Sedan Shown
Handsome, contemporary styling, tighter build quality and a new high-performance STS sport model set the stage in the early 1990s, and the addition of a sophisticated and powerful new DOHC Northstar V8 engine and detail refinements throughout the decade made the most of -- and tended to somewhat mask -- its limiting front-drive architecture, the STS's one performance Achilles heel. As it entered the new millennium, however, Caddy's flagship had aged and lost some of its appeal as trimmer, more sophisticated, and in most cases, rear-wheel-drive European and Japanese competitors overtook it in terms of refinement and performance.
Evolution gave way to revolution in 2005 as Cadillac dropped the Seville moniker in favor of its alpha-centric naming strategy, coinciding with a quantum leap forward in technology, build quality and overall refinement. Based on GM's global Sigma rear- and all-wheel-drive platform and utilizing powerful new V6 and Northstar V8 engines, the Cadillac STS is once again capable of taking on all comers.
If you're in the market for a finely tailored luxury sedan with the power, roominess, comfort and value to outpace many of its smaller German and Japanese rivals, we recommend that you take a serious look at the Cadillac STS.
A full-size luxury sedan in its physical dimensions, the Cadillac STS is priced in line with premium midsize sedans and available with a V6 or V8 engine. Common features on all models include leather seating, 17-inch wheels, dual-zone climate control, a Bose sound system and OnStar. Popular options include a navigation system, a head-up display and heated/ventilated front seats grouped in two available Performance and Luxury trim packages.
The two available engines -- a surprisingly responsive 3.6-liter V6 rated at 255 horsepower and 252 lb-ft of torque, and a 4.6-liter Northstar V8 that generates 320 hp and 315 lb-ft of torque -- both feature variable valve timing and electronic throttle control. A five-speed automatic transfers power from the V6, and a six-speed automatic helps V8-equipped STSs achieve impressive acceleration and fuel economy for this class.
In reviews and road tests, our editors have found the strengths of the Cadillac STS to be its nimble road manners, powerful engine options and high-quality audio system. Downsides include an interior that lacks the quality of materials found in competing high-dollar sedans, along with seats that some might find overly firm.
Those in search of a satisfying balance of performance and economy may want to focus on the basic V6/rear-drive model, while STS shoppers looking for maximum performance in all conditions can lean toward the all-wheel-drive V8 version. No longer hampered by the compromised front-drive layout of old, all STS owners now enjoy world-class performance and value fully competitive with the best of the rest from around the globe.
The Cadillac STS officially debuted for the 2005 model year. Only minimal changes have occurred since. Those interested in a used model previous to this date will want to check out the front-wheel-drive, fifth-generation Seville-based model produced from 1998-2003.