2012 Cadillac CTS Expert Review:Autoblog
Cadillac introduced the CTS to the world in 2003, and since then the standard sedan and its V variant have been completely reworked, while the Art and Science design language have carried over to a pair new body styles: the CTS Coupe and CTS Sport Wagon. While the wagon adds an excellent dose of utility, the 2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe represents the purest expression of Art and Science to date.
The Coupe's design is further proof that math is beautiful, with enough hard edges and creased angles coming together to make Euclid proud. Step back and the entire shape creates an elegant solution to a complex equation. Solve for X and you get one of the strongest styling statements from Cadillac in nearly 50 years.
But is Art and Science enough to compete with the tried and true champs of the luxury sports coupe segment? Class is in session, so open your Trapper Keepers, grab a pencil and pay attention.
Photos copyright ©2010 Zach Bowman / AOL
In our First Drive of the CTS-V Coupe, we called it "angular, unhinged glory." The high-performance version is demonically handsome for sure, but the non-V Coupe takes a less sinful approach. The overall sense of aggression is still clearly evident in the design, but this two-door is much more muted. It's hardly soft, but the standard CTS Coupe simply isn't as its supercharged sibling.
While the anger has dissipated, the Coupe's crisp exterior elements still form some very hard edges. Tight angles, vast open plains and a handful of parallel and perpendicular lines all contribute to the sexy wedge shape. It all starts with a single point below the front fascia's bottom grille which creates an acute triangle that reaches back towards its shortest segment. The irregularly shaped pentagonal headlamps set the width as you slip past the 19-inch alloy wheels with seven bifurcated spokes, across the vast expanse of doors and terminate just aft of the flared fenders that conceal the wide rear track.
The reason your eyes keep moving towards the tail is that the design demands it. The CTS Coupe ditches traditional door handles in favor of hidden C6 Corvette-style buttons, so your gaze just slides uninterrupted along the doors on its way towards the rear. There you'll find gorgeous dual, center-mounted exhaust outlets that anchor a tall vertical line cutting the rear in two. The result is a raised rear end that seems to have the car leaning forward in anticipation.
At first glance the cabin appears to be a mix of luxurious and sporty touches, but the materials say otherwise. The dash is covered in leather, but feels hard as a rock thanks to little or no padding beneath the surface. The plastic ashtray and cupholder covers feel like they'll snap off in 15,000 miles, while the center stack is surrounded by metallic-colored plastic and fitted with buttons that are hard to read with anything less than a stalker's stare.
Perhaps these are minor issues, especially for a luxury sport coupe that starts at a base price of $38,165. However, our tester is anything but base. The $51,030 Premium Collection version, which adds high-intensity discharge headlamps, 10-way power adjustable heated-and-cooled leather front seats, an upgraded Bose sound system, Bluetooth, interior ambient lighting, a heated steering wheel and a glide-up touchscreen navigation system with rear-view camera display are all welcome features. The downside is a base price that swells from a palatable $38,165 to a harder-to-stomach $47,010. Throw in the 19-inch Summer Tire Performance package (which includes the larger wheels, sportier tires, steering-wheel mounted shift controls, and upgraded brakes) for $2,090, a useless $110 dealer-installed Underhood Appearance Package and then tackplus destination charges, and the cost of the CTS Coupe crests the $50k mark. This $13,000 price hike should give you enough in return that you're pleased to have splurged for the best CTS Coupe that money can be, but instead you'll feel like your pockets just got turned inside-out by a casino's best blackjack dealer.
The interior falls short of true luxury car excellence, but it's not all bad news inside the CTS Coupe. Supportive without the bouncer's grip of the optional Recaro seats in the CTS-V models, the front seats pick up the luxury slack. On the flip side, the rear seats should be used only for carrying small items or transporting legless friends. This is a two-door sport coupe though, so complaining about a lack of room in the back is like ripping on a minivan for too much body roll; that's not what it's made for.
The view out the windshield is clean and unobstructed thanks to the massive slab of glass, and while we expected the view to the sides to be as minimalist as the Chevrolet Camaro, the Cadillac somehow managed to trick our senses. We only had visibility issues when trying to see what's going on over our shoulders as those massive C-pillars are the auto equivalent of horse blinders, so an extra dose of attention is required for changing lanes. Visibility is equally distressing for what's directly behind, but Cadillac offers a rear-view camera, making reverse operations an effortless endeavor.
That large, center-mounted display is a touchsceen sitting atop the center stack and is usually used for navigation and interfacing with the infotainment system. It displays basic information related to the audio system when lowered into the dash, but will rise up and show the whole screen when more functions are required. Keeping the big screen out of view when it's not needed is a worthwhile feature, but it will automatically deploy when shifting into reverse to display the back-up camera's view.
Motivation is provided by a 3.6-liter V6 with direct-injection, producing 304 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 273 pound-feet of torque at 5,200 rpm. Although an all-wheel drive version is available, the power on our tester was sent to the rear wheels, and according to Caddy, pushes the coupe from a standstill to 60 miles per hour in 5.8 seconds. Moving forward is only half the fun, as the exhaust note grumbles with authority but doesn't come off as overtly loud, and the six-speed automatic shifts smoothly on its own, while a pair of buttons mounted on the back of the steering wheel allows things to be manually – if oddly – manipulated.
The suspension is surprisingly stiff, allowing us to feel every imperfection in the Southern California asphalt, but take solace in the fact that occasional bumps won't send it scurrying towards the bike lane or center line. Steering was equally tight and the combination of the two results in a rewarding drive on roads that would make MC Escher swoon. Add in the 19-inch alloy wheels wearing Continental high-performance tires, 245-45 front and 275-40 rear, and we have a coupe that could be a contender on Dancing with the Stars. Point the CTS where you want to go and it will take direction while providing a fair amount of feedback along the way – important to remember when flogging something just shy of two tons.
