2009 Cadillac DTS Review
Improved safety for big luxury sedan.
The Cadillac DTS is a big car. Its overall length of 207.6 inches makes it five inches longer than the Escalade full-size SUV, and nearly a foot longer than the STS, Cadillac's next-largest sedan. DTS is almost four inches longer than a BMW 7 Series and 2.6 inches longer than the latest long-wheelbase Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedan. It's also wide, more than two inches wider than an STS.
Despite its size, however, the clean forms of the DTS give it a European look, though in a distinctively American idiom. With its vertical headlights and tail lights and its egg-crate grille, the DTS has acquired the design heritage of the Cadillac family and adapted it to 21st-century reality. It acknowledges tradition, yet remains fresh and modern. The nose is particularly expressive, with jewel-like xenon headlights framing an expansive chrome grille adorned with a center-mounted wreath-and-crest badge.
Chrome trim accents the body-color door moldings, and a narrow LED high-mounted stop light runs nearly the entire width of the deck lid's crisply edged rear contour. The fenders provide a purposeful stance, and the profile is slightly wedge-shaped. Seventeen-inch machined aluminum wheels come standard, 18-inch wheels are available, and those wheels can be ordered chromed. The overall look is brought together by Cadillac's characteristic spline line, which rises from the top of the front fender, runs along with lower edge of the side windows and then flows over the rear fender.
The Platinum option is distinguished visually by 18-inch chrome wheels, chrome grille, chrome inserts on the exterior door handles, and a Platinum badge.
Cadillac boasts that the DTS has some of the tightest production tolerances in the world, and it certainly looks the part of a well-honed luxury machine. The panels fit well, the paint is glossy and blemish free, and overall the DTS wears its bulk well, like a fine-tailored suit. The quality of GM cars has been improving, and Cadillac scores well in quality surveys.
The DTS cabin is roomy and luxurious. The interior was completely revised for 2006, and only detail changes have been made since then.
Leather and wood abound, along with chrome accents, creating a handsome, upmarket environment. Low-gloss surfaces, with a three-dimensional grain, were chosen for the upper instrument panel and upper doors in order to reduce glare and absorb sunlight.
The base leather is called Nuance. A more supple, semi-aniline Tuscany hide is included in the Platinum option. The Nuance interior benefits from fitment of a material crafted from a vinyl/silk blend for seatbacks and armrests. Claimed to be as durable as vinyl, it has the look and feel of leather.
The trim used on base models is Dark Babinga wood, while Premium and Performance levels get Dark Burled Walnut. Found on the shifter head, center console, around the center stack and across the upper section of the instrument panel, the wood trim creates a flowing theme throughout the entire interior.
Door handles, selected knobs and switches, shifter column surround, and rings that wrap the four analog gauges are chrome, which works with the wood to create an upscale feel. Instruments use white-on-black LED readouts for speedometer, tachometer, fuel and temperature gauges.
On five-passenger models, the center console between the bucket seats houses the shifter and storage bins. On six-passenger models, the shifter is mounted on the steering column to accommodate the front bench seat, which has an integrated center armrest that transforms from a back cushion into a console with two levels of storage.
The cabin has a spacious feel and good sightlines for driver visibility. Facing the driver is an attractive four-spoke wood-and-leather steering wheel with a finely etched wreath-and-crest center badge. The 6-Passenger and 5-Passenger Luxury Collection version include a heated steering wheel on a tilting column; Premium Luxury and Performance add a telescoping function.
The center stack design is attractive and the controls are easy to see and use. A Dark Argent finish surrounds the radio and HVAC control heads, which are set flush into the console for a well-integrated look. Nestled between air outlets, high up in the center stack, is an analog clock, in keeping with other high-end automobiles whose clocks measure time in the traditional way, which we like.
The rear seat is large enough for a couple of six-foot-plus males with a few extra pounds of girth; and fitting a smaller fifth passenger in between them is no problem. The seatbacks are nicely raked for long-range comfort. Seat heaters are available for the outboard positions.
Comfort is, of course, a primary component of luxury, and we drove both Luxury Premium and Performance editions of the DTS to get the full dose. We especially liked the tri-zone climate control, and the cooling for the front seats. However, the heat and cooling controls are set high up and forward in the door panels, making it hard to see if they've been turned on. It's one of the few ergonomic miscues in the DTS; otherwise, there are no difficult or hidden controls or complicated electronic interfaces to mar the luxury experience. Worthy of praise is the ease of using the sophisticated audio system. Our ears were treated by the Bose audio system, which features eight speakers and centerpoint signal processing for multi-channel surround sound.
The Platinum option offers hand-cut-and-sewn leather on the instrument panel top pad, console and door trim. French seams highlight the door panel inserts. Wood trim is light Ash with a decorative inlay, which lends a more bright and airy feeling than the Dark Walnut Burl. The steering wheel is leather-wrapped as well, and accented with the same light Ash bordered by chrome rings. The headliner and sun visors are synthetic suede. LEDs provide ambient lighting in the footwells, and even the floor mats and trunk mats are made from a more deluxe material. A sunroof is standard, and a headrest-mounted rear DVD audio/video system is available.
The available DVD navigation system comes with voice recognition and a 6.5-inch color screen; you can even watch movies on the screen when the car is in Park. Last year its maps were expanded to include Korea and Taiwan, two of Cadillac's overseas markets for the DTS. Language choices offered by the driver information center include Arabic.
• For more information such as specs, prices, and photos of the 2009 Cadillac DTS, click here: 2009 Cadillac DTS.