$7,556 - $9,435

2011 Cadillac DTS Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2011 Cadillac DTS was new.


Performance: 7.7

An old-school, American highway cruiser, the 2011 Cadillac DTS features a suspension that is tuned for comfort rather than nimble handling. The DTS also has a wide turning circle, which can make it more difficult to maneuver at low speed than many of its rivals. The Caddy’s big V8 provides enough juice for highway merging and passing duties, but it’s still not quick enough to compete with the top cars in its class. DTS models in Platinum trim offer slightly improved power and handling over base, Luxury and Premium models.

  • "Both V8s furnish punchy takeoffs--about 7.0 seconds 0-60 mph in Consumer Guide tests. Merging and passing power are more than adequate. Most premium cars have automatic transmissions with more than 4 speeds, and our testers are divided on its behavior in the DTS. Some cite quick response, others slow downshifts." --  Consumer Guide
  • "Prospective buyers will have to overlook its front-wheel-drive layout - rapidly fading from fashion in luxury and performance cars - and other shortcomings compared to competitors, such as a transmission with only four speeds at a time when five and six are the norms and one carmaker, Mercedes, is offering seven." --  Newsday
  • "This is a hefty cruiser made for the highway, capable of running across Interstate 80 the way a German driver might hustle up the Autobahn in a 6 Series BMW or an S Class Mercedes-Benz." --  Boston Globe 

Acceleration and Power

A 4.6-liter Northstar V8 engine is standard equipment the 2011 Cadillac DTS. On base, Luxury and Premium models the engine makes 275 horsepower, while Platinum DTS’ make 292 horsepower. All models put power to the front wheels through a four-speed automatic transmission. Much of the automotive press considers the transmission a serious flaw since even other GM models are frequently fitted with six-speed units. Because of this, the DTS lacks the thrust available from many luxury sedans, although the DTS design was aimed more at comfort than performance. Still, the V8 provides enough power to get up to highway speed and pass easily, even if much of the DTS’s six-cylinder competition bests it in terms of power.

Another area where much of the competition beats the DTS is fuel economy. The EPA estimates that the 2011 Cadillac DTS will get 15 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway. Slightly improved fuel economy can be had from the Lincoln MKS, which gets 17/24 mpg city/highway fuel averages. Shoppers looking to spend less cash at the pump would do well to check out the BMW 528i, which offers athletic handling and 22/32 mpg city/highway fuel economy that the DTS just can’t match.

  • "Merging and passing power are more than adequate. Most premium cars have automatic transmissions with more than 4 speeds, and our testers are divided on its behavior in the DTS. Some cite quick response, others slow downshifts." --  Consumer Guide 
  • "Even with the more powerful V8, the DTS's acceleration can best be described as adequate." -- Edmunds 
  • "The acceleration of the DTS is not great, but not terrible. It reaches 60 mph in a standard seven seconds." --  Automobile.com 

Handling and Braking

The Cadillac DTS will never be mistaken for a sport sedan, and though it can’t match the handling of competitors such as the BMW 5-Series or the Infiniti M, some reviewers note that it handles better than you might expect. Platinum models benefit from improved handling thanks to Cadillac’s ‘Magnetic Ride Control’ suspension and larger, 18-inch wheels. Still, more than one reviewer notes that all DTS models are hindered by a large turning radius, and that the sheer size of the DTS can make it difficult to park and maneuver at low speed.

  • "DTS handles competently but is compromised by its size and heft. In non-Platinum models, even moderately fast turns induce much body lean and noseplow. Platinum versions feel more stable and confident. DTS' size makes for a large turning circle, which hurts maneuverability. All have brakes that deliver short, controlled stops." -- Consumer Guide 
  • "Even with these powertrain and suspension upgrades, the DTS is no sport sedan. Also, because of its size, it can be difficult to park -- especially for shorter drivers." -- Edmunds 
  • "The ride quality in the 2011 DTS is up to par with any luxury sedan ever driven. The plush ride is soft enough to make even the longest trips feel like a mere jog around the block. However, performance is not the highest on Cadillac’s list for this vehicle." -- Automobile.com

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