Cadillac STS History

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Now that the Seville name has passed into history with the appearance of the 2005 STS, it's tough to remember just how important a car the Seville was to Cadillac — and the American auto industry as a whole. Back in the mid-1970s, it was the car that broke the stranglehold that sheer gargantuan size had on the hearts and minds of domestic car buyers. It was, for the first time anyone could remember, the best car Cadillac built without being the biggest car Cadillac built. Over the years, it was also the car that Cadillac aimed straight at the hearts of Mercedes-Benz and BMW buyers and, on occasion, actually succeeded in attracting some.

But that wasn't the very first Seville.

The First Sevilles: 1956-1960

Cadillac first used the Seville name to indicate the hardtop coupe version of the top-of-the-line Eldorado convertible (covered much more extensively in its own Generations feature). These "Eldorado Sevilles" carried all the equipment of an Eldorado convertible, were powered by the same drivetrains, rode atop the same chassis and were priced about the same. In fact if you bought a 1956 Eldorado convertible, it carried a base price of $6,501 and going for the Eldorado Seville two-door hardtop would set you back, well, $6,501. As a subseries of the Eldorado, these first Sevilles don't rise to the level of production models in their own right.

The 1957 Eldorado Seville was available both as a coupe and, in very limited numbers (only four were ordered and made), as a four-door Eldorado Seville sedan. To no one's surprise, the sedan version disappeared from the 1958 lineup. However, the Seville coupe continued forward, selling 855 units that model year (compared to 815 Eldorado convertibles) with a base price of $7,500.

Infamously festooned with the wildest tailfins ever to see production, the 1959 Seville hardtop saw its base price drop to $7,401 and sales grew to 975 units — which paled only in comparison to the 1,320 Eldorado convertibles sold that most flamboyant year. Though the car wore slightly less obnoxious fins during 1960 (and an unchanged base price), sales of the Seville grew to 1,075 units.

And that was that for the name Seville at Cadillac — at least for the next 15 years.

First-Generation Seville: 1975 1/2-1979

Mercedes-Benz had established more than a beachhead in the American market by the mid-1970s. It was in the process of completely eclipsing Cadillac and Lincoln as the prestigious brand to which buyers aspired — particularly on the West and East Coasts. So GM took a look at its portfolio of automobiles in hopes of finding a car that could credibly take on Mercedes and decided that, with a few tweaks and the addition of a heavy load of luxury equipment, that the humble Chevy Nova could do the job.

Known inside GM as the X-Car, the basic Nova platform was about as ordinary as any car then in production. Sharing much of its basic engineering with the F-Cars of the day (Pontiac Firebird and Chevrolet Camaro), the X-Car had a unibody structure for the passenger compartment and trunk area with a subframe for the engine cradle and front suspension attached at the firewall. The front suspension was a simple double A-arm independent system with most components made of stamped steel while the rear suspension was a solid rear axle on semielliptical leaf springs similar to the system under the Conestoga wagons our forefathers used to cross the Great Plains back in the 1800s.

Considering the compromised nature of the X-Car's engineering, it worked relatively well for the era. The use of a subframe meant the structure often felt as if it were hinged at the middle during hard driving, but GM had such extensive experience with the suspension that it had learned to tame most of its demons. It wasn't sophisticated, but it was thoroughly developed.

To turn the X-Car into a Cadillac, GM first stretched the wheelbase from the 1975 Nova sedan's 111.0 inches to 114.3 inches and increased the overall length from 196.7 to 204.0 inches. Engineers reinforced much of the body to make it as stiff as possible, using computers that were about as powerful as a $5 calculator is today to do the structural analysis. They also tweaked the rear suspension by adding a pair of airbags to produce an automatic load-leveling system. Of course the front springs were softened significantly, and larger-diameter front disc brakes were fitted while cast-iron drums remained out back.

