Full 2008 Cadillac STS-V Review
What's New for 2008
The high-performance 2008 Cadillac STS-V receives new high-tech safety equipment and a few interior improvements.
With flashy contemporaries like the BMW M5 and Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG, the 2008 Cadillac STS-V always had an uphill battle to win some celebrity among luxury-minded horsepower junkies. However, it isn't a German or even a Japanese high-performance sedan that has effectively torpedoed the STS-V. No, the shot below the water line has come from within its own family. The forthcoming CTS-V will sport 81 more horsepower, 111 more pound-feet of torque, greater agility and a much better interior at a lower price. In other words, the little brother is way cooler. Jacksons one through four can relate.
Things started off well for the STS-V, as it was the most powerful car to ever don the old wreath and crest logo. With a supercharger stuffing air into the 4.4-liter Northstar V8, this high-performance Caddy pumps out 469 hp and can go from zero to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds. Although not quite as prodigious as the BMW M5 or Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG, the STS-V is still a mean machine that can also soak up miles upon miles of freeway cruising in luxurious comfort. For American muscle car lovers with a healthy bank account, the STS-V presents a tremendous combination of performance and luxury. Of course, its German competitors are more refined and technologically advanced, but they also cost at least $6,000 more.
On the luxury front, the 2008 STS-V comes standard with all the regular STS's options, including this year's new lane-departure and blind-spot warning systems. The interior has also been given a light polish, with a much nicer steering wheel and a sportier combination of wood and aluminum accents. In total, this large sedan is very nice, but like its performance credentials, it will be greatly outdone by the future CTS-V. Little brother sports a more eye-catching design, better materials and newer electronic gizmos. Plus, it's actually the same size as the M5 and E63 -- the STS-V is the big-boned member of the family.
Given that size, the 2008 Cadillac STS-V will certainly have some appeal to those who need the maximum amount of space available in a high-performance luxury sedan. We're not sure how many people actually do, though, so seemingly, the STS-V's only other advantage over its little brother is that you can actually get one. The CTS-V won't be available until later in 2008 and even then, it may be hard to come by initially. It should be worth the wait, but the STS-V certainly won't disappoint if you absolutely have to have a super Caddy this very second.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2008 Cadillac STS-V is a large high-performance sedan available in one fully loaded trim level. Standard equipment includes 18-inch front wheels and 19-inch rear wheels, HID xenon headlamps, rear parking assist, rain-sensing wipers, a sunroof, keyless entry/ignition, leather and faux suede upholstery, heated eight-way power front seats, driver memory functions, heated outboard rear seats and a heated steering wheel. Dual-zone automatic climate control, a head-up display, a navigation system, Bluetooth and a 15-speaker Bose surround-sound system with six-CD changer, auxiliary audio jack and satellite radio are also standard. The only option is deleting the sunroof.
Powertrains and Performance
Thundering under the STS-V's hood is a supercharged 4.4-liter V8 making 469 hp and 439 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to the rear wheels via a six-speed automatic with automanual control. In performance testing, the STS-V went from zero to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds and through the quarter-mile in 13.6 seconds.
Antilock disc brakes, stability control, traction control, front-seat side airbags, full-length head curtain airbags, OnStar and a rearview camera are all standard on the 2008 Cadillac STS-V. New for 2008 and also standard are blind-spot and lane-departure warning systems.
In government crash tests, the STS scored four out of five stars for frontal crash protection and front seat side impact protection. It got five stars for rear side impact protection. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety frontal-offset crash testing, the regular STS scored a rating of "Good," the highest possible. It scored a second-best rating of "Acceptable" for that agency's side impact protection.
Interior Design and Special Features
Cadillac snazzed up the STS's interior significantly for 2008 with higher-quality wood and the addition of tasteful aluminum trim. Also, a sporty new steering wheel looks and feels better than the previous one. The good fit and finish remains and luxury buyers should be pleased with this Cadillac's generally high-class ambience. There are some demerits, though, mostly having to do with some low-grade plastic trim pieces that put the STS at a disadvantage against the top European and Japanese luxury sedans -- the all-new Cadillac CTS is much better in this regard and in terms of overall design.
Controls are straightforward and easy to use, with the exception of the confounding memory-setting procedure for the driver seat, mirrors, radio and climate controls. Unlike traditional systems, which place buttons on the door or driver seat, you must dive deep into the navigation touchscreen to set memory functions. It's frustrating and unnecessarily complicated, but at least it's something done only occasionally.
As you might expect, overtaking slow-moving cars or trucks requires little forethought in the 2008 Cadillac STS-V. Just dip the throttle and go. Mash the pedal and the STS-V jets forward on a huge wave of supercharged torque, but the six-speed automatic has a tendency to move slowly through gearchanges. The sport-tuned suspension, powerful Brembo brakes and larger wheels and tires all do their part to make this a very complete, well-balanced package. The car's rather large size ultimately limits its ability to hustle through corners, but it generally handles like a much smaller car. Compared to the M5, the STS-V is softly sprung for American tastes, but body roll is well controlled, and the big Caddy never feels floppy or sloppy.