By on January 20, 2012

How time flies. Five years ago the second-generation Cadillac CTS had just debuted at NAIAS. While prettier than the original, it was also fresh, exciting, and proof that Bob Lutz’s General Motors could turn out a damn fine car when it really wanted to. People who hadn’t owned a GM product for decades bought one, my father among them. Five auto shows on and we’ve glimpsed Cadillac’s future with the 2013 ATS. Does the 2012 CTS seem well beyond its sell-by date? Or does the old car, with a new 3.6-liter V6 engine and a new Touring Package, retain some compelling advantages?

The CTS casts a considerably larger shadow than the ATS: nine inches longer (on a four-inch-longer wheelbase), an inch wider and two inches taller. The additional inches enable sheet metal that is both more dramatic and more graceful than the new car’s, with more athletically flared fenders and a less severely truncated tail. The leaner ATS isn’t an unattractive car, but it won’t induce double-takes the way the CTS did five years ago. It doesn’t make a strong enough statement to establish an instantly recognizable design language for the brand. But since two generations of the CTS have already accomplished this difficult task, the ATS will get by with toned down Cadillac cues attached to a body that could otherwise be mistaken for a Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

Aside from its headlights, nothing marks the ATS as the (much) newer design. Then again, if we had first seen the CTS this year, it would have still looked fresh. But of course we’ve seen it plenty. The “new” ain’t coming back without much more significant exterior changes than GM has made over the past half-decade. Even the Y-spoked chrome-plated wheels included in the new Touring Package have been available on the car since the 2010. The Touring Package’s spoiler-shaped CHMSL? Borrowed from the V.

Inside, the CTS’s age is much more evident. The silver-painted plastic flowing down the center stack appeared downscale and dated even in the car’s first year. The cleaner center stack in the ATS doesn’t make the same mistakes, with piano black trim and touch-sensitive controls (much like those first seen in the 2011 Lincoln MKX) instead of mechanical buttons.

And the retractable display used in the CTS? It’s from a bygone era where nearly every interaction with the car didn’t involve a screen. (Some new Audis still employ this gimmick, but what’s the point when the thing will have to almost always be deployed?) Bluetooth is now standard in the CTS, but perhaps because the controls were designed when GM was still putting all of its eggs in the OnStar basket, I never figured out how to access it. (Yes, I know, RTFM, but this hasn’t been necessary with other cars.) The Touring Package mildly dresses up the cabin with metal pedals and black-stained wood trim. Want an interior that’s not gray, black, or tan (the latter not available with the Touring Package)? Then wait for the ATS.

Like the ATS, the CTS was designed to compete with the BMW 3-Series. So while the older car is roomier than the new one inside, it’s not a full size class roomier. The largest difference: an additional two inches of rear seat legroom. But these additional inches aren’t enough to make the CTS’s rear seat suitable for long-distance adult occupancy, as the seat is small and mounted low.

Trunk space? The CTS’s 13.6 cubic feet only seem commodious compared to the ATS “is that a typo?” and its 10.2 cubic feet. Opponents of conventional hinges have a new poster child:

The official specs don’t tell you everything. From the driver’s seat the two sedans seem quite different. You sit about an inch lower in the ATS behind a more compact instrument panel and a smaller-diameter steering wheel. An inch difference in the “H-point” has a much larger impact than you might think. Partly because of this, the new car seems much smaller and more agile even when not in motion. (How it feels in motion will have to await some on-road seat time.) On the other hand, the CTS’s higher driving position and larger interior components fit the car’s brash, muscular personality.

The CTS’s standard front bucket seats, apparently patterned after those in the Corvette, have never seemed substantial enough for the car. The Touring Package replaces these with the allegedly optional Recaros you’ll find in just about every V. The power-adjustable thigh and seatback bolsters of these “high performance seats” provide as much lateral support as you can stand. Despite four-way power lumbar adjustments, they’re not comfortable. Even towards the end of my week with the car I kept tweaking the lumbar adjustment in search of a setting where I didn’t feel a rod pressing uncomfortably into my lower back. My brief time with the seats in the ATS suggests that they’ll provide decent lateral support and more comfort than either of the CTS’s seats.

In the past, if you’ve wanted both the sueded steering wheel and the Recaros in the non-V CTS you were, to employ another acronym, SOL. Unlike in the V, where the suede requires the Recaros, you had to choose between one or the other. This year both are only available together, as parts of the Touring Package. The clear lens taillights that previously acoompanied the sueded tiller did not survive the rehash.