While the Seville was bigger than the Nova, it was much smaller than Cadillac's mainstay sedan of the time, the DeVille. In fact, a '75 Sedan DeVille, at 230.7 inches long, was nearly 27 inches longer than the Seville. The Seville was small — for a Cadillac — and throwing in one of Cadillac's 500-cubic-inch (8.2-liter) OHV V8s would have defeated the purpose of this "international size" car. So instead Cadillac raided Oldsmobile's parts bin, swiping a 350-cubic-inch (5.7-liter) OHV V8 and fitting it with a set of freshly developed cylinder heads and Bendix/Bosch electronic fuel injection. By the standards of the day, the 180 horsepower produced by the Seville's V8 was commendable — particularly in comparison to the mere 190 hp Cadillac was getting from the 150-cubic-inch larger V8 in its other vehicles. The sole transmission offered was GM's three-speed Turbo Hydramatic automatic.

Introduced late in the 1975 model year, the 1975 1/2 Seville was one of the best-looking cars of the mid-'70s with a relatively long hood, a stately roof line, clean flanks and a trunk that cleaved down to a wedge shape. During the first two years of production, a thickly padded vinyl top was fitted to each car, CR78-15 whitewall radials were the standard tire and the 15-inch steel wheels could be covered in either brushed metal discs or fake wire wheel hubcaps. From the square headlights framing the egg crate grille up front to the license plate well burrowed into the rear deck lid, the Seville was America's best-looking sedan.

As clean as the exterior was, the interior was essentially that of other Cadillacs scaled to the cabin's reduced size. The three-spoke steering wheel stood in front of the dashboard's minimal instrumentation, the seats were flat and covered in either cloth or leather, and every amenity conceivable to '70s shoppers was standard.

And with a $12,479 base price when it went on sale in April 1975, the Seville was almost $2,000 more expensive than the next most expensive Cadillacs — the $10,354 Eldorado convertible and $10,414 Fleetwood Brougham sedan. Even in that very abbreviated first-year production run, Cadillac sold 16,355 Sevilles.

"First," wrote the Motor Trend editors in a test of the 1976 Seville, "let's dispel the notion that the Seville is some sort of 'baby' Cadillac or, for that matter, a small car. At 4,340 pounds, it is a substantial automobile by any standard. Only in comparison to other domestic luxury cars does the Seville shrink. And this is probably its most appealing attribute."

Car and Driver had the audacity to compare the Seville to the Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow. "The Seville makes no pretense at matching Rolls-Royce standards," the magazine wrote. "In Detroit, the assembly line is the only workable way to build a car, and the same construction techniques are used for the Seville as for the Pinto, although the Cadillac line's speed has been slowed to a mere 14.5 cars per hour instead of the normal 50 to 60. Nor are the materials used in the Seville particularly unusual. It missed out on the crash diet attitude currently sweeping Detroit design circles, so no attempt to replace steel and iron with aluminum and plastic derivatives has been made in the Seville. The wood grain is the chemical variety and leather is reserved as an option for the seats only. Smooth vinyl covers the instrument panel and armrests, with hard plastic held to a minimum masking roof pillars. It amounts to a trim level as good as anything offered recently by Detroit — but no better.

"The advantage the Seville has over every car of its size in the world lies exactly where Cadillac engineers felt it would be most appreciated: ride and quietness." And the magazine didn't find that the Seville embarrassed itself in comparison to the $34,355 Rolls. "The Silver Shadow is, of course, a precious yardstick by which to measure any car. And it pinpoints the Seville as a mass-produced automobile cultivated to an unsurpassed level of comfort. In a car of manageable proportions, this is one American accomplishment worthy of international esteem."

Despite being far from quick (Car and Driver clocked its Seville getting to 60 mph in a languorous 11.5 seconds and completing the quarter-mile in 18.7 seconds at 73.8 mph), the Seville sold quickly with more than 43,000 sold during the '76 model year.

Change was minimal for 1977 with the most apparent differences being that the Seville was now available with a plain steel roof in addition to the vinyl-covered kind (most buyers stuck with vinyl), that there was a new grille with chrome vertical slats, and that rear disc brakes were now part of the mechanical package. The sales success continued with 45,060 buyers putting Sevilles in their driveways during the model year.

