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2006 Cadillac DTS Photo
Reviewed by TCC Team
, The Car Connection
BASE INVOICE
$38,517
BASE MSRP
$41,195
Quick Take
2005 Chicago Auto Show Index by TCC Power does have its privilege, as President George W. Bush... Read more »
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2005 Chicago Auto Show Index by TCC 

 

2006 Cadillac DTS

2006 Cadillac DTS

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Power does have its privilege, as President George W. Bush might have realized when he took delivery of an all-new limousine, just in time for last month’s inaugural event.

Like the black stretch sedan it replaced, the new presidential limousine started out as a Cadillac DeVille, though a closer inspection reveals that the one that showed up in Washington last month was based on an all-new Caddy, one that in production for the public will be renamed DTS.

It’s the eighth new Cadillac to hit the streets in just four years, and like the STS and CTS sedans before it, the DeVille replacement reflects the edgy new design theme that Cadillac is calling, “Art & Science.”

The goal, says General Motors Design Director Ed Welburn, is to give the new DTS a “more taut, more agile and more alert” look than the old DeVille, with a big, bold, egg crate grille, more vertical head and tail lamps, and crisper body lines and creases than the softly-rounded, outgoing DeVille.

But there’s an even bigger challenge, admits Mark LaNeve, until recently the general manager of Cadillac, and now General Motors’ North American marketing czar. The DeVille, he says, has traditionally “been associated with the antique image of Cadillac,” a persona GM’s flagship brand would rather do away with. The problem is that the big DeVille also has been the best-selling luxury sedan in the U.S. for more years than anyone can remember. Simply abandoning the model line would creates more problems than it might solve.

So, for at least another few years, Caddy will accept the idea of marketing two very distinct types of products. There are what LaNeve calls the “global” sedans, sports cars and crossovers, like STS, CTS, XLR and SRX. And there are the models for which there’s little demand outside North America, notably the big Escalade SUV and the DTS.

But the name of the new sedan now falls in line with Cadillac’s more worldly new nomenclature and, company officials insist, the ’06 four-door has been retuned to drive more like the other entries in the brand lineup. Confirmation will wait until TheCarConnection.com has a chance to test drive the DTS later this year.

2006 Cadillac DTS

2006 Cadillac DTS

Enlarge Photo
What we do know is that there will be two powertrain packages, a base V-8 rated at 275 horsepower, and a more performance-oriented version of the big Northstar engine making 300 hp. The new car will get some much-needed new technology, including a radar-guided Active Cruise Control system, as well as GM’s sophisticated MagneRide suspension. Buyers will be able to opt for any of three different suspension packages, from a relatively traditional boulevard-style ride to a more sporty feel in line with the old DeVille DTS.

In the dark years, when Cadillac’s sales were plunging, the automaker flooded daily rental fleets with the old DeVille. Caddy has slashed rental business, though it certainly would love to see the new DTS regain its strength in the limousine market, a segment now dominated by Lincoln ’s aging Town Car. But that will likely remain a challenge, as limo firms tend to like the rear-drive layout of the Lincoln , rather than Caddy’s front-drive powertrain.

Nonetheless, the layout of the new DTS appears to provide even more interior and cargo space than the outgoing model.

The long-term future of the DeVille/DTS is uncertain. There’s no question that Cadillac wants to continue competing in this large market segment. The challenge is to come up with an even more modern and capable entry, possibly by adopting the rear-drive or all-wheel-drive layout now featured on all of the brand’s other models.

But a final decision is still a couple years away, and so, for now, traditionalists have something to hang onto, a sort of bridge from yesterday’s Cadillac to what the brand ultimately hopes to become.

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