Though it evolved into an entirely different species, the luxury performance DNA of the Cadillac STS can be traced all the way back to the special range-topping Seville hardtop coupe of the 1950s. At that time one of the fastest, flashiest and most luxurious cars on the road, it evolved into various different forms over the course of several decades until emerging as the buttoned-down STS luxury sedan.
If you're in the market for a used luxury sedan with competitive amounts of power, roominess, comfort and value, a STS could be a good idea. However, it was largely eclipsed in terms of performance and luxury by competing Japanese and European sedans in its later years. Even its smaller CTS sibling offered better performance and handling, a much nicer interior and class-competitive interior space.
Most Recent Cadillac STS
The Cadillac STS was a rear-wheel-drive luxury sedan that was produced from 2005 through 2011. A midcycle refresh took place for '08, bringing revised styling, a more luxuriously trimmed interior and a new base engine. We suggest focusing your search on cars from these later model years.
Originally, the STS came standard with a 255-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 and a five-speed automatic. This was replaced by a 302-hp V6 and six-speed auto for 2008. With the exception of the STS's final model year in 2011, buyers could opt for a 320-hp 4.6-liter V8 coupled to a six-speed auto. Originally, each engine represented a different trim level, as the V8 came standard with the V6's optional heated front and rear seats, memory functions, heated steering wheel and automatic wipers. Key options to look for included a magnetically controlled adaptive suspension, adaptive cruise control, a navigation system and ventilated front seats.
For 2010 and 2011, however, trim levels were introduced. The V6 came in Luxury Sport, Luxury and Premium trims, while the V8 was available in Luxury and Performance. The actual equipment that was available didn't really change. Many of the previous options were simply redistributed into the upper trims, though it should be noted that all but the V6 Luxury trims got upgraded braking, steering and cooling systems.
In reviews and road tests, our editors found the strengths of the Cadillac STS to include surprising agility, respectable performance and a high-quality audio system. Downsides include a somewhat old-fashioned feel compared to its rivals, a small trunk and hit-or-miss interior quality. Overall, it's hard to fully endorse this full-size luxury sedan when Cadillac's own smaller CTS from the time offered a more involving drive while only giving up a bit of interior space to its big brother.
Previous Cadillac STS Models
Used shoppers may come across an older STS. Technically a trim level (there was also an SLS), this is actually the front-wheel-drive, fifth-generation Seville produced from 1998-2003. The STS was the "performance-oriented version" of that car and featured a more powerful V8 engine along with more luxury features. The 1992-'97 Seville also featured a similar STS edition.