- Crisp handling plus a smooth ride, thanks to Magnetic Ride Control
- Powerful, fuel-efficient V-6
- World-class performance from STS-V
- Stark instrument-panel design
- Interior materials
- Lack of ample backseat space
The 2009 Cadillac STS isn’t a standout for looks, but you’ll appreciate the way it drives.
The 2009 Cadillac STS is the luxury make’s mid-size sport sedan. Unlike the front-wheel-drive STS of many years past, the STS has been primarily rear-wheel drive since 2005, sharing some of its underpinnings with the smaller Cadillac CTS. All-wheel drive is also available throughout the STS lineup.
The Cadillac STS saw some slight styling changes for 2008, including a new nose and wider grille, along with some engine updates, and they carry into 2009 with few additional changes. From the outside, the 2009 STS has a unique blend of angular proportions and smooth, continuous sheetmetal surfaces combined with simple but classy detailing, which still makes the design feel contemporary even if it’s no longer fresh.
Overall, the 2009 Cadillac STS bears a strong family resemblance to the smaller CTS sport sedan, and it has a similar mix of aggressive, assertive exterior styling, but its interior feels softer and more luxurious. Seating rivals that offered by the German competition; it's amply proportioned and very supportive, with plenty of space in front, but the backseat is barely roomy enough for average adults.
The Cadillac STS comes in three flavors for the 2009 model year. There's a new base engine: a 3.6-liter, 302-horsepower direct-injection V-6 teamed with a six-speed automatic. A 4.6-liter, 320-hp V-8 with a six-speed automatic transmission slots in above it, while the top rung on the STS ladder is occupied by the performance-oriented STS-V and its hand-built 469-hp, supercharged V-8. V-6 and V-8 models can be specified with rear- or all-wheel drive, but the STS-V only comes with rear-wheel drive; all have an excellent six-speed automatic with tap-shift controls. The STS-V can accelerate to 60 mph in less than five seconds.
A performance handling package is offered on every model aside from all-wheel-drive V-6 editions of the 2009 Cadillac STS and includes 18-inch chromed wheels, Michelin summer tires, and the larger Brembo four-piston brakes. The STS-V also rides on larger wheels and tires, with stiffer stabilizer bars, a quicker steering ratio, and a specifically tuned chassis; Brembo brakes are included with larger rotors, pads, and calipers.
Between the V-6 and V-8 versions of the 2009 Cadillac STS, the V-6 makes the most sense. It’s nearly as fast as the V-8 model, and it saves fuel, with much better ratings of 17 mpg city, 26 mpg highway (versus 13/19 mpg for the V-8). With either STS configuration, you can expect brisk acceleration, sharp handling, and better steering feel than rival vehicles from Germany. Both models have a rather firm ride, but thanks to the standard Magnetic Ride Control, which can make almost instantaneous adjustments to damper firmness, ride comfort is quite smooth.
The 2009 Cadillac STS sports a heated, wood-trimmed steering wheel, a head-up display (HUD) on V-6 models, and more metallic trim integrated into the center stack, though the instrument panel won't be to everyone's liking. The layout, with some screen-driven controls and quite a few small buttons, can be confusing, and the materials haven't been upgraded to the extent seen in the CTS.
Technology is one of the STS's best selling points. Available features include an Easy Key keyless entry system, Adaptive Remote Start system, Adaptive Cruise Control, Intellibeam headlights, four-color HUD, and heated and ventilated seats. In 2009, the eNav system becomes a standard part of OnStar Turn-by Turn navigation.
Intellibeam headlamps are also on the options list for the 2009 STS; they sense approaching taillights or headlights and dim themselves accordingly. Other technological upgrades include revised stability control, a lane-departure warning system, and a blind-spot warning system.
Standard safety equipment includes front side airbags, head-protecting side-curtain bags, and electronic stability control—all expected features in a luxury sport sedan. Based on crash-test results, the 2009 Cadillac STS is in the middle of the pack in safety. Four-star results are awarded by the federal government in all but side protection for rear-seat passengers (five stars), and the STS earns "good" results in frontal-offset protection, "acceptable" results in side impact, and "poor" in rear impact insurance industry (IIHS) tests.