A few minor trim changes (new bumper guards, tweaked grille textures, revised lighting and new badges) distinguished the 1978 Seville from its predecessors. A new "Elegante" package included two-tone paint, perforated leather seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and real wire wheels. A trip computer was also offered as an option.

But the biggest news for '78 was that the Seville could now be had with diesel power. The good news was that the diesel returned excellent fuel mileage. The bad news was that it was the infamous Oldsmobile 5.7-liter diesel V8 — a clumsy conversion of the gasoline-fueled Olds V8 that has gone down in history as one of worst lumps of cast iron ever installed in a vehicle.

With its output of just 120 hp, it was no surprise that the diesel V8 made for a very slow Seville. Road & Track measured an agonizing 0-to-60 time of 15.7 seconds for the Seville diesel, with the quarter-mile taking a lazy 20.8 seconds at 69 mph. Fortunately for Road & Track, its test Seville diesel didn't self-destruct during their acceleration runs. So bad were the diesel Oldsmobile V8s that they were often yanked from low-mileage cars and replaced by the much more reliable gas engine.

With sales of the Seville still strong at 56,985 units during '78, there was little reason to change it much for 1979. So except for rerating the gasoline engine at 170 hp, Cadillac left the car alone and it racked up another 53,487 in sales. But GM decided to come out with an all-new Seville for 1980 anyhow.

Second-Generation Seville: 1980-1985

The second-generation Seville had little in common with its immediate predecessor beyond its name and the fact that it rode on four tires. Banished to the dustbin of automotive history were the Nova-derived structure and mechanical bits and in their place was the new front-drive platform that also underpinned the newly downsized 1980 Eldorado. Compared to the old Seville's primitive mechanical bits, the new Seville's all-independent suspension and full unibody architecture were amazingly sophisticated.

But the car was slightly bigger and had questionable styling. While the wheelbase had actually shrunk slightly to an even 114.0 inches, overall length was up 0.8 inch to 204.8. The hood now seemed to stretch forward for acres and in place of the previously graceful trunk area, the 1980 Seville had a silly-looking bustle intended to evoke classic cars from the '30s. It was both weird and awkward, and when you combine those two elements, the result is just plain ugly. It was also the design swan song of GM styling chief Bill Mitchell who had retired just a few years before.

Using double A-arms and torsion bars up front and semitrailing arms in the rear, the new Seville's suspension was more supple than before, but no more nimble as some observers found the driving experience more detached than before. The Oldsmobile-based 5.7-liter diesel V8 returned as the Seville's standard power plant and had the advantage of moving a vehicle about 300 pounds lighter than the previous Seville. The gas-fired optional V8 was a 368-cubic-inch (6.0-liter) version of Cadillac's old OHV V8 making a pathetic 145 hp despite being fitted once again with electronic fuel injection. The only transmission was a three-speed automatic.

Car and Driver wasn't enamored with the Seville Elegante Diesel. "The diesel displaces 5.7 liters," the editors reported. "It is (now) rated at 105 hp and 205 pound-feet of torque, and saddled with 4,200 deadweight pounds of sheet metal, doodads and sound deadening. This is the quietest diesel application in our experience, although it burbles at idle like a fishing trawler and is somewhat rackety on acceleration. Performance is anything but overwhelming. At 70 mph, the diesel would just as soon go home and put up its feet rather than gather itself up to produce another 10 mph."

Even slower than before, the Seville Elegante Diesel took an atrocious 19.7 seconds to accelerate from a dead stop to 60 mph. The quarter-mile clocking of 21.5 seconds with a 63-mph speed trap was just as disheartening. "Its lack of poop is a painful shortcoming in busy traffic," Car and Driver observed. "This is the only car we've been able to full throttle around our favorite ramp. Hitchcock could do a film about passing on two lanes."

