2005 Cadillac STS review: 2005 Cadillac STS
One look at the 2005 Cadillac STS, and you know why it's General Motor's flagship sedan and technological showpiece. Amid GM's lackluster lineup, layoffs, and continuing financial problems, the STS shines with its digital luxuries and power and has the makings of a genuine sales hit. More than a mere car for getting from here to there, the STS is an awesome display of technological mastery that's meant to show off Cadillac's skills at making the driver feel at home, safe, and in control. With a 320-horsepower V-8 engine, sophisticated all-wheel drive, radar-based cruise control, and a heads-up display that projects vital information on to the inside of the windshield, the Cadillac STS is the closest thing to an American supercar. If the thought of Cadillacs brings chrome-laden land yachts to mind, think again, because the 2005 Cadillac STS is not only one of the most powerful cars you can buy but also one that tempers raw power with advanced technologies to keep it comfortable, safe, and under control at all times. Front and center is the car's 8-inch control screen, which is bright and visible from the passenger seat; plus, it can be tilted to three vertical angles to avoid being overwhelmed by sunshine. Unlike with most cars, you can play DVD movies on it (but only when parked), and there's a set of video-input jacks for connecting an external player.
Aside from viewing DVDs, you can make good use of the display with the STS's GPS navigation system. We really like the 3D bird's-eye road view and the built-in compass, as well as the dual-mode screen, which gives you both an overview and close-ups. The system also has first-rate predictive entry and lets you choose different routes. That said, we did have a couple of complaints. There is no joystick for working with the maps, and the synthesized male or female voice prompts sound sterile. Like many other luxury sedans, the 2005 Cadillac STS features a voice-recognition system, but it gets confused. For example, when we said "Set temperature 65," the car responded with "Select CD."
The optional Bose 5.1 surround-sound system adds 15 speakers throughout the car, including 2 on top of each front seat, to make for a first-rate stereo experience, pumping out enough volume for overpowering a ghetto blaster and providing excellent balance between bass and midrange tones. We really like the heated steering wheel's volume and track buttons for AM, FM, and XM satellite radio, as well as the ability to listen to CDs and MP3s. The disc jockey can hold six CDs but takes a frustrating half-minute to get started or give up a disc. The optional stereo also adds Bluetooth for turning the STS into a phone booth on wheels. Meanwhile, the OnStar system is part of the standard package and allows for emergency calls or just asking for directions.
Despite being one of GM's most expensive cars, the 2005 Cadillac STS has a plastic dashboard and door inserts that are more fitting for an economy car that's one-quarter the cost. However, the excellent floating-analog gauges show speed, temperature, engine speed, and fuel; plus, digital readouts display secondary data. In terms of other tech, the key fob is one of the STS's coolest tricks, and it can do away with a physical key, although one is included. It can remotely start the car from 300 feet away or fire it up from inside with the circular button, which is to the right of the steering wheel. The car also smartly detects the fob from a meter away and automatically unlocks the door as you pull the handle.
Our test model came with motorized leather seats that can be heated and cooled, and even though the latter feels a little creepy at first, it is essential on hot days. The trunk is spacious but short and is better for groceries than a computer or TV. Long items, such as skis, fit through a door in the middle of the backseat, but the car's thick pillars make for a nasty blind spot over the driver's left shoulder.Although you can opt for a 217-horsepower V-6 engine, the heart of the 2005 Cadillac STS is its aluminum, 4.6-liter Northstar V-8 engine. There's variable valve timing for peak performance, but it remains calm at idle, then revs freely to smoothly pump out 320 horsepower at 6,400rpm with the snarl of a leopard. Our all-wheel-drive STS model came with a five-speed automatic transmission that has a manual shift option; you can just slide the shifter to the right and click it up and down through the gears. It all adds up to an exhilarating 6-second, 0-to-60mph time, which puts the STS on a par with the BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class luxury sedans. Better yet, for those who get anxious when passing a truck, the STS can go from 30mph to 50mph in a speedy 1.3 seconds, although it is an isolation zone on the inside, registering a quiet 63dBA at 60mph.
Under the skin is GM's Sigma platform, which is used in Cadillac's CTS and SRX vehicles. The sophisticated suspension features shock absorbers that have oppositely oriented electromagnets for delivering a good balance between precise handling and a comfortable ride. The result is a car that tracks well regardless of the road surface. Our only qualm is that while the optional ZF-made steering rack delivers tight turning for parking, it requires near-constant input at highway speeds. With four-wheel disc brakes, the STS stops straight with a minimum of ABS chatter.
As good as it is, at 4,230 pounds, the 2005 Cadillac STS is too muscle-bound for life in a world of $50 fill-ups. Its real-world fuel economy of 14.5mpg over 400 miles of city and rural driving is absurd, as is the $1,000 gas-guzzler tax and 250-mile range. Those who like to do repairs themselves will be frustrated because the engine offers little in the way of access. Sure, you can check the oil and windshield cleaner, but just about everything else is covered by black plastic trim.
