The DTS is the big sedan with a new skin and new interior, top-line safety features and a hunk of an engine, the Northstar V-8.
But before I continue, a moment, please, to honor the loss of a great nameplate: DeVille.
Cruella no more, the name once known round the world as an icon of cunning excess has been mothballed for the alphanumeric DTS, or D-Series Touring Sedan.
Alas, two steps forward, one step back, but there is much to appreciate in this major redesign.
First, it is a bean-counter's pride. Not because it's cheap, but because it is efficient.
Plans for an all-new rear-wheel drive car were put on hold, but the redesign makes the '06 look all new. Only the DeVille's roof and doors are shared with DTS, and many carryover parts are unseen to the user.
And DTS is a shared platform with the new Buick Lucerne.
Much went into refining this old model, but the brush stroke of inspiration is the taillight treatment. The designer reapplied the vertical slash of red lights that recall some of the still-attractive Caddys from the '80s, '90s and earlier.
The body also sits closer to the tires, which sharpens the stance and gives better aerodynamics.
The styling is contemporary and powerful, sure to get the attention of a younger clientele without alienating older buyers.
And among the four trim levels is a Performance model, which comes with the magnetic ride control adjustable suspension, 18-inch tires, audio upgrade, the full complement of power extras and a more potent version of the Northstar V-8.
About the only options for the Performance model are a navigation system, sunroof, power rear sunshade and adaptive cruise control. All models can be upgraded with full leather seats, not leather-trimmed. Oddly, satellite radio is not available on the base car.
Pricing starts at $41,990 and goes to $50,490 for the power treatment.
The redesign also applied assembly refinements to tighten body gaps and fit. Laminated glass helps quiet the cabin. The trunk is the same size but better tailored, with shelves. However, there is no power close feature or exterior lock.
Lowering the instrument panel and moving it forward a bit enhanced the driver area, which opened the cabin for a more full-bodied appeal. Burled walnut trim and chrome are not overdone. The locking glove box is damped and fuzzy felt lined. And buyers can still order a front bench seat with the shifter on the column.
The seats have been redone for comfort, benchmarking the Lexus LS 430, Audi A8 and BMW 7-Series. The dual-firmness front seats provide an additional inch of rearward adjustment and no longer have the integrated belt-in seat design, which resulted in a thicker seat back. The new seats are thinner and lighter, which opens up the back seat.
The doors can open so wide that it's a stretch to reach the handle, but always helpful when loading passengers. Grab-handles in the door panel could be better placed for more leverage when the driver gets carried away. But the doors close with a secure and sound-deadened reassurance.
In back, there is good foot room and a relaxed seat back angle, but no theater seating for better forward views. The fold-down armrest has storage, flip-out cup holders and trunk pass-through.
It is this car's attention to many details that will help restore faith in the brand.
The DTS is the only remaining full-size luxury sedan with front-wheel drive. Not that it matters, really, to this segment of buyers.
In either power form, the sweet rumble of the Northstar V-8 is a pleasure. The aluminum 4.6-liter V-8 with double overhead cams and 32 valves is available in the base L37 model (275 horsepower) and the LDI (291 hp) with its higher revving and more peak power.
Fuel economy is good for a 2-ton car at 17 mpg around town, 25 on the highway; premium is recommended but not required.
This car has a little too much mass to ever be considered a sport sedan, but the electronic adjustments of the Magnetic Ride Control makes a big difference in absorbing the heave and wallow that could be transferred to the cabin.
The car comes with six air bags, including the first use of a dual-depth front passenger bag. Sensors determine the severity of a crash and the bag is tethered, if necessary, to hold back a full discharge.
The system is also alert to children or small adults in the seat and how they are seated to determine whether full or partial bag deployment is needed.
When compared to the European full-size luxury sedans, the DTS seems overly simple, with its front-wheel drive and lowly but efficient four-speed automatic transmission.
But the energized styling, much-improved quality and V-8 power are all satisfying elements that could bring back buyers who wandered off in search of what had made Cadillac a world-class icon.
2006 Cadillac DTS
Body style: Large, 5- or 6-passenger, front-wheel-drive luxury sedan
Engine: Aluminum, Northstar 4.6 liter V-8 with DOHC and 32 valves
Horsepower: Base, 275 at 5,200 rpm; performance, 291 at 5,600 rpm
Torque: 286 foot-pounds at 4,400 rpm; performance, 286 at 4,400 rpm
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Acceleration: 0-60 mph - 7.6 seconds, 275 hp Northstar; 7.1 seconds, 292 hp
Fuel economy: 17 mpg city, 25 highway (performance, 17/24); premium recommended but not required
Wheelbase: 115.6 inches
Width/length: 74.8/207.6 inches
Front head/leg/shoulder room: 38.3 (with sunroof)/42.5/60 inches
Rear head/leg/shoulder room: 38.6/41.6/59.2 inches
Curb weight: 4,009 pounds
Trunk space: 18.8 cubic feet
Standard equipment: Remote locking and remote start, 8-speaker audio system (with single-slot CD player, plug-and-play auxiliary jack, MP3 player and RDS), tri-zone automatic heat/AC control (dual front and rear controls), cruise control, driver information center (including miles to empty, average and instant mpg, tire pressure monitor, engine oil life and driver personalization features), light-sensitive auto dimming rearview mirrors, Xenon HID headlamps
Safety: Dual-stage front air bags, dual-depth front passenger bag, seat-mounted side bags and roof-rail air curtain; front passenger detection system and seat-position sensing; optional adaptive cruise control
Suspension: 4-wheel independent; front MacPherson struts, stabilizer bar; rear, multilink with coil springs, stabilizer bar, monotube shocks
Steering: Magnetic variable rack and pinion; 42-foot turning circle; 44 with 18-inch tires
Brakes: 4-wheel discs with ABS (12.3-inch vented front, 11.7 solid rear), traction control, StabiliTrak and Brake Assist
Tires and wheels: P235/55 17-inch S-rated; performance, P245/50 18-inch; alloy wheels
Luxury I: $41,990, including $795 destination charge
Luxury II: $44,490, adds XM radio, heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, StabiliTrak with brake assist, heated steering wheel, heated windshield washer fluid system, and ultrasonic front and rear park assist.
Luxury III: $48,490, adds burled walnut wood interior trim, power lumbar control and massaging seats for front passengers, IntelliBeam headlamps, Bose premium audio system with Centerpoint signaling, 6-disc in-dash CD/MP3 player, rain-sense windshield wipers and 17-inch chrome wheels.
Performance, $50,490, adds the 291-hp, Northstar V-8, Magnetic Ride Control, 18-inch wheels and tires, and performance algorithm shifting.
Options: adaptive cruise control, $1,000 ; DVD-based navigation system, $1,795 to $1,995; front bench seat, $250; Tehama leather, $2,495; power rear sunshade, $350; body color grille, $100; and sunroof, $1,200.
Warranty: 4 years/50,000 miles
Where assembled: Detroit Hamtramck Assembly
PLUSES: Luxury, technology and performance that satisfies but doesn't overwhelm. Sharp styling won't cut buyers who prefer more traditional lines and aren't fond of the creases and edges being applied to other Cadillacs.
MINUSES: Wide turning circle.
Mark Maynard is driving in cyberspace at [email protected]