Machine Design

2003 Cadillac Seville STS

The Seville's impressive history began in 1956 as the nameplate for the coupe version of the Eldorado. In 1976, Cadillac brought the Seville back as its first import fighter.

For 2003, the Seville continues to lead the pack. And smoothly, at that. The Seville features Magnetic Ride Control, a revolutionary damper design that uses magnetorheological (MR) fluid in the shocks and struts. For continuously variable, real-time damping, the fluid's consistency can be varied by controlling the current to the electromagnetic coil inside the damper's piston. The result is a quieter, flatter ride and more precise responsive handling. The system consists of MR fluid-based monotube struts, monotube shock absorbers, a sensor set, and an onboard controller. Traction control and ABS help round out the system for stability, balance, and poise. Michelin tires and chrome wheels round out the ride package.

Performance-wise, the Seville has plenty of get up and go. The car is equipped with a 4.6-liter Northstar V8 that produces 300 hp at 6,000 rpm and 295 lb-ft of torque at 4,400 rpm. Redline is 6,700 rpm. The StabilTrak 2.0 stability control system, ABS, all-speed traction control, enhanced continuously variable road-sensing suspension, and Magnasteer variable-assist speed-sensitive steering round out the performance package.

Once you sink into the seats, you may never want to get out. Not only are the standard leather seats comfortable, but all seats can be heated. The front driver and passenger seats feature power-adjustable headrests with the seat belt incorporated into it, which allows for easy adjustment and a comfortable fit. The instrument panel is well laid out and remote controls for important functions are located on the steering wheel as well. An especially nice touch is the power telescopic steering wheel. For the rear-seat passengers, a climate-control vent mounted on the rear of the center console lets them adjust the direction and quantity of airflow. New for 2003, the Seville offers factory-installed XM Satellite Radio. The XM radio complements the Seville's premium sound system and is available with the vehicle's navigation system.

On the safety front, the Seville features a Rainsense wiper system, which automatically activates in wet weather when the system is in auto-delay mode.

The Seville's Performance Algorithm Shifting detects a change in driving conditions and automatically initiates the appropriate gear. While the instrument-panel display reflects this change, the gearshift remains in the gear you were in. Once the shift mode ends, the display will return to match the gearshift lever.

Rounding out the safety features is an interior manual trunk release and Ultrasonic Rear Parking Assist.

Along with the good comes the bad. The interior position of the gas tank/trunk release buttons leaves a lot to be desired. Located just above the parking brake, I accidentally hit one of the buttons almost every time I got out of the car, so I was constantly checking that neither was open before leaving the car. Our test vehicle did not have the smoking package (no lighter outlet) so in order to plug in my cell phone, I had to reach over and around to the passenger side of the console to where the 12-V accessory outlet was. Not something you can do while you're driving and your cell phone dies.

The base price for our test vehicle was $50,975. Tack on $325 for the XM Satellite Radio, $1,995 for a premium luxury package, $1,550 for an express-open sunroof, and a $770 destination charge and your out-of-the-showroom cost is $55,615.

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