Cadillac DTS Review: A Tech Makeover

Review: The roomy Cadillac DTS blends GM's new and old technology. (

Cadillac no longer is the Cadillac of automobiles; that would be Lexus, Mercedes, or BMW. But Cadillac continues to be the most technically innovative and exciting of the traditional upscale U.S. brands. The company gave a technological upgrade to its recrafted best-selling model, the DeVille, firmly planting a foot across decades and perhaps centuries, with the 2006 DTS.

The DTS is one of the first vehicles with the promising OnStar Turn-By-Turn navigation. Its efficient (for a V8) Northstar engine is world-class. The optional MagneRide shock absorbers allow the same car to ride firmly or softly, depending on road conditions.

On the other hand, Turn-By-Turn experienced teething problems in our testing, the suspension was too soft, interior fit-and-finish isnt that of a $50,000 car, and the DTS is huge, at 208 inches in length; you could just about park three Mini Coopers nose-to-tail in the space taken up by two of these jumbo-size Caddies. And the only transmission is a four-speed automatic, whereas competitors offer five to eight speeds.

OnStar Turn-By-Turn Navigation

OnStar Turn-By-Turn navigation is covered in depth elsewhere on TechnoRide. Heres the short version: OnStar provides lockout help, stolen vehicle tracking, and airbag deployment notification for $200 a year, with the Safe & Sound plan. Or you can get all that, plus operator assisted navigation, for $400 a year with the Directions & Connections plan, in which an operator guides you as you wend your way to the destination. With OnStar Turn-By-Turn, which isnt priced yet but is likely to come in at about $300 a year, you call the OnStar advisor and explain where you want to go; only in this case, the operator downloads trip information to a rudimentary GPS system that has turn-by-turn voice instructions plus a one- or two-line display ("Elm Street 0.4 miles"), and perhaps a directional arrow. DTS is one of the first cars to get Turn-By-Turn, but most of the GM line will have it by the end of 2007.

Turn-By-Turn is great in theory, because you cant screw it up. All you have to do is push the blue OnStar button on the rearview mirror. But OnStar can screw it up. During my testing, I suffered lost calls, long holds (leading to more lost calls), OnStars inability to find obscure streets that are on the NavTeq and TeleAtlas map databases OnStar uses(as OnStar acknowledged later), and the services inability to download trips to my test cars GPS. When I requested mainstream (urban/suburban) addresses, though, OnStar operators found them even when I didnt have the full name, and for the most part, downloaded them successfully. Though Turn-By-Turn is imperfect, I believe OnStar operators will likely find more locations online than you can by using a disc-based, in-car system.

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