The first action Cadillac took to prepare for the new millennium involved a 2000-model redesign for the full-size DeVille. Shifting to the capable G-car platform should have perked up buyer interest in Cadillac's perennial top-seller, yet calendar-year orders dropped below 100,000 units, the line's worst showing in years. It was another reversal that was hard to understand.
For one thing, the new DeVille not only looked trimmer, it was, giving up two inches in width and length but adding 1.5 inches in wheelbase (to 115.3), which benefited interior room and comfort. Then too, prices were surprisingly little changed for the three models. D'Elegance was retitled DHS (for "DeVille High-luxury Sedan"), while Concours became the DTS ("DeVille Touring Sedan"). Each started at $44,700, the base DeVille at $39,500. All offered standard GM OnStar service and front side airbags, plus newly available rear torso side airbags. Also shared was the ever-impressive Northstar V-8, tuned for 300 horsepower in the DTS, 275 for other models. A minor innovation was LED taillamps that lit up faster than traditional incandescent bulbs, a fact Cadillac said might help avoid a rear-end crunch.
The DHS was a near limousine, a car for those who missed the old rear-drive Fleetwood. Rear passengers were coddled with heated seats, power lumbar adjustment, rear and side sunshades, and illuminated vanity mirrors. High-tech options abounded for DHS and DTS, including a touch-screen navigation system and an ultrasonic warning system to signal the presence of obstacles when backing up.
The two uplevel models also boasted an industry first called Night Vision. Employing infrared technology proven in the Persian Gulf War, Night Vision used a grille-mounted camera to detect the heat signatures of objects beyond headlight range, which were projected as "virtual" images onto the windshield near driver eye level. No other car offered anything like it, and though not popular at a hefty $2000, Night Vision was the type of technical advance that had served Cadillac so well in the '50s and '60s. Yet such gizmology tended to obscure the virtues of a mighty impressive big luxury sedan. Even the base DeVille offered adroitly balanced ride and handling, and Motor Trend termed the DTS "a technological tour de force, an efficient, elegant, and uniquely American approach to fine motoring and a true Cadillac."
But the public either didn't get the message or didn't care, because DeVille lost favor as time passed, just like the sister Seville. A dearth of change didn't help. The line -- though not the basic design -- bowed out after 2005 and model-year production of 59,750 units, a huge letdown from late-'90s volume.
Cadillac would phase out other models over the next few years. Get the details on the next page.
For more information on Cadillac, see:
- Cadillac: Learn the history of America's premier luxury car, from 1930s classics to today's newest Cadillac models.
- Consumer Guide New Car Reviews and Prices: Road test results, photos, specifications, and prices for 2007 Cadillacs and hundreds of other new cars, trucks, minivans, and SUVs.
- 1990-1999 Cadillac: Import competition and a stale image rock once-proud Cadillac. Here's the low-down on Cadillac's come-down.