Used 1998 Cadillac Seville Review
Edmunds expert review
What's new for 1998
Since its rebirth at the 1991 North American International Auto Show, the Cadillac Seville has enjoyed premier status as the best American luxury sedan on the market. Imagine how the engineers and stylists selected to improve upon that award-winning design must have felt as they undertook the mission to create an all-new Seville for the 1998 model year. Thrilled? Terrified?
The goal was to produce a world-class performance car that offered consumers sumptuous luxury and all the technological goodies available today. At first glance, it appears as though the goal was met, and exceeded. The 1998 Seville once again embodies the best America has to offer. What's different this time is that in many ways, it also embodies the best of what the world has to offer.
For example, there are two engines available for the new Seville. Both are dual overhead cam engines, rated by critics who know about such things as among the best on the planet. A 275 horsepower-version of the 4.6-liter Northstar V8 goes into the Seville SLS. The Seville STS gets an additional 25 ponies under the hood. But this motor is smoother and quieter than the second-generation Northstar from the 1997 Seville. Induction and exhaust noise is muted, and engine-driven accessories are bolted directly to the engine block to tone down vibration and harshness.
Both Seville models have a slick shifting four-speed automatic transmission, but the STS comes equipped with a feature titled Performance Algorithm Shifting (PAS). PAS uses sensors to evaluate a driver's intentions, and programs the gearbox to behave like a manual transmission during spirited driving. For example, while approaching a corner and standing hard on the brakes, the transmission will select the proper gear for taking the turn before the car begins to change direction. Then, it will hold that gear in the corner, eliminating an upshift that could unsettle the Seville's balance.
StabiliTrak is standard equipment on Seville. What is it? According to Cadillac, it's like having a co-pilot on board. Sensors hooked to a microprocessor monitor steering angle and other driver inputs to determine what the driver is going to do. If the Seville responds in such a way that is inconsistent with the computer's expectation of what the driver intends, the system selectively applies the front brakes to help keep the car on the intended line. In snow or on ice, this can make the difference between remaining on the road or sliding off the pavement and into the woods.
Under the sheetmetal, the Seville is tethered to the ground by a Continuously Variable Road-Sensing Suspension (CVRSS) and an Integrated Chassis Control System (ICCS). CVRSS employs dampers at each corner to instantly adjust the Seville's ride and handling setup to accomplish the task at hand. Think of CVRSS as an active suspension without all the heavy high-pressure hydraulic hardware. ICCS reads the road surface and selects the optimum shock absorber setting within milliseconds. Together, these two systems are designed to provide optimum suspension control at all times, regardless of driver input or road surface.
Inside, passengers find luxurious leather appointments, Zebrano wood trim and an ergonomically functional control panel highlighted by electro-luminescent analog gauges. Interior storage is outstanding, with a glovebox that accommodates a Franklin planner, a clamshell-design center armrest console, and an umbrella tray under the front seat. Standard on the STS is a new Bose 4.0 audio system, which excels at providing crystalline sound reproduction through eight speakers and a trunk-mounted subwoofer. Available on the STS is an adaptive seating package: a network of inflatable air cells is installed in the seat cushion, seatback and side bolsters. The system automatically measures pressure in these areas and adjusts the amount of cell inflation to provide optimal comfort and support.
Styling is evolutionary, and it only looks dramatically different from the previous Seville when new and old are parked side by side. The 1998 model has a wider stance and a lower hood, resulting in a more aggressive appearance. The edges have been softened, and the contemporary look should wear well.
We could go on about the optional OnStar Communications system, the RDS stereo system, the second-generation front airbags, and other Seville goodies, but space is limited. What we have here is an outstanding example of American design and engineering. Our first impression is that the Seville is well worth every penny.
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.