1998 and 1999 Cadillac
The 1998 Cadillac headliner was a redesigned 1998 Cadillac Seville. It was the best Seville yet, and would carry the Cadillac banner into Europe as GM attempted to establish a beachhead on its rivals' home turf.
The 1998 Cadillac Seville was built on a new G-car platform, the stiffest in GM history. The 1998 Cadillac Seville gained 1.2 inches in wheelbase, yet stood 3.1 inches shorter overall than its predecessor.
The 1998 Cadillac Seville SLS continued with the 275-horsepower version of the sterling Northstar V-8, while the sporty 1998 Cadillac Seville STS again used the 300-horsepower Northstar. In all, 1998 Cadillac Seville was a roomier yet tighter-handling Seville that ceded little, if anything, to comparable import-brand sedans in performance, dynamic ability, ride, comfort, and luxury.
Audaciously, Cadillac earmarked 20 percent of 1998 Cadillac Seville production for its first-ever attempt at European-market sport sedan. Cadillac was trying to establish itself as a true "global brand"; there was even a right-hand-drive STS for sale in Britain.
But despite being the most "international" Cadillac yet, the Seville bombed in Europe, judged unacceptably big and thirsty for local conditions and lacking the build quality of BMWs and Mercedes. Said Britain's CAR magazine in November 2001: "The STS is massive, brash and worryingly vague to drive. [Its] V-8 engine is nice, but the rest of the experience feels like a bad copy of a Lexus LS...Owning this car is a sign of terminally bad taste."
As it turned out, things weren't too rosy on this side of the pond for the 1998 Cadillac Seville. The redesign had carried with it tasteful but only cautiously evolutionary styling. And these were among the costliest cars in the 1998 Cadillac showroom. The 1998 Cadillac Seville SLS started at $42,495. With a base price of $46,995, the 1998 Cadillac Seville STS ranked as the most-expensive 1998 Cadillac.
Sales of the redesigned 1998 Cadillac Seville limped to 34,600, a drop of nearly 11,000 units from 1997. The 1998 Cadillac Eldorado, meanwhile, sustained its modest 19,000-annual sales pace, despite continuing on a carryover design.
That's not to say the 1998 Cadillac Eldorado didn't have something new to offer. The 1998 Cadillac Eldorado ETC edition helped introduced "Stabilitrak," Cadillac's new antiskid system.
Also standard for the 1998 Cadillac Seville STS and 1998 Cadillac De Ville Concours, and later standard or optional for other front-drive Cadillacs, Stabilitrak took the Continuously Variable Road Sensing Suspension idea a step further. It used sensor input to brake one or both front wheels to keep the car on its intended path, a boon for "dynamic" safety. Curiously, though, the Cadillac Eldorado would never get the "passive" safety benefit of front side airbags like other Caddys.
The 1999 Cadillac lineup of cars was little changed. One interesting new option exclusive to the 1999 Cadillac Eldorado and 1999 Cadillac Seville was "active" power front seats.
These seats provided a gentle message via small powered rollers in the cushion and backrest, plus a series of air bladders that automatically inflated and deflated from time to time. The idea was to relieve pressure points that could induce body aches on long trips, and it worked tolerably well.
But a much bigger introduction was on tap for the 1999 model year. We'll cover Cadillac's first SUV, the Escalade, 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.
- 1980-1989 Cadillac: America's top luxury brand was in crises in the 1980s. Learn about how it weathered the storm.
- 2000-2008 Cadillac: Discover how bold design, big power, and an SUV fuel a Cadillac comeback.