Nobody has done a better job than Cadillac of taking what the younger generation often calls a ``grandfather car" and turning it into something edgy, sporty, and luxurious.
Not Buick, not Lincoln, and certainly not the late, lamented Oldsmobile. One could argue for the Chrysler 300 series, but those are more reminiscent of the Chryslers known as bankers' hot rods in the 1950s.
The 2006 Cadillac STS sports sedan continues the ongoing makeover of Cadillac.
``Where did my Seville go?" some geezer who has not been paying attention might ask as he crawls down the highway, left blinker clicking for miles.
It's right here. The STS, a sharp-lined car with a luxurious interior, has taken the Seville's place.
When last we drove one of these, it was in V-8 form, a 2005 model meant to run with some of the bigger elegant cars from overseas: Mercedes-Benz, Audi, BMW, and Lexus.
It tapped 320 horsepower from a 4.6-liter V-8 and fed its power with grace and real oomph through a five-speed automatic transmission.
The interior of today's test car is just as fine, and it has the same razor-cut outside lines and distinct Caddy grille. But there is one difference I had hoped might prove propitious in these days of $3-a-gallon gasoline: a 3.6-liter V-6 with 254 horsepower, mated, again, to a five-speed automatic (with driver shift option).
I was not disappointed in the power. No, it does not leap ahead the way the V-8 did, but once at speed, the difference in cruising and passing effort between the two was imperceptible.
I was, however, a bit disappointed by the fact that even dropping down in engine displacement did not significantly improve fuel economy: 20.2 miles per gallon with the V-8, and only 21.1 in the test car.
In retrospect, I realized the V-8 had been rear-wheel drive, while the V-6 was all-wheel drive.
And therein lies something of a New England dilemma: Do you swallow the extra gasoline consumption for winter safety and mobility, or do you go rear-wheel drive and maybe bump your mileage up to 23 or 24 miles per gallon? Another consideration is that the V-6 runs on 87 octane, while the V-8 requires premium fuel.
Get out your calculator.
The best news about this new STS and, in fact, Cadillac's entire new line -- from roadster to monstrous Escalade -- is the quality of the cars. These are American-built models that can be placed comfortably beside Audi, Lexus, and Mercedes-Benz (and the last has had more quality issues of late than Cadillac).
The outside finish -- sharp edges, small gaps where trunk and hood come down -- speaks to refinement. And the interior is absolutely elegant. Fine woods, Tuscany leathers, and broad, firm seats give the impression of a comfortable library at a swanky club rather than a sedan sizzling down the highway.
On the road, the car felt a bit more sure-footed for the average driver (who probably is not interested in using the throttle to ``steer" with the rear wheels). All-wheel drive is a nice option for everyday handling, as well as in bad conditions.
It was soundless and smooth, even at highway speeds. Passing was effortless. It did feel a bit heavy in back- road cornering, particularly on downhill bends, but folks who decide they want the V-6 are not likely to be pushing a car the way I do during a test.
Cadillac was conscientious when it came to equipping the STS with safety, fore and aft. Stability control and a four-disc antilock brake system are standard. Importantly, it comes with seat-mounted side air bags for front seat occupants, and head-curtain air bags covering front and rear side windows.
For those who want more, or just different, both V-6 and V-8 models come in either rear- or all-wheel drive. Standard fare includes leather seats, adaptive remote start, push button interior start and shutdown, power front seats, dual-zone climate control, and an eight-speaker Bose sound system.
DVD and navigation systems are extra, as are ventilated front seats, satellite radio, adaptive cruise control, and an adaptive suspension system.
The test car's all-wheel drive was an extra $1,900, as was a ``luxury package" that included multidriver memory settings, power adjustable lumbar, eucalyptus wood trim, and upgraded sound system, rain sensitive wipers, and 17-inch polished aluminum wheels.
There was also a $995 charge for ``premium paint."
Does that mean that without it, I would have paid $47,000 for a car with ``OK paint?"
Royal Ford can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.