What's New for 2009
The 2009 Cadillac DTS receives a revised version of OnStar featuring Bluetooth connectivity, and XM real-time traffic is newly optional.
Like Lincoln's Town Car, the Cadillac DTS -- née DeVille -- is probably best known for being a staple of livery businesses across the country. If you want to hire a chauffeured luxury car to ferry around valued guests, there's a good chance it'll be a DTS. At least, you'd better hope it's a DTS, for your guests' sake. Compared with the hoary Town Car, the 2009 Cadillac DTS is a tour de force of power, style and sophistication.
Now, you might accuse us of damning the DTS with faint praise by ranking it ahead of the Town Car -- and you'd be right. In any reasonable comparison of luxury cars, the Lincoln is going to bring up the rear. But truth be told, the DTS is a pretty decent car on its own merits. It looks sharp, its 4.6-liter V8 provides a pleasant rush of power, and in keeping with GM's recent trend toward improved interiors, its hushed cabin is attractively designed and nicely appointed.
The DTS' Performance trim level even features an electronically adjustable Magnetic Ride Control suspension -- that's the technology that's available on the Chevrolet Corvette. And as you'd expect in a traditional American land yacht, there are acres of passenger and trunk space inside the DTS. Throw in cushy seats and a pillow-soft ride, and we can see how the big Caddy could be an attractive proposition for those who don't plan to attack twisty roads on a regular basis.
Unfortunately, with a base price north of $45,000, the DTS is up against some very stiff competition. V6-powered Japanese luxury sedans such as the Lexus GS350 and Infiniti M35 offer superior performance and technology along with more modern sheet metal, and BMW's 5 Series is renowned for its all-around excellence. If these cars seem too sport-oriented, the Hyundai Genesis V8 features a comparably compliant ride and up to 100 extra horsepower for considerably less cash. In sum, the 2009 Cadillac DTS is the best full-size American luxury car you can buy -- but unless your heart is set on a car that fits this description, we'd recommend considering the numerous other viable options at this price point instead.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2009 Cadillac DTS is a large luxury sedan that is offered in four trim levels: base, Luxury, Premium Luxury and Performance. The base model comes standard with 17-inch wheels, bi-xenon headlamps, remote engine start, dual-zone automatic climate control, power front bucket seats, leather upholstery, OnStar with Bluetooth and a CD stereo with satellite radio. The Luxury trim adds a heated and cooled 40/20/40-split front seat that allows for six-passenger seating. It also features heated rear seats, driver memory settings, a heated steering wheel and park assist. One can also order the Luxury trim with front bucket seats and a third climate-control zone for the rear seat.
The Premium Luxury trim tacks on chrome wheels, auto-dimming headlights, power-folding mirrors, a power rear sunshade, a power tilt and telescoping steering wheel, a Bose audio system with a six-CD changer, massaging front seats, power lumbar support for all outboard seats and rear vanity mirrors. The Performance version's standard equipment is similar to that of the Premium Luxury trim, but it includes a more powerful V8, special transmission programming, 18-inch wheels, a blind-spot warning system and adaptive suspension damping.
Notable options available for the DTS (depending on the trim level) include adaptive cruise control, a lane-departure warning system, a sunroof and a navigation system with voice activation and real-time traffic. Additionally, the Platinum Edition package -- available only on Premium Luxury and Performance models -- adds all manner of luxuries, including chrome wheels, a chrome grille, special leather, ash wood trim, leather trim on the center console and instrument panel, French-stitched door inserts, an Alcantara headliner, and major options like the navigation system and sunroof.
Powertrains and Performance
A choice of two 4.6-liter V8 engines are offered in the DTS lineup. All trims except Performance have a 275-hp version, while the slightly tweaked V8 in the Performance model makes 292 hp. The lone transmission is an anachronistic four-speed automatic, which is calibrated for quicker response in the Performance model. Acceleration is adequate, as we've timed a DTS Performance to 60 mph in seven seconds flat, but most V8-powered luxury sedans are considerably quicker, as are many V6-powered competitors. EPA fuel economy estimates stand at 15 mpg city/23 highway and 18 combined for non-Performance trims, while the Performance model loses 1 mpg on the highway.
Stability control is standard on the 2009 Cadillac DTS, as are antilock disc brakes, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. In government crash tests, the DTS scored five stars (out of five) for the driver and four stars for the passenger in frontal impacts. In side impact testing, the DTS received four stars for both front- and rear-passenger protection. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety frontal offset testing, the DTS was rated "Good" (the highest possible rating), while side impact testing yielded an "Acceptable" rating (the second-highest score).
Interior Design and Special Features
The DTS is one of the few remaining cars that offer six-passenger capacity via a front bench seat, which is available on the two lower trims in place of the standard bucket seats. Whichever configuration is specified, 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 gigantic trunk has no problem accommodating luggage for four. Overall, the cabin is handsomely designed, and most controls are easy to use; however, while interior materials have been improved in recent years, they're still not anything to write home about.
Considering its plus-sized dimensions and softly tuned suspension, the 2009 Cadillac DTS carries itself fairly well. There's enough power on hand for quick passes and effortless high-speed cruising, and the handling is respectable as long as you're going at a relaxed pace. Road and wind noise are nicely quelled, and the roomy, luxurious cabin makes the DTS a superlative long-distance highway cruiser.