KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 3/30/2011
The last descendent of Cadillac's past, the 2011 DTS, drives on for another year, eagerly awaiting retirement and the debut of its replacement, the XTS Sedan. Originally called the DeVille, the front-drive DTS is Cadillac's largest (and oldest) sedan offering. Purchased almost exclusively by the retirement set, the DTS is the last American luxury cruiser that places a greater emphasis on ride rather than handling. With seating for six, a powerful V8 engine and more electronic gadgets than you can shake a stick at, the DTS may well be worth its $50,000 asking price, proving value, like beauty, is truly in the eye of the beholder.
You'll Like This Car If...
If your idea of a great driving car includes complete isolation from the road while being cocooned in a shroud of silence, the DTS is the car for you.
You May Not Like This Car If...
If you desire the Cadillac brand, but you want your car to have a modicum of road feel (not to mention youth-oriented styling), you might want to shoot for the STS Sedan or even the SRX CUV.
What's Significant About This Car?
The 2011 Cadillac DTS now includes as standard Cadillac's Premium Care Maintenance, covering scheduled oil changes, tire rotations, replacement of engine and cabin air filters and multi-point vehicle inspections for four years or 50,000 miles.
One spin behind the wheel of the 2011 Cadillac DTS and you'll feel you've gone back to a simpler, more elegant era. In a nod to motoring the way it used to be, the DTS floats over road imperfections and silences all but the most obnoxious exterior noises. Feedback from the steering wheel is somewhat vague and the brake pedal can feel a bit mushy at first but, after a short while, the driver adapts to the softer inputs, making the DTS quite controllable. Despite its purposefully soft-tuned suspension, the DTS is far less floaty than might be expected and body lean in corners is tolerable. The standard Northstar V8 engine delivers impressive acceleration bolstered by the automatic transmission's near seamless shifting.
Northstar V8 Engine and Hydra-Matic
The Northstar V8 is well known for smooth running and energetic response to the gas pedal, helped by unobtrusive shifts from GM's Hydra-Matic transmission.
Optional Front Split-Bench Seat
Even if many shoppers may not particularly want one, it's refreshing to know that a six-passenger sedan still exists on the market.
The DTS is one of the few sedans around that still offers a split-bench front seat, a highly desirable feature for those who feel shoe-horned into bucket-style seats. Legroom is plentiful both front and rear, as is headroom. A big plus for rear-seat passengers is the DTS' upright rear window design that allows for maximum headroom. Unfortunately, the hard rear seatbacks didn't sit well with some of our testers. From the driver's point of view, the large analog instruments proved easy to read. We did, however, find some of the pictographs on controls and buttons difficult to decipher, prompting numerous trips to the owner's manual. Despite the wide rear C-pillars and a high rear shelf, rearward visibility is still good.
While it carries some of Cadillac's more modern styling themes (like the egg-crate grille and stacked headlamps), there is no hiding the DTS's decade-old design. A long hood, long over-hangs and a wide body are the hallmarks of the DTS design, which Cadillac optimistically describes as "architectural and linear." In fairness, the DTS does have amazingly tight gaps between its body panels and a first-rate paint job, placing it on par with the best from Europe and Japan.
Notable Standard Equipment
Safety items top the list of standard DTS features, including four-channel anti-lock brakes (ABS) and traction control, roof-rail side-curtain airbags and front-seat side-impact thorax airbags. A factory-installed Adaptive Remote Start system includes a personalization provision. The 17-inch tires are mounted to machined aluminum wheels, and leather upholstery, automatic dual-zone climate control, folding power mirrors, a CD player with MP3 capability and GM's OnStar assistance system are standard.
Notable Optional Equipment
Although the 2011 Cadillac DTS is offered in a single trim level, option groups can add extra features. The Performance Package includes the 292-horsepower high-output V8 engine, performance algorithm shifting, Magnetic Ride Control and 18-inch tires on machined aluminum wheels. Highlights for the Platinum Package include Tri-zone automatic air conditioning, Intellibeam headlamps, power folding outside mirrors, front and rear parking sensors, dual front lumbar-massaging heated and cooled seats, heated rear seats, heated leather and wood steering wheel, a power tilt/telescopic steering wheel, Magnetic Ride Control suspension and 18-inch alloy wheels. Stand-alone options include DVD navigation, adaptive speed control and the Driver Awareness Package (Blind Spot Zone Alert and Lane Departure Warning systems.)
Under the Hood
In standard form, the Northstar LD8 4.6-liter dual-overhead-cam V8 develops 275 horsepower and is matched with a Hydra-Matic four-speed transmission. A higher-output, higher-revving Northstar L37 V8 is available with the Performance Package – rated at 292 horsepower but delivering less torque than the LD8.
275 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
295 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/23
4.6-liter V8 High Output
292 horsepower @ 6300 rpm
288 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/23
The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Prices (MSRP) for the 2011 Cadillac DTS range from about $48,000 for the base car to as much as $65,000 for a loaded Platinum Series. Other luxury makes in the price range include the Volvo S80, the Lexus GS 350 and, at the high end, the Jaguar XJ8. To be sure you make your best deal, check the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price to see what the DTS actually sells for in your area. Compared to the Volvo and Jaguar, the DTS holds its own in the areas of resale and residual value. However, when compared to the Lexus, the DTS falls far behind.