For 2012, the CTS’s 3.6-liter V6 has been thoroughly revised,  gaining 14 horsepower (for a total of 318) in the process. The new V6 sounds a little pedestrian at part throttle in the midrange, but transitions to a tone worthy of a premium sport sedan if you open up the throttle and wind it out. Acceleration is strong enough that few people will feel the need for the 556-horsepower V. (Just don’t sample the V, or you’ll become addicted to its excess. That car made me do bad things.) But the ATS should feel considerably more energetic. Cadillac acquired some serious weight-saving religion during the more compact sedan’s gestation, and packed it full of aluminum and magnesium. Consequently the same 3.6-liter V6 will have over a quarter-ton less to motivate. Unimproved with the new V6 are the  EPA fuel economy ratings, which remain at 18/27 mpg city/ highway.

Unfortunately, a six-speed manual won’t be available with the new V6 in either car. In the ATS devotees of the third pedal will have one choice, a 270-horsepower turbocharged four. In the CTS the manual is now available only with the underwhelming 3.0-liter V6. The CTS’s six-speed automatic is slow to react to manual shifting. Smallish buttons hidden on the backside of the steering wheel spokes require hands at nine and three. Prefer ten and two? Well, it might be best to let the transmission call the shifts anyway. In the ATS, large magnesium paddles will be available—much better.

Since its launch, the regular CTS has been available with three different suspensions, FE1, FE2, and FE3. With the FE1 suspension the car feels vague and even sloppy. Discouraged by reviews of the FE3, and without the ability to sample it in advance, my father ordered his car with the FE2, billed as offering the best ride-handling balance. That was a mistake. He ended up getting rid of the car because the FE2 suspension doesn’t sufficiently control body motions. On the wavy highway that leads to his house, the car provoked severe “head toss” over every undulation. On such roads, the firmer FE3 suspension actually rides much steadier, while remaining well short of harsh over patchy pavement. The FE3 car also feels tighter and more precise. If only we’d known back in the fall of 2007 that this was the suspension to get. One downside: The FE3 is only available with the 19-inch high-performance summer tires (specifically 245/45ZR19 ContiSportContacts). If you live where it snows, you’ll be investing in winter treads.

Even with the FE3 suspension and a limited-slip differential (bundled with the summer tires), the CTS lacks the character of a precision instrument. Instead, even in non-V form, it’s a two-ton linebacker of a sport sedan with a more overt character than you’ll find in competitors: big, bold, and ballsy. Vigorous control inputs aren’t the smartest, fastest way to drive, but the CTS invites them. While I’ve yet to drive the new ATS, my discussions with the engineering team (plus the much lower curb weight and lower seating position) suggest that it will feel tighter, lighter, and more precise – especially with its FE3 sport suspension, which will include magnetic ride control shocks like those standard in the CTS-V but not available in the regular CTS. You’ll also find a more refined chassis (perhaps to a fault) in the front-wheel-drive Buick Regal GS.

The hydraulic-assist system in the CTS feels much like that in the V, providing a level of tactility rarely found in today’s cars. At first touch, the system has the same insulated, numb feel found in the typical luxury sedan, but layered below is a more direct connection and even nuanced feedback. I cannot recall another car (aside from the V) with similarly multi-layered steering. Unlike in the CTS-V, engaging “Competitive Mode” does not reduce the level of steering assist. Assist will vary by mode in the ATS, but the system will be electric rather than hydraulic.

Not that you have to use the steering wheel to rotate the CTS. The rear end’s lateral slip can be progressively modulated with the throttle. At a steady speed through turns the CTS’s nose feels a little reluctant to hold a tight line. A little throttle balances the chassis nicely. Overcook it, and the stability control system cuts in almost seamlessly. Don’t need the nanny? It can be completely turned off, but even “Competitive Mode” bumps the threshhold enough that the car can get seriously sideways. Use with care. The stability control might have led you to think you’re a better driver than you actually are.

At first glance, the $2,810 Touring Package is a bargain. The seats and suede alone list for $3,700 in the V. The package deletes a heated steering wheel and folding rear seat that aren’t available in the supercharged sedan. GM may have feared a sale-proof window sticker, but then perhaps they shouldn’t have restricted the package to the top spec CTS. Add $995 “black diamond tricoat” and the bottom line nudges over $55,000.

