New & Used Cadillac Seville: In Depth
1999 Cadillac Seville Touring STSEnlarge Photo
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Originally used as a trim line on the famed classic Cadillac Eldorado line, it wasn't until the mid-1970s that the Seville achieved full-model status. Unlike its classic Eldorado counterparts, however, the 1975 Cadillac Seville was anything but stylish or shapely.
Powered by a V-8 engine mated to a three-speed automatic transmission, the Seville had no pretense of sportiness--it was luxury-only, and precious little of that, for the new sedan. The first example of a Cadillac engineered from the basis of a Chevrolet, the Seville was smaller, nimbler, and easier to maneuver than the full-sized contemporary Cadillac Deville, but was still rather large by today's standards. Despite its Chevrolet basis, the Seville didn't actually share many parts with the donor platform, as Cadillac chose to engineer its own solutions for much of the componentry. The first-generation Seville ran from 1975 until 1979.
Cadillac's second take on the Seville hit the market in 1980, keeping much of the previous car's look at the front end, but going with a more classically styled bustle-back rear that emulated cars of the 1930s. Unlike the previous generation, the second-gen Seville was front-wheel drive, further divorcing the Seville name from any aspirations at performance. In 1981, the Seville did usher in its own small bit of innovation, adopting a digital gauge cluster. An attempt to introduce cylinder deactivation to the V-8 in the Seville proved problematic during this period, further harming the Seville's reputation as a luxury vehicle.
Completely redesigned for its third generation, the Seville remained front-wheel drive (and retained its range of V-8 engines), but also became much smaller, losing about six inches of wheelbase and considerable weight in the process. The new look was widely regarded as bland, but the upgraded third-generation Seville delivered above-average gas mileage for its segment at the time thanks to its smaller fuel-injected V-8 engine. The third-gen Seville was also the first production car to reach the market with a computerized control system for the body and engine, and the dash reflected these high-tech underpinnings with an electronic dashboard. An attempt to bring some sport to the Seville lineup came in 1988 with the addition of the Seville Touring Sedan (STS), which featured an upgraded suspension, special wheels, and a sharper steering ratio. Though it was far from the German sports-luxury counterparts of the time, the STS forged a path forward for the model line and the brand.
In 1992, Cadillac updated the Seville for the fourthtime, once again bringing an all-new look, but this time going back up a notch in size, lengthening the wheelbase by about three inches. The up-sized Seville also received up-sized Northstar V-8 engines with considerably more power, and the Seville Touring Sedan became one of two main models; the other was the Seville Luxury Sedan. This version of the Seville was by far the most impressive in a global sense, winning approval from owners and reviewers alike.
The fifth and final generation of the Seville arrived in 1998, expanding on the fourth-generation's style and capability, while also growing slightly in size. Both Seville STS and SLS models were sold, with the STS upgrading to the new MagneRide adaptive suspension system in 2002. The first Seville built with an eye toward sales in Europe as well as the U.S., the fifth-generation car was perhaps the best of the line--but it would not continue past 2004, except as the inspiration for the all-new and considerably more modern Cadillac STS.