2009 Cadillac STS

Written By Tony Tran on Thursday, June 23, 2011 | 10:28 AM


Is the middle child is never easy. Just ask Jan Brady of "The Brady Bunch". Something plain and not very talented, Jan was constantly overlooked in favor of her popular older sister Marcia and oh-so-cute kid sister Cindy. Jan just could not catch a break, or worship, for that matter.

And then it was the middle child of the family Cadillac, full-size STS luxury sports sedan, which sits between the inexplicably popular DTS luxury barge and Caddy's best selling medium Jocks sibling, the CTS sport sedan. By comparison, the STS barely noticed, with less than half the sales of its siblings. And it's even after Cadillac made some cosmetic changes last year (such as a new grille and upgraded cabin trim), while adding a beefier base V6 engine that helped bring it out of the shadows and give it a better chance in a very competitive luxury sports sedan market. 2009 Cadillac STS sees only minor detail changes, such as Bluetooth capabilities in cars are not equipped with a navigation system, new wheels and a speed limit notification feature on the navigation system.

Buyers in the luxury sports sedan segment expects the latest in high-tech gadgets, and the 2009 Cadillac STS is enough to make a Sharper Image junkie drool with delight. Among them is a lane departure warning system, which, as with competitors' systems, using cameras to see road lines and warn the driver if he or she migrates. There is also a side blind zone alert system, which scans for vehicles in the driver's blind spot and flashes a warning light embedded in the side view mirrors.

We have always wanted the current Cadillac STS, and last year's revisions made it even more endearing. The powerful V6 almost makes V8 version irrelevant. Meanwhile, the STS's ride and handling continues to impress, with moves that almost makes you forget you are driving a sedan that is 6 inches longer and 200 pounds heavier than a Ford E-350. Undercutting its European rivals' price tags of thousands does not hurt either, even if a side effect is a couple of mediocre quality interior plastics.

The STS has a new competitor this year, Hyundai's all-new Genesis sedan, which offers many of the same strong-value qualities such as STS, but a more powerful V8 and a higher quality interior. All told, know that there are plenty of excellent choices in the $ 45,000 - $ 60,000 range, including this car is not so little Sibling CTS. Yes, as much as we like Caddy's STS, we can not help but think that, just like Jan Brady, is yelling "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!"

Body style, trim levels, and Options

2009 Cadillac STS is a large luxury sport sedan available in V6 and V8 models. Both versions feature 17-inch wheels, leather seating, wood and alloy interior trim, eight-way power front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, remote keyless entry and vehicle start, satellite radio, Bluetooth, an eight-speaker Bose sound system and OnStar. The V8 version adds a CD changer, memory seats presets, heated seats (front and rear), a heated steering wheel and rain-sensing wipers. Many of the V8's functions can be added to the V6 model through a series of packages.

Other features available on both models (in packages or a la carte items) includes a sunroof, xenon headlamps with washers, adaptive cruise control, a lane departure warning system, a blind spot warning system, a head-up display, and heated and ventilated front seats. The navigation system is interconnected with a Bose surround-sound audio system. There is also Performance Management package, which adds better wheels, tires and brakes. An adaptive suspension system (Magnetic Ride Control) is also available, as are larger 18-inch wheels.

Power Trains and Performance

The standard engine on the 2009 Cadillac STS is a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 302 horsepower and 272 pound-feet of torque. The optional engine choice is a 4.6-liter V8 making 320 horsepower and 315 lb-ft of torque. While it is certainly plenty of thrust for most people, they are really hungry for power must know that the top rivals have anywhere from 40 to 62 hp more. Both engines come only with a six-speed automatic transmission, and both can be ordered in rear-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive guise.

For performance testing, the STS V8 reached 60 km / h in 6.3 seconds. Cadillac estimates put the V6 in 6.5 seconds for the same speed. Fuel mileage estimates vary from 17 mpg city/26 mpg highway and 20 mpg combined for a V6 to 15/24/18 mpg for the V8.

Given that the new V6 accelerates with the same enthusiasm and turns in better fuel mileage, it is hard to justify the V8's added cost and weight.


Anti-lock disc brakes, stability and a full complement of airbags are standard on all Cadillac STS. The air bags covering front-seat side and full-length side curtains. There are also a number of available advanced technologies designed to prevent accidents, including lane departure warning, blind-zone alert system and asset management. The latter is only available in AWD V8 models, and is notable for turning the front wheels in a skid when rear wheels lose traction.

In government crash tests, STS earned four stars (out of five) for both driver and passenger in the frontal test. The federal side-impact tests, STS scored four stars for front impacts and five stars for rear impact. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety frontal-offset crash test, the STS scored a rating of "Good", the highest possible. It scored a second best rating of "acceptable" for side-impact protection.

Interior design and special features

Last year's refresh rate brought higher quality wood and the addition of tasteful alloy trim for the cabin. A trail tier steering wheel also debuted with more wheel mounted controls. Fit and finish are solid, and luxury buyers may be happy with this Cadillac's generally high-class atmosphere. Minor problems include the use of some low-grade plastic trim pieces to put STS in a disadvantageous position in relation to very expensive European and Japanese luxury sports sedan. The overall design is also on the dull side compared to the traditional confines of the building.

Controls are simple and easy to use, with the exception of the concurrent memory-setting procedure for driver seat, mirrors, radio and climate control. Unlike traditional systems, which place buttons on the door or the driver, you must dive deep into the navigation touchscreen to set memory functions. It is frustrating and unnecessarily complicated, but at least it is something done only occasionally. Strain is also a bit small, with 13.8 Cubic of total capacity.

Driving Impressions

Although large in size, the 2009 Cadillac STS sedan considers three-quarters its size when driven with gusto - but it is running as smooth luxury car when you are gobbling up miles on the highway. Cadillac offers an optional Magnetic Ride Control suspension, which includes Touring and Sport modes. In Touring mode, the Cadillac STS offers a cushy ride and composed handling, although the car still will dive into the turns with unwavering calm and never feels as if it sprung too low. In the Performance setting, handling is a bit sharper and ride a little stiffer, but the STS handles so well in Touring, we question the need for the two options.

Braking is strong and progressive pedal action and an impressively short 120-foot stopping distance from 60 mph. The torquey V6 is more than ample. With its V8-matching acceleration and higher fuel economy, the base-model STS will be our choice of pricier V8 version

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