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2009 Cadillac DTS Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2009 Cadillac DTS was new.


Performance: 8.0

The Cadillac DTS is built for highway cruising. Its suspension is tuned for a soft ride, its turning circle is wide, and its big V8 moves the heavy car well enough for highway passing -- but not so quickly that it can compete with the cars at the top of its class. A Performance trim level outhandles the ordinary DTS.

  • "The DTS offers impeccable road manners, with crisp handling and good grip that inspires composure and driving enjoyment on winding roads." -- New Car Test Drive
  • "All in all, in driving the DTS the genius of this type of cruiser becomes obvious. The idea isn't to replicate the sport sedan experience in a much larger vehicle by means of brute force. Instead, the concept is, ultimately, to enjoy getting around in comfort and style." -- BusinessWeek
  • "DTS's base suspension comfortably smothers most bumps but allows some float and wander over large pavement humps. The Performance's firmer suspension setup checks body motions with little comfort penalty despite its 18-inch wheels and lower-profile tires." -- Consumer Guide

Acceleration and Power

The 2009 DTS is powered by a 4.6-liter Northstar V8 engine making 275 horsepower. Power travels through a four-speed automatic transmission -- a serious flaw, the press says, since even other GM products generally use six-speed models. The result is a car that lacks serious thrust compared to most luxury sedans -- but the DTS never had sporting pretensions. It's strong enough to get to highway speed quickly and pass easily. Performance models get 300 horsepower out of the same engine, but it doesn't change the fuel economy rating. The DTS gets an EPA-estimated fuel economy rating of 15 miles per gallon in the city and 22 on the highway -- the lowest fuel economy in this class.

  • "Both V8s furnish punchy takeoffs--about 7.0 seconds 0-60 mph in Consumer Guide tests. Merging and passing power is more than adequate. Most premium cars have automatic transmissions with more than four speeds." -- Consumer Guide
  • "There's enough power on hand for quick passes and effortless high-speed cruising." -- Edmunds
  • "The Northstar engine always has been a good performer, with a distinctive, overhead-cam V-8 growl." -- Motor Trend
  • "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." -- Cars.com
  • "Both engines deliver excellent performance, but the Performance version is slightly sportier." -- New Car Test Drive

Handling and Braking

The DTS is tuned for a gentle ride, not a sporty one. Some reviewers find it more athletic than one might expect from such a big sedan, but never the equivalent of canyon-carving big sedans from BMW or Infiniti.

  • "DTS handles competently but is compromised by its size and heft. In Luxury models, even moderately fast turns induce much body lean and noseplow. Performance versions feel more stable and confident. DTS's size makes for a large turning circle, which hurts maneuverability." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Despite its considerable size and heft, the Cadillac DTS is an agile sedan with rewarding driving dynamics." -- Forbes
  • "The DTS' Performance trim level even features an electronically adjustable Magnetic Ride Control suspension -- that's the technology that's available on the Chevrolet Corvette. Considering its plus-sized dimensions and softly tuned suspension, the 2009 Cadillac DTS carries itself fairly well." -- Edmunds
  • "It takes turns with poise and dignity, making it an enjoyable steed when the road goes curvy." -- New Car Test Drive
  •  "Steering feels responsive," but "a bit vague at times." -- BusinessWeek

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