Unfortunately, we wish braking performance was equally responsive. While the upgraded front and rear rotors included in the Performance Brake package haul things down quickly enough, the connection between pedal application and braking action is incommunicado for the first inch or so of pedal travel. Keep stepping and the anchor will soon be thrown out with enough force to emboss the seatbelt's pattern into your shirt. It was disarming at first, but our foot muscles eventually got used to it.
The exterior styling certainly helps the CTS Coupe stand out against a sea of Mercedes-Benz E350 coupes, Audi A5s and BMW 335i coupes. American Art and Science is clearly the aggressor in a war against the Teutonic two-doors, yet the Germans have the edge when it comes to cabin quality. The Cadillac is comfortable, but its materials don't stand up to the Benz, Bimmer or Audi. However, it does offer the most powerful engine of the group, the best powertrain warranty (5 years/100,000 miles) and an exterior design that would have its three classmates giving up their gas money.
A shockingly artful exterior matched with a comfortable interior and an engaging driving experience equals a compelling case for the 2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe. Graded on a curve, it's a luxury sports coupe that gets the sporty right but falls short on the lux. Despite this, Cadillac has earned a Masters degree in both Art and Science with this latest application of the CTS equation, but now it's time to go back and take a few interior design classes.
Photos copyright ©2010 Zach Bowman / AOL
There was a time when General Motors was a design leader. Before the Aztek, before the Catera, before the Sunfire and before the Citation, GM was synonymous with bold, strong, emotional automotive design. The General was so good at it that in the 1950s it was able to flood dealerships and stress factories just by tweaking a given model's sheetmetal a few shades. Imagine anyone caring about a new rear end on a 2011 Chevy Malibu. Yet the revised bodywork of the 1956 Bel Air was a major cultural phenomenon.
The name Harley Earl – the legendary head of GM design from 1927 until 1958 – still strikes reverence into the hearts of many. One glance at his famed Buick Y-Job, a 1949 Cadillac or the original Corvette is enough to see why. Earl's parting shot was the 1959 Cadillac Eldorado – the one with the tail fins that could nearly touch the moon. Then you have Earl's successor, Bill Mitchell, the man responsible for the third generation Corvette, the 1966 Toronado and the magnificent boattail Buick Riviera.
For a variety of reasons, in the 1970s General Motors and striking design parted ways. GM's styling wandered through the desert, swapping glitz, purpose and chrome for tighter profit margins, increased badge engineering and a large patina of plain ol' dull. All you need to do is take a gander at the third-generation B-bodies to see how far GM went in the wrong direction. Let's not even mention cladding.
For the last decade or so there have been signs of hope. Vehicles like the Chevrolet SSR, Pontiac Solstice, C6 Corvette and the new Camaro were proof that GM and great design are on the road to reconciliation. As a division, Cadillac has made the biggest strides with their Art and Science design motif, showing great signs of life. The front end of the second generation CTS is fantastic. From a pure design point of view, and with the possible exception of the now dead Pontiac Solstice, no General Motors design has been world class since Mitchell retired in 1977.
That changes now. Meet the 2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe.
Photos by Damon Lavrinc / Copyright ©2010 Weblogs, Inc.
It's difficult to describe just how striking the CTS Coupe is in the flesh. Fresh, crisp, bold, sexy, smart, savvy and even – to quote Cadillac – audacious. We hate to swallow marketing pabulum of any sort, but in this situation, with this car, the descriptor "audacious" rings absolutely true. What other word could we use to explain the dramatic, emotional and complex combination of lines, angles and curves that make up this new Cadillac? "Brave" perhaps, but regardless of the adjective, the CTS Coupe is a shot across the design world's bow.
The CTS Coupe is not simply a two-door version of the four-door CTS. Instead, Cadillac opted to shorten the car by two inches, widen the rear track by two inches and chop the roof by two inches. Naturally, if you take away two inches of height you have to give it back somewhere else, right? Cadillac says that's not really so, noting that it was able to simply lower the CTS Coupe's seats by nearly two inches making no one the wiser. Caddy also raked the Coupe's windshield back, producing a much racier profile than either the CTS sedan or Sport Wagon. They also yanked the door handles off, instead favoring two pushbutton Corvette-style openers hidden in the doors' metal. When the decision was made to, "Build the concept car," that entailed keeping the dual center-mounted tail pipes where they were. We freely admit that they look quite good, however be prepared to burn the front of your calves when getting groceries out of the trunk.
The most audacious (there's that word again) aspect of the Coupe's design is its rear end. It looks like nothing else on the road. At once muscular yet avant-garde, the straight-on and rear three-quarter view of the CTS Coupe's haunches is mesmerizing. We found ourselves muttering, "That's a good looking car," every time we stopped and looked. From its vertical, LED-filled taillights to the third brake light that's angled up enough to double as a downforce-generating spoiler to more points than a star fish, the CTS Coupe is Tertris meets tangrams meets sophisticated industrial design. It all works fabulously; the Coupe is an aspirational shape, one that simultaneously signifies a suddenly reborn brand. Once again and for the first time in a while, we're talking world-class.
The Coupe's interior is a different chapter from an older book. While there's no question that the second generation CTS' innards are a large step in the right direction, you won't find yourself thinking "The Standard of the World" while sitting in the captain's chair. The wood is nice, and there's leather trim here and there, but there is also a whole mess of fake leather and real plastic. Competitive with Lexus or the Hyundai Genesis, sure, but in no way does the Coupe's interior approach the luxury level of recent, resurgent Mercedes-Benz. And thirty-seconds spent in the new Porsche Panamera will leave you shaking your head in terms of Cadillac's take on luxury.
