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The 2009 Cadillac STS-V is a Cadillac, and that should say it all, but does it?

Pushed by a 469 horsepower supercharged dual overhead cam 4.4 liter V8, the STS-V is lighting fast. Yet it's nowhere near the fastest car in its class, a distinction held by the Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG. The STS-V uses a six speed automatic transmission with "manual shift" capability, but no true manual transmission is available. That's surprising for a high performance car.

The exterior appointments and the mostly leather and wood interior give the single trim model of the STS-V the high quality feel that you expect from a Cadillac, but again there are disappointments. Perhaps the best looking car in its class, the front seat ride is fine and the handling is everything you would expect from a Cadillac sports sedan. However, the back seat is a bit cramped. While the trunk is large enough, the trunk opening is not.

Of course, like any Cadillac, the STS-V comes standard with lots of amenities. Those not standard can be ordered. Some of the more exotic include a heated steering wheel, a voice recognition navigation system, heated windshield washer nozzles, headlight washers, Bose sound system and heated back seats. In short, it has the kind of touches which make a Cadillac, a Cadillac. And it rides like a Cadillac should, and that includes keeping the noise to a minimum.

With a car of this type you expect top-notch safety features, and again Cadillac delivers. In addition to the excellent features of the STS, generally, such as On Star, rear obstacle detection, wiper activated headlights, brake assist, anti-skid and airbags every where, the STS-V has uprated brakes, blind-spot alert and lane-departure warning.

You don't buy a Cadillac with an eye on your wallet, but with a starting price of $79,465 the STS-V is among the least expensive machines in its class. The fact that it requires premium fuel doesn't change that, since the rest of this class requires the same. The rated mpg of 13 city and 19 highway is also par for a luxury sports car.

The bottom line is that the 2009 Cadillac STS-V is a car damned by faint praise. A truly fine car, it still falls short of the Cadillac tradition in several ways. The best thing you can say is that it is possibly the best car in its class for the money. Still, Cadillac quality shouldn't be qualified by price. If you're looking for a Cadillac, you'll love it. If you're looking for a top of the line sports sedan, maybe it shouldn't be the only place you look.

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