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AM6_Cutlass

Driving GM's FWD Luxury

8 posts in this topic

Recently I had the oppurtunity to drive two of GM's entries in the dying field of full size front-wheel drive luxury sedans, the Lucerne and the DTS.

The Lucerne came to me as a 2006 CXL (mid level trim) from Avis for a trip to the beach. I found it odd that they were renting out the CXL since we rented a LeSabre from Avis last year, and it was a Custom (best seller package). The CXL has the leather seats (and the rental had the optional split bench), which really had a strong odor. They added to the standard equipment further with the Harmon Kardon speakers, power sunroof and rear backup sensors. The exterior styling was clean, if not a little too plain. The interior is where the Lucerne really shines. The general look and feel was very upscale, and much improved over the LeSabre it replaces.

I had plenty of time behind the wheel of the Lucerne, as well as time riding as a passenger both in the front and back. First, from behind the wheel, you are faced with a nice set of guages (which I was excited light up aqua-blue at night), and the HVAC panel lights up like a Christmas tree at night. The plood is a bit too shiny and distasteful on the dash, but then again I'm not a big fan of wood in cars anyway. Power from the 3800 is ample and quiet. It never strained, even through the mountians filled with passengers and luggage. The passenger cabin was quiet, but I guess I expected it to be even quieter after all the hype. Where the driving experience really let me down, was the suspension. The car was very floaty and bouncy over bumps (loaded and unloaded), and at all speeds. It was noticable as a driver and passenger, and really jerked around on low speed cornering and parking. Interior space was plentiful. Rear legroom was awesome, and there was even enough headroom for me (I'm 6'-2") in the back with the sunroof.

The other letdown was the cargo arrangements. For some reason they are using the old fashioned luggage crushing hinges on the trunk. My Impala, and my grandfather's Century have the hydrolic arms that don't encroach in the trunk. I also found the size of the trunk to be a bit small considering the overall exterior size of the car. Also dissapointing they don't offer a folding back seat, just the little hole behind the center armrest.

The next car was the 2007 DTS, which came to me unplanned. It was for a friend's wedding just a few weeks ago, and after Enterprise wouldn't accept his debit card as payment, he called me and asked if I would put it on my GM card as a last resort (don't worry, he paid me back in cash that day). Due to insurance reasons, this made me the driver (I was originally scheduled to be driven).

The first thing I noticed was that Enterprise decided not to opt for the optional front bench seat. This left the console with a gated shifter. This was actually the first time I had driven a car with a gated shifter, and I hated it. I was neutral on it before, but unlike a regular console or even column shifter you really can't slam it in gear or drop it in gear. It was like a maze, and seemed awkward, but enough with that. This car didn't have the sunroof or back-up sensors the Buick did and as far as I could tell had no optional equipment. That was fine, since I was very impressed (my first time behind the wheel in a Caddy). The car was also an odd color combination. Silver outside, with a brown and tan two-tone interior. maybe it's just me, but silver and brown just don't mesh. Also, the leather seemed softer and nicer (less glossy and vinylesque) and didn't have a strong leather odor.

The Northstar has serious power (lit up the tires a few times :thumbsup: ), and the duals have an awesome sound. I really fell in love with driving this car, it just felt and sounded so cool, and my buddy said I really looked at home behind the wheel with my shades 8) ). The interior was equally quiet to the Lucerne, the ride was smooth and less bouncy than the Buick though.

All the lighting, even the back-up and interior is LED, and the speedometer has a little digital readout below the analog. Would be nice if the analog could be shut off completely to use just the digital (I love digital guages). I don't know what it was , but driving the DTS was much more fun, and I felt more special in it. I just didn't want to stop driving this car, I think it might be the most fun vehicle I've ever driven... more than the 01 Trans AM. May help that the DTS was my cost-as-no-object dream car going into it, but the Lucerne was high on my consideration for replacement to my Impala.

The DTS had the same hinges in the trunk as the Lucernce, but were behind a wall of trunk carpet, so they wouldn't crush luggage but still reduced trunk space. The only real dissapointment of the DTS was fact that the trunk flew all the way open when released. It's nice to have a trunk popped, but not open when loading for a trip, or in the rain (neither of which was an issue, just a thought in my head)

Pictures are at home still in my digital camera, will post when I get the chance.

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Good reviews!

RE: floor shifter...maybe it was since it was your first time with one, or maybe that particular design is harder to do it on...but the one in my M-Class can be thrown into gear quite nicely :)

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Both nice cars...it's just that the DTS is a really nice Buick. I look forward to the day that Cadillac is back being Cadillac. And I'm talking over-the-top luxury...unexpected cushy, removed-from-the-world extravegance. The way Cadillac used to be and should be now.

Pure, American, in your face De Luxe.

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This probably should have gone in the "C&G Drives" forum... sorry, but I didn't see that one when I posted. Been ahile since I've posted. Also, I am home now, but I forgot I haven't installed Photoshop on my computer yet, so I can't edit the size and brightness on the pics to make them suitable for posting. They will still be coming, just later than sooner.

I'm sure I'd get used to the gated shifter if I used it all the time. It didn't detract from the driving experience for sure.

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Good reviews!

RE: floor shifter...maybe it was since it was your first time with one, or maybe that particular design is harder to do it on...but the one in my M-Class can be thrown into gear quite nicely :)

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Mercedes STILL makes the best gated shifter. I don't know why others haven't copied it.....

(Interesting note.....the gated shifter in the Caliber rental I had felt JUST like a Benz gated shifter....I'm sure it's a common part....)

The Benz shifter slides back and down almost effortlessly....but with positive detents. Others (an Altima gated shifter comes to mind) are clunky and unituitive....

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Mercedes is unilaterally dropping console shifters for column ones...so no they don't get a gold star.

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Really? Wow.

I guess I'm just used to column shifters, and prefer them over console ones. Our old Mercedes had a console shifter, and it drove my dad nuts.

I do tend to equate console shifters with luxuriousness, so Mercedes' move strikes me as a bit odd.

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