Seem steep? A similarly-equipped BMW 335i will set you back about the same. But then BMW isn’t known for reasonable pricing, especially not on heavily equipped cars. The Infiniti G37 has long been the value play in this segment, with a sticker price over $10,000 below the others. Even after a $2,200 adjustment for the Cadillac’s additional features (as calculated by TrueDelta’s car price comparison tool) the CTS checks in nearly $8,000 higher. If you can do without the Touring Package’s sueded steering wheel and Recaro seats, then the pricing shifts about $2,500 in the Cadillac’s favor (the tool accounts for power adjustments, but not the Recaro label).

The advent of the ATS highlights the CTS’s shortcomings, most notably dated controls, passé silver plastic trim, and an extra quarter-ton of curb weight. If you want the latest tech or the most agile handling, wait for the truly compact Cadillac. And yet, even in its fifth model year the CTS retains a striking exterior and engaging personality. The ATS doesn’t have the same visual impact, and might lack the same driving dynamics as well, in a bid to beat the polished Europeans at their own game. To this the Touring Package brings all of the CTS’s sportiest available features together for the first time in the same non-V car. If you no taste for the latest tech, and prefer the character of a linebacker to that of a point guard, then no need to wait for the ATS.

Disclaimer: Cadillac provided the car for a week with insurance and a tank of gas.

Michael Karesh operates, an online provider of car reliability and real-world fuel economy information.

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64 Comments on “2012 Cadillac CTS Premium Collection with Touring Package...”

  • avatar

    in 10 years, this car will be a hit with the local ghetto’s. cant wait to see it in the used car lots for 1/25th of the msrp.

    • 0 avatar

      Not just this car, all kinds of cars. Bang one up and you may have trouble tracking down or paying for parts.

      RockAuto has 2012 CTS “Economy” Headlights (Halogen) for $171.79 apiece.

      The HIDs for a 2012 are $545.79 (don’t know if that is for a pair, but I doubt it). If you are driving a once expensive car and you don’t have the cash to fix it, it won’t take much to get the car off the road.

      Most of the cars I see in the ‘hood are cars that were one step above “cash for clunkers”. Most of them being easy to get parts for.

      • 0 avatar

        Today’s uber complex cars are going to cost second and third owners crazy amounts of money to repair when the warranty runs out. Hids, integrated center stacks, Led taillights, Direct fuel injection, navigation and head units, Onstar or Sync, computer controlled suspensions and 8 speed transmissions to name some. Plus the gangsta over-sized 19 and 20″ tires that cost a small fortune. I’m going to be sticking with the simpler everday cars for as long as they are available.

    • 0 avatar

      “local ghettos?”

      Just WTF are you trying to say?

  • avatar

    “silver painted plastic” always looked downscale. And it is not very durable – it mars very easily.

    I believe there is more going on in those space-robbing compartments in the trunk hinges for the ATS – probably suspension goings-on? One advantage of the conventional hinges is they generally never fail – ever had to pay for new struts for the compact hinges? Anyway, 10 cu ft trunk for the ATS is pretty small – at least it has a decent opening – some vehicles have mail slot sized openings.

    • 0 avatar

      The use of those “trunk hinges” in the ATS, and the Cruze and every Buick sedan and the Malibu for that matter, is another example of the complete lack of attention to detail by the GM engineers. It is unacceptable if they want to be taken seriously. For many MANY people trunk size is important and GM is the clear loser in this metric on almost every one of their sedans.
      The hinges are not covering up anything. They are a product of some 30 year BOD inside GM.

      • 0 avatar

        I wouldn’t go that far. The covered hinges are most likely a compromise between expensive gas struts and cheap exposed hinges that look cheap and can crush cargo. GM is far from the first to go this route, although the implementation in the ATS seems poor.

      • 0 avatar

        Complain all you want about the hinges on the ATS, but if you look up the competition, they all have these “unacceptable” hinges. The ATS, 2012 3 series, C-Class, a4, 9-3, tsx, and the s60. Only the g37 has the gas struts.

      • 0 avatar

        Many luxury cars, including a Mercedes S-Class uses the same kind of hinges as the ATS. All automakers cut corners where they don’t think people will look. But I hardly consider this trunk hinge an example of that. They are much more reliable than those with gas struts.

