The Cadillac STS was introduced as an all-new model for 2005, and remains unchanged in appearance for 2007. Its look is both new and familiar. In some ways strikingly dissimilar to previous Cadillacs, STS is the latest example of Cadillac's Art and Science design motif, which can also be seen in the SRX crossover sport utility and the XLR sports car.
Only the grille and headlights pretend to keep faith with what came before. Viewed head on, there's no mistaking STS for anything but a Cadillac. The trademark egg-crate grille and stacked headlamps are starkly functional in appearance. No wasted motion or volunteer excess there, to be sure.
You could be forgiven, however, for mistaking an STS for the smaller CTS. The two are almost indistinguishable to the casual observer, even when parked side by side. Both cars present only minimally different iterations of the same sharp angles and flat planes. The wheelbase of the STS is three inches longer, and its body is six inches longer, but they share a common platform.
From the side, the crisp lines of the STS draw an almost box-like silhouette that somehow still looks aerodynamic. Perhaps it's the gently curved A-pillar and C-pillar that tend a bit more toward art than science. Sharply contoured lower rocker panels tracking rearward from the front fascia's bottom edge pull the body down, adding a stylistic ground-effects look.
The backside is vaguely reminiscent of the old Eldorado coupe, with vertical taillights bracketing a tall, squared-off boot. Recessed in the boot's rear vertical is a trapezoidal inset, long enough for European-spec license plates, housing large backup lights at the left and right extremes. American-tradition dual exhausts exit below and at each end of the rear bumper. The optional rear spoiler, running the width of the trunk lid, adds stabilizing rear downforce without spoiling the look.
The super-performance STS-V is distinguished from the other STS models by its unique engine hood; a larger, polished stainless steel wire-mesh front grille; a lower front fascia with a larger, lower grille, brake ducts and splitter; lower side rockers; 10-spoke wheels; a higher rear spoiler; a lower rear fascia with wire-mesh accenting; and V-Series badging along with Supercharged badges on the doors.
The Cadillac STS cabin is warmer in appearance than the exterior, with soft leather surfaces complemented by warm wood accents. Those wood accents cost extra, but we much prefer them over the standard brushed aluminum trim, which looks and feels cold and reflects sunlight to the point of annoyance. Get the wood.
Seats are refreshingly supportive, for a Cadillac, without being overly firm. Arm rests and head restraints are a degree or two softer than the cushions and side bolsters, boosting the comfort factor a couple notches. All essential controls are within easy reach, although there could be more clearance between the lower door panels and seat bottom to access the front seat adjusters. For this reason, we were especially grateful for the seat memory feature, which often saved us from having to reach down there. The interior is noticeably roomier than that of the marginally smaller CTS.
Instruments are easily scanned, white-on-black round analogs, with a large nested tachometer and speedometer between the smaller fuel and engine temperature gauges. The speedometer changes between English and metric electronically, so there's only one set of numbers around its circumference. Cruise control and running lights are managed via a stalk on the left side of the steering column, windshield wipers and washers with a stalk on the right. Buttons in the steering wheel spokes provide redundant controls for audio and driver information functions. A word of caution: the top-level stereo system, although delivering superb surround sound, is multi-tasked with a navigation system that, in combination, demands an extensive study of the owner's manual to operate with any degree of alacrity and confidence.
All four doors boast map pockets. The front center console is deep and wide and pre-wired for cellular and Bluetooth (to wirelessly tie a cell phone into the car's audio system, allowing hand-free operation). The glove box, though, is barely sufficient to hold the navigation DVD case and owner's manual. Two cup holders are provided front and rear. The trunk is fully lined, with articulated, gas-pressurized struts.
Fit and finish are top grade, with notably tight trim tolerances. Careful attention was paid to reducing noise, vibration and harshness, with remarkable and commendable success. Specially laminated windshield and front door glass, wind tunnel-tuned outside mirrors and high-density/low-mass sound-deadening padding combine to deliver the quietest Cadillac interior in memory.
The 2007 OnStar system features a new fully integrated GPS navigation setup called Turn-by-Turn Navigation. Turn-by-Turn allows drivers to talk to a live advisor, who in turn sends complete step-by-step directions to the vehicle through the OnStar system. These audio directions automatically play through the vehicle's stereo as needed, triggered by the OnStar system's GPS capabilities. This enables drivers to be led to their destination while keeping their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.