2010 Cadillac STS Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
November 8, 2009

The 2010 Cadillac STS drives well-the STS-V is a trailblazer-but the cramped backseat and well-worn styling haven't kept pace in the luxury class.

TheCarConnection.com drove the Cadillac STS and STS-V to bring you this hands-on road test. Editors compared the STS and STS-V with other full-size luxury sedans to help you narrow your shopping list. High Gear Media researchers have also compiled a companion review of opinions from other respected auto Web sites, to give you the best information possible.

The 2010 Cadillac STS and its performance sibling, the STS-V, are the GM brand's full-size sports sedan-not to be confused with the large, front-drive DTS luxury sedan that's underpinned many a presidential limousine. The STS and STS-V compete against the likes of the BMW 5-Series and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, and like them, it comes as a rear-driver with an option for all-wheel drive and a massively powerful V-8 engine. Unchanged in 2010 save for new paint colors, the STS returns with a base price just under $47,000 and a choice of V-6 or V-8 power, while the STS-V carries over its $75,00 sticker and everything else intact.

In 2008, Cadillac gave the STS and STS-V a mild restyling with a new nose and a wider grille. It's still clearly related to the original Seville STS that ushered in Cadillac's latest design themes, dubbed Art & Science at one time and ensconced at the crisp, folded end of the luxury spectrum. The unique blend of angular panels and smooth, continuous sheetmetal is teamed with elegantly minimal chrome details, which is why the STS sedans continue to look contemporary, even if they're no longer cutting-edge. The interiors are much softer and more luxurious-Cadillac's been paying attention to the lessons of German sedans with this soberly styled cabin. 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 latest edition of the smaller Cadillac CTS, though.

As it did last year, the 2010 Cadillac STS is offered in three distinct versions. The base STS is propelled by a 3.6-liter, 302-horsepower, direct-injection V-6 mated with a six-speed automatic. The next step up in performance brings a 4.6-liter, 320-hp V-8 teamed to a six-speed automatic transmission. The very rare STS-V rules the roost with its hand-built 469-hp, supercharged V-8. Both base V-6 and the lower-output V-8 STS sedans can be fitted with rear- or all-wheel drive; the STS-V is rear-drive only, and Cadillac claims it can vault to 60 mph in less than 5.0 seconds. On all but the base STS with all-wheel drive, Cadillac offers a handling package that adds 18-inch chrome wheels, Michelin summer tires, and Brembo four-piston brakes. The STS-V also gets bigger wheel-and-tire combinations, stiffer suspension settings, faster-feeling steering, and Brembo brakes. Of all the combinations, the STS-V is clearly the most exciting to drive, with tenacious grip and playful rear-drive handling to complement its powerful V-8. Of the other versions, TheCarConnection.com's editors prefer the V-6; it's almost as fast as the mid-line V-8, and turns in much better fuel economy of 17/26 mpg, versus 13/19 mpg for the V-8. In either the base or mid-line V-8 versions, the STS accelerates briskly enough and handles cleanly, with good steering feel and feedback. Magnetic Ride Control, standard on each, adjusts shock firmness constantly to provide a comfortable, smooth ride.

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The 2010 Cadillac STS sedans may sit in a larger size class than the smaller CTS sedan, but their interiors don't offer that much more space. The cabin's softer and more luxurious, for sure, and in front the seats themselves rival those offered in the German competition-especially in the STS-V. They're amply proportioned and very supportive, with plenty of space in front. It's the backseat that disappoints-it's barely roomy enough for average adults. The trunk's more usable, and a decently sized console and glove box offer small-item storage and hidden cubbies for iPods and portable music players.

The 2010 Cadillac STS lags in safety, as does the similarly sized BMW 5-Series sedan. Its standard safety equipment includes dual front, side, and curtain airbags; anti-lock brakes; and traction and stability control, while all-wheel drive is an option. However, the crash-test results are off the pace set by the more recent GM sedans, not to mention the Mercedes fleet. NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) awards the STS four stars in all but side protection for rear-seat passengers (five stars). The IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) gives the STS "good" results in frontal-offset protection, "acceptable" results in side impact, and a "poor" grade for rear-impact tests. Intellibeam headlamps are also on the options list for the 2010 STS; they sense approaching taillights or headlights and dim themselves accordingly. Other technological upgrades include revised stability control, a lane-departure warning system, adaptive cruise control, and a blind-spot warning system.

The 2010 Cadillac STS/STS-V doesn't want for the latest features. All versions have standard climate control; AM/FM/XM/CD/MP3 audio systems; a heated, wood-trimmed steering wheel; and metallic and wood trim on the dash. Technology is one of the STS's best selling points. Available features include an Easy Key keyless entry system; Adaptive Remote Start system; a four-color head-up display (HUD); and heated and ventilated seats. OnStar turn-by-turn navigation is offered, as is the eNav system.

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