The wood-capped steering wheel is thick and fully adjustable, and is now heated, but for an exterior design of such sporting pretensions, it still errs on the side of your Uncle Al's Caddy. Cadillac has seen fit to include shift-buttons on the back of the helm (left for down, right for up), but serious drivers will prefer actual paddles. That said, it's a step in the right direction, especially as the CTS' gear-shift manual mode is activated by flopping the lever over to the right, into the passenger's knee space. Curiously, the new SRX's shifter flops to the left, towards the driver. As for the rear seats, they are on par with the space provided by Benz's E-Coupe or the Audi A5, though ingress and egress can be a bit of a squeeze. Really, no worse than the competition, though the front seats in the Mercedes do automatically slide when the seatback is flipped forward.
Then there's the matter of the slide up navigation screen. A nifty trick, but like similar moving parts in the new crop of Jaguars, we're left anxious in anticipation of the day when those little electric motors stop working. However, unlike the Jaguar's gearshift puck and air vents, the CTS Coupe will still be drivable when the nav-screen refuses to rise. When it's up, the display's quality is (again) not nearly up to snuff with what the competition is selling. Actually, forget other luxury cars, a Sync with Sirius Travel Link-equipped Ford Focus features a screen that's roughly five times better. To their credit, the Cadillac folks acknowledged that the interior isn't world class – yet. They suggested several times that we should wait 18 months before issuing final judgment, whatever that means.
On the road, everything that's good about the four-door CTS is amplified in the coupe. You're lower to the road, the wider rear-track and sticky 19-inch summer tires provide gooey gobs of grip and the view out over the hood is definitely sporting. The only available Coupe engine is the more potent 304 horsepower, 274 pound-feet of torque 3.6-liter V6, as opposed to the sedan which can also be had with a less powerful 3.0-liter V6. Well, we shouldn't say "only available" as the full-mental patient 556-hp supercharged LSA motor will be available in the CTS-V Coupe when both models go on sale later this summer. However, Cadillac chooses to view the V Coupe as a separate model, and for the purposes of this review, so shall we.
The direct-injection 3.6-liter V6 provides adequate if not good forward thrust, though introducing a new model into such a hyper-competitive segment and not being the most potent in class can be viewed as a bit of a head-scratcher. For instance, the Coupe is more powerful than the E350 Coupe and Audi A5, but is nearly thirty ponies down on the Infiniti G37 Coupe. Likewise, both the Merc and the Audi can be had with more powerful mills – the E550 Coupe and S5, respectively. We asked Cadillac if they planned to offer a CTS Coupe with the 6.2-liter LS3, with its 425 or so ponies and 420+ lb-ft of torque (depending on tune) or even the (slightly) less potent L99 6.2-liter V8. Our thinking being that a butt-kicking V8 would endow the CTS Coupe with performance worthy of its looks while smothering the competition without breaking the bank like the CTS-V is sure to do. For their part, Cadillac said "no," but we observed more than one suspicious smirk while they were answering. Either way, more power would do the Coupe wonders.
For the launch, Cadillac only had automatic-equipped Coupes on hand. A pity, sure, but we should point out that there's a less than thirty-pound weight penalty should you opt for the slushbox version (the manual Coupe weighs about 3,900 pounds, the automatic about 3,930, while the all-wheel drive Coupe, which is automatic-only, tips the scales at a hefty 4,100 pounds). The six-speed cogswapper performs quite well in both low-speed traffic situations and on back roads, where a heavy right-foot will convince the transmission to hold a gear until near redline. The wheel-mounted button-shifters work fine, and for the first time in a Cadillac, you don't need to move the gearshift into manual for the buttons to work. A very handy feature. If you do select a gear while in auto, the transmission moves in manual-mode for about ten seconds before reverting back to full-auto. The shifts, however, are on the slow side, and as far as we can ascertain, no dual-clutch transmission is in the immediate future.
As mentioned, the grip is copious if not prolific, in part due to the well sorted chassis and wider rear-track, though mostly, we suspect, because of the super-sticky Continental summer tires (245/19/40 front, 275/19/35 rear). For such a heavy two-door, the Cadillac is able to admirably change direction. At least as well as the G37, Audi A5 and E-Coupe, though its moves are not nearly as graceful and athletic as the thoroughbred BMW 3 Series. This is still good news, and a touch surprising when you compare the Coupe to the same-engined, similarly hefty Chevy Camaro. Again, this points to the inherent sportiness of the CTS' Nürburgring-tuned chassis. Remember, too, that come 2015, both the CTS and the Camaro is expected to ride on GM's new Alpha chassis, along with the upcoming Cadillac ATS, a dedicated 3 Series fighter.
The Coupe's ride isn't quite up to its handling. Cadillac has decided to go with floaty as opposed to tight and tied down. That makes the CTS Coupe something of a handful when the going gets really twisty. In fact, Cadillac made a point of offering us motion sickness hand wraps that they had procured after the previous day's drive. In fairness, we were turned loose on some rather excellent roads in California's Napa, Sonoma and Lake counties that would surely upset several stomachs no matter what car we were driving. We didn't get sick, nor did our passenger, but we found ourselves begging for firmer dampers and less bounce. Unlike the upcoming CTS-V Coupe, the regular flavor Coupe isn't available with GM's excellent MagneRide suspension, which is a shame.
At the end of the day, however, ride and handling, acceleration and even the interior aren't the point of the CTS Coupe. Style is, and in that regard Cadillac has grand-slammed it. Take a look at the competition. All of the previously mentioned Germans and Japanese two-doors simply can't hold a candle to the Coupe's glorious lines. The shape and the shape alone is what will attract buyers. And really, by taking the bold way out and "building the concept car," Cadillac has accomplished something we think is really, truly special. With the already gorgeous front end of the CTS coupled to the sculpted, athletic profile and sleek, groundbreaking rear, the Coupe is a powerful statement. Announcing that not only is GM on the road to recovery, but that Cadillac is once again ready to compete with the world's best.
Photos by Damon Lavrinc / Copyright ©2010 Weblogs, Inc.
