Two versions of Cadillac's Northstar V-8 engine are available in the DeVille, which is Cadillac's largest model and the last remaining one with front-wheel drive.
Cadillac last redesigned its full-size front-drive sedan for the 2000 model year, and another redesign is due for 2006. At that time, the DeVille name will be dropped in favor of DTS, currently the name of a trim level. Cadillac's optional Night Vision system, introduced with the 2000 redesign, is no longer available for factory ordering.
The current DeVille is more rounded and bulky in appearance than models of the 1990s and before. Measuring 207 inches long overall, the four-door sedan rides a 115.3-inch wheelbase. GM's StabiliTrak electronic stability system is standard on the DTS trim level and optional on the base and DHS models. The extended-length Protection Series sedan is 215.2 inches long overall on a 123.6-inch wheelbase.
A split front bench seat is standard in the base and DHS models. The DTS comes only with front bucket seats and a floor-mounted shift lever. Rear legroom is ample even when the front seats are moved all the way back. The trunk holds 19.1 cubic feet of cargo and has a low liftover for easy loading.
Heated and cooled front seats and a heated steering wheel are standard in the DHS and DTS sedans and optional in the base DeVille. GM's OnStar communication system can be fitted with premium services. XM Satellite Radio and a navigation system are optional.
Base, DHS and Protection Series versions are equipped with Cadillac's 275-horsepower, 4.6-liter Northstar V-8, while a 290-hp version of that engine is installed in the DTS. Both V-8s work with a four-speed-automatic transmission and can run on regular fuel, but Cadillac recommends premium gasoline for peak performance and fuel economy.
Side-impact airbags are standard for the front seats and optional for rear-seat positions. The front airbag on the passenger side also protects the middle passenger. An ultrasonic rear parking-assist system is available.
The DeVille may be a Cadillac of the old school, but it is packed with modern technology. Strong Northstar V-8 performance blends with admirable transmission operation in the smooth-functioning powertrain. Downshifts are prompt and certain, yet smooth. The DTS practically leaps ahead from a standstill and responds almost as effectively for passing and merging. At certain speeds, the response is a little less vigorous.
The DeVille steers with a light touch and doesn't feel as taut as some competitors — especially import brands. But the easygoing, genteel ride also isn't as woozy or floaty as Cadillacs of the past.
All seats are big, relatively soft and reasonably supportive, and the instruments in the DTS are very easy to read. Engine noise is blissfully subdued and muted, and other sounds are minimal.