2008 Cadillac STS Review

Consumer Reviews
0 Reviews
2018
The Car Connection
2018
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
August 1, 2008

The STS is middle-of-the-pack in many respects, but it stands out as Cadillac’s technology flagship.

In order to bring you the most useful information, the experts at TheCarConnection.com handpicked information from available reviews on the 2008 Cadillac STS. TheCarConnection.com's editors have also driven the STS and bring you their impressions and insight to help discern its strengths in the market.

Cadillac's mid-size sport sedan, the STS gets a revised appearance this year; the 2008 Cadillac STS features a new nose and wider grille, a new interior, and a more powerful V-6 engine with direct injection.

Overall, the 2008 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 2008 Cadillac STS comes in three flavors for the 2008 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; the STS-V can accelerate to 60 mph in less than five seconds. 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.

Review continues below

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. A new performance handling package is now offered on every model aside from all-wheel-drive V-6 editions of the 2008 Cadillac STS and includes 18-inch chromed wheels, Michelin summer tires, and the larger Brembo four-piston brakes.

Both STS models have brisk acceleration, with good, sharp handling and especially solid steering feel. The base 2008 Cadillac STS V-6 model is now virtually 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). 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.

Heated, wood-trimmed steering wheel is new. A head-up display (HUD) is available on 2008 Cadillac STS V-6 models, and more metallic trim has been 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 they have in the CTS. New Intellibeam headlamps are also on the options list; 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.

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, heated and ventilated seats, and a heated steering wheel.

The 2008 Cadillac STS is in the middle of the pack in safety, based on crash-test results. Four-star results were given from the federal government in all but side protection for rear-seat passengers (five stars), and the STS earned "good" results in frontal-offset protection, "acceptable" results in side impact, and "poor" in rear impact insurance industry (IIHS) tests. Standard safety equipment includes front side airbags, head-protecting side-curtain bags, and electronic stability control.

7

2008 Cadillac STS

Styling

Classy inside and out, but not daring--the 2008 Cadillac STS isn't exactly your father's Cadillac, but he'd probably approve.

The 2008 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.

According to Automotive.com, this year’s update contains the most "substantial facelift" the STS Cadillac has had in at least three years--which apparently isn't dramatic, according to other sources noted by TheCarConnection.com. According to Kelley Blue Book, if you like the "edgy styling of the CTS and XLR cars...you'll like the 2008 Cadillac STS." However, this source also points out that this model's styling has been seen before on the CTS, and that buyers of cars at this level tend to prefer "a more distinctive vehicle." Road & Track counters "the STS isn't quite ready for a complete revamp yet." Cars.com comments that Cadillac STS "elements are in proportion," but that the side vents are becoming an automotive cliché. Edmunds finds the grille "particularly striking." ForbesAutos describes the car as "spiffy" and a "viable domestic alternative to import luxury sport sedans."

Inside, as Edmunds observes, "luxury buyers should be pleased with this Cadillac's generally high-class ambience." The STS sports a simplified dash over years past, with a wide center stack of controls, and a nice balance of leather, plastic, and wood. Kelley Blue Book notes that "the usual color choices of black, tan or gray are offset by the occasional use of nice wood trim...a sprayed-on urethane 'skin' gives the dash and door panels a rich look mimicking real leather." However, their reviewer does "worry how well this material will hold up over time."

Review continues below
8

2008 Cadillac STS

Performance

The 2008 Cadillac STS is a good performer—good enough that you can skip the V-8 option.

The 2008 Cadillac STS comes in three flavors for the 2008 model year, and its V-6 offering is nearly as good as the substantially more expensive V-8.

The new base engine in the STS 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 is also offered. (The 469-hp STS-V is covered in a separate review by TheCarConnection.com.)

The base 2008 Cadillac STS V-6 model is now virtually 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). Automotive.com points out that the STS Cadillac's 3.6-liter V-6 puts out 302 horsepower and 272 pound-feet of torque at 5,200 rpm. Meanwhile, the GM direct-injection fuel delivery technology makes this powerful engine remarkably economical. Car and Driver indicates that the available 4.6-liter V-8 offers only 18 hp more, costs an extra $9,000, and gets much lower fuel economy; “it's hardly worth it.” Edmunds confirms "the STS V6 is basically as quick as the unchanged STS V8." Kelley Blue Book also agrees, asking why anyone should pay extra for the V-8 engine. ConsumerGuide reports that the V-6 engine "provides strong acceleration...and has outstanding passing power."

According to Cars.com, all "engines use a six-speed automatic transmission" that Edmunds says is "slow to downshift." Cars.com notes that the transmission offers a "manual-shift mode, but like most it takes a moment or two to induce a shift," and if "the computer thinks the car needs a downshift, it's quick to override any actions to the contrary." Both the V-6 and V-8 models can be specified with rear- or all-wheel drive.

Kelley Blue Book finds that Cadillac STS "fuel economy proved surprisingly good, especially on long highway trips." EPA estimates are 17/26 mpg (3.6-liter V-6), 15/24 mpg and 14/21 mpg (Northstar 4.4-liter V-8, rear- and all-wheel drive).

The STS is known for good, sharp handling. 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. ForbesAutos reports "all versions deliver a fairly smooth ride with reasonably sporty handling." Kelley Blue Book says that the "STS tracked brilliantly in tight turns, though the steering response was somewhat soft and slow to react."