New Car Test Drive
Sport Wagon joins lineup of sports sedans and coupes.New coupe joins CTS sedan and sport wagon.
The Cadillac CTS is loaded with style, performance and technology, and it delivers the essential attributes of a true sports sedan. It's as refined as its import-brand competitors, and easier to live with than some. Simply stated, the CTS is a very enjoyable car.
For 2011, Cadillac CTS is available in two new body styles: a two-door CTS coupe and a CTS Sport Wagon. (The CTS Coupe is reviewed separately by New Car Test Drive.) This is in addition to the four-door sedan.
The CTS Sport Wagon, introduced in late 2010, is available in CTS and high-performance CTS-V trim, and the CTS-V Sport Wagon is a 556-horsepower family hauler that goes toe-to-toe with the hyper-tuned luxury cars from BMW's M division and Mercedes-Benz AMG.
The CTS offers something for a wide range of automotive needs with three engine options, manual and automatic transmissions, four different suspension and tire/wheel combos and optional all-wheel-drive in three different body styles.
By price, the Cadillac CTS line compares with compact-sized luxury competitors such as the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class. By size and function, however, the CTS is closer to midsize competitors such as the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes E-Class, and Audi A6. The base CTS sedan is a great value at about $36,000.
The CTS uses rear-wheel drive, the baseline for a true sports sedan. The standard 3.0-liter V6 generates 274 horsepower and revs freely, complementing the available 6-speed manual transmission. The upgrade 3.6-liter V6 increases output to 304 hp, with substantially more torque, and it's rated at the same 27 mpg Highway as the smaller V6. The larger V6 works great with the optional 6-speed automatic, which is one of the best in this class. Both engines feature the latest technology, with variable valve timing and high-pressure direct fuel injection for the current optimum in power, fuel economy, and low emissions.
All-wheel drive is available, and it's a valuable addition in the Snowbelt. The AWD system uses an active transfer case that normally sends 40 percent of the power to the front wheels, 60 percent to the rear, maintaining a more rear-wheel-drive feel. But in slippery conditions the system can apply all of the torque to either axle, maximizing the CTS's ability to find traction.
The CTS and CTS-V feature sophisticated suspension systems developed, among other places, at the famous Nurburgring race track in Germany. Even the standard suspension delivers a good balance of handling response and ride comfort. The ride is always comfortable, but always well damped and never mushy. Steering is as fluid, as accurate and as nicely weighted as that in any sedan in the world. The CTS feels solidly put together, and it's quiet underway. The cabin is attractive, comfortable and space efficient, and everything is easy to operate. The Bose 5.1 Cabin Surround audio upgrade sounds fantabulous.
The Cadillac CTS-V has a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 that makes 556 horsepower and 551 pound-feet of torque, offered only with rear drive. It's one fast car. Cadillac reports a top speed of 179 mph, and when we tested the CTS-V at sinewy Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California, its lap times were nearly as quick as the NASCAR Sprint Cup racecars that compete there. Then we drove it away, coddled in quiet civility and superb audio. The V series is tip of the CTS line-up, starting just under $63,000. Still, a buyer can find a CTS sedan with the upgrade V6, essential luxury features, the audio upgrade and navigation for less than $45,000, maintenance included for 50,000 miles. It's a luxury-class value that's hard to overlook. A new Cadillac CTS Coupe has joined a growing family of CTS-branded vehicles. The family started with the CTS four-door sedan in 2003, based on a new rear-wheel-drive platform, a major change for a division that had been heavily front-wheel-drive for many years. Then Cadillac added the high-performance CTS-V, using a variant of the Chevrolet Corvette V8 engine and a manual transmission, and then added the slick CTS sport wagon. Now the CTS family includes a radically edgy coupe. Cadillac's last coupe, the Eldorado, went out of production in 2002.
The powertrain chosen for the CTS Coupe is a 3.6-liter V6 engine with four valves per cylinder, variable valve timing, and direct fuel injection, about as modern as any other V6 engine on the planet, and it is capable of producing a whopping 1.4 horsepower per cubic inch at engine speeds approaching 7000 rpm, or 304 horsepower from only 217 cubic inches, on regular fuel. For reference, the old 500 cubic-inch Cadillac V8 made 400 horsepower, or 0.8 horsepower per cubic inch, and generated unspeakably bad fuel economy, whereas the new engine can reach 27 mpg on the highway easily. Even in a car that weighs more than 4000 pounds with two people in it, the V6 pulls very strongly at full-throttle and sounds muscular and powerful while doing it, which some other V6 engines in this class do not.
The CTS Coupe is available with all-wheel drive.
The CTS Coupe offers a six-speed automatic transmission. It's also available with an Aisin six-speed manual transmission, which comes with summer performance tires and rear-wheel drive. The Summer Tire Performance Package is also available with the automatic transmission equipped with paddle shifters.
What started out as a purely provocative concept vehicle under former GM product czar Bob Lutz got such a strong response that GM decided to build the CTS Coupe as a regular production vehicle to compete with the new rash of luxury coupes from the German and Japanese luxury brands. The sheetmetal, decoration and dimensions of the production coupe are all nearly identical to the concept vehicle, and it is one angular and angry-looking beast.
Inside, the CTS Coupe mimics all the other cars in the family with a rich mix of chrome, wood, leather, and in-car electronics and entertainment systems that are on par with any other vehicle in this relatively small class, with navigation, AM/FM/XM/CD/MP3 audio, OnStar, Stablitrak chassis control, and a comprehensive information display.
The CTS Coupe competes with the Mercedes-Benz E-Class coupe, BMW 335i coupe, Audi A5, Lexus IS 350 C, and Infiniti G37 coupe.
The CTS-V Coupe boasts a 556-hp, 6.2-liter supercharged V8, upgraded suspension, larger high-performance tires and alloy wheels, huge Brembo brakes, and GM's Magnetic Ride Control shock absorbers, for what Cadillac claims is the world's fastest sedan.
