Even though the current generation of Cadillac’s mid-size, rear-wheel-drive CTS made its debut in 2008, it is still capable today of competing with imports without apology. The styling is lean and attractive, the interior is well-appointed and comfortable and the V-6 engine has enough power to be entertaining while delivering decent gas mileage.
By TOM STRONGMAN
Prices start at $39,095 for the base model. All-wheel drive begins at $40,920. Standard features include a Bose stereo with eight speakers, the Stabilitrak vehicle stability, dual-climate control, a tire-pressure monitoring system, 18-inch wheels, traction control and anti-lock brakes.
The test car, from Cadillac’s press fleet, was the Premium Collection with the Touring package and sports suspension. Its sticker price was $54,435.
The CTS styling is clean and angular in spite of being five years old. Fender flares emphasize the car’s muscular stance, and the rear fenders taper toward the trunk as if to add an exclamation point to the performance look.
Rear-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is optional. Rear-wheel drive gives the best balance for handling, while all-wheel drive gives enhanced traction for snow and rain.
The base 3.6-liter engine with variable valve timing has 318 horsepower. The transmission is a six-speed automatic that can be shifted manually. The engine is smooth and quiet, and the power is spread across a wide powerband that gives the car enhanced drivability. Acceleration is brisk, and the transmission’s firm shifts are pleasant. To reduce noise, Cadillac uses sound-deadening panels around the engine and seals the hood opening with a rubber seal like that on the doors.
The sports suspension yields responsive handling without creating a harsh ride.
The CTS interior is excellent, made even better by the German Recaro seats that are part of the Touring package. These seats have proper support in all the right places, including under the thigh. The suede inserts are not only attractive but feel comfortable in hot or cold weather. Plus, they tend to keep the passengers from sliding around on the seat.
The suede steering wheel is a delight for your hands. It is comfortable in both hot and cold weather, and the suede is actually soothing to the touch. I wish all cars had wheels like this.
The choice of interior materials seems fitting for a car in this segment, and the fit and finish of interior panels is first-rate. The instrument panel is covered with a heavily textured material that is accented with French stitching. Three gauges rest under a small hood, and the center stack is covered with brushed aluminum. Tasteful strips of Sapele wood trim highlight the dash and door panels.
Night interior lighting uses subtle LEDs to highlight various parts of the cabin. An optional lighting package consists of LEDs that emit a soft glow from the bottom edge of the wood trim and give the dash a three-dimensional shape in the dark.
On the road, the CTS is extremely quiet. Triple door seals and a windshield with no visible seal help reduce wind noise.
The CTS embodies a host of technological features that include a 40-gigabyte hard disc that not only stores music but also allows the listener to pause the radio for up to 60 minutes and resume listening without a break.
The navigation screen rises up from the center of the dash, and its display is easy to read and use. Voice activation is standard. Real-time traffic information is available over the XM satellite radio. A rearview camera is included.
Other CTS features include anti-lock disc brakes, traction control and vehicle stability control. Front, side and side-curtain airbags are standard as well.
The base price of the test car was $48,290. Options included the Touring package that included the Recaro seats and suede steering wheel, compact spare tire and the sport package of 19-inch wheels, sports suspension and limited slip differential. The sticker price was $54,435.
Four years or 50,000 miles with a six-year, 70,000-mile powertrain warranty.
Tom Strongman’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org