More stories related to Chicago Auto Show CHICAGO – Big city, big convention center, big car.

In the U.S.’s third most populous city, inside the nation’s largest convention center, General Motors Corp. debuts the ’06 Cadillac DTS, which replaces the DeVille large car.

The luxury sedan, unveiled at the Chicago auto show here, follows Cadillac’s alpha naming strategy established by the CTS in 2002.

The DTS remains on the DeVille’s front-wheel-drive platform – Chrysler Group has scored a major hit by switching its large sedans to rear-wheel drive – but undergoes numerous upgrades, including adoption of Cadillac’s diamond-cut exterior styling.

The front-end sheet metal, egg-crate grille, V-shaped hood and vertical headlamps are new, as well as the decklid, rear quarter, rear fascia and light emitting diode (LED) taillamps.

’06 Cadillac DTS

While its aging customer base will not drive marketers into a demographic frenzy as the Cadillac CTS lower luxury sedan and Escalade SUV have done, the DeVille is Cadillac’s top seller, with deliveries increasing 16.9% to 68,195 in 2004 vs 2003. It also consistently outsells the Lincoln Town Car, BMW 5-Series and Mercedes E-Class.

So the stakes are high for the DTS.

Interior refinements include optional real burl-wood garnish, a lowered and more forward-positioned instrument panel, new analog clock, cast-urethane surfaces on the instrument panel and upper doors and an integrated center stack design.

Underneath the hood is GM’s Northstar 4.6L V-8 engine mated to a 4-speed automatic transmission. The powerplant engine is available in two configurations: the 290-hp L37 and the 275-hp LD8 (horsepower ratings are estimated).

The L37 version is a responsive, higher revving powerplant with more peak horsepower and a higher redline (6,700 rpm vs. 6,500 rpm), GM says. The LD8 puts more emphasis on quick launch and part-throttle response with greater peak torque.

Chassis-control technologies include 4-channel antilock brakes and traction control, 4-channel StabiliTrak with Brake Assist, and Magnetic Ride Control. The DTS also employs larger 17- or 18-in. wheels and tires, as well as larger brakes for enhanced stopping power.

The DTS is loaded with safety and convenience offerings, such as personalized Adaptive Remote Start; front and rear ultrasonic park assist; heated steering wheel; IntelliBeam automatic high-beam headlamps; a passenger occupant detection airbag suppression system; and personalized adaptive cruise control with audible and visual alerts.

Six airbags are standard, including what GM says is an industry-first dual-depth front passenger airbag. The GM-patented technology deploys either a shallow (smaller) or deep (larger) airbag, depending upon the severity of the crash, seat belt usage, and occupant seating position. (See related story: GM Debuts Airbag Technology)

LINK to GM Debuts Airbag Technology (to be posted same day)

The DTS will be manufactured at GM’s Hamtramck, MI, assembly plant and is expected to arrive in Cadillac showrooms in the fall.

In addition to the U.S. and Canada, the DTS will be exported for sale in Mexico, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Pricing will be announced closer to the launch.

bcorbett@primediabusiness.com