The 2011 Cadillac CTS sedan and Sport Wagon offer two V6 engines or a supercharged V8, with either a 6-speed manual or automatic transmission. All-wheel drive ($1,900) is available with the V6 engines on both body styles, though it requires the 6-speed automatic ($1,300).
The CTS 3.0 sedan ($35,165) and wagon ($38,265) are powered by a 3.0-liter direct-injection V6 that delivers 273 horsepower and 223 pound-feet of torque. The 6-speed manual comes standard, with 17-inch alloy wheels. The wagon increases cargo capacity to 53.4 cubic feet. Standard features include leather seating, dual-zone automatic climate control, eight-speaker Bose audio with CD, satellite radio and auxiliary inputs, programmable central locking, a power driver's seat and OnStar with turn-by-turn navigation. Options include navigation system with audio upgrade ($3,145). The Luxury Package ($3,055) adds a 6CD changer, heated 10-way power driver and front passenger seats with memory, Sapele wood trim and a wood-leather steering wheel, rearview camera, Bluetooth connectivity, accent lighting and a cargo convenience net. The Performance Package ($4,600) includes the Luxury Package, plus foglamps, HID headlamps, a limited-slip differential, V-rated 18-inch tires and sports suspension.
The CTS 3.6 sedan ($41,565) and 3.6 wagon ($43,365) get a larger 3.6-liter V6, increasing output to 304 hp and 273 pound-feet of torque. The CTS 3.6 models offer either the manual or automatic transmission for the price, and come standard with 18-inch wheels. The Premium Package ($6,055) includes navigation system with Bose 5.1 Cabin Surround Sound, 10 speakers, a programmable hard-drive and XM NavTraffic/Real Time Weather, as well as cabin air filtration, heated and ventilated seats, Keyless Access proximity key, remote start, rear park assist, power tilt and telescope steering and a power sunroof. The Performance Package with manual transmission ($1,840) or automatic ($2,090) includes performance suspension, limited-slip differential, performance brakes, 19-inch polished wheels, performance tires, steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters (with the automatic transmission), fog lights and HID headlights.
Options include Recaro sport seats ($2,800), sunroof ($1,150) and many other features.
The CTS-V ($62,165) models are powered by a supercharged 6.2-liter V8, essentially the same as the engine in the Corvette ZR-1 sports car, delivering 556 hp and 551 pound-feet of torque. A suite of technical and performance enhancements complement the engine, including Magnetic Ride Control variable suspension, extra-large Brembo brakes and Michelin Pilot Sport Z-rated tires on 19-inch forged aluminum wheels. Distinctive details, such as a wire mesh grille and interior badging, separate the CTS-V from the V6-powered models.
Safety features standard on all CTS models include dual-stage front airbags, front passenger side-impact airbags, full cabin head-protection curtains with roll-over deployment and active head restraints for front occupants. Active safety features that come standard include advanced ABS, traction control, Stabilitrak electronic stability control and OnStar automatic crash response. Rear park assist and a rearview camera are available on all CTS models (with navigation), which can help the driver spot children and objects behind the car when backing up. Optional all-wheel drive improves safety in slippery conditions. The Cadillac CTS Coupe ($38,165) comes with leather seating surfaces, dual-zone climate control, OnStar with navigation, directions and connections, 18-inch alloy wheels and P235/50VR18 tires, remote starting, keyless operation, AM/FM/XM/CD/MP3 eight-speaker Bose audio, power seats, mirrors and locks. The CTS Coupe AWD ($40,065) adds all-wheel drive.
The Performance Connection ($42,605) adds HID xenon headlamps, adaptive forward lighting, 10-way power leather seats, Bose 5.1 Surround Sound, USB integration, 40GB hard drive; it's also available with AWD ($44,505). To that, the Premium Collection ($47,010) and AWD ($48,910) adds interior ambient lighting, rearview camera, heated/vented front seats, heated steering wheel, wood trim, navigation, sunroof.
Options include P245/45ZR19 front and P275/40ZR19 rear Continental summer tire performance package with 19-inch polished alloy wheels, a limited-slip differential, and manual transmission ($2,090); power sunroof ($700); navigation ($2,145).
The CTS-V Coupe ($62,165) features a 6.2-liter supercharged V8, paddle shift controls, Brembo brakes, Magnetic Ride Control, and 19-inch wheels with performance tires.
Safety features include front and side airbags, side air curtain, ABS, traction control, StabiliTrak electronic stability control. All-wheel drive is optional.
The Cadillac CTS might be the most appealing evolution of Cadillac's chiseled, Art & Science styling theme. It's more adventurous, perhaps less cookie-cutter inspired, than its organically shaped import-brand competition. Yet the CTS looks both classy and handsome.
The CTS line is often compared to compact luxury sedans like the Mercedes C-Class or BMW 3 Series, and that may be a function of similar pricing. By exterior dimensions, the CTS is actually as large or slightly larger than mid-size models like the BMW 5 Series or Mercedes E-Class. The Cadillac's impression of a more compact size probably speaks well of its overall design.
The CTS sedan and the new Sport Wagon are identical from the front bumper to about the middle roof pillar. The egg-crate grille design for V6 models is common across Cadillac's lineup. Vertically stacked headlight clusters make heavy use of LED (light-emitting diode) technology, which delivers lots of light and allows lots of style with little electrical load. The air vents or extractors near the trailing edge of the front fenders have been re-designed with a more open appearance for 2011.
The CTS wagon might be more handsome than the sedan, if only because its proportions are almost perfectly balanced. The integrated spoiler at the rear edge of the wagon's roof serves as both an aerodynamic device and the center high-mount brake light. The standard power liftgate can be operated with either the key fob or a switch at the rear of the car. A simple dial inside the gate allows its opening range to be adjusted, from just-above-roof height for short folks or tight garages to nearly vertical upward extension.
