Full 2009 Cadillac STS-V Review
What's New for 2009
There are no changes for the 2009 Cadillac STS-V.
A mere decade ago, the pickings were slim if you wanted a luxurious midsize sport sedan with steroidal power and room for four adults. BMW's newest version of its M5 was just about ready to hit stateside, and Mercedes had just introduced the E55 AMG. But if neither of these super-sedans tickled your fancy, you were pretty much out of luck. Today, rival models from Audi, Jaguar and Maserati have elbowed their way into this exclusive segment alongside updated efforts from BMW and Mercedes. And then there's the 2009 Cadillac STS-V, now in its fourth year on the market. It's an attempt by GM to cut the haughty European competition down to size.
Thanks to its supercharged 4.4-liter V8, the 2009 STS-V can sprint from zero to 60 mph in an impressive 5.1 seconds. That the STS-V isn't even close to being the quickest car in this segment is a testament to the ferocity of the current horsepower wars. That honor goes to the brutally powerful Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG, which reaches 60 in a physics-flouting 4.3 seconds. But make no mistake -- the STS-V is one fleet-footed luxury sedan. And while it doesn't offer world-beating handling, it's no slouch here either, having been tuned extensively on the Nürburgring's famous Nordschleife in the course of its development. When you consider these traits alongside the STS-V's downright civilized ride and spaciously luxurious interior, there's no doubt that this remains a highly desirable car even after four years of production.
Thing is, GM's got a hotter iron in this fire -- that would be the new CTS-V, which is marginally smaller than the STS-V but about the same size as the Germans. It boasts a mildly detuned version of the new Corvette ZR-1's supercharged V8. On paper, that means it will put out fully 81 more horsepower and 111 more pound-feet of torque than the STS-V's already healthy 469 hp and 439 lb-ft. In practice, the CTS-V has lapped the Nürburgring in a production-sedan record 7 minutes and 59 seconds. The STS-V is no slouch, but it can't touch the all-out performance of its brash new sibling.
Still, the fact that traditionally staid Cadillac now offers two Nürburgring-bred luxury sport sedans is a good measure of how thoroughly the brand has reinvented itself in recent years. The 2009 Cadillac STS-V certainly does justice to the high-performance "V" badge, even if it's no longer the sprightliest steed in Cadillac's stable. However, there are many highly capable players in this segment, so we'd advise giving the competition a close look as well. The Audi S6, BMW M5, Jaguar XJR, Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG and even the somewhat pricier Maserati Quattroporte are all worthy of consideration.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2009 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
A supercharged 4.4-liter V8 making 469 hp and 439 lb-ft of torque is the secret to the STS-V's ferocious acceleration. Power is sent to the rear wheels via a six-speed automatic with manual shift control. In addition to that 0-60-mph sprint of 5.1 seconds, we've clocked an STS-V through the quarter-mile in a blistering 13.6 seconds at 106 mph, though this performance is far from best-in-class.
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 2009 Cadillac STS-V. 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
The 2009 Cadillac STS-V sports satisfactory levels of fit and finish, and luxury buyers should be pleased with this Cadillac's generally high-class ambience. However, there are some low-grade plastics to be found -- a shortcoming shared by neither the STS-V's competitors nor the finely wrought CTS-V. Controls are straightforward and mostly intuitive, though the memory-setting procedure for the driver seat, mirrors, radio and climate controls requires an undue amount of futzing around with the touchscreen menu system. Trunk space, at 13.8 cubic feet, is perhaps a bit disappointing given the car's overall size.
Put the pedal down in the 2009 Cadillac STS-V and you're instantly surging forward on a huge wave of supercharged torque, even though the six-speed automatic isn't as quick-witted as it should be in a V-badged car. The sport-tuned suspension, powerful Brembo brakes and substantial wheels and tires conspire to imbue the STS-V with a remarkably composed character at higher speeds and around corners. Compared to the single-minded M5, the STS-V feels a bit soft, but body roll is remarkably well-controlled for such a large car.