2010 Cadillac DTS Review

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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
November 8, 2009

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.

TheCarConnection.com's editors have driven the Cadillac DTS to report on its styling, performance, comfort, quality, safety, and features. Editors have compared it with other full-size sedans to give you choices while you shop for your next car. The companion full review condenses opinions from other respected auto web sites, to give you a comprehensive look at the 2010 edition of the DTS and to help you decide which reviews to trust.

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.

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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.

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2010 Cadillac DTS

Styling

An archconservative in the Obama era, the 2010 DTS pleases with clean lines and a well-crafted interior.

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 will probably 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. It's "a traditional large America luxury sedan," Edmunds says. 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, hints of "a subdued version of Cadillac's edgy new styling," according to Car and Driver. While Cars.com thinks the DTS "evokes Cadillac's STS sedan," Kelley Blue Book "ties it to the DeVilles of the past." The "light dose of new-wave Caddy styling" is pleasingly angular, says Motor Trend, but it's beginning to look a bit out of date. Automedia points out details like the "vertical headlights and taillamps, accompanied by an egg-crate-pattern grille" as adding up to a "more architectural, linear" style. LED taillamps are standard, they add, but a traditional stand-up wreath-and-crest hood ornament is an option.

Inside the 2010 DTS, the cabin seems fairly modern to the eyes and to the touch. It was redesigned relatively recently, and Edmunds praises its "greatly improved interior design and quality" that has "more curves in the right places." 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. Motor Trend observes the DTS "benefits from the use of more premium materials." Large gauges and a tall center stack on the dashboard with a touch-screen video display are the hallmarks of the dash, along with lots of wood veneer. Edmunds concludes, "Overall, the cabin is handsome and most controls are simple to use-no small feat given the large number of high-tech features."

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6

2010 Cadillac DTS

Performance

The 2010 Cadillac DTS makes ripples, not waves, with smooth V-8 power; the ride is blissful, but handling's vague.

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. Car and Driver says the engine's power is "adequate," though Kelley Blue Book describes it as having "utterly smooth response." MyRide notes that on paper the numbers may be different, but observes "negligible differences in power ratings." Both engines come with an outdated four-speed automatic that Motor Trend calls "effective, but somewhat old news in this world of five, six, and even seven-speeders." Edmunds reports it's "calibrated for quicker response in the Performance model." According to their tests, the DTS Performance accelerates to 60 mph "in 7 seconds flat." As TheCarConnection.com's editors see it, 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 DTS sedans limp along with lower fuel economy, thanks to the transmission. The base version checks in at 15/23 mpg, while the Performance edition gets 15/22 mpg. The hearse versions get 12/16 mpg-not that you'll need to care.

Handling is not the calling card of the DTS; base versions steer adequately and have a well-cushioned, emotionless ride quality. ConsumerGuide says the DTS handles "competently," noting that it's obviously "compromised by its size and heft." While it "comfortably smothers most bumps," it "allows some float and wander over large pavement humps." Car and Driver chides the DTS for "vague steering feel." In TheCarConnection.com's experience, Magnetic Ride Control (standard on luxe versions) refines the ride and handling, giving reasonably good responses to the big sedan in spite of a very smooth, softly tuned ride. Kelley Blue Book notices that with an "indisputably soft suspension, the DTS is far less floaty than might be expected." 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. Few reviewers comment at all on the car's braking capabilities.

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2010 Cadillac DTS

Comfort & Quality

With a huge, quiet cabin and a vast trunk, the 2010 Cadillac DTS is a supreme cruiser that could use a little more support in its seats.

The 2010 DTS comes in standard or long-wheelbase editions-the DTS-L stretches eight inches-and both offer vast interior room and flat, unsupportive seating. It's retro comfort-plenty of space in all directions, with no urge to pocket passengers in for a fun ride.

According to Car and Driver, the DTS is "big and roomy," and Edmunds says "the sheer volume of room in the cabin makes the DTS a fantastic long-distance highway cruiser." The base version offers front bucket seats-"bucket" is loosely defined here, just like the seat itself-and a floor-mounted shifter. This 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. It's one of the few cars left that offers six-passenger seating. The seats have "as much legroom in back as they do in front," Automedia observes, and "tons of front-seat space lets occupants stretch out." In the rear, they note, "backseat space is no less bountiful, but a hard seatback is less inviting for the center occupant." In both versions, the DTS' wide, flat seats are slippery and unsupportive, just a little less so in the five-seat edition. ConsumerGuide proclaims the car's "standard bucket seats are all-day comfortable," but the reviewer majority doesn't care for "unsupportive, couch-like bucket seats," as Car and Driver perceives them.

Trunk room is huge but on paper 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. "The wide, easy-loading trunk holds plenty of luggage," Automedia asserts. "At nearly 19 cubic feet, the trunk has no problem accepting large suitcases or a foursome's golf bags," Edmunds says.

Quality is high, but not top-drawer. "Although generally good, the interior materials are not up to the high standards set by European or Japanese luxury marques," contends Edmunds. Noise is well damped, and Kelley Blue Book dubs the DTS "ultra-quiet," while Car and Driver gives kudos for the particularly "quiet cabin."

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2010 Cadillac DTS

Safety

The 2010 Cadillac DTS reports slightly lower crash-test scores, but safety options are cutting-edge.

The 2010 Cadillac DTS has plenty of standard safety gear and options, but crash tests are a little low.

The DTS earns slightly subpar four-star crash ratings from NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) for front and passenger-side impacts and for rollover, with a five-star rating for driver-side impacts. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives the DTS a "good" rating for its more stringent front-impact test, but only an "acceptable" rating for side impacts. The safety scores are somewhat lower than expected for a luxury full-size sedan.

Six airbags and a long list of safety systems are standard, including anti-lock brakes, as well as traction and stability control. Cars.com describes the airbags as the "new dual-depth" design that deploys "either shallow or deep depending on crash severity, seat belt usage and occupant position."

A lane-departure warning system and a blind-spot alert system are options, along with front and rear parking sensors and adaptive cruise control. The Cadillac DTS may also be equipped with a night-vision option installed to project "onto the lower section of the windshield using a 'heads-up' display"; Motor Trend considers it especially useful "in inclement weather, when visibility is sharply reduced."

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2010 Cadillac DTS

Features

The 2010 Cadillac DTS antes up with available real-time traffic, navigation, and Bose sound-but it's missing the Bluetooth connectivity, HD Radio, and GPS voice controls found on other luxury sedans.

For 2010, the DTS carries over largely unchanged except for two new colors, new heated mirrors, and an optional rear-seat DVD entertainment system. It's fitted with many standard features, as well as a long list of options.

Remote Start is standard on the 2010 DTS, as are an AM/FM/CD/XM audio, dual-zone automatic climate control, OnStar, and five-passenger seating with a floor-mounted shifter. "Leather seating," "bi-xenon headlamps," and "power front bucket seats," are also standard, Edmunds reports. The Performance edition picks up 18-inch wheels, Magnetic Ride Control, and the blind-spot alert system.

Car and Driver reports that the DTS has "loads of features," but some are "pricey options." The DTS can be fitted with heated and cooled front seats; XM NavTraffic; a Bose Centerpoint sound system; a sunroof; and rear sunshades. A heated steering wheel; three-zone climate control; a six-CD changer; a power tilt/telescoping steering wheel; and a memory driver seat are also offered, Edmunds adds. Cars.com explains the DTS' optional navigation system screen also functions as an MP3 player controller.

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7.4
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Styling 7
Performance 6
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