I first drove the DeVille to an Al Gore press conference, appropriate because I was wearing a coat and tie and the DeVille's suspension superbly soaked up Washington's rough, potholed streets.
The DeVille DTS model's suspension filters out vibration and bumps, but it feels much firmer than Cadillacs of yore. That's good because the DeVille doesn't float around like those older machines, which could sometimes induce nausea in rear-seat passengers. Though not as firm as a BMW 5 Series, the DeVille's suspension settings provide a well-controlled ride. Bumps are felt, but muffled to comfortable levels. Go around a fast, sweeping turn and potholes and bumps won't upset the suspension, a benefit of the DeVille's highly rigid chassis. This makes the DeVille safer and more comfortable to drive in tight quarters, which is important in the big city where you're often surrounded by big trucks and aggressive cab drivers.
Aluminum suspension components reduce unsprung weight (the weight that moves with each wheel as it reacts to the road variations), so the springs don't have to be as stiff to keep the wheels in firm contact with the road. This translates into more comfort on the highway without having to sacrifice handling. The highway ride is as supple as you would expect of a Cadillac. Yet, the new DeVille does not feel like the proverbial boat once associated with big American cars. It's smooth and stable at high speeds. The steering is precise and direct, so the car always goes where intended without having to think about it.
I was thinking about all this while heading out onto a rural road. I accelerated out of a sweeping turn, noticing the well-controlled steering, thinking that the DeVille should be able to hang onto the rear bumper of a BMW 5 Series. All those thoughts evaporated when I noticed way up ahead a state trooper standing next to his car pointing a radar gun at me. I jammed on the brakes. The ABS kicked in, preventing wheel lockup, so all the trooper noticed was a little nose dive as the DeVille quickly moved into compliance of the law. Braking was sure, stable and effective, with nice firm pedal feel. Completely redesigned last year, the system combines large four-wheel disc brakes with a small, lightweight anti-lock system. An electronic brake distribution system helps reduce stopping distances by distributing the braking force front to rear for optimum performance. In normal, everyday, around-town applications, the brake pedal feels smooth and progressive, making it easy to slow the car down smoothly.
The DTS has lots of power and growls under hard acceleration. The DeVille comes with the superb Northstar V8 engine, which develops 275 horsepower in the standard DeVille and 300 horsepower for the DHS and DTS. The Northstar engine was significantly re-engineered for the 2000 model year; in fact, there are just a few parts on the 2001 version that would fit in a 1999 or earlier edition. These refinements make the DeVille more responsive, more fuel efficient and quieter, all without sacrificing performance.
What really impressed me was the calibration of the transmission and the way it communicates with the engine. Press the throttle to the floor and instead of accelerating in fourth gear, then violently downshifting to second the way many transmissions do, the DeVille shifts immediately but smoothly to third for smooth, quick acceleration that accomplishes your objective of gaining a position in traffic without upsetting your passengers, or piece of mind. Slam the throttle to the floor, however, and the DeVille smartly shifts to second, the Northstar engine growls to life and the car rockets ahead. In case you're wondering, the DeVille's electronically controlled 4T80-E four-speed automatic transmission uses a viscous converter clutch for maximum smoothness with fuel efficiency. It's a great drivetrain.
Electronics help the driver control the DeVille in emergency maneuvers. Cadillac's StabiliTrak 2.0 s