Sales drooped to 39,344 units during the '80 model year, proving that the American public does have a modicum of taste. And the Seville's $19,662 was a high price for a car that was controversial-looking and uninteresting to drive.

Except for some restyled wheel covers, the 1981 edition was barely changed in appearance. The deplorable diesel V8 was still standard, but a Buick-built 252-cubic inch (4.1-liter) V6 making 125 hp was added to the options list. The optional V8 was now the infamous "V8-6-4" variable displacement version of the Cadillac 6.0-liter V8 rated at 140 hp. Because the diesel V8 was both slow and prone to self-destruction and the V8-6-4 more fragile still, the best engine offered in the Seville during '81 was, incredibly, that crummy Buick V6 — despite the fact that it was the first Seville engine with a carburetor and less than eight cylinders. Sales deservedly dropped to 28,631 cars.

For 1982 the diesel lost its place as the Seville's standard engine when it was replaced by Cadillac's new aluminum block HT-4100, fuel-injected 4.1-liter V8. Though it carried a power rating of just 125 hp, the HT-4100 had the advantage of being lashed to a new four-speed automatic transmission that wrung the most from it. Both the V6 and diesel returned as options for the truly deluded to choose if they so desired. Otherwise changes were scant and sales fell again to 19,998 cars.

Output of the HT-4100 grew to 135 hp for 1983 and the V6 was banished (though the scorned diesel remained) in the otherwise lightly updated — new wheel covers, new hood ornament, new grille — Seville. With prices starting at $21,440, sales spiked up to 30,430 cars.

If you were waiting for Cadillac to restyle the Seville's taillights and body-side moldings, then 1984 was the year to buy your car. There was yet another slight grille revision, but behind that grille were the same HT-4100 or diesel V8 engines. Surprisingly, sales bounced up again to 39,997 units.

By 1985 the hideous reputation of the diesel V8 had finally caught up with it and there were very few Sevilles built that year so equipped. Changes were minimal, as Cadillac anticipated launching an all-new Seville the next year. Still, sales remained strong at 39,755 cars.

Would the next Seville bring back the clean styling of the original? Don't let the suspense kill you…just read on.

Third-Generation Seville: 1986-1991

About the only element that carried over from the previous Seville to the 1986 model was the HT-4100 engine. Otherwise, this new car was truly all new with a freshly engineered chassis that positioned the engine transversely in the engine bay. The front suspension now consisted of MacPherson struts, while the rear rode on control arms. Even the steering was upgraded to a rack and pinion setup. And the Seville itself was much smaller.

With a wheelbase of just 108.0 inches (down from the '85 model's 114.0 inches) and an overall length of 188.2 inches (down a full 16.6 inches from 204.8), the Seville was closer in size to the Chevrolet Camaro than any other Cadillac (except the misbegotten Cimarron subcompact).

Now rated at 130 hp, the HT-4100 was the sole engine available in the new Seville (and its brother the two-door Eldorado) and it was mated to a new four-speed automatic transaxle. Cadillac claimed a 0-to-60 time of 12.5 seconds for the package — not good, but nowhere near as bad as some previous Sevilles. "[The] new Seville and Eldorado are vitally important to Cadillac's future," Car and Driver wrote upon its introduction. "The duo represents the division's attempt to downsize the age of its audience along with the dimensions of its cars."

The new interior was basically a series of stacked boxes on the dash and thin seats maximizing interior room. While the interior packed in all the gadgetry of previous Sevilles, it did so rather inelegantly and often using tiny little switches that seemed to operate with complete disdain for the person whose finger was on them. The exterior, on the other hand, was just plain boring.

"Sure, these cars are fine cars, fine Detroit cars," wrote Car and Driver. "But if Cadillac truly expects to set world-class standards, it's going to have to build cars that are more than conventional General Motors packages made nice. We think Cadillac is capable of better things."

The buying public seemed to agree with Car and Driver about the lackluster nature of the new Seville, and sales slumped to just 19,098 cars during '86.