Without a doubt, the combination of the car's heads-up display (HUD) and adaptive cruise control is a techno tour de force. The HUD projects key data on to the windshield, where the driver can see it without refocusing. Speed is always there, but driving directions, climate-control changes, and a CD track are added as needed. The four-color display is always visible, but the glass annoyingly reflects the dashboard. Meanwhile, the 2005 Cadillac STS has the best cruise control on the road, with a radar receiver in the grille that maintains constant spacing between cars. It, however, sometimes mistakenly picks up a vehicle in the next lane.About the only safety trick that the 2005 Cadillac STS misses is that, unlike the Infiniti M45, it lacks a backup camera to display what's behind you as you're reversing the vehicle. However, the STS will warn you when the car gets too close to an object with a beeping sound, so you'll never scratch its bumper when parallel parking. Other safety features include automatic rain sensors, an autodimming rearview mirror, Intellibeam headlights that turn on the high beams, and a nifty tire gauge that monitors pressure and warns you if a tire is going flat. We enjoyed all these tech luxuries, but sometimes the STS goes too far, with side-view mirrors that tilt down and inward to help you back up and scan for obstructions, such as children or sneaky garbage cans. It ends up being more annoying than helpful. Still, this is one safe car: It has front and side air bags for the driver and passenger, as well as curtain bags all around. Oddly, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not rated the STS for crash worthiness and occupant protection.
Cadillac is up to date with an excellent owner's Web site that has personalized warranty information, online manuals, recalls, and current trade-in values. GM covers the car for four years/50,000 miles and includes roadside service.
And so, the famous Sedan de Ville became STS, which was a short take for the Seville Touring Sedan. The vehicle itself was based on the GM Sigma RWD platform, with V6 and V8 engines, which was a transition from the former Seville with front-wheel-drive. An enhancement for the Sigma platform meant that there was also an all-wheel-drive version.
The power ranged from the 3.6-liter V6 with 255 hp to the top version with the V8 Northstar engine with a displacement of 4.6 liters and 320 hp. Both were equipped with a 5-speed automatic transmission fitted as standard. There was not any manual transmission available for the big STS. The carmaker claimed that the STS was the car that every owner wanted to drive, not only to be driven.
The fascia reminded of that found on the smaller CTS. Also, the rear kept the same angular lines. But the overall exterior look is that of a big barge on wheels. The 2004 model was sold as a 2005 model and was packed by GM with a lot of options to make the ride smoother and nicer. A magnetic ride control system was introduced and it was OK as long as it worked. Some recalls affected the STS, the ride was actually not that good and the fuel-efficiency was down the drain compared to any standards.
The OnStar safety system was good, though, customers being very satisfied with the help of this system, whether they were asking for directions or unlocking the car. And most customers loved the Cadillac way of building a “two-body room” trunk. Or large suitcases, whatever works.
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It's the end of Seville-ization as we know it. No more jokes about Seville disobedience, Seville affairs, Seville rights. That's because the name, first trotted out in 1956 to designate a special Eldorado model, has been deep-sixed. Again.
What was formerly the Seville-in its fifth generation, no less-is now simply an STS, and it rides on the Sigma platform that has so far distinguished itself in the CTS sedan and SRX sport-ute.
The STS comes in three aromas. There's the starter-kit version ($41,690) powered by a 255-horse, 3.6-liter V-6. There's the V-8 rear-wheel-drive model ($47,495) featuring a 4.6-liter Northstar producing 320 horses, 20 more than the old STS's output. And there's a V-8 all-wheel-drive STS, with a mandatory heavy options load ($62,765) whose driveline is yanked intact from the SRX.
You want options? Cadillac's got your options right here, pal. How about four tire-and-wheel combos and three final-drive ratios? How about ventilated seats (part of the $8695 1SG package), which turn out to be the coolest feature since air conditioning? Our V-8 rear-drive test car, with the 3.42:1 axle and 18-inch all-season Michelins, arrived pretty much blinged out, lacking only a sunroof ($1200). Such profligacy bloated its sticker to $62,215, a sum that may induce chest pains in more than a few diehard Cadillackers.
The STS now rides on a wheelbase 4.2 inches longer than the old car's, yet in overall length the STS is 4.7 inches shorter. Glance at the car in profile and you can see what got chopped. The trunk's volume is down by two cubic feet.
Rear-seat dimensions, though, aren't much changed. It's still snug back there, at least for a luxury sedan, okay for two adults and their mocha lattes. It would have helped if the seat cushion weren't so low and you could insert both feet entirely beneath the front seats. A third adult betwixt? For 20 minutes maybe, but remember that with rear drive there's again a transmission hump to battle, and Hump Man has no choice but to stick one Florsheim into each of his colleagues' footwells.