The high-performance CTS-V models get unique, functional styling features, starting with larger wire-mesh grille work above and below the front bumper. This doubles the amount of air flowing into the engine bay, increasing cooling capacity for the engine, transmission and front brakes. An aluminum power-dome hood provides a slight bulge to accommodate the supercharged V8 underneath. Huge Brembo brakes, wedged into thin-spoke, 19-inch forged wheels and extra-wide tires, comprise one of the most engaging visual elements on the car.
The big wheels aren't reserved for the CTS-V models, however. For 2011, Cadillac offers 19-inch wheels with all-season tires on all CTS sedans and wagons, including those with all-wheel drive. Wheel options range from 17 to 19 inches, and from painted to highly polished. Is the CTS Coupe really all that different from the CTS sedan? Yes, and in some key places and dimensions. The coupe is virtually identical to the concept vehicle shown at the Detroit auto show in January of 2008.
The coupe's wheelbase is the same as the sedan's, but the roofline is two inches lower, the body is two inches shorter, and the rear track has been widened by two inches compared to the existing sedan, to plant those big tires. The windshield rake angle is much steeper than the sedan's, at 62.3 degrees, and the rear window is nearly flat when viewed from the side.
The rear end treatment features a centered dual-exhaust outlet under the bumper that complements all of the other sharp angles on the car. In order to have good ingress/egress into the back seat, the coupe's doors are as long as a summer day in June. There are no traditional door handles outside or inside; instead, the CTS Coupe uses pushbutton openers adapted from the Chevrolet Corvette. In spite of the very fast look of the coupe, the actual drag coefficient number is high for a coupe and high in this class, just under 0.36, when some of the competition is down around 0.26.
As Cadillac has steadily improved its CTS line-up, the interior has definitely kept pace. There are several small but welcome enhancements for 2011, including an update for GM's OnStar telematics system. With introduction of its ninth-generation control software, OnStar's voice recognition capability has been substantially improved.
Inside the CTS sedan and wagon, the basic theme is black with brushed metal and chrome accents. It's very contemporary, very attractive and generally space efficient. Optional Sapele wood, available in several packages, replaces the standard satin metallic trim. It's heavily grained, and adds a warmer, less technocratic finish.
The dashboard is fairly low and away from the front seats, leaving an airy, unhindered space in the front half of the CTS cabin. The hand-stitched center console blends seamlessly into the center stack of controls, creating a sport-cockpit ambience for the driver and front passenger, without compromising breathing space.
We found the CTS to be a nice place to sit and take a drive. The driver feels secure and comfortable, and the front passenger enjoys a feeling of ease, confidence and luxury. Visibility in the sedan is unfettered in all directions, though in the wagon the rear glass is smaller and a bit more restrictive. It creates a narrow view through the rearview mirror.
Fortunately, a rearview camera is available for the CTS wagon. For 2011, the back-up camera is also available on the sedan, and standard on CTS-V models. The rearview camera works great on cars with navigation systems. On CTSs without navigation, the camera image is projected on a very small LED screen hidden in the rearview mirror. It's much harder to see details with the small screen.
The front bucket seats are comfortable, with enough side bolstering to keep the CTS driver snug and in place behind the wheel, even during some enthusiastic driving on central California's windiest, curviest roads. A Recaro sport seat option is available on all models, with 14 different adjustments and bolsters that can be pumped up for hard driving, then deflated for cruising. They're suitable even for race track use, but generally quite hard. Unless a driver regularly attends track events, he or she will be better served by the standard CTS seats.
We appreciated the range of adjustment with the power seats and the power steering column. The tilt-and-telescope column offers ultimate comfort and allows a proper driving position. The CTS instrument package is complete, easy to read, and graphically appealing. The center stack is particularly well done, both attractive and easy to use, with some interesting readout placements here and there. With the navigation system, and its combination of touch-screen and hard-button controls, the CTS offers one of the better driver/machine interfaces in current luxury cars.
The upgrade Bose 5.1 Cabin Surround audio system has a 40-gigabyte hard-drive for media storage, an iPod connector and USB port, and it offers the ultimate in musical enjoyment. Using the navigation screen, it's easy to switch back and forth between the three broadcast and three stored-music formats by simply touching the screen, and the blue display is large enough to be read from the back seat. It's one of the best, most fun-to-use sound systems available. In comparison, many other luxury cars have audio systems that are fussy or difficult to operate.
CTS-V models have a few extra sporting touches inside, starting with a thick-rimmed steering wheel that can be covered with synthetic suede. It's one of our favorites in any automobile. The dead pedal, which allows the driver to brace the left leg, is great for enthusiastic driving. Subtle V badging inside reminds passengers that the owner has anted up for the super-performance package.
The rear seat offers enough room for two adults approaching six feet in height. The rear outboard seats are carved out like buckets, and quite comfortable, but the flip side is a narrow, flat plateau in the middle section. It's not a place anyone over 12 will want to sit, unless the choice is walking. A switch on the back of the center console controls airflow for rear passengers, between vents on the console itself or registers under the front seats.
The plastics on the front seatbacks and the rear end of the console form the weak link in interior finish. They're hard and not $40,000-plus in appearance. In the CTS wagon, rear-seat passengers might feel a bit more constricted due to the wide rear roof pillar extending rearward from their outboard shoulder.
With 13.6 cubic feet of luggage space, the CTS sedan's trunk is larger than those in compact luxury sedans like the BMW 3 Series or Mercedes C-Class, but slightly smaller than the trunk in mid-size models like the 5 Series, E-Class or Audi A6.
The CTS wagon delivers 53.4 cubic feet of cargo space with the seatbacks folded, 25.4 cubic feet with the rear seat in place. That's almost as much cargo space as what's found in a compact SUV.
