While most of us who buy or lease cars want them to fulfill our basic transportation needs with a certain degree of comfort and convenience, the buyers of luxury cars want considerably more. For the money they spend, luxury car-buyers expect a vehicle that will cater to their every automotive whim.
In true Cadillac tradition, the redesigned 1998 Seville is just such a car. Don't like having a wet umbrella drip water all over the inside of your car? Store it in the handy plastic umbrella tray under the Seville's passenger seat. Want someplace to put that tissue box during hay fever season? The Seville offers a special compartment on the inside of the glove box door. Do you like to store your CDs in the center console back-to-front, while your spouse likes to store them side-to-side? Cadillac designed the console so the CDs can be stored either way. No good place to store your executive planner or Thomas Guide book? The Seville's glove box is deep enough to hold either. Tired of having to turn your windshield wipers on and off during the showery seasons? Cadillac provides RainSense wipers that turn on or off automatically when they detect water on the windshield.
To demonstrate how well it knows its customer base, Cadillac even placed a diagram in the 15.7-cubic-foot trunk show how to arrange four sets of golf clubs on those days when you have to transport the foursome.
Designed to compete both in North America and overseas with the best cars from Lexus, BMW, Lincoln and Mercedes, the Seville offers a level of luxury, comfort and convenience that matches or exceeds any of its rivals. And with its powerful and responsive 300-horsepower Northstar V-8 engine and the new programming of its 4-speed automatic, it can offer some of the same performance feeling of the best sports sedans on the market.
For DriveTime's week-long test drive, Cadillac supplied the top-of-the-line STS model. The five-passenger, front-wheel-drive Seville also comes in a less expensive SLS trim level with the engine tuned to produce 25 less horsepower.
New for 1998 is Performance Algorithm Shifting (PAS) on the 4-speed automatic transmission. In normal city and freeway driving, it feels like any other automatic. Start to drive aggressively on back roads, however, and you can feel the change which occurs automatically to more performance-oriented driving with quicker downshifts and delayed upshifts. Given the availability of the Northstar power and performance shifting, it's probably good that Cadillac engineers also developed a new safety feature called StabilTrak. Designed to protect against spins, the system utilizes sensors to detect when a car is beginning to go where the driver doesn't intend. The system then selectively applies the ABS to whatever wheel necessary to bring the vehicle back under control.
Cadillac also invented new seating technology for the Seville. The $1,200 Adaptive Seats option uses a network of 10 air cells in both the driver and front passenger seats. The system readjusts the air in the cells every four minutes to account for movement by the person in the seat. There is also a manual override switch. Air pressure comes from a compressor beneath each seat. Test this system before ordering it: Some, like me, may absolutely hate it. The seats were much too hard for me, particularly in the lumbar area. But a passenger just loved the seats.
The new model is slightly longer and wider than the old. A 2-inch wider stance gives the 1998 a more aggressive and slightly more hunkered-down look than the old model. But exterior styling changes remain ÃƒÂ±more evolutionary than revolutionary, ÃƒÂ± according to Cadillac's marketers. It's in the cabin area where the Seville can really claim superiority against most competitors. There are a number of other comfort and convenience features in addition to those mentioned earlier. The roomy cabin offers plenty of space in all directions for adults in both the front and back seats. You can program the key fob and door memory buttons for a wide variety of functions and settings, including the position of the steering wheel, seats and radio settings. And the fantastic Bose audio system, custom-made for the Seville, allows Cadillac to confidently claim concert hall-quality sound.
For those in the market for this level of luxury, the Seville should be able to bring some new converts into the Cadillac fold.