What's New for 2008
Stability control is now standard on the base model, another Luxury trim level debuts and a handful of exterior and interior color schemes are juggled. Otherwise, the 2008 Cadillac DTS sees no notable changes.
A favorite of traditional American luxury car buyers for more than a half-century, the Cadillac DeVille has enjoyed a storied, if sometimes checkered past. During its glory days of the 1950s, '60s and '70s, this Caddy was admired for its flashy styling, plush interior, powerful V8 performance, array of latest automotive gadgets and fine build quality. The dark era of the '80s brought embarrassment to the iconic nameplate when it was powered by a string of weak, unreliable engines and received a rather embarrassing downsizing.
More recent times have seen a return of sorts to the old standards of power, classy styling, quality and comfort. In an effort to bring the DeVille in line with current Caddy offerings, a refresh a few years ago gave this large sedan a new name: DTS (DeVille Touring Sedan) along with Cadillac's new face, meaning the stacked headlights and pointed egg-crate grille similar to those seen on the STS and SRX models.
The 2008 Cadillac DTS stays the course as it continues to offer old-school American luxury for folks more interested in a hushed, relaxing ride than in attacking apexes. This is not to say the DTS is a rolling anachronism, as it offers a fair level of sophistication under its stately sheet metal. The standard V8 engine delivers decent oomph while the Magnetic Ride automatically adjusting suspension (on the Performance trim) provides that trademark Caddy ride along with respectable handling.
Those shopping the large luxury sedan segment will note that the DTS lags behind luxury stalwarts such as the Lexus LS and Mercedes S-Class in terms of interior materials quality, handling dynamics and level of prestige. But those cars are anywhere from $12,000 to $35,000 more than the Caddy. Measured against cars more in its price range such as the Lincoln Town Car and Chrysler 300C, the DTS makes a much stronger showing, beating the Lincoln in performance and topping the Chrysler in cabin luxury and interior volume. For those buyers desiring a car that represents an updated version of the traditional American luxury sedan, the 2008 Cadillac DTS is the best choice available.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2008 Cadillac DTS is a large, front-wheel-drive luxury sedan that is offered in five trim levels: base, Luxury I, Luxury II, Luxury III and Performance. The base is nicely equipped with dual-zone automatic climate control, leather seating, OnStar, bi-xenon headlamps, power front bucket seats, remote vehicle start, a CD/MP3 player and satellite radio.
Luxury I features a 40/20/40-split front seat that's heated and cooled and allows for six-passenger seating. It also comes with heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel and park assist. Luxury II features bucket front seats and triple-zone climate control. Luxury III adds chrome wheels, power-folding mirrors, a power rear sunshade, Bose audio with six-CD changer, power lumbar support for all outboard seats, massaging front seats, a power tilt/telescoping steering wheel, driver seat memory, rear vanity mirrors and auto-dimming headlights.
The Performance version is equipped similar to the Luxury III but features a more powerful V8, specifically calibrated transmission programming, 18-inch wheels, side blind-spot alert and a firmer suspension with Magnetic Ride Control. Notable options available for the DTS (depending on the trim level) include adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, the side blind-spot alert, a sunroof and a navigation system.
Powertrains and Performance
Two 4.6-liter V8 engines are employed in the DTS lineup. All trims except the Performance have 275 horsepower, while the enhanced V8 in the DTS Performance makes 292 hp. Either way, the lone transmission is a four-speed automatic, which is calibrated for quicker response in the Performance model. On-road acceleration is adequate as we've timed a DTS Performance to 60 mph in 7 seconds flat.
Stability control is standard across the board, as are antilock disc brakes, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. In crash testing, the 2008 Cadillac DTS did well for a large luxury sedan. In National Highway Traffic Safety Administration frontal crash tests, the DTS scored five stars (out of five) for the driver and four stars for the passenger. In that agency's side-impact test, the DTS scored four stars for front and rear passengers. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety frontal-offset testing, the DTS rated a "Good" (the highest of four), while side-impact testing yielded an "Acceptable" rating (the second-highest score).
Interior Design and Special Features
The DTS is one of the few cars left that offers six-passenger capacity via a front (split) bench seat that is available on the two lower trims. The luxury of space is plainly evident, as passengers are treated to soft yet supportive seats that offer as much legroom in back as they do in front. At nearly 19 cubic feet, the trunk has no problem accepting large suitcases or a foursome's golf bags.
Overall, the cabin is handsome and most controls are simple to use -- no small feat given the large number of high-tech features. Although generally good, the interior materials are not up to the high standards set by European or Japanese luxury marques.
Considering its large size and softly tuned suspension, the 2008 Cadillac DTS carries itself fairly well. There's plenty of power on hand for quick passes and effortless high-speed cruising, while the suspension manages to offer a compliant ride and solid handling, provided you're going at a relaxed pace. Road and wind noise are barely noticeable, and the sheer volume of room in the cabin makes the DTS a fantastic long-distance highway cruiser.