Used 2003 Cadillac DeVille Review

Edmunds expert review

The DeVille defines the concept of "traditional Cadillac."

What's new for 2003

In an effort to improve its DeVille, Cadillac has made a few changes for 2003. On all models, the side-view mirrors are now fully equipped with turn-signal indicators, and all models also have revised taillamps. A tire-pressure monitoring system is also new. On the inside, base DeVilles can now get the navigation system as an option, and all models can be had with the XM Satellite Radio feature.

Vehicle overview

Introduction: For more than 50 years, the DeVille has been one of the most popular models sold by Cadillac. The current model was last redesigned in 2000. Somewhat traditional in its styling, it features an eggcrate grille and vestiges of tailfins in its vertical LED-equipped taillights. As Cadillac's flagship sedan, the DeVille is a sophisticated American luxury car that remains true to Cadillac's heritage. With its powerful engine, cavernous interior and multitude of high-tech vehicle systems, the DeVille might be a good choice for someone looking for a fullsize luxury sedan. Its size is perfect for taking you and three of your buddies to the golf course. However, the DeVille's price and sub-par interior design prevent us from giving it anything more than a lukewarm reception. Should you be looking at this market, you'll also want to consider the Lexus LS 430.

Body Styles, Trim Levels and Options: The 2003 edition is available in three models: the base DeVille, a ritzy DeVille High Luxury Sedan (DHS) and a sporty five-passenger DeVille Touring Sedan (DTS). In terms of luxury features, the DHS is the one to get, as this nets you tri-zone automatic climate control, a power rear sunshade, eight-way adjustable power front seats, heated front and rear seating, lumbar adjustment for outboard rear passengers and audio controls mounted on a wood-trimmed steering wheel. Cadillac also prides itself on being at the forefront of automotive technology, and the DeVille is no exception. The optional Night Vision thermal imaging system is the first (and only) of its kind in an automobile, allowing drivers to see objects beyond the range of normal headlights. Another microchip intensive system is the continuously variable road-sensing suspension (CVRSS) that comes standard on the DTS. It monitors and adjusts individual shock damping at each wheel according to road surface changes for maximum comfort and performance. Popular stand-alone options on the DeVille include a DVD-based navigation system and six-disc CD changer. An XM-satellite radio system is also available.

Powertrains and Performance: Even with its relatively slim and trim shape, the DeVille is still a sizable sedan, so the inclusion of the Northstar V8 engine is a welcome sight. Standard DeVilles and the DHS get the 275 horsepower version, while the sportier DTS gets upgraded to 300 horsepower. A four-speed automatic transmission is standard on all models. Safety: On hand to maintain optimum vehicle control on the DTS (optional on the DeVille and DHS) is StabiliTrak 2.0, GM's advanced stability and traction control system. A vast array of on-board sensors can detect if the vehicle is deviating from the driver's intended path and selectively apply individual brakes to restore control. All DeVilles also include standard front side-impact airbags. Side airbags for rear passengers are optional. Should you need assistance in an emergency (or just need tickets to the basketball game), GM's OnStar communications system comes standard. Interior Design and Special Features: Interior room is outstanding, with both five- and six-passenger models available. Front-seat passengers are coddled in sumptuous leather seats. Rear passengers are given just as much legroom as front passengers. Should you need to carry anything, the DeVille has a huge trunk. What we don't like, however, is the non-cohesive dash design. Many of the interior panels creak under pressure and wiggle as though they are poorly fastened. In our experience, the Cadillac's build quality is not up to Japanese or German luxury-car standards.

Driving Impressions: The DeVille is best suited for long cruises on the interstate. The 4.6-liter V8 generates more than enough oomph to motivate this two-ton car. But it's a front-driver, so there is torque steer, and the car doesn't feel particularly quick from the driver seat. When you really put your foot into either the go or stop pedal, the DeVille's softly tuned suspension allows significant dive and squat. For regular Cadillac owners, the driving sensation is nothing out of the ordinary: This is a traditional Cadillac in every sense of the word, emphasizing an isolated ride and numbed feel and response.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.