For 1987 the Seville's standard paint job was a two-tone scheme…but little else changed. And only 18,578 were built that year.

Realizing they had a sales disaster on their hands, Cadillac rushed a redesign of the Seville's (and Eldorado's) front sheet metal into production for 1988. The new nose featured a peak along its centerline and a new pointed prow with the wreath crest incorporated into the grille.

But the best news that year was a new 4.5-liter version of the HT-4100 (now called HT-4500) that made 155 hp and made for an interesting development in the new sporty Seville Touring Sedan model (from which the STS model of the future would spring). "Fortunately," wrote Motor Trend of the first STS, "Cadillac kept the 3.33-to-1 final drive ratio in the STS. Coupled with a four-speed overdrive automatic, it proves a near perfect match for the engine's output. In addition to the improved performance out of the starting blocks, the immediate part-throttle downshifts put the engine smack in the meaty part of the power band at freeway speeds…. The car also musters a surprising amount of grip, posting a respectable 0.81G on the skid pad. But cornering force only accounts for part of the STS' poise. While it still understeers with a vengeance (what can you expect with a 64/36 weight bias?), it manages to avoid any embarrassing tire-howling antics. Just about the time you expect the sedan to start hammering the bump stops and grinding its tires to carbon black, the nose comes around and the rest of the car follows obediently."

Motor Trend had the STS scooting to 60 mph in just 9.95 seconds — the first sub-10-second time for a Seville. All the good news about the restyling and additional power paid off in a jump in sales to 22,968 cars.

The interior was improved and styling again burnished for 1989, but the rest of the Seville returned pretty much intact. Sales sank to 20,422 cars.

Sequential fuel injection was added to the 4.5-liter V8 for 1990 and that swelled output up to a full 180 hp, matching the output of the 5.7-liter V8 used in that first '75 Seville. The styling was freshened yet again and the interior was significantly upgraded. Also, the STS got 16-inch forged aluminum wheels for the first time, and these were wrapped in P215/60R16 Goodyear Eagle GT+4 tires. Sales leapt to 33,128 cars that year.

Even though 1991 would be the last year for this body style, the Seville (like all Cadillacs that year) was treated to a new 200-hp, 4.9-liter version of the division's all-aluminum V8. Other changes were limited to revisions of the taillights, some slight changes to the suspension tuning and the usual juggling of color and option choices. Sales remained more or less stable.

The '86 Seville had the initial makings of a sales disaster, but Cadillac moved nimbly to save it from complete ignominy. The next Seville would be a hit right from the start.

Fourth-Generation Seville: 1992-1997

The fourth Seville was the greatest leap forward for the car since its introduction. It was still front-wheel driven, but it was longer, wider and more cleanly styled with a muscular crispness wholly missing from the car it replaced. "Ever since I saw a prototype of the 1992 Cadillac Seville at the Los Angeles Auto Show last January," wrote BusinessWeek's Larry Armstrong, "I've been itching to drive that car. Even then from its svelte good looks and toned-down interior, it seemed that an American company had finally come up with the right formula to compete with the Japanese. That's especially important for Cadillac, as Lexus and Infiniti have used sophisticated styling and down-to-earth practicality to steal away sales."

There was nothing really startling in the new Seville's engineering (or that of its two-door fraternal twin, the Eldorado). The unibody structure was significantly stiffer than before, but the front suspension was still a pair of MacPherson struts and the independent rear suspension was unique only in using a single Corvette-like transverse leaf spring. The wheelbase was back up to 111.0 inches and the overall length now stretched a full 203.9 inches. That's only a three-inch increase in wheelbase from the previous-generation Seville, but a full 15.7 inches of additional total length. That's also a mere 1/10th of an inch shorter than the original '76 Seville.

For '92, the Seville was offered in either regular Seville form or as the Seville Touring Sedan (STS). Both models had the same 200-hp, 4.9-liter, V8 that was used in the '91 Seville hooked up to GM's smooth and responsive 4T60-E electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmission.

