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Looking @ the 2006 Cadillac DTS

"We looked at building a DTS-V during the early stages of the program," says Cadillac DTS chief engineer Ed Zellner, "but it would have required all-wheel-drive, and that would have been hard to package.

"We looked at building a DTS-V during the early stages of the program," says Cadillac DTS chief engineer Ed Zellner, "but it would have required all-wheel-drive, and that would have been hard to package. Maybe next time we'll do one." It would have meant an expensive tear-up to add an all-wheel-drive system capable of handling V-power to a modified version of the previous front-drive platform, but that doesn't mean Zellner and his crew left well enough alone in Cadillac's move from Deville to DTS.

  • Says Zellner: "The work done to the structure was to improve crash performance and reduce road noise transmission. It had no major effect on the structure's already high torsional or bending numbers."
  • The A-pillars are hydroformed from high-strength steel and reinforced with structural foam. 80-ksi high-strength steel reinforcements run from the dash panel to the fourth crossbeam, while 50-ksi high-strength steel inner rocker reinforcements run from the front of the rocker panel to the B-pillars to reduce intrusion in a side impact. The B-pillar gets a nylon insert from the lower window to roof rail.
  • There are four DTS packages, which include three levels of luxury (Luxury 1 - 3) and one of performance. All use the same anti-roll bar and spring rates. The spring height is different on the performance version due to the requirements of the Magnetic Ride Control dampers.
  • "If you include the people working directly in the design and development of the car," says Zellner, "there were about 100 engineers on the DTS program." It took them less than 24 months to take the car from clay freeze to job one.
  • "We benchmarked the Mercedes S-Class and Lexus LS430 for gaps, fit, and flushness despite the fact that these are much more expensive cars," says Zellner. This included making the wood covering on the center console from a single piece, and utilizing what Zellner says is the smallest router bit in the industry to cut out the cover for the ashtray in order to keeps gaps small. His team also worked with its suppliers to drastically reduce the size of the perforations in the leather covering the seats. Most interior and exterior gaps are less than 2.0 mm, and all are less than 5.0 mm.
  • Speaking of seats, the upper anchor for the front seatbelts has migrated back to the B-pillar from the seat itself. "This gives us better crash performance and passenger comfort," says Zellner.
  • The instrument panel is approximately 1.0-in. lower and 1.0-in. forward of its previous position to improve the actual and perceived roominess of the front compartment.
  • The Luxury models get the 275-hp Northstar LD8 mated to a four-speed automatic, while the Performance model uses the 291-hp L37 version of the 4.6-liter engine mated to the same Hydra-Matic 4T80-E transmission.
  • Luxury models ride on standard 17-in. wheels while the Performance version bumps them up to 18 in. Going larger would have degraded the ride significantly.
  • The front cradle design is new and dispenses with the previous engine mounting scheme. Now, all engine mounts are on the cradle instead of half on the cradle, half on the body structure. NVH levels are noticeably reduced.
  • The front sheetmetal, grille, fascia and headlamps (low-mounted HID Xenon lamps are now standard), decklid, rear quarter panels, LED taillights, and CHMSL are new. The rest of the sheetmetal is carried over.
  • Prices start at $41,990, with the performance model starting at $50,490. A fully loaded DTS with the Performance package is about $56,000.—CAS