The front seats, for hips and shoulders alike, are surprisingly well-bolstered and BMW-firm. No complaints. The gauges' illuminated white numerals are set against a black background-simple, ever legible. The center stack is clean and well-ordered, dominated by an eight-inch-diagonal "infotainment" screen, whose face can be tilted up to 15 degrees to cut glare. And the cockpit is warmly trimmed in eucalyptus that looks very much like real wood because it is.
What you notice first about the STS is that there's no ignition keyhole. Instead, you carry a standard-looking fob that signals the car to unlock its doors as you approach. After that, all you do is put your foot on the brake, then press a rocker switch to the right of the steering column. VoilÃÂ , the Northstar stirs to life. Press the bottom of the rocker to shut off the engine. In theory, you stash the fob in your pocket or purse and never have to remove it. If you don't care for that method of cranking, you can also fire up your STS remotely, from as far away as 200 feet.
What you notice next is that this is a vault-like Seville--sorry, STS. Cadillac has run amok with sound-deadening materials, which no doubt contribute to this car's 4148-pound heft. Special mats and blankets have been inserted in the dash. The shock towers, driveline tunnel, and wheelhouses all benefit from rubbery sound-absorbing goo, and the doors are triple-sealed. At 60 mph, there's negligible wind noise at the A-pillars, making this a soothing, almost meditative place to conduct highway business. Fact is, the Northstar's silky snarl is now clearly audible only at wide-open throttle.
Idle quality is excellent, and step-off is gentle and controlled. Gone are the bad old days, when an inch of GM throttle induced a kind of rocket launch.
The STS's steering is odd. The effort is fairly high, and there's little detail telegraphed--minimal info regarding road surfaces or front-tire side slip, for instance. Yet for any given increment of steering input, the ZF rack (included in the 1SG package) delivers a predictable, repeatable course alteration. In that sense, the steering is accurate but, at the end of the day, not very satisfying. It's lucky that the chassis takes such a firm set in turns and is so conscientious about path control, because this steering is not especially adept at quick one-or-two-degree corrections.
Our test car was fitted with Magnetic Ride Control ($1850), which offered two firmness settings--touring and performance. Good luck switching between the two. You have to stop the car and toggle through a six-step interrogation on the big screen. Why not a simple switch on the center console, next to the traction control? Maybe it doesn't matter. In either mode, the dampers and bushings are about as stiff as Al Gore at a sÃÂ©ance. The ride is never downright harsh, although there's some crash-through on Michigan potholes. Rarely do high-frequency road pimples find their way through, nor is much road noise transmitted. But this is a ride as firm as any you'll likely encounter in a true luxury sedan, sufficiently unyielding that the seats sometimes rattle in their tracks. We're glad our tester wasn't fitted with the summer-only Michelin Pilot Sports.
Of course, the upside to such firm tuning is that body motions are marvelously controlled, and there's never a disruptive moment of weight shift, either at turn-in or mid-turn. Fact is, this new STS pulled 0.86 g on the skidpad, only a whisker behind a BMW 745i we recently tested and way, way beyond the old car's 0.79. Our STS attacked our handling loop like a badger after pork rinds, achieving big velocities. In tight turns, you can steer the tail with the throttle a baby step or two--there's a fine line here before the standard stability control steps in and spoils the fun--but in that moment you'll notice that the chassis is neutrally balanced. If you don't want the tail hung out, maintain a steady throttle deep into the turn and you can scrub speed at the bow, just like the old front-drive STS.
The brakes are strong and easy to modulate. Your foot quickly learns where anti-lock manifests. During nonpanic stops, you can brake right to the edge of ABS or push through for one cycle or two before withdrawing. Our car, fitted with the "European" brake pads (another part of the 1SG package--see what we mean about options?), stopped from 70 mph in 177 feet, 15 feet better than the old STS, one foot better than a Benz SL600. Think of that.
Disable the traction control, summon some minor brake torque, and you can paint 10 feet of rubber stripes. Sixty mph arrives in six seconds flat, same as what a 745i can manage. Course, the BMW goes on to eat the quarter-mile in 14.6 seconds at 97 mph. Whoa! Same as the STS. What the Cadillac does that the $69,195 BMW doesn't is achieve a top speed of 154 mph. Moreover, Cadillac has calibrated the traction control to allow you to bark the tires at step-off without imposing Big Brother's mechanical hand of moderation. Nice.
