Cadillac's record on entry-level luxury sedans has been a bit spotty. The new CTS banishes that notion.
The CTS is a wonderful combination of luxury and performance. It's epitomized in the tested V-6 DI Performance Sedan equipped with a Direct Injection 3.6L V-6 of 304 horsepower. That's enough to shred bad dreams of Cimarrons and Cateras and others of that ilk that are better forgotten.
While the standard vehicle is priced at $34,545, it was optioned up to $43,470 as tested and worth every extra penny. The options included 18-inch "summer performance" tires, a sports suspension, antilock brakes on four-wheel performance disc brakes, sapele wood trim, a really fancy radio, leather and heated front seats, and a performance cooling system.
That cooling may be needed for the driver's hot rod tendencies. The V-6 gets to 60 mph in a swift 5.9 seconds.
All that "go" runs through a six-speed automatic transmission driving rear wheels. Front engine, rear drive is the optimum configuration for handling, but all-wheel drive is available, too.
Once at speed, the CTS handles curves with aplomb and dash, never breaking into a sweat. The ride's a little firm in exchange.
General Motors' StabilTrak 3.0 electronic stability control deserves special mention. The new generation adds active front steering that helps handle skids and over-driven curves without nagging.
•Engines: 3.6L V-6
•Dimensions: 113.3" wheelbase; 191.6" length
•Base price: $34,545; As tested $43,470
•Fuel economy: 17/26 mpg
The three-spoke, leather-wrapped steering wheel houses cruise and audio controls. The spokes fit into a hand. The wheel telescopes and tilts.
Seats with fashionably tailored bolsters are a big part of holding occupants in place on demanding curves. There's lots of fore and aft travel that doesn't penalize back-seat passengers.
The mid-sized luxury sedan looks like its been machined out of a block of high carbon steel. The exterior lines are sharp giving the CTS an aggressive, muscular stance. There's an overlarge Cadillac grille with a large Caddy crest. In good Cadillac tradition, the headlights (high intensity with washers) are stacked vertically. Taillights are big but don't overpower the back.
The 3.6L V-6 gets its horsepower from direct injection like diesel engines do. Power is up 41 horses from the 263 3.6L V-6 base engine. And fuel economy stays that same –17 mpg city and 26 mpg highway.
If the CTS is easy to drive, some extras add complexity. The tester came with a 40gb hard drive (more than some personal computers) that stores audio tracks and has a USB port. All this plays through 10 loudspeakers in surround sound. The navigation system adds XM traffic to warn of jams.
Or you can just sit in the driveway and download. But actually driving the CTS is more fun.