In the wagon, the bottom of the rear seat is fixed. Yet the seatbacks fold forward easily, creating a flat load floor from almost the front seatbacks to the rear bumper, a great feature. An easy, dial-type knob allows the CTS owner to program how high the power tailgate swings open.
The carpeted floor in the wagon's cargo area slides out over the bumper, exposing a shallow, rubber-lined bin that contains water from soaked boots or coolers dripping condensation, The floor also has tie-down hooks and a slide-track system that secures various accessories. Our test car had a folding dog gate that spread floor-to-headliner behind the rear seatbacks. It was a bit of a chore to install, but once in place it was truly sturdy and impenetrable to any pet we've met. The interior of the CTS Coupe is pretty much the same as those of the CTS sedan and Sport Wagon, with a combination of analog and digital readouts in the main three-pod instrument cluster bathed in a very nice, crisp blue light that's easy to see and easy on the eyes.
The interior designs have made the driver's seat, center stack and center console into a well-organized command center, topped by a retractable navigation screen and slathered in brushed metal that can reflect lots of light in the wrong lighting conditions. There's just the right amount of decorative wood on the door panels, steering wheel, instrument panel and console to lend an air of richness and luxury without looking like a Victorian library.
The front bucket seats are generously sized for American male drivers, they're cushy without being mushy, and there are thick, supportive and retentive bolsters for the torso for long rides in the country. Nothing in here is difficult to see or understand or operate, and there is plenty of latitude for adjustment in the seats and steering wheel. It's a lovely place to drive from.
There really is room for four American adults inside, although entry and exit at the rear are as cumbersome and difficult as with any coupe out there.
We give it high marks for fit, finish, materials, and especially its interior design, which differs not one jot from the sedan's and which we love.
The Cadillac CTS is cast in the mold of a classic European sports sedan, and it's formed particularly well. It compares nicely with its luxury import-brand competition, and in some respects beats the competition on its own terms.
The CTS is responsive, lively and athletic. It handles as well as the best European sedans, yet it's also comfortable, smooth and quiet. It delivers a good mix of interior space, substance and manageable exterior dimensions. With a wide range of engine, suspension and tire/wheel packages, and optional all-wheel-drive, the CTS wagon and sedan can satisfy a wide range of needs and tastes.
Both V6 engines employ the most up-to-date control and materials technology, with dual overhead cams, variable valve timing and high-pressure direct fuel injection. As a result, they are both responsive and lively. The direct injection gives both extremely good throttle response, with more fuel efficiency and lower emissions.
The 3.0-liter V6, with 270 horsepower, is a fine base engine, although it doesn't match the torque of the upgrade 3.6-liter V6. Somewhat surprisingly, there is little or no penalty in fuel economy with the larger engine, so if the additional expense is not an issue, we have to recommend the 3.6, most especially when choosing the optional all-wheel drive. With 304 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque, the 3.6-liter is ready to go out and play anytime the driver wishes, delivering a solid combination of power, fuel economy and assertive sound when the throttle is opened all the way.
We love the fact that Cadillac offers all CTS models with a manual transmission, regardless of how many buyers actually choose one. We found the 6-speed manual has easy, smooth clutch action and requires only a light touch on the shift lever to change gears. It's a good choice.
The 6-speed automatic is responsive in full automatic mode, rarely stuttering in its gear selection or balking when it's time to shift down a gear or two. It's also very quick and positive to shift manually, up or down, with a little bit of throttle blip on the downshifts to keep the drivetrain happy and the tires from skipping and chirping. The choice comes down to personal preference. We liked both transmissions, though our affection for the automatic increases with the 3.6-liter V6, thanks to that engine's additional torque.
Steering in the CTS is excellent: very accurate, with good feel and a nice, weighty demeanor. This, perhaps surprisingly, is one area where it surpasses some of its European competitors, which are still sorting through the introduction of fuel saving electric power-steering pumps. The CTS steering system uses a forward-mounted power rack-and-pinion that pulls, rather than pushes, the steering arms. (It pulls on the steering arm of that front tire which will be on the outside in the turn, so in a right-hand turn it is pulling on the left-side steering arm, placing that side in tension rather than compression.)
The brakes are excellent, too, equipped with advanced electronic controls and Electronic Brake-force Distribution. They provide impressive stopping power, with almost no fading in truly aggressive use, in a car that approaches two tons of mass.
For all its steering, cornering and handling prowess, the CTS doesn't exact a stiff penalty in noise or harshness over the road. Even the base car is well damped, so the ride is smooth but not floaty. If the optimal balance of handling response and ride quality is the priority, we recommend a CTS with Cadillac's optional Magnetic Ride Control variable suspension. Originally developed by GM, and billed as the world's fastest-reacting suspension technology, MR has since been adapted by several manufacturers, most prominently Ferrari.
In all cases, the CTS feels very solidly put together. It's quiet inside in all circumstances, expect when the gas pedal is floored. The standard 17-inch all-season tires are quietest of all, though they lack the ultra-sharp steering response of some the larger performance-tire upgrades.
All-wheel drive is optional on CTS sedan, wagon and coupe models. Even in ideal conditions, AWD makes the CTS feel extra stable, and it enhances driver confidence on winding roads. While it comes with a slight weight and fuel-mileage disadvantage, the advantages of all-wheel drive in sloppy weather or big rain are substantial.
The driver of a CTS Sport Wagon will have a difficult time finding any dynamic distinctions from the sedan. The wagon is just as smooth, precise and well-planted. On the road, the only issue is rearward visibility. The wagon's wider rear roof pillars and upright rear window narrow the scope of the view through the rearview mirror, so it's a little harder to identify what's approaching from behind.
Driving a CTS-V model raises the experience to another level. The CTS-V supercharged V8 is different from the V6s, with an old-school cam in the engine block and push-rod operated valves. Yet that shouldn't be taken as a problem, because the CTS-V's 6.2-liter V8 is thoroughly modern in operation and performance.
