When the Sedan de Ville name first appeared on a front-wheel drive car in 1985, it caused quite a stir with Cadillac’s faithful. They weren’t ready to forsake their rear-drive land yachts. But they soon found that front drive allowed more room for luxury. Sedan de Ville was tightened to simply DeVille in 1994, and for 2006, Cadillac’s at it again. They want their new DeVille replacement to also attract younger buyers. So let’s meet the DTS.

Actually, DTS is not a new name for Cadillac, having marked the most sporting trim of the DeVille since 2000. But when you expand DTS to its logical “DeVille Touring Sedan,” you begin to see how Cadillac views its new flagship. By retaining the previous DeVille’s high-traction front-drive layout and room for six, the DTS will continue to appeal to the DeVille’s conservative clientele. But sharper styling, retuned performance, and the latest in electronics, takes the new DTS into more contemporary territory.

DTS is built on a strengthened chassis, with a new front cradle mounted directly to the body rails. This cradle carries two versions of Cadillac’s 4.6-liter Northstar V8. The LD8, which is in our test car, makes 275 horsepower and 292 pound-feet of torque. It’s tuned to be strong off the line, with superior part-throttle response and more peak torque.

L37, which makes more horsepower, 291, and 286 pound-feet of torque, is more European-tuned with better response towards the top end and a higher 5,600 rpm redline. Both are linked to a Hydra-Matic 4-speed automatic transmission that drives the standard 17-inch or optional 18-inch wheels.

To keep those wheels securely on the road, there’s standard all-speed traction control, available electronic stability control, and tire pressure monitoring, while the suspension is a retuned MacPherson strut front/multi-link rear layout, with automatic load leveling.

The DTS darts to 60 in 7.7 seconds, and pumps through the quarter mile in 16 seconds at 93 miles-per-hour. Mighty impressive for any large sedan. The LD8 engine really pulls from the get go. It sounds very aggressive, too, and delivers power all the way to its 5,200 rpm redline. The transmission is clean and positive.

Handling is also impressive. While there’s quite a bit of body roll, the DTS delivers high levels of grip and a friendly, predictable feel. It turns in sharply, with mild front plow. Our car’s Magnasteer steering system is luxury light and lacks feel, but is surprisingly quick. Braking is by larger 4-wheel discs with ABS and Brake Assist. Stops from 60 averaged 139 feet, with plenty of nose dive, but very good stability in all other directions.

All in all, the DTS delivered a most commendable track performance. Yet out in the real world, the DTS is a most capable luxury cruiser. There isn’t a hint of float. Just quiet comfort in the best Cadillac tradition, and features optional hi-tech systems that range from radar-based cruise control to a clever heated windshield washer fluid. It works on ice and bug splats. 

The DTS interior is closer to a traditional Cadillac. There are still some hard plastics to sort out, but taken as a whole it’s far more refined, with excellent build quality and all the modern amenities. Most significant is a set of six standard airbags, which includes head curtain airbags front and rear, and GM’s new front passenger dual depth airbag, which deploys either as a small or large airbag depending on the level of protection required.

Our car’s flowing wood-trimmed instrument panel also contains a 6-disc CD audio system with MP3 capability and XM satellite radio, as well as an optional DVD-based navigation system.  Seating is all-leather, with 8-way power adjustments for the driver and front passenger. You can have both heating and cooling for the seats and even a heater in the steering wheel. The spacious rear cabin also offers heaters in the outboard seats, plus plenty of head and leg room. Though the most impressive space is still the huge 18.8 cubic-foot trunk.

Price numbers, however, are actually quite compact for a full-size luxury car. Base price is $41,990. Our test car came to $47,775 with navigation, chrome wheels, and special paint. That’s many thousands less than any real competitor.

We came away very impressed with the 2006 Cadillac DTS, something we were not prepared for at the start of this test. Cadillac has managed to produce a car, and not an all-new one either, that will please luxury car buyers of all ages. Its sharper handling, refined drivetrain, and sportier styling, are clearly aimed at younger buyers. But its generous interior, full-up luxury and living room comfort are sure to keep long-term Cadillac lovers happy as well. If there was ever a car that lives up to its name in full, it is the 2006 Cadillac DTS.



  • Engine: 4.6-Liter Northstar V8
  • Horsepower: 275
  • Torque: 292 Lb Feet
  • 0-60 MPH: 7.7 Seconds
  • 1/4 Mile: 16.0 Seconds @ 93 MPH
  • 60-0 MPH: 139 Feet