A new performance handling package is now offered on all models aside from the all-wheel-drive V-6 editions of the 2008 Cadillac STS and includes 18-inch chromed wheels, Michelin summer tires, and the larger Brembo four-piston brakes. ConsumerGuide finds that "reassuring brakes provide short, straight simulated panic stops" and adds that the 2008 Cadillac STS base suspension is great; however, the performance handling package option "triggers mild jitter on coarse or rippled surfaces." If the buyer opts for the optional Magnetic Ride suspension, the Cadillac STS will offer two options: Touring mode, which provides a "cushy ride and composed handling," and performance Sports mode, which is described as being "a little sharper and a bit stiffer." Edmunds actually finds the car handles just fine in Touring mode.

Review continues below
7

2008 Cadillac STS

Comfort & Quality

The 2008 Cadillac STS doesn’t lead its pack in either rear-seat room or in high-dollar surroundings.

The 2008 Cadillac STS has comfortable front seats, but the backseat doesn’t have much more room than in Cadillac’s own CTS.

Automotive.com reports seats are "refreshingly supportive, for a Cadillac, without being overly firm," with the arm- and headrests "boosting the comfort factor a couple notches." Cars.com agrees: "the leather upholstery is both supportive and well-cushioned," with "plenty of range for different-sized drivers." Of the front row, ConsumerGuide notes "good headroom and legroom," but adds "some testers feel hemmed-in by the wide center console and high windowsills." However, "the standard power tilt and telescopic steering wheel helps dial in a comfortable driving stance." The back row is another story; ConsumerGuide calls it "disappointing for a car this large."

Regarding storage space, ConsumerGuide reports that "trunk space is unexceptional for STS's exterior size...a small opening limits the size of items that can be loaded." Inside the cabin, "small-item storage is limited to a smallish center console and less-than-generous glove box."

Overall, Cars.com finds the Cadillac STS interior "comfortable and lined with respectable materials," but notes "execution leaves a lot to be desired," adding that "most of the flaws could have been fixed with a modest freshening, something on par with what the outside received." ConsumerGuide says 2008 Cadillac STS "interior materials quality is good when compared to domestic-branded premium sedans but falls just shy of the standards set by German and Japanese rivals."

ConsumerGuide also notes that "road and wind noise are both well muted....the new V6 sounds refined when accelerating and is otherwise quieter than the engine it replaces."

Review continues below
7

2008 Cadillac STS

Safety

The 2008 Cadillac STS’s crash-test scores are somewhat lower than expected.

The 2008 Cadillac STS does reasonably well in front-crash tests, though scores are lower than might be expected. It also has the expected safety gear—but some safety options annoy reviewers from around the Web.

In tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the 2008 Cadillac STS's performance in frontal-offset crashes earned it the highest score of "good"; however, it only received an "acceptable" rating in side-impact tests, which pulls its safety score down a bit. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the STS four of five stars for front-impact protection and for front seat side impact protection, as well as top marks of five stars for backseat side impact protection and rollover resistance.

Aside from the usual full complement of airbags and anti-lock brakes, this year's STS offers a Lane Departure Warning that is activated by a small camera located between the rearview mirror and the windshield as well as a Side Blind Zone Alert feature. Car and Driver finds both of these annoying, as they tend to activate at the drop of a hat (but the lane-departure feature doesn't sound off until the car is "almost on the lane lines"). However, these Cadillac STS features can be deactivated if the driver so chooses.

Automotive.com praises OnStar, which is standard on all versions; if airbags deploy and there is no response to calls, the OnStar operators will contact nearby paramedics.

If the buyer opts for the Cadillac STS V-8 with all-wheel drive, adaptive cruise control and "enhanced StabiliTrak with active steering" can be ordered for an extra $2,690, according to Cars.com.

Review continues below
9

2008 Cadillac STS

Features

The 2008 Cadillac STS sports some innovative features—and some that test patience.

Techno geeks will absolutely love the 2008 Cadillac STS.

There is absolutely no shortage of high-tech "bells and whistles" on this year's Cadillac STS. Cars.com reports that a power-adjustable steering wheel, sonar rear parking sensors, power front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, a keyless access system, and an eight-speaker CD stereo are all standard on the base STS Cadillac. For a few dollars more, the buyer can add a moonroof and a navigation system, as well as heated and cooled seats and a heated steering wheel.

However, these available features aren’t always so simple. Edmunds points out that while Cadillac STS "controls are straightforward and easy to use," the memory setting procedure for many of the cabin controls are "confounding... frustrating and unnecessarily complicated." It is necessary to wade through several levels of menu choices on the navigation screen in order to program settings.

ConsumerGuide also notes that the STS Cadillac has "relatively few buttons" since most audio (as well as the mirror and climate controls) are now incorporated into the navigation screen, but insists that this "complicate[s] their use."

The favorite Cadillac STS feature of reviewers at Kelley Blue Book is the optional 15-speaker Bose 5.1 Surround Sound audio system, which "delivers great sound." The base 2008 Cadillac STS model comes with an eight-speaker system. ConsumerGuide reports that available options for the top trim include "rear radio controls, wireless cell phone link, head-up instrument display, heated washer nozzles, [and] automatic-dimming headlights."

Review continues below
Continue Reading

The Car Connection Consumer Review

Rate and Review your car for The Car Connection! Tell us your own ratings for a vehicle you own. Rate your car on Performance, Safety, Features and more.
Write a Review
USED PRICE RANGE
$5,888 - $14,795
Browse Used Listings
in your area
7.6
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 7
Performance 8
Comfort & Quality 7
Safety 7
Features 9
Fuel Economy N/A
Compare the 2008 Cadillac STS against the competition
Compare All Cars
Looking for a different year of the Cadillac STS?
Read reviews & get prices
Related Used Listings
Browse used listings in your area
See More Used