- big, smooth cruise machine
- Six real seating positions
- If it's good enough for Obama...
- Dated styling
- Middling fuel economy
- Wallowing handling, loose steering
- Drives big, feels big, looks big
The 2010 Cadillac DTS is a boardroom on wheels: Six leather chairs keep old men cozy in a wood-paneled room, and steering feels like it's done by committee.
The 2010 Cadillac DTS is Cadillac's largest vehicle, one that's traditionally been the basis for Presidential limousines and all sorts of "black cars"-from airport transportation to, er, hearses. Nonetheless, it has some retail fans that appreciate its immense room, luxurious interior, and formal styling. With a base price of around $47,000, it's not a competitor for similar sedans from Germany or Japan at all. Instead, the few cross-shoppers who look elsewhere probably will study the Lincoln Town Car and the Chrysler 300.
In keeping with its conservative shape and its old-school seating, the 2010 DTS appeals to buyers who want a large, cushy sedan. The look is formal, but it does wear some of the cues of more recent Cadillacs-like the enormous grille and wreath-and-crest badge. It's angular and not aero-looking in the least, and though it's still reasonably handsome, the DTS is beginning to appear dated. TheCarConnection.com expects the replacement for the DTS-the 2013 XTS-to look significantly more rounded, like Cadillac's Sixteen concept car. Inside the 2010 DTS, the cabin seems fairly modern to the eyes and to the touch. Big gauges are framed by a wood-trimmed steering wheel in some editions, and there's wood trim across the dash and door panels. The tall center stack of controls sports a big touch-screen LCD for navigation and audio functions. Touches of metallic trim glint around the cabin, and in all, the DTS' cabin is distinctly more tasteful than you might expect in the class.
The 4,000-pound DTS is front-wheel-driven and offers a choice of closely related V-8 engines. There's a 275-horsepower, 4.6-liter V-8 or a 292-horsepower version of the same engine, and both come with an outdated four-speed automatic. They limp along with lower fuel economy as a result; the base version gets 15/23 mpg, while the hearse versions get 12/16 mpg-not that you'll need to care. The 2010 DTS accelerates fairly well in a straight line and responds quickly enough to requests for power, but the lumpy shift quality and the battle between power and weight tends to favor weight. The front-driver doesn't have much torque steer, though. Handling is not the calling card of the DTS; base versions steer adequately and have a well-cushioned, emotionless ride quality. Magnetic Ride Control is standard on luxe versions, and it refines the ride and handling, giving reasonably good responses to the big sedan in spite of a very smooth, softly tuned ride. Still, steering is almost completely without feel, and the big Cadillac has a big, SUV-like turning circle of at least 42 feet. Brakes are smallish 12.7-inch rotors in front and 11.5-inchers in back; 17-inch wheels are standard, while 18-inchers are standard on the top Platinum edition.
The 2010 DTS comes in standard or long-wheelbase editions. The DTS-L stretches eight inches to increase the already vast interior room. The base version offers two bucket seats in front-"bucket" is a loosely defined term here, just like the seat itself-and a floor-mounted shifter. The 2010 DTS can seat five full-size adults comfortably, with plenty of head- and legroom to spare. A six-seater version gets a front bench seat and a column-mounted shifter. In either case, the wide, flat seats are slippery and unsupportive, just a little less so in the five-seat edition. It's retro comfort-plenty of space in all directions, with no urge to pocket passengers in for a fun ride. Trunk room seems a bit small; at 18.8 cubic feet, it's a couple of cubes down on the 2010 Ford Taurus' massive 20-cubic-foot trunk.
Six airbags and a long list of safety systems are standard, including anti-lock brakes, as well as traction and stability control. However, the 2010 Cadillac DTS earns slightly subpar four-star crash ratings from NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) for front and side impacts and for rollover. A lane-departure warning system and a blind-spot alert system are options, along with front and rear parking sensors and adaptive cruise control.
For 2010, the DTS remains largely unchanged except for two new colors, new heated mirrors, and an optional rear-seat DVD entertainment system. Remote Start is standard; so are AM/FM/CD/XM audio, dual-zone automatic climate control, OnStar, and five-passenger seating with a floor-mounted shifter. Popular options on the DTS are packaged together; there are choices of heated and cooled front seats, XM NavTraffic, a Bose Centerpoint sound system, a sunroof, and rear sunshades.