The bad thing about a $54,000 (with options) luxury car is that one expects so much of it. For example, the 2001 Deville DTS has an excellent stereo, to which most people reply; “it better have a great stereo considering the car cost over $50,000.” By comparison, I can recall driving a Toyota Camry XLE and being pleasantly surprised by the quality of the stereo given that car costs only about $25,000.
Don’t get me wrong, the Deville DTS is an excellent car, it’s just that most of us wouldn’t expect anything less. The DTS is a bit of an automotive irony. Most consumers still regard Cadillac as a car primarily for older people, although the most ardent critic would have to admit that Cadillac has at least succeeded in bringing the term “older” (in reference to its current owners) down to the 48-55 year old range. Progress is progress. And here is the ironic part of the equation – the Deville DTS is not an old persons car. Perhaps Cadillac has not gotten the word out about this car, “the fusion of design and technology” ad campaign recently adopted by Cadillac just does not work – it tells us NOTHING about the cars. Frankly the DTS is a thinly disguised hot rod sporting a 300 hp Northstar V-8 and 17 inch wheels. Maybe that should be in the ads.
On the outside, the recently redesigned Deville is a good looking car, if not somewhat large. Simple, elegant lines give the big Caddy a slightly round look while maintaining a squarish look toward the rear. From behind the Deville’s large tail lights and uncluttered deck lid show a hint of Chevrolet styling. Clearly this car shares nothing with any Chevy, except perhaps a spiritual connection to the Corvette.
Once inside the Deville one is quickly reminded of just how good quality leather can smell. Many Japanese cars are available with leather, yet fall short in terms of softness, and durability when compared to real luxury cars like Cadillac and Mercedes. Steering wheel mounted buttons can control everything from fan speed to cruise speed to radio settings – it’s all there. Climate control is of course standard equipment, as is separate rear seat heating and A/C controls. Although the rear heating and air conditioning are a welcome, perhaps even necessary feature on a car of the Deville’s size, the fan for the rear seems a bit noisy. While running the front climate control, the Deville is a quiet as a church mouse, but select any speed higher than “low” for the back, and the sound of rushing air increases 10 fold. Luckily there is a “passenger air off” button that quickly eliminates the noise. The optional 6 disc CD changer is $595, but it pays for itself in convenience. The Deville is also available with Night Vision, a heat sensing system that lets the driver see thing which are invisible to the naked eye. Night Vision works ! It is not just a gimmick or creative marketing, Night Vision does all that it says – it is truly revolutionary technology. However, if you live in an urban area, you’ll not get much practical use from the Night Vision system (aside from showing your friends how cool it is). Urban areas are so well lit, that there are only rare instances where Night Vision is helpful. For rural or suburban areas, Night Vision is an incredible safety tool. Night Vision adds $2250 to the price tag, so choose carefully.
Behind the wheel of the DTS, it is all too clear this is not your grandfather’s Cadillac. The DTS’ adaptive suspension is wonderfully firm. With the winning combination of stability control, traction control and adaptive suspension, the Deville DTS will out corner, out handle and out drive the competition hands down. Many cars costing almost double the Deville’s already heft price tag simply cannot match the Cadillac in terms of on road handling prowess. Both the Mercedes S500 and Lexus 430 feel decidedly soft and imprecise during spirited driving (and the Benz costs much much more, about $25K), while the Deville’s responsiveness borders on
BMW-like (although the BMW is clearly the sportier of the two). The trade off is a Cadillac without the soft, isolating ride we’ve come to expect. If this is the new direction of Cadillac then bring it on ! Those seeking the serenity of Lexus detachment from the road should consider the Deville Sedan or DHS.
Acceleration in the DTS is astounding. Smashing the gas pedal to the floor in the Deville DTS is a bit like an optical illusion, the car is so big that it hardly seems to move quickly. However, one glance in the rear view mirror and it is clear, judging by how instantly traffic fades away, this car can move. Under heavy acceleration, the Northstar engine sounds wonderful, it’s sort of a strange combination between American muscle and Japanese refinement – a perfect balance. There is pronounced torque steer, but that is what happens when you put 300 hp through the front wheels. Torque steer is not as bad as one might expect – the SAAB 9-3 and Oldsmobile Intrigue are worse, and both of those cars are only putting out about 200 hp.
Overall, the 2001 Deville DTS is great all around performer offering plenty of interior space, muscle car power, nimble handling and an impressive list of useful options. Want to keep the price down? Skip the optional wood package, Night Vision, chrome wheels and adaptive seats and the price will stretch just North of $45,000. That is a bargain considering the performance value this car represents.
Amount Paid (US$):
2001Model and Options:
DTS w/ Night Vision