In the wake of the energy crisis of the 1970s, bigger was no longer better in terms of American cars. Import brands had risen to the occasion by providing cars that offered luxury in more compact, fuel-efficient packages. Cadillac, long known for its opulent land barges, sensed that a change was in the air, and in 1975, it launched the Cadillac Seville. Marketed as Cadillac's first "internationally sized" vehicle, the Seville was both the automaker's smallest and most expensive sedan.
Though the Seville name first appeared in the late 1950s to denote the coupe version of the Eldorado, it was this smaller Seville that proved to be one of Cadillac's most popular and enduring vehicles.
Over the years, the Cadillac Seville underwent many changes and five generations. Sales numbers dipped in the 1980s due to Cadillac's clumsy foray into the world of diesel engines and assorted quality problems. The Seville made a comeback with its fourth generation in the early '90s. The car was lauded by automotive journalists and consumers alike, and sales figures reflected this enthusiasm. However, like its predecessor, this Seville was ultimately dogged by disappointing build quality.
The curtain closed on the Seville in 2004 when Cadillac replaced it with the STS. As a used luxury sedan, the most recent Seville boasts a strong V8 engine and is well suited for long-distance driving. However, given the car's questionable reliability, one might want to check out the competition before deciding on the Seville.
Most recent Cadillac Seville
Built between 1998 and 2004, the final-generation Cadillac Seville boasted an impressive list of assets. Its engine was potent and smooth, its ride was comfortable and luxury took top billing thanks to its lengthy list of standard features. The Seville also shone in the safety department, with outstanding crash test scores.
Sevilles in this generation came in two trims. Base SLS models offered amenities like full power accessories, leather upholstery, keyless entry, auxiliary steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, dual-zone climate control and a CD player. STS models added features like an upgraded Bose sound system, rain-sensing windshield wipers, foglights and a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel. Both versions also came with stability control and Cadillac's Continuously Variable Road-Sensing Suspension (CVRSS) feature that automatically adjusted the firmness of the dampers to suit road conditions.
A navigation system and rear parking assist became available on all Sevilles in 2000. Minor upgrades were made for 2001, and in 2002 satellite radio became available on all Sevilles, as did a more advanced navigation system with voice recognition and an upgraded Bose audio system. The following year, Cadillac updated the CVRSS and added 17-inch chrome wheels to the STS. For 2004, its final year on the market, the Seville was available only in the base SLS trim.
Cadillac Seville SLS models were powered by a "Northstar" 4.6-liter V8 good for 275 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque. The Seville STS was motivated by a slightly more powerful version of that engine capable of 300 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. Both engines saw some upgrades in 2000, including quieter operation and improved fuel economy. All models came with a four-speed automatic transmission.
Though enjoyable to drive long distances and packed with features, the Seville had a front-drive layout that did it no favors when it came time for handling potential and sporting image. It also suffered from subpar build quality and reliability. At the time, we wrote that traditional Cadillac buyers will find the Seville comfortable and modern, but traditional European car buyers would deem it too soft and unrefined. Those who prefer a more athletic feel to their sedans will likely find European competitors more to their liking.
Past Cadillac Sevilles
The fourth-generation Seville was built from 1992-'97. Like its successor, it was offered in two trims: base and STS. Standard features on base models included climate control, full power features and an AM/FM/cassette audio system. The STS added goodies like a premium sound system and leather upholstery. Options included heated seats, a power moonroof and a CD player.
This generation underwent a few engine changes over the years. A 4.9-liter V8 good for 200 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque was offered on base models in 1992 and 1993; in 1994, power got a boost, thanks to a new 4.6-liter Northstar V8 offering 270 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque. Base Sevilles saw another power boost in 1995, when output rose to 275 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque. In 1992, SLS models offered the same 4.9-liter as base models; the following year, they were given a Northstar V8 offering 295 hp and 290 lb-ft of torque. For 1994, STS Sevilles saw a power increase to 300 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque.
Other changes were made as well. Both trims got new suspensions in 1993, and ABS and speed-sensitive steering joined the standard features list. The following year, the base model was renamed the SLS and remote keyless entry was added to the standard features list. In 1996, changes included new seats and seat trim, and new sound systems; STS models also got an upgraded instrument panel, rain-sensing wipers, and upgraded suspension and steering. In this generation's final year, STS models gained a new stability enhancement feature and SLS versions got upgraded steering. All 1997 Sevilles benefited from refinements made to the car's body structure, suspension, brake system and interior.
The Seville's third generation was built from 1986-'91. These downsized Sevilles were offered in base and STS trims. The final year of this generation was best, as the 1991 models were powered by a 4.9-liter V8 good for 200 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque. Standard features included full power accessories, automatic climate control and an AM/FM/cassette audio system.
For more information on older Cadillac Sevilles, go to our Cadillac STS history page.