With its handsome exterior, comfortable and clean interior and competent drivetrain, the '92 Seville was an instant hit both with the critics and buyers. Yet, things would get even better.

After its introduction in the early 1993 Allante roadster, the fabulous 4.6-liter, DOHC, 32-valve, Northstar V8 made it over to the Seville and Eldorado for 1993. The STS got the Northstar, while other Sevilles were left with the old pushrod 4.9. With 295 hp onboard, the Northstar made the Seville STS a legitimate performance car. "Thanks to such items as equal-length driveshafts, a new electronically controlled 4T80-E transmission, fluidic engine mounts and Bosch ASRIIU traction control," wrote Motor Trend, "you can flatfoot the megapower Seville off the line with an arrow-straight trajectory."

The '93 STS was simply the quickest, best-handling Seville yet. And more good stuff was coming.

For 1994, the Seville lineup was rationalized into Seville Luxury Sedan (SLS) and Seville Touring Sedan (STS), and both were powered by the Northstar V8. The softer-sprung, easier-going SLS got a Northstar making 270 hp, while the STS version still pumped out the full 295. Sales were still strong, despite the fact that the SLS' price started at $40,990 and the STS couldn't be had for less than $44,890.

A few new tricks in the engine bay, including a new induction system, boosted the output of the 1995 Northstar V8s hp to 275 in the SLS and an even 300 in the STS. Otherwise, changes were limited to trim selections and sales continued to be relatively strong.

The changes were even less noticeable for 1996 — at least from the outside. The interior was more heavily retrimmed and the dash revised with a wider gauge cluster.

A few suspension tweaks and one-inch-larger diameter front disc brakes were among the many changes to the Seville for 1997. And some of those changes paid off according to Car and Driver. "For starters," the editors reported, "the unibody structure has been significantly reinforced and now boasts four rigid beams spanning the floorpan. The center tunnel has been boxed for greater rigidity. The steering column supports are reinforced to limit the vibes felt at the wheel rim. And a new front control-arm design helps soften road impacts." The car was also relatively quick with the magazine measuring a 0-to-60-mph blast of 6.9 seconds and the quarter-mile going by in 15.3 seconds at 93 mph.

But there was a new Seville coming…and the '97 seemed relatively outdated with fresh competition from BMW, Lexus and Mercedes out there. Could the next Seville bring the luster back?

Fifth-Generation Seville: 1998-2004

Cadillac worked hard to make sure the 1998 Seville looked a lot like the outgoing model — even though it was actually significantly new underneath that familiar sheet metal. Edmunds.com put a Seville STS through a two-year long-term test and found much to like — and much to dislike.

"More so than any of our other long-termers, the Caddy polarized our staff," we wrote. "We loved it and hated it simultaneously. There were those who were sufficiently wooed by the plethora of creature comforts and the throaty, performance-ready engine. But others were left wondering where Cadillac got off proclaiming the fifth-generation Seville — with its tendency to malfunction and shoddy assembly quality — to be the car that would allow the marque to reclaim its designation as the 'Standard of the World.'"

Based on the same structure as the Oldsmobile Aurora, the 1998 Seville's structure was much stiffer but still held the same front-drive drivetrain featuring the Northstar V8 and 4T80-E four-speed automatic transaxle. And while the suspension changed in detail, it remained the same in general specification. The wheelbase on this generation grew to 112.2 inches while overall length actually dropped from 204.1 to 201 inches. The car was also wider, with the track increasing from 60.9 to 62.7 inches. That width was a big part of the car's increased passenger space.

The Seville was still offered as an SLS with 275 hp on tap, and as the STS with a full 300 horses ready to ride.