      • 0 avatar

        My business partner leased a 2012 Audi A6 yesterday. It has gooseneck hinges, but the integration and lack of intrusiveness is beyond compare to what has been achieved by GM:

        The trunk of the Audi is HUGE too, with a large pass through opening when the seats are folded.

      • 0 avatar

        jhott997: The one and only GM cars in our extended family are a pair of Buick Centurys. Both sport strut type hinges like those in the CTS. And the hinge struts have never been replaced either. Knowing GM, the part numbers are probably the same as well. Don’t blame the engineers, blame the bean counters. Now that even premium imports jumped ship with the hinges (and hood struts and folding side mirrors and remote fuel door releases….) there is no way GM will keep any of them.

      • 0 avatar

        The only GM cars with an acceptable trunk made within 10 years were the DTS and Deville and XTS. Even the XTS’s trunk is too small for a car that size. That said, other than a Town Car or older Taurus, the competition falls far short of those three as well.

        The STS’s trunk was acceptable in total space, but the way it’s laid out restricts its usefulness. That said, it’s much better than a BMW 5 series, but it’s also longer and I would still think it could be better. My first car was a 1981 Buick Century that was 2 inches shorter but had more space both inside and the trunk was much larger than the STS’s and about the size of the XTS (while being shorter than the STS!).

        • 0 avatar

          fps_dean, my first car was a 1982 Celebrity. Only a 15 cubic foot trunk but given that it was a “box” it was capable of holding four sets of golf clubs. If you actually want to be able to take an entire foursome to the course you better be looking for your car on the used car lot or looking at the full-size SUVs.

  • avatar

    My elderly neighbor is a GM man (he’s in his eighties)…starting with a 1946 Pontiac. He’s never owned another brand of car and never will. About 3 years ago he leased a CTS AWD with the direct injection engine. He did nothing but complain. “It’s not a real Cadillac. It rides too hard. The steering is too heavy. It’s too difficult to get in and out. The seats are too hard..etc, etc.” Turned it in early and leased a Cadillac SRX. Now he complains because the SRX does not deliver whiplash inducing acceleration with the standard V-6. He complains about the acceleration despite the fact that he no longer drives anywhere except the supermarket, doctor’s office and local park. He put 6K miles on the car last year.

    Lots of people think that the above car buying demographic is small and getting smaller by the day. I believe there are lots of people coming up behind him that want nothing more from Cadillac or Lincoln than a motorized La-Z-Boy with eye flattening straight line acceleration.

    Cadillac and, to a lesser extent, Lincoln have tried to go head-to-head with the Germans and Japanese. It hasn’t worked. They should play to their strengths. Just go back to making cars that are obnoxious and in your face on the outside, while actually being soft and squishy underneath.

    • 0 avatar


    • 0 avatar
      Firestorm 500

      He should have gotten the first generation SRX with the 320 HP Northstar V-8. Or a DTS with the same engine.

      Did he not take his purchases for a test drive first?

      • 0 avatar

        When my neighbor got the CTS, he was really looking for a CUV, like the SRX, but his brother talked him into the CTS. His brother is 18 years his junior. I assume he thought that the old dude would die and leave him the CTS….old dude has no children.

    • 0 avatar

      Buick should be able to rock this market segment; why not try to own it instead of a futile chase for yuppie cash? The senior market has lots of money, good credit, and paid for homes: they can afford nice cars! Why run from this market when you can embrace it?

      Build a car that is like cafeteria food: soft, familiar, and easy to digest, and an automaker should be able to print money. Hell, when I am 75 I probably won’t want a sport tuned suspension kicking my prostate, I will want a comfortable car that gets me from A to B. Toss in all the people that are currently obese in middle age; their knees and backs will be shot when they are 65 and they will want a car seat as comfortable as a La-Z-Boy if they can afford it.

      Not everybody wants driving excitement when they are young, let alone when they are old. The people who watch “Dancing with the Stars” need cars too.

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        You guys reminded me of this piece by Baruth. Still my favorite thing he has written. People would still buy cars like this.

      • 0 avatar

        Toad, sadly those who are in their prime earning years now may not be flush with cash and paid for homes when they “retire” in 20 years. That dream of a comfortable retirement and enjoying a decent middle class living during your working years has been destroyed by short sighted policies and “comparative advantage” mentality…

    • 0 avatar

      Isn’t Cadillac making the XTS for these people? I highly doubt Cadillac is going to sell their gussied-up Lacrosse to E-Class/5-Series buyers.

