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For five years, the Cadillac DTS served as a relic to the brand's past. While its name followed the latest Caddy nomenclature, under the skin it was a refreshed version of the Cadillac DeVille that preceded it. For more than 50 years, the DeVille was a dominant player in the full-size luxury segment, offering the traditional American big-car virtues of spaciousness and a quiet, well-cushioned ride. As the decades wore on, it slowly adapted to changing wants and needs, finally downsizing to (relatively) manageable dimensions -- in terms of both physical size and power plant volume.
Though the Cadillac DTS was popular with those who valued the traditional large American luxury car, it was behind the times in terms of design, engineering, interior materials, precision build quality, handling dynamics and even a general level of prestige. Granted, you got an enormous car with lots of stuff and a Cadillac badge for a price that undercut similarly sized luxury cars. But for a used luxury sedan choice, we'd recommend something a little more modern from the Cadillac portfolio or elsewhere.
Current Cadillac DTS
The Cadillac DTS was produced from 2006-'11.There were four trim levels available. The Base, Luxury and Premium trims came with a 4.6-liter V8 that produced 275 horsepower. The Performance trim was replaced by the Platinum for 2010, but both featured a 292-hp version of the same V8 along with a standard Magnetic Ride Control suspension. Power was sent to the front wheels through a four-speed automatic transmission.
As was traditional for a full-size Cadillac sedan, the DTS could be had in five- or six-passenger configurations. Given the car's generous proportions, interior room was excellent. Front passengers were coddled in soft leather bucket seats (or a 40/20/40 leather bench on the six-passenger version). Rear passengers enjoyed just as much legroom as those in front. Way out back, the DTS offered up a nearly 19-cubic-foot trunk. The amount of available equipment was generous, but overall design and materials lagged behind the import-brand competition and those Cadillacs introduced later in its life. Controls were at least easy to operate compared to newer, more technologically advanced luxury sedans.
On the road, the Cadillac DTS displays plenty of power for quick passing maneuvers and effortless high-speed cruising, while the suspension offers a compliant ride. Still, virtually every other large luxury sedan offers just as much or more power from V6 engines, while also offering more confidence-inspiring handling. The Performance/Platinum model's Magnetic Ride Control suspension at least does a better job of controlling ride motions than the standard setup, resulting in a less floaty and imprecise feel. Regardless of trim, road and wind noise are almost nonexistent.
Changes were few for the DTS beyond some minor standard and optional equipment updates. Buyers should note, however, that stability control was not available on the base trim. As such, we'd avoid that (the next trim up was vastly better equipped regardless of year).
Consumers interested in a used DTS prior to '06 will want to check out our review of the car's predecessor, the DeVille.