What's New for 1999
Comfort is big with Cadillac, so who else would offer massaging lumbar seats? Sure enough, this industry-first option is available on '99 d'Elegance and Concours models. All DeVilles get an electrochromic inside rearview mirror with compass added to the standard equipment list, in addition to an audible theft-deterrent system. There are three new exterior colors this year, and one different shade of leather inside. As if that weren't enough, side airbag deployment now communicates with the optional OnStar communications system, so the outside world will know when you've taken a broadside hit. Comforting, indeed. Look for a limited run of about 2,000 specially badged and optioned Golden Anniversary Edition DeVilles, painted White Diamond with gold trim, to celebrate the model's 50th anniversary.
DeVille has taken over Big Kahuna duties for Cadillac, ever since the rear-wheel-drive Fleetwood was dropped from the lineup two years ago. With its eggcrate grille, slab-sided flanks and long, thin, horizontal taillamps, the DeVille certainly looks the part. Cadillac last spruced up this traditional sedan back in 1997, revising the front styling forward of the windshield and dumping the half-moon rear wheel wells.
Also designed to fill the gap left by the departure of the Fleetwood was the d'Elegance model, which added gold trim, chrome wheels, a Rainsense wiper system (it turns on automatically when it begins to rain), and leather seats to the basic DeVille. Fortunately, a padded vinyl or fake convertible roof is still nowhere to be found on the d'Elegance option list, though we're sure some enterprising aftermarket outfitter will be more than happy to install one for you if that's what floats your boat.
The DeVille Concours got some much-needed interior attention for 1997. Gone were the dopey Rubik's Cube style climate controls and trip computer from the old car, and the digital display gauges vanished. Replacing them were a tasteful analog setup, with a new center console that contained audio and climate controls, driver information center and dual cupholders. The fresh audio and climate controls boasted Lexus-like appearance and operation. Also gone was the chromed-plastic switch cluster that formerly resided on the driver's armrest. The power window and mirror switchgear was simplified and dipped in a tasteful matte black, while the seat controls moved to the door panel and used a single metaphoric seat-shaped control for all adjustments.
Base models were also upgraded with the addition of dual-zone climate controls and MagnaSteer variable-effort steering gear. All DeVilles received structural enhancements, brake system revisions, additional programmable features and side-impact airbags in the front doors.
Accordingly, revisions for 1998 were comparatively few. New radios became available, heated seats were made standard on the d'Elegance and Concours models, with Concours getting new alloy wheels. The biggest addition to the optional equipment rosters of the base and d'Elegance models was the integrated chassis control system called StabiliTrak. StabiliTrak is an advanced handling system that includes stability enhancement and road texture detection features. Stability enhancement helps the driver control the DeVille in all driving conditions and on all road surfaces. It detects when the car is not responding appropriately to driver input and applies the brakes selectively to bring the car back under control. Road texture detection reads the road surface and helps the antilock braking system work more effectively on rough roads. All this, and now seats that massage your back while you drive.
Major techo-wizards, these Cadillacs. We did not particularly enjoy our week with a 1996 Concours, but many of our gripes were addressed in 1997. With further improvements the past two years, its future looks promising, as long as gas prices remain low. With the funky looking Lincoln Town Car the only other American V8 ultra-luxury model on the market, the traditionally styled DeVille is looking good, indeed.