      • 0 avatar

        Next gen CTS will be competing with 5-series. E class is a different animal and is in competition with Lexus types (theoretically of course since Lexus does not sell). XTS is kind chimera – temporary stop gap until there is real full size RWD Cadillac. What is Infinity? Car for boy racers and Acura and Lincoln are irrelevant. That sums up premium segment.

    • 0 avatar
      Amendment X


      Further proof that the American car companies are followers, not leaders.

      • 0 avatar

        To a significant degree that is true. Such is the case when you are playing follow the leader after destroying your base. Of course with trucks, the exact opposite is true. And the followers there are facing the same thing that Detroit is with cars.

    • 0 avatar

      GM along with Lincoln have really missed the plot on larger sized comfortable cruisers. The fact that the rather small sized RWD/AWD CTS is now Cadillacs flagship for 2012 with it’s narrow hard short front seats, low slung design that is hard to get in and out of and has a tiny trunk and hard riding suspension just shows that GM really doesn’t understand it’s core market. Lincoln with it’s stupid letter names, FWD based Ford clones, lack of V8 engines and RWD based models and dull bland generic styling isn’t much better. I would like to see some larger sized, quiet riding sedans with reasonable trunk space, rear seat legroom, a real engine underhood coupled with a new design transmission, real names and more eye catching styling. The featureless, letter names, small engined, hard riding germans copies aren’t all cutting the mustard.

      • 0 avatar

        Until that happens, EBay has a PPV Detective Special.

        Starts at $30,000 US.

        Start bidding, boys!

      • 0 avatar

        I’m sorry, but I have to call you on this.

        What you mention above, besides RWD, has been EXACTLY what Lincoln has done. Americo-brash, shiny on the outside, soft, plush, super quiet and cushiony ride on the inside. So has Buick. The seats aren’t hard, the cars are AWD.

        “Larger sized?” The Lincoln MKS is 204.1 inches long, how much bigger do you want?!?
        V8 engines? Exactly what benefit would you gain from this, besides a loss in fuel economy? The Ecoboost outstripes the V8 engines of yore in terms of HP and torque curve. Do you need more than 355HP and 350 peak torque at 1500rpm?

        The RWD is, I think, for most buyers of these cars, a non-issue. These soft-roaders weren’t designed for fun, they were designed for speed and comfort. Lincoln has been doing almost exactly this (albeit, in intelligently modernized ways) for people, and they haven’t gone for it. So I call false on this one. Its not as simple as you make it out to be.

      • 0 avatar

        A MKS is certainly a large car by the spec sheet. But it doesn’t have any of the classic big car proportions. The towering hood and beltline make it seem both narrow and short. The rear window slopes into a deck lid all of a foot long. There isn’t one hard angle on the entire car. In silhouette it could just as well be a $22,000 Camry. Or a $17,000 Corolla.

        Luxury cars need to be look like it. Chrysler’s 300 outsells the MKS 3:1 for a reason. Not just this year with the new and pretty good 300. The old 300 with the rubbermaid interior and low 20s on the window sticker did it too.

    • 0 avatar

      He should have gotten a DTS, or waited for the XTS. I drive a DTS. The controls are blessedly easy to use, few six level deep software controls to discover. While definitely not a sports car, it is extremely comfortable, easy to drive well, and can seat four or five in comfort. It also has the northstar v8, an amazing engine. I like the subtle growl it makes in acceletration. If the car had a v6, im pretty sure that your friend would not know or care.

      It is front drive, he will not know unless someone tells him. There is NEVER and torque steer, no matter what.

      I like ths CTS actually. But it is definitely not your fathers cadillac.

  • avatar

    All in all, I’d say that this is a pretty fair review. As the owner of 2010 CTS Wagon, I can’t find much that I disagree with.

    However, I really love the retractable screen. Big screens are great when you need them, but when driving at night, they are a distraction. Unless I need the nav system at night, I retract the screen and enjoy better night vision.

    BTW, was the test car equipped with the adaptive headlights? This is one of my favorite features on the car. Driving at night on deer-infested country roads and having the lights steer in your intended direction, is a wonderful thing.