"Our Caddy experience was riddled with glitches," we wrote in the summary of our two-year exposure to the car. "With a mere 15,000 miles on the odometer, the A/C started to putter out and then we lost power steering assist altogether. Both of these problems were attributed to a bad power steering pump, which was repaired under warranty. In August of 1999, we started to have problems with the remote keyless entry fobs. Using the key fob labeled 'Driver 1' would, inexplicably, activate the seating position programmed for 'Driver 2.' In September '99, our Detroit editor detected a slight front-end shudder under light throttle. At first, people accused him of being a tad off his rocker, but they all ate crow after the problem was finally diagnosed as a broken engine mount in May 2000."

To generalize, there was much to like about the Seville's basic design, driving characteristics and easily loved engine. But the quality wasn't there, the gadgetry was filled with glitches, and the $52,337 as-tested price (starting from a $47,660 base) seemed too high for such haphazard quality.

Except for the addition of massaging lumbar seats as an option, there was little new about the 1999 Seville SLS or STS. While smart airbags and an "ultrasonic" parking obstacle detection system came aboard for the 2000 model year, little else was changed. Still, that was enough for Edmunds.com to take a fresh look at the STS in a follow-up test.

"[The] 2000 Seville STS, like the 1998 and 1999 models before it, gives further notice that GM's top luxury brand is mad as hell about slipping market share, and it is not gonna take it anymore," our intrepid editor in chief wrote. "Although it's still the same basic car since the last redesign in 1998, the current model boasts a commendable list of upgrades. The legendary Northstar 4.6-liter V8 engine, for instance, has been redesigned to provide even smoother operation while no longer requiring premium fuel (a real bonus with today's volatile gasoline prices). Cadillac's StabiliTrak and Continuously Variable Road-Sensing Suspension (CRVSS) have both been tweaked for improved performance, and the already impressive STS gadget list has been enhanced with Ultrasonic Rear Parking Assist and an onboard navigation system as options."

Still, with a price honing in on $60K, it was an open question whether the car merited such a lofty price tag.

For 2001, Cadillac concentrated on a new "infotainment" package to go with the Bose Audio System, and added HID headlamps and a tire-pressure monitoring system as options on the STS. After that, adding a voice recognition feature to the navigation system and the option of XM Satellite Radio were natural developments for 2002.

With a new rear-drive STS on its way for 2005, the Seville played through 2003 virtually unchanged and with sales volume dwindling down to a precious few. In May 2003, production of the STS stopped and only the SLS survived to see the 2004 model year.

The STS: 2005-Current

Built atop the basic rear-drive Sigma architecture that Cadillac uses for the CTS midsize sedan and SRX crossover sport-ute, the new STS may not be a "Seville" but it does promise to be the best STS yet. The Northstar V8 is still a prominent part of the package, but a potent 3.6-liter V6 is also available. As this is written all we have are first impressions. But those impressions are encouraging.

Senior Road Test Editor Ed Hellwig writes, "After driving several preproduction versions of the STS, we think Cadillac may have been saving the best for last. Unlike the previous Seville STS that lacked the refinement, performance and aesthetic appeal necessary to compete against the best from Europe and Japan, the 2005 STS is a slick-looking, no-excuses package that gives up nothing to its competition."

Both the V6 and V8 versions are engaging to drive, too. "With 255 horsepower and 252 pound-feet of torque," Hellwig wrote, "the standard 3.6-liter, six-cylinder engine is able to get the big sedan up to speed with surprising gusto…. Step up to the 4.6-liter V8 and the STS really shows its mettle. With 320 hp and 315 lb-ft of torque, there's more than enough power to make this car feel quick. Cadillac claims a 0-to-60-mph time of less than 6 seconds and it feels that fast behind the wheel. Some of the credit has to go to the standard five-speed automatic transmission, as it serves up perfectly executed shifts no matter how hard the pedal is pressed."

With all-wheel drive as an option, a sophisticated suspension and quite likely the best Cadillac interior ever, the STS is an attractive proposition even if it does look an awful lot like its smaller brother, the CTS.

Will the STS usher in a new era of rear-wheel drive at GM much as the "International Size" '75 Seville forecast the downsizing of virtually all of GM's car lines during the late '70s? Only time will tell.

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