2008 Cadillac DTS


$5,725 - $6,223

2008 Cadillac DTS Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2008 Cadillac DTS was new.


Performance: 7.8

The majority of reviewers agree the DTS offers a soft ride for the comfort-minded. The DTS has strong acceleration without compromising its luxury cruising appeal.

U.S. News' Rick Newman calls the ride "a dream cruise on the highway courtesy of some sophisticated steering and suspension technology. Cadillac aficionados accustomed to cush won't be disappointed." The concept, according to BusinessWeek, is "to enjoy getting around in comfort and style," without replicating a sport sedan experience. Kelley Blue Book reports that "the DTS maintains a firm foothold in the soft-riding, moderate-handling category."

Acceleration and Power

Auto reviewers agree, the DTS is not a performance sedan, but it provides ample power with either engine. The 2008 Cadillac DTS comes with two engine options between four trim levels. The DTS V8, Luxury I and Luxury II have a standard 4.6-liter Northstar V8 engine, are front-wheel drive and mated with a 4-speed automatic transmission. The DTS Performance trim level has a 4.6-liter Northstar V8 engine and is also front-wheel drive with a 4-speed automatic transmission with performance shifting. Forbes calls the base V8 "potent," giving the driver "confident acceleration" in passing maneuvers with a loud roar expected from an eight-cylinder. Consumer Guide captures consensus by saying that the DTS' "furnish punchy takeoffs" adding that "Merging and passing power is more than adequate." The 2008 Cadillac DTS has an EPA estimated fuel economy of 15 miles per gallon in the city and 23 on the highway.

"The Northstar engine always has been a good performer, with a distinctive, overhead-cam V-8 growl," says Motor TrendU.S. News' Rick Newman calls the base 275-horsepower engine "potent though not explosive," and the optional horsepower upgrade, from 275 to 292, an added "measure of pep...tuned to produce a throaty rumble that will give muscle-car hounds a shiver of excitement." Edmunds auto reviewers find the DTS Performance trim equipped with "plenty of power on hand for quick passes and effortless high-speed cruising"; they also note that the DTS' fuel economy specs are a few mpg less than most full-size car competitors.

Both engines are mated to a 4-speed automatic transmission, with electronically controlled overdrive and Hydra-matic 4T80-E, which reviews find improved but still dated, since most competitors offer more speeds. Motor Trend reports that the four-speed automatic transmission is "effective, but somewhat old news in this world of five, six, and even seven-speeders." The Chicago Sun Times  calls the 4-speed transmission "smooth" and "alert." "A five-speed transmission, which might have improved the car's fuel economy, would have brought the sedan another step further into the postmodern world," adds Cars.com.

Handling and Braking

The DTS offers a smooth ride, with comfort prevailing over performance, but with adequate touches of sport.  U.S. News reviewer Rick Newman states that the DTS "offers a firm, sporty ride that is also pillow-smooth." Edmunds adds "the DTS rides, well, it rides like a Cadillac. And we mean that in the way people used to use the term." Edmunds reviewers add that the ride is "soft and serene," and that it "continues to offer old-school American luxury for folks more interested in a hushed, relaxing ride than in attacking apexes as it offers a fair level of sophistication under its stately sheet metal."

Forbes reports that "despite its considerable size and heft, the Cadillac DTS is an agile sedan with rewarding driving dynamics and a well-detailed and comfortable interior."  Most auto writers find the DTS smooth for cruising, agreeing that the DTS offers sure handling. MSN reports that the DTS has "solid handling", while New Car Test Drive calls the handling "crisp" and the road grip "good...for improved composure and driving enjoyment on winding roads."  On the other hand, BusinessWeek notes that although the steering "feels responsive," it also feels "a bit vague at times."

The plush ride that the 2008 Cadillac DTS offers can be attributed to the car's tuned 4-wheel independent suspension. BusinessWeek calls the suspension "marvelous, bravely sacrificing itself for passenger comfort." Consumer Guide says that the base suspension "comfortably smothers most bumps, but allows some float, wander over large moguls." While the DTS baseline suspension offers a comfortable ride, the Performance trim level has a stiffer ride that the Chicago Sun Times calls only "slightly firmer."

Auto reviewers broadly agree that the DTS has confident brakes. The DTS comes with ABS 4-wheel disc brakes with dynamic rear proportioning. Forbes calls the brakes "responsive." Consumer Guide says the DTS brakes "deliver short, no-drama stops." The nose of the DTS does not dive when panic braking, notes Edmunds, finding the "brake pedal delivers good feedback." Yet, Edmunds also recognizes that "control, feedback and measurable performance are a bit at odds here. From 60 mph, the 4,127-pound DTS takes 137 feet to come to a halt. This is 14 feet longer than a Toyota Avalon and 9 more than a Lexus LS 460."

Performance Options

Cadillac DTS V8

The Cadillac DTS V8 is a front-wheel drive sedan with all-speed traction control and a Northstar 4.6-liter DOHC V8 engine with 275 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 295 lb-ft of torque at 4400 rpm and is fit with a 4-speed automatic transmission. The baseline DTS also comes with 4-wheel antilock brakes and 4-wheel independent suspension.

Cadillac DTS Luxury I

The Cadillac DTS Luxury I trim level has front-wheel drive with all-speed traction control and a Northstar 4.6-liter DOHC V8 engine with 275 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 295 lb-ft of torque at 4400 rpm and is fit with a 4-speed automatic transmission. The Luxury I trim level also has 4-wheel independent suspension and 4-wheel antilock brakes.

Cadillac DTS Luxury II

The Cadillac DTS Luxury II trim has front-wheel drive with all-speed traction control and a Northstar 4.6-liter DOHC V8 engine with 275 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 295 lb-ft of torque at 4400 rpm and is fit with a 4-speed automatic transmission and 4-wheel independent suspension with 4-wheel antilock brakes and Brake Assist with Stabilitrak.

Cadillac DTS Performance

The Cadillac DTS Performance trim level is equipped with a Northstar 4.6-liter DOHC V8 engine with 292 horsepower at 6300 rpm and 288 lb-ft of torque at 4500 rpm, a 4-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive and all-speed traction control. The Performance trim has performance-tuned 4-wheel independent suspension with automatic level control and magnetic ride control and 4-wheel antilock brakes with 4-wheel discs.

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