It is only from behind the wheel, with the miles flowing quickly by, that the Seville reminds one of a European sedan. The exterior styling is wholly all-American--powerful, handsome lines that still look distinctive, if not exactly new. One indication of the strength of the design is how compact and cohesive it is. The Seville is a big sedan, but its true size isn't apparent until it's parked next to a smaller car.
Changes for 1996 are minimal. Like so many GM products, the Seville and Eldorado add Daytime Running Lamps to their list of standard safety features. Another upgrade, perhaps more universally welcome, involves the ignition. When the key is in the ignition, it's impossible to lock the driver's door. No more lockouts.
Keeping pace with competitors, the remote entry system also allows pre-programming of seat position and door locks. The Seville politlely acknowledges keyfob commands by blinking its lights, a plus in vast, anonymous parking lots.
The Seville and Eldorado both come in two models, Seville SLS and STS, Eldorado and Eldorado TC. Aside from minor differences in exterior trim, the principal distinction between standard and uplevel editions lies under the hood. In basic versions, the Northstar V8 produces 275 hp, while the STS and ETC have 300 hp.
Although the Eldorado rides a shorter wheelbase--108.0 in. versus 111..0 in. for the Seville, the chassis and suspension components are otherwise essentially the same.
Rather than mimic the stark grays and blacks that dominate the interiors of European luxury sedans, Cadillac elected to go its own route with the Seville and Eldorado, using warm, muted color schemes and lots of zebrano wood trim, a striking trademark touch.
Though the front seats don't offer as much side support as competing European makes, they're well shaped and spacious. The leather upholstery that goes with the STS is perforated, allowing it to breathe, and the range of adjustability--power-operated, of course--should make any driver comfortable.
Entry and exit are exceptionally easy here--no more difficult than plunking yourself into your favorite living room. Room behind the front seats is plentiful, and the sound systems--an AM/FM/cassette Delco unit (standard) or one of three optional Bose systems, two of which include CD players.
Our test car had the top-of-the-line Bose system with a 12-disc trunk-mounted CD player, a $1513 option.
As you'd expect of a car with a price range that starts at almost $42,995, the Seville standard equipment list is long and comprehensive. The STS adds dual front controls for the automatic climate control system, power lumbar support for the front seats, a floor-mounted shifter (vs. a column shifter in the SLS), a fold-down rear center armrest with cupholders, analog instruments, heated outside mirrors and, of course, leather upholstery.
Aside from sound system choices, about the only major addition one might make is the power moonroof, a $1700 option that was also part of our test car's equipment list.
One interesting new touch is Cadillac's new Rainsense Wiper System. Set the system in the automatic delay mode, and it adjusts the wiper speed based on the amount of moisture falling on the windshield.
Comprehensive also applies to the Seville's standard safety features. In addition to daytime running lights, they include ABS, traction control, dual airbags and side impact protection. About the only thing that's beginning to be conspicuous by its absence in this inventory is side airbags, which are beginning to show up in European sedans from Volvo, Mercedes-Benz and BMW.
Although we wish the Seville included door panel map pockets, the interior is otherwise hard to criticize. It's beautifully assembled and elegantly posh.