Full 2011 Cadillac DTS Review
What's New for 2011
For 2011, the Cadillac DTS carries over essentially unchanged.
The 2011 Cadillac DTS sedan is something of a modern take on the classic American luxury car. Although the clean, slab-sided styling is fairly contemporary, a few styling cues such as the large egg-crate grille and vertical taillights recall the days when Frank Sinatra's "My Way" played through the speakers via an eight-track player. Back then, rolling up in a Caddy carried a certain amount of prestige. The Cadillac DeVille was nothing less than an imposing, powerful luxury car with room for six and innovative features.
But current times haven't been as kind to Cadillac's full-size sedan. Though the DTS (DeVille Touring Sedan) has the requisite V8 engine and broad array of modern amenities, there are a number of other choices that top the Cadillac in several important areas. Other large luxury cars such as the BMW 7 Series, Infiniti M56, Jaguar XJ and Lexus LS 460 offer fresher styling, significantly better performance and even more high-tech gizmos.
In fairness, some of those vehicles can cost $10,000-$30,000 more than the 2011 Cadillac DTS. However the Cadillac is also outclassed by even more affordable cars like the 2011 Buick LaCrosse and Lucerne, 2011 Hyundai Equus and Genesis, and even the 2011 Toyota Avalon, all of which offer similarly soothing rides, pampering luxury features and spacious interiors. As an American luxury sedan in the classical sense, the DTS gets it right. But our recommendation is to get with the times and go with any of the aforementioned competitors.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2011 Cadillac DTS full-size sedan is available in four increasingly well-equipped trim levels: base, Luxury, Premium and Platinum.
The base DTS includes 17-inch alloy wheels, xenon headlights, foglights, remote engine start, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, power front seats, OnStar and an eight-speaker CD stereo with satellite radio. Step up to the Luxury model and you get 17-inch chromed wheels, a sunroof, front and rear parking sensors, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, triple-zone climate control system, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, driver seat memory settings and an eight-speaker Bose audio system with a six-disc CD changer.
The Premium trim level adds a body-color grille, front seats with power lumbar adjustment and massage, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering column, genuine burled walnut interior accents and a navigation system with real-time traffic updates.
The top-of-the-line Platinum adds a more powerful version of the base 4.6-liter V8 engine, 18-inch wheels, an adaptive suspension, upgraded interior trim and lane-departure and blind-spot warning systems.
Some of the additional features on the upper trims can be added to the lower ones as options. Other notable options include adaptive cruise control and a 40/20/40-split front bench that gives the DTS seating for six.
Powertrains and Performance
Under the hood, the 2011 Cadillac DTS has a 4.6-liter V8. On all but the top-of-the-line DTS Platinum, this engine puts out 275 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. In the Platinum, the V8 is tweaked to make 292 hp and 288 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels through a four-speed automatic transmission, which also gets tweaked for better performance in Platinum models.
Even with the more powerful V8, the DTS's acceleration can best be described as adequate. In Edmunds testing, a DTS Platinum managed a 0-60-mph time of 7 seconds flat, which sounds respectable enough until you learn that most V8-powered luxury sedans -- and even some V6-powered models -- are considerably quicker. EPA fuel economy estimates are also just average at 15 mpg city/23 highway and 18 mpg combined for the base engine. The DTS Platinum differs with 22 mpg on the highway.
Standard safety features include electronic stability control, antilock disc brakes, front-seat side airbags and side curtain airbags. Missing from this list are active front head restraints, something that is typically standard on cars in this price range.
The 2011 Cadillac DTS has not been tested using the government's new, more strenuous 2011 testing procedure; however, its 2010 rating (which isn't comparable to the new methodology) was five stars (out of five) for the driver and four stars for the front seat passenger in frontal impacts. Side-impact tests resulted in four stars front and rear. The DTS received a top "Good" rating in frontal-offset crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, but a second-best "Acceptable" rating in side impact testing.
Interior Design and Special Features
Even though the DTS is roughly 18 inches shorter than some of its ancestors, its passenger cabin still feels remarkably spacious. While front bucket seats are standard, the available 40/20/40-split front bench makes this one of the few modern sedans that offers seating for six. No matter which configuration you choose, you'll find comfortable seats and abundant head- and legroom for both front and rear seat passengers.
Wind and road noise are nicely subdued, creating a hushed environment that adds to the luxury sedan feel. In general terms, the cabin offers conservative yet stylish good looks and straightforward, intuitive controls. But while most interior materials are generally good, there are still a few cheaper plastics seen here and there.
The huge trunk offers nearly 19 cubic feet of cargo room. A pass-through opening in the middle of the rear seat makes it possible to carry long narrow items such as skis with the trunk lid closed.
With a suspension tuned to favor a cushy ride over sporty handling, the 2011 Cadillac DTS is all about coddling its occupants. In other words, it's the epitome of a car built for comfort rather than speed.
The DTS Platinum is the best-driving model thanks to its more powerful V8 and the Magnetic Ride Control suspension -- the same technology offered as an option on the Chevrolet Corvette -- that automatically adjusts suspension firmness to match road conditions and your driving style. But let's keep things in perspective here, as even with these powertrain and suspension upgrades, the DTS is no sport sedan. Also, because of its size, it can be difficult to park -- especially for shorter drivers.
Ultimately, its combination of a smooth ride and a comfortable, roomy interior make the DTS best suited to drivers who prefer to motor along at a relaxed pace.