Reinventing yourself is never easy. Especially if you’re a proud company like Cadillac. While once a trend setter, the last few decades have seen Cadillac following the luxury market, and losing sales along the way. But as the new millennium arrives, Cadillac is working hard to shed that tired image and is introducing the most advanced automotive design in its 97-year history, the all-new 2000 DeVille. But can gigabytes and gadgets make a desirable Cadillac?
Well, we’ll wait for you, the jury, to answer that question. But we can say that all the Jetson-like technology that graces the new 2000 Cadillac DeVille certainly makes it far more intriguing, and a delight to drive as well. And since the folks at Cadillac mean to entice import oriented baby boomers into their big sedans before they reach their golden years, being a delight to drive is more important than ever.
Its genesis can be found in the underpinnings that give this still land-yacht size car a luxurious, yet athletic ride. The fifth generation G platform supporting the DeVille is stiffer in torsion and bending.
This stronger and safer platform rides on 16-inch low profile tires, and a sophisticated, longer travel suspension package that comes in two variations across the DeVille’s three trim lines.
Acquire the standard DeVille or the DHS, that’s DeVille High Luxury Sedan, and you’ll get an independent, strut-type, coil-sprung set up with anti-roll bars in the front, and an independent, trailing arm with toe control link, coil springs and anti-roll bar configuration in the rear. There’s also a set of air shocks for the electronic load leveling system.
But if you go for the more sporting DTS, that’s DeVille Touring Sedan, like our test car, you’ll have that set up and an extra treat in the way of the continuously variable road-sensing suspension, or CVRSS 2.0 if you’re into details.
This suspension adds wheel position sensors and rapid reacting dampers at each corner that can go from full firm to full soft, in both jounce and rebound directions independently, every 6 to 7 inches of road travel. Continually adjusting for optimum ride and handling, the wallow and pitching motions usually associated with large domestic luxury cars are eliminated.
The CVRSS 2.0 system also interacts with Cadillac’s fabled Stabili Trak stability control system, which also gets a 2.0 upgrade. In addition to measuring steering wheel angle, lateral acceleration, and yaw rate to keep the car on track during hard cornering and evasive maneuvers, Stabili Trak now also calculates slip rate so it can help correct 4-wheel sideways drifts. Plus it also regulates the Magna steer steering boost to help prevent over-steering in low traction and panic situations.
A trip through our low speed slalom revealed an expected amount of front-drive under steer, but the stiffer body structure, the active suspension, and Stabili Trak allow the DeVille to charge through the cones without losing any dignity, while still providing a modest amount of fun for the driver.
But what’s under the hood provides a full measure of kick-butt acceleration. As the mighty Northstar V-8 pulled us to 60 in a scant 6.6 seconds, and on through the quarter mile in 15 seconds flat at 95 mph! The basic cut of the 2000 Northstar remains the same as the 4.6 liter, DOHC, 32-valve, V-8 that wowed us in 1992. But over time there have been significant enhancements, with more for 2000. Combustion chambers have been redesigned, pistons are new, and valves resized. And all are fed by a new center-feed manifold. A new ignition system uses a cassette housing four coils, that sits directly on top of each cylinder head cover to deliver juice directly to the plugs.
The results are a willing and able power plant that now runs just fine on regular unleaded gas, and in DeVille and DHS models delivers 275 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque. In the more sharply honed DTS, ratings are 300 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. All engines pull a Hydra-matic 4T80-E 4-speed automatic transaxle, and there’s a new power train control module to coordinate engine and transmission functions.
Stopping power is coordinated by a Delco-Bosch four-channel all-disc brake ABS system with electronic proportioning. We averaged stops from 60 in 135 feet with very little drama. Pedal modulation and noise are moderate and stability is top drawer.
But some of the safety features available on the 2000 DeVille are over the top. Like the unique Night Vision system. Night Vision uses thermal imaging, or infrared, technology to detect heat patterns of objects 3 to 5 times as far away as can be seen by headlights. Images, seen by the grille-mounted camera, are then projected on to the windshield below the driver’s eye line through an aircraft-style head-up display. Hotter objects, like people and animals, appear white, while cooler objects, like trees, appear black. Since Night Vision detects heat and doesn’t amplify light, headlights appear as white dots.
A detection system of another kind covers your backside. The optional Ultrasonic Rear Parking Assist uses rear bumper sensors to trigger visual and audio cues if you back within 5 feet of any object larger than a soccer ball. Plus, new LED taillights illuminate much quicker than incandescent bulbs, translating into an extra 17.6 feet of warning distance for the driver behind you.
But lest the Cadillac faithful and curious be confused by all this techno-speak, fear not. The DeVille has not sacrificed its world-renowned standard of luxury on the altar of technology.
And although 3 inches shorter and 2 inches narrower than its predecessor, the DeVille’s wheelbase is actually 1.5 inches longer, up to 115.3 inches, and interior space is virtually the same as last year’s model.
Inside, two seating options are offered, both with standard side airbags. A traditional split-bench front seat is available on DeVille and DHS models, and while the DTS, like our tester, sports leather-surfaced 12-way adjustable buckets and available massaging lumbar support and variable heat for both front seat occupants.
The driver faces a power tilt and telescoping steering wheel, and a cluster of super clear gauges that look as though they are suspended in mid air. To the right, easy to understand triple zoned climate controls, with an independent temperature setting for the rear seat. Our car’s AM/FM/Cassette/CD player, just below, was also easy to decipher, and came with an optional 6-disc CD changer in the glove box. A GPS navigation system is also available on DHS and DTS models, while the OnStar emergency locator system is standard on all DeVilles.
Rear seat passengers find theater-style heated seating with generous room for three, available side airbags, and power lumbar supports on the DHS. A small pass-thru leads to the user-friendly trunk with 19.1 cubic feet of space. Allowing you to travel very well prepared.
Pricing on the 2000 DeVille is user friendly as well, designed to undercut the likes of the Lexus LS400. Base DeVille starts at $41,070. DHS and DTS share the same $45,370 base price, so price alone won’t be a factor in deciding which one really tickles your fancy. With Night Vision and other options, our test DTS rang up at $53,285.
The 2000 Cadillac DeVille’s reborn design now adheres to a “less is more” philosophy that’s already practiced by the smaller Catera and Seville. That’s a radical departure from the “more is never excessive” theme that drove earlier generations of DeVilles.
Hints of the radical Evoq concept car styling hover around its more aerodynamic face, while a sparse use of chrome and chiseled body work signal Cadillac is serious about sending the full-size DeVille deeper into younger territory.
Combine that new, welcomed attitude with delightful handling, a powerful engine, ultra-quiet ride, purposeful use of advanced electronics, and a posh interior that can be appreciated by first time owners and Cadillac old guard alike, all goes into making the 2000 DeVille an eminently desirable luxury car.
Engine: 4.6 Liter Dohc 32-valve V-8 Horsepower 300 Torque 295 Lb Feet 0-60 MPH 6.6 Seconds 1/4 Mile 15 Seconds @ 95 MPH 60-0 MPH 135
Torque: 295 Lb Feet
0-60 MPH: 6.6 Seconds
1/4 Mile: 15 Seconds @ 95 MPH
60-0 MPH: 135