1997 Cadillac DeVille 4.6 V8 from North America
Finger crossed, I think I found a good one
Engine replaced 10,000 km, due to broken crank from a defective harmonic balancer.
50,000 km, replaced blower motor.
80,000 km replaced battery.
90,000 km, new tires.
97,000 km, leaking heater core, probably due to the fact the original owner never changed the coolant.
It could use a tune up, since it still has the original plugs and wires, at 97,000 km. This may be producing an occasional Check Engine light to appear, likely due to an occasional misfire.
I bought this car specifically because it was in flawless original condition and was owned by a wealthy older man who maintained it well, but rarely drove it. It had spent much time in indoor storage.
He provided all service records which showed few problems had occurred, as noted above, but had serviced it regularly.
The engine performs very well, with ample acceleration. Its smooth, quiet and very responsive. Passing is effortless and makes for nimble performance for what it otherwise a big and heavy car.
The transmission is only a 4 speed, but the broad power band and great engine torque compensate for the lack of a 5 speed auto, like in so many of todays cars. Downshifts are quick and positive.
The ride is good for a Caddy. It is surprisingly firm, but still absorbs bumps and provides a smooth, but slightly 'floaty' ride. The rear shocks are a bit worn and do not quite have enough rebound damping. It bounces slightly over big bumps, especially with a heavy load in the car.
The steering is surprisingly light, at low speeds, but firms up on the highway. I think this is due to the 'Magnasteer' system. Still, the steering is a bit too light and numb, with less road feel than in other big cars (ie, BMW) It does make for easy low speed manovering and parking, though.
Steering motions at speed create a slight initial body roll. I suspect the sway bar bushings are too soft. Aftermarket firmer bushings would help. However, once this initial roll is done, the car does not roll much more, even in hard cornering. It understeers a bit in fast corners, but is predictable.
Brakes have a slightly squishy pedal, but work well.
The interior is good, with decent visiblility and big windows. Unlike newer cars, the roof line is high with great headroom, and the beltline is low, so the view is great.
The seats are pleasantly firm, (unlike traditional Caddys) but are a bit too flat and unsupportive for my taste. The driving position is excellent. Unlike many of todays cars, the steering wheel is NOT too far away. It's in my lap; I do not have to reach for it.
The trunk is big, with a low liftover height. However, the trunk floor could have been lower, for more room. Underneath the back of the car there is a big empty space. The trunk floor could have been dropped to take advantage of this space.
The car is completely squeak and rattle free and very quiet. It feels very rigid and solid, with no vibration.
I like the way this car is stuffed full of really modern features, that are common in todays cars, but were rare in '97, like stability control (Concours model), rain sensing wipers, side air bags. Also, there are lots of luxury features that are nice.
The factory stereo is exceptional. It sounds really good and has factory CD stack, subs and a big power amp in the back. It sounds better than most other car stereos, including all the brand name types.
I know these cars are notorious for what is really just a small handful of problems. I know about the oil burning and head gasket issues of the Northstar engine. I know the electronics and options may be troublesome in the future. However, I looked around for 3 months to find the best Caddy in this price range that I could ($7000 Canadian) to help reduce the likelihood of trouble.
So far, so good. The huge depreciation this car had, compared to the price of a new one can cover some repairs.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 3rd April, 2007
4th Apr 2007, 06:46
7th May 2009, 19:40
Another update... I replaced the front struts (AC Delco) and the handling is magnificent. It really firmed-up the front end and eliminated the slight floaty/floppy feel. Terrific improvement.
Easy do it yourself job, too, although an alignment is required.
I found the struts at rockauto.com. Avoid the dealer and GM parts stores, they wanted 50% more than what I paid on mail order.
3rd Feb 2010, 20:24
To a previous comment... I also have a problem with the driver door window switch operating the rear driver side door window. 1997 Deville with 76000 miles. Otherwise runs real nice.
23rd Mar 2010, 22:08
I just bought my first Deville '97. I have always wanted a caddy and it feels great!
4th May 2014, 11:41
This is my car in this review. Here's an update, seven years later.
At 200,000 km the head gasket started leaking exhaust into the cooling system. This is the failure these engines are notorious for, since the head bolt threads have failed and must be replaced.
It's a complicated and expensive repair requiring special parts and tools. The engine must be removed from the car and disassembled for this. My mechanic wants about $4000 for this. I am an amateur mechanic and have done work of similar complexity in the past, so I'll fix it myself when I have the time.
So for now, it's parked and I am driving something else. It's too bad because the rest of the car has been running flawlessly, zero problems. It's held up very well and still looks spectacular for a 17 year old car.