The twin-cam V-8 is abetted in its labors by a five-speed Hydra-Matic 5L50-E that may be the best transmission GM has ever produced. Why do we say that? Because you're almost never aware that it's doing anything. This is especially true during kickdowns, even two-gear kickdowns, which are as fast as they are unobtrusive. You know that embarrassed feeling you get when you're about to pass a guy on a two-lane road, and you nail the throttle and get a huge neck-snapping kickdown, only to abandon the maneuver when you discover a car in the oncoming lane? In the STS, all that happens is a nearly instantaneous increase in engine revs. No jolt. No roar. Passengers don't have to suffer for the driver's bad timing.
Every STS is fitted with a simple and effective manumatic--tip forward for upshifts, backward for downshifts, just as God intended. And Cadillac has mercifully abandoned the Louisville Slugger shift knob that drew complaints in the old car.
Fact is, the previous STS was never really a performance car. It was a luxury sedan that simply didn't embarrass itself in the hills. This new STS, in contrast, is barking at the city limits of hot-rod-dom, notably in its edgy ride, booming acceleration, and tenacious handling.
For decades, Cadillac seemed content to stay a step ahead of Lincoln. Now, with the STS--and the SRX before it--you really do get the feeling the division is serious about competing with foreign luxury brands. When our test car arrived, chief engineer Jim Federico--no longer responding to Seville-engineering jokes--pointed proudly at panel gaps that have been narrowed to three millimeters from the old car's five. Then he pointed to the top of the door frames, which blend almost invisibly into the roof in a costly "Dutch hem" design. "Let's see Mercedes match that," he said.
When's the last time you heard a Lincoln guy say that?
Here, finally, is something I thought I'd never see: a Cadillac that wants to get into the ring with the big cars from BMW and Mercedes. Those "postmodern" Caddys of the '90s made gestures in that direction, but they always carried the burdensome trappings of the big sprawling American car: sleepy suspensions, big for bigness's sake, styling that seemed behind the times. This new car has a sport ride as hard as any BMW's, a very strong V-8, a sporty manual-style shifting function, and a rock-solid feel much like an ... E-class Mercedes. The STS's price undercuts that of the S-class and 7-series, but the real problem is this: Will buyers accept the idea of a $62,000 Cadillac?
Cadillac has finally endowed one of its new-generation four-doors with an interior that needs no excuses. The cabin of this STS not only looks and feels sumptuous but is also largely devoid of the visual and electronic overkill that infests many of its competitors. As we've come to expect from the Sigma-platform cars, the STS drives beautifully with quick reflexes, excellent grip, and the kind of honest responses that let you drive it perfectly smoothly without brain-straining concentration. The ride could be more absorbent on rough city streets, and such a large car deserves more rear-seat and trunk space, but this STS is unquestionably the best Cadillac I've ever driven.
The Cadillac team is utterly upbeat about this car. If American luxury-sports-sedan buyers have been jumping ship to European cars and their peculiar set of sensibilities for a concrete reason (and we think they have), then the people at Cadillac have seen the light. Hallelujah! Here's a Caddy that drives like BMWs did before that company's infatuation with technology began injecting Novocain between driver and machine. Damn, this STS unwinds a chunk of California's coastline like no Cadillac ever has, and that's in the cushy-riding model without the 1SG package that I drove on the Left Coast. Thanks, Cadillac.
VEHICLE TYPE: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan
PRICE AS TESTED: $62,215
ENGINE TYPE: V-8 , aluminum block and heads
Displacement: 279 cu in, 4565cc
Power (SAE net): 320 bhp @ 6400 rpm
Torque (SAE net): 315 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 5-speed automatic with manumatic shifting
Wheelbase: 116.4 in Length: 196.3 in
Width: 72.6 in Height: 57.6 in
Curb weight: 4148 lb
Zero to 60 mph: 6.0 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 15.7 sec
Street start, 5-60 mph: 6.3 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 14.6 sec @ 97 mph
Top speed (drag limited): 154 mph
Braking, 70-0 mph @ impending lockup: 177 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.86 g
EPA fuel economy city/highway driving: 17/26 mpg
C/D-observed fuel economy: 14 mpg
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2005 Cadillac STS - Specs
Dimensions and capacities are in inches unless otherwise specified.
Cadillac sts motor 2005
2005 CadillacSTS Pricing and Specs
Compare 2 STS trims and trim families below to see the differences in prices and features.
Trim Family Comparison
V6View 1 Trims
- 3.6L V-6 Engine
- 5-spd auto w/OD Transmission
- 255 @ 6,500 rpm Horsepower
- 252 @ 2,800 rpm Torque
- rear-wheel Drive type
- ABS and driveline Traction control
- 17" painted aluminum Wheels
- front air conditioning, dual zone automatic
- AM/FM/Satellite-capable, seek-scan Radio
- keyfob (all doors) Remote keyless entry
- front Fog/driving lights
- Heated mirrors
- leather Seat trim
- Ultrasonic Parking assist
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