The CTS-V models deliver a remarkable combination of sporting entertainment and coddling everyday transport. The steering feels more natural and satisfying than what's found in a lot of sports cars. Clutch and brake action are better than any Cadillac ever, and better than the super-tuned luxury hotrods from some European manufacturers. Despite a substantial increase in pavement grip, thanks largely to its extra wide, sticky performance tires, the CTS-V's standard MR variable suspension never feels too harsh. At two thirds of its 179-mph published top speed, the CTS-V sedan is as stable as granite.
And boy oh boy, that engine. It's a feast of visceral excitement at just about any speed up to its 6200-rpm redline, if you can afford the gas. Its supercharger is very quiet in operation, and it keeps pumping acceleration-building torque at high revs. The CTS-V scoots from 0-60 mph in less than 4 seconds, but there is a ton of acceleration no matter how fast it's already going. There's so much torque that gear selection, road or engine speed almost don't matter. Step on it anywhere, at any speed, and the CTS-V flat flies.
Still, the CTS-V's most valuable asset is its level-headed approach to the business of driving. It's a big car, with a slight bit more weight over its front wheels, but it takes some cruel treatment to make the CTS-V bite. In a sense its unflappable, except that unflappable implies restrained, and the CTS-V is always lively and fun. Its stability control system is anything but a straight jacket, allowing both ends of the car to slide a little before the electronics go to work.
Bottom line, the CTS-V's strength is the same as the CTS's in general, only dialed up a notch or two. It's the satisfying, integrated experience in the driver's seat that impresses most. It just happens to be one of the absolute fastest sedans in the world. The 3.6-liter direction-injection V6 with dual overhead camshafts and 24 valves produces 304-horsepower, 273 foot-pounds of torque. The engine can be combined with one of two six-speed transmissions, an Aisin manual or a Hydra-Matic automatic with manual shift control. To get more acceleration out of the same engine as the sedan has, the CTS Coupe gets a lower 3.73:1 rear axle ratio. The CTS Coupe comes in a standard rear-drive layout, with computer-controlled all-wheel-drive optional.
In a brief driving experience over the course of two days in and around the Napa Valley in California's wine country, the CTS Coupe offered no surprises. The 3900-pound coupe performed pretty much like the CTS V6 sedan, but quicker off the mark, with a good, solid V6 engine sound at full throttle, relatively quick upshifts and downshifts from the automatic and its steering-wheel paddles, and a reassuringly buttoned-down feel when it came to sticking to the asphalt.
The chunky leather-wrapped steering wheel leads down to a power steering system that feels connected and commanding, quick to turn in, and a slightly harsher ride than we were expecting, but not objectionable.
The brakes came on powerfully and progressively whenever one of Napa's ever-present work trucks pulled out of a winery driveway.
The 2011 Cadillac CTS looks marvelous, with comfortable space for four adults, or five in a pinch. It's got lots of go for the performance enthusiast, and all the bells and whistles. It's offered as a four-door sedan, Sport Wagon or new two-door coupe. With three engine choices from strong-but-frugal to incredibly powerful, manual or automatic transmissions and optional all-wheel-drive, there's a CTS for every taste. Any CTS model compares favorably the luxury-class competition from Germany or Japan.
NewCarTestDrive.com correspondent Jim McCraw test drove the CTS in Northern California. Mitch McCullough reported on the CTS-V from Infineon Raceway at Sonoma, California, with J. P. Vettraino in Detroit. Coupes are not for everyone, but if your tastes and lifestyle fit fine with a coupe, the Cadillac CTS Coupe is one to look at. While we could always wish for more power and less weight in a car that looks this advanced and adventurous, we think that the CTS Coupe's level of performance on demand would satisfy a great many potential buyers, especially at 27 miles per gallon or more in touring driving situations. Its dynamics, handling and isolation are all very, very good. The level of luxury and the quality of build, fit and finish is very high, and the pure, edgy style of this car is breathtaking.
Jim McCraw filed this NewCarTestDrive.com report from California's Napa Valley.
Cadillac CTS 3.0 sedan ($35,165), AWD ($38,365); CTS 3.0 Sport Wagon ($38,265), AWD ($40,165); 3.6 sedan ($41,565), AWD ($43,465); 3.6 Sport Wagon ($43,365), AWD ($45,265); CTS-V sedan ($62,165); CTS-V Sport Wagon; CTS Coupe ($38,165), CTS Coupe AWD ($40,065); CTS-V Coupe ($62,165). Cadillac CTS Coupe ($38,165); CTS Coupe AWD ($40,065); CTS-V Coupe ($62,165).
Lansing, Michigan. Lansing, Michigan.
Options As Tested
Premium Package ($5,700) includes Navigation system with 40 GB storage drive, Bluetooth connectivity and Bose 5.1 Cabin Surround Sound with 10 speakers, Ultraview power sunroof, heated/ventilated front seats with 10-way power adjustment and driver memory, Sapele wood trim, leather-wrapped steering wheel with wood trim, power tilt/telecscope steering, Keyless Access proximity key with remote start, automatic cabin odor filtration, LED accent lighting, split-folding rear seats, Ultrasonic rear park assist, rearview camera, Universal home remote, heavy duty pet guard cargo net, retractable cargo area shade, theft deterrent alarm system, 18-inch polished aluminum wheels; 19-inch Performance Tire Wheel Package ($2,090) includes 19-inch polished aluminum wheels with Continental Conti SportContact3 summer tires, performance suspension tuning, cooling system upgrade and steering wheel shift controls for automatic transmission; compact spare tire ($350); rear cargo tray ($110); underhood appearance package ($100). none.
Cadillac CTS 3.6 Sport Wagon ($43,365). Cadillac CTS Coupe ($38,165).
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