As I was motivatin' over the hill,
I saw Maybelline in a Coup DeVille.
''Maybelline" Chuck Berry's Maybelline is of a certain age now and her DeVille is history, replaced by the 2006 Cadillac DTS.
And unlike the scenario in the song, an old V-8 Ford would not catch this newest Cadillac -- not with 275 horsepower echoing from a 4.6-liter V-8. The car also has electronic stability control to keep it straight and even an alarm that pings if a turn signal is left on too long.
The turn-signal warning is worth mentioning because it flies in the face of the company's mission. Like all Cadillacs of recent vintage, the DTS is marketed to younger drivers, not older ones. Yet Cadillac does not want to leave Maybelline behind.
This is a hefty cruiser made for the highway, capable of running across Interstate 80 the way a German driver might hustle up the Autobahn in a 6 Series BMW or an S Class Mercedes-Benz. But at a price under $50,000 -- even loaded with lots of luxury and refinement -- it's significantly less expensive than those Bahn-burners.
Smoothly powerful, its four-speed automatic transparent during operation, the DTS rolls the roads with the straight-ahead surge some Americans will relish, and it exhibits little of the boaty body roll during cornering that for years has come with large American steel.
It also has front-wheel drive, a bit odd for a big luxury vehicle and, surprisingly, not a major help on snowy roads. Instead of digging in to draw, as most FWD vehicles do, it seemed to become light up front. I found myself being a bit defensive, even in a couple of inches of snow. That lightness was also noticeable during subtle steering at highway speeds, yet in corners, the car became heavier and tighter.
But most of the time, the DTS rode flat, solid, and steady. The Luxury II level I drove was roomy, powerful, and well-appointed.
The DTS starts out with dual-depth front-passenger air bags, head- and side-curtain air bags, antilock braking, adjustable front bucket seats (a rare bench is also available), three-zone climate control, and high-intensity discharge headlamps.
Bump up to the test model (about $3,000 above the base price of $42,000), and you get heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, and electronic parking assist. Other model upgrades feature enhanced performance, seats that massage, upgraded Bose sound systems, and real wood trim.
The outside is more big Cadillac than the smaller, edgier models of the past couple of years, but still forward looking. Upright headlamps at each end of an egg-crate grille create a solid frontal stance, while a sharply defined, boxy trunk is a short chop of the endless rear decks of old.
Inside, the front is a veritable cockpit, with a dash and center control stack sloped up and away, making the interior feel spacious. In the back, a couple of large folks on either side would have plenty of room, while a smaller passenger would be comfortable in the center.
Cadillac has done a fine job of plucking performance, power, and even some styling from its other models, while retaining the luxury-cruiser look many older customers still covet. And thanks to that alarm, none of them will be leaving the turn signal on.
Base price/as tested: $43,695/$47,775
Fuel economy: 21.1 miles per gallon in Globe testing
Annual fuel cost: $1,463 (at $2.374 per gallon, regular, 13,000 miles per year)
THE EARLY LINE
It's a Cadillac that has to maintain tradition, even as the company successfully adopts an edgier image.
Drivetrain: Front-wheel drive
Seating: 5 occupants
Torque: 292 lb.-ft.
Overall length: 207.6 inches
Wheelbase: 115.6 inches
Height: 57.6 inches
Width: 74.8 inches
Curb weight: 4,009 lbs.
Nice touch: The upright, rectangular, retro clock at mid-dash. Amidst electronic wizardry, this timepiece will take you back in time.
Annoyance: I'm not sure they should not have kept rear-wheel drive for this model.
Watch for: Younger drivers being attracted to some expansive American luxury.
Royal Ford can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.