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2009 Cadillac DTS ReviewThe Good
Comfortable, roomy, and powerful, the 2009 Cadillac DTS shields you from the actual experience of driving better than almost any vehicle around.The Bad
Over-sized, over-weight, and over-priced, the '09 DTS is DOA starting in 2010.
The CarGurus View
The 2009 DTS enjoys a special place in the Cadillac lineup, as the largest sedan offered, by both Cadillac and GM, and the only one left still motivated by front-wheel drive. Sadly, it seems as though the best trim level really is the Performance trim, which affords the sport suspension and self-adjusting shock absorbers that adequately combat the float-boat issues so many complain about. Considering the DTS will be discontinued next year, perhaps it's best to look to another model for your luxury needs.
At a Glance
The DeVille Touring Sedan is Cadillac’s swansong to the FWD floatboat. Available in five trim levels, the DTS has been scheduled for deletion in model year 2010. This four-door luxury sedan seats up to six and comes with a wealth of standard features and a long list of available options.
For its last production year, the DTS receives standard OnStar 8.0 with optional Bluetooth for all trims, a new speed alert system, and redesigned 17-inch wheels for all but the Performance trim.
All DTS trims receive the L37 4.6-liter V8, which puts out 275 hp in all but the Performance trim. That vehicle sees a power boost of 17 hp, bringing the total power rating up to 292 hp. Regardless of output, the engine is mated to a four-speed automatic, something that has become a bit of a relic among luxury vehicles, especially with today’s premium on efficiency. Additionally, some have criticized the transmission for being slow to downshift.
Power is more than sufficient across all trims, in all situations, never leaving the driver wanting for more. The power increase in the Performance trim is slight, mostly noticeable at higher revs, especially considering its slight loss in torque. Premium-grade gasoline is recommended by Cadillac, and EPA estimates are almost identical, with the Performance trim suffering only a slight penalty of 15/22 mpg over the remaining trims’ 15/23.
Ride & Handling
It’s a Cadillac, and it handles like all the clichés – that is to say, like a boat on wheels. To be fair, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but the DeVille Touring Sedan is not a small vehicle by any means, with a curb weight exceeding 4,000 pounds and an overall length exceeding 207 inches. This means that the rather plush suspension of all but the Performance trim, while comfortable, allows for quite a bit of wander and wallow, not to mention body roll and lean in all but the slowest of turns. The stiffer suspension of the Performance trim is a substantial improvement, doing much to combat noseplow and provide straight-line composure, but it still falls short of class standards, albeit slightly.
Cabin & Comfort
Standard features of all trims include leather upholstery, eight-way power bucket seats, OnStar, and dual-zone climate control. The DTS has been touted by many reviewers as one of the roomiest and most comfortable sedans on the market, with either bench or bucket seats. While controls are well-placed and easy to read, and materials are of high quality, some have complained of a steep drop in overall build quality in recent years, with an abundance of annoying rattles and squeaks showing up in a car whose price point should guarantee you won’t have to worry about such things. As the DTS will be discontinued for model year 2010, it looks like a problem Cadillac won’t have time to fix.
Again, room is expansive, even in the rear, which is large enough for three-abreast adult travel, with large doors that ease coming and going. Likewise, trunk space is impressive with almost 19 cubic feet of cargo volume.
Base models enjoy OnStar, including one year of service, air-conditioning with dual-zone automatic climate controls, a cabin air filter, a tilt leather-wrapped steering wheel that includes climate and radio controls, cruise control, leather upholstery, eight-way power front bucket seats with lumbar adjustment, a center console with floor shifter, trunk pass-through, heated power mirrors with turn signals, power windows and door locks, remote keyless entry and engine start, an AM/FM/CD/MP3 player with satellite radio, a tachometer and trip computer, illuminated front visor mirrors, variable-speed intermittent wipers, an automatic day/night rearview mirror with integrated compass, rear defogger, automatic headlights and floormats.
Luxury I trims delete the bucket seats and center console in favor of a split bench and column shifter, as well as a heated steering wheel and heated/cooled front seats, heated rear seats, a memory system for the driver’s seat and mirrors, an automatic day/night driver-side mirror, and heated washer fluid, a veritable joy in colder climates.
The Luxury II trim replaces the bucket seats and center console, and additionally adds tri-zone automatic climate controls, which include rear controls, and a universal garage door opener.
The final Luxury trim, Luxury III, adds massaging front seats, a power tilt/telescopic heated wood and leather-wrapped steering wheel, rear-seat lumbar adjustment, wood interior trim, a Bose AM/FM radio with an in-dash 6-CD/MP3 changer, rain-sensing wipers, rear illuminated visor mirrors, and self-dimming headlights.
A Platinum edition package is available for the Luxury III and Performance trim levels, which includes a lane-departure warning system, a navigation system with voice recognition and real-time traffic information, a power sunroof, full Tuscany leather upholstery and alcantara headliner, illuminated door sills, and unique interior and exterior trim, as well as chrome alloy wheels.
Standard safety features across all trim levels include dual front, front side, and curtain side airbags, antilock four-wheel disc brakes with brake assist, an antiskid system, a tire-pressure monitor, wiper-activated headlights, daytime running lights, and an emergency inside trunklid release. The Luxury I trim enjoys a front and rear obstacle-detection system, while Luxury III gets a blind-spot alert system.
NHTSA test results showed four stars in all tests except front collisions involving the driver, which received five stars.
What Owners Think
The relative luxury and exemplary comfort of the DTS has been marred in recent years by quality issues that have left some owners wondering what they’re paying for. That said, you don’t have to look far to see the long list of options and features that make up for at least some of that problem. Still, many have complained that the suspension of the Performance trim is the best compromise, and are disappointed that it’s not available as an option for any of the lower trims.
A CarGurus contributor since 2008, Michael started his career writing about cars with the SCCA - winning awards during his time as editor of Top End magazine. Since then, his journalistic travels have taken him from NY to Boston to CA, completing a cross-country tour on a restored vintage Suzuki. While his preference is for fine German automobiles - and the extra leg room they so often afford - his first automobile memories center around impromptu Mustang vs. Corvette races down the local highway, in the backseat of his father's latest acquisition.
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Cadillac DTS Questions
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