    And, yes, even five years later this is a great looking car, especially in black. We vowed never to own another black car because of the dirt factor, but in black this thing just looks so badass especially in coupe or wagon form.

  • avatar

    I drive an ’08 CTS and this review is fair. The Touring Package really is a great value as you get a lot of stuff previously only available on the V.

    Glad you pointed out the nuanced steering, Michael. I was just remarking to myself yesterday how nice the feedback is.

    You have to get this car with the 3.6 engine. Just last week my car was in for scheduled service and they gave me a loaner CTS with the 3.0. Not even in the same league. Decently torquey off the line, but revs like a Honda 4-banger and runs out of steam at speed. You’re exactly right that the 3.6 doesn’t sound impressive at lower revs, but step on it and you get a really nice, loud V8-like growl. I’ve grown to like this Jekyll/Hyde personality.

    I read a review somewhere that said the CTS feels about a half-size too big, and I agree. In any form, this car isn’t as nimble as a 3-series or an A4. It feels and drives bigger, because it is, and always feels every so slightly ponderous (I have the FE2 with the LSD). But it still offers very respectable performance, and eats up freeway miles in comfort like an old-school American luxo-barge.

    Styling-wise, I think the CTS has aged very well during the course of its lifetime. I’m in LA, in a sea of BMWs and Audis and the CTS really stands out. Like most of us here, I keep my car immaculate, and it still looks brand-new and still gets double-takes — especially that bad-ass front grille. I get some ribbing from friends that the car is “gangsta,” but I love it. The car makes you wanna throw on some old-school Snoop, spark a blunt and cruisssssse.

    So overall, I’m really satisfied with the car and interested to test out an ATS.

  • avatar

    I got a chance to put a couple of thousand miles on a CTS last year and, while the vehicle definitely has it charms, there were a number is problems I could not forgive:

    1. With the 3.0 the CTS struggles to get 24 MPGs on the highway and 16 in town. For a car that is as fast as a 4 cylinder Camry, it should do much better.

    2. The interior, while improved, is still not where the competition is. The abundance of fake chrome and the silver plastic on the center stack detract from its luxury mission. However, the seats are great.

    3. Some of the ergonomics are questionable. For example to change the trip computer you have to reach the dash and take your eyes off the road. The traction control button on the center stack does not light up if you press it (accidentally or otherwise). The automatic headlights take 30+ seconds to respond to changing light conditions and the list goes on.

    Fix some of these issues and you would have a very sweet car.

  • avatar

    I know what they say about tastes and opinions, but to me, there hasn’t been one car ever made with a road presence the CTS has. This car is probably the only beautiful yet aggressive cars ever made. The V series improves on these factors, has the power to back it up, is a giant middle finger to ze germans.

    • 0 avatar

      Agree on the road presence. I think that it has one of the strongest presences on the road (not including trucks) in a way that is more refined than a gaping-mouthed Charger SRT or the like.

      Love the styling or hate it, this car truly looks like nothing else.

      • 0 avatar

        I have to agree. I am very far from the usual demographic for this car. I buy/drive economy hatches, but I love the looks of the CTS. A guy at my work has a V and I give it a nice glance-over everytime I go out in the parking lot.

      • 0 avatar

        And the Coupe takes it up another notch – But I’d have to hit the Mega Millions to be able to justify it. Oh well :-(

    • 0 avatar

      Yep. When he mentioned it had been on the market for 5 years I thought “What? No. It’s looks brand new!” …I’m not an American car fan, but Caddy did a great job with the detailing and proportioning for this generation, and well proportioned cars take a long time to look old.

  • avatar

    I still can’t come up with a situation where these cars would look good to me. It looks like it has a big toothy, bracey grin and squinty eyes. I more or less like boxy cars, but this is taking boxy to the extreme.

  • avatar

    After looking around at this segment (and watching my friends buy M3s), I ordered a new CTS-V wagon which I’m hoping I’ll pick up next week. I’m not rich, I don’t have kids yet, but the idea of a monster Cadillac station wagon, with a six-speed seemed just ridiculous enough that I can overlook a lot.

    And overlook a lot I did. Compared to the competition, the CTS interior is just outdated. It was great when it came out, but the materials, design and Nav system deserved a real update in the 2011 MCE, which really turned out to include only an HP boost for the 3.6 and a new grill.

    That being said, the (enormous) benefits of the engine/transmission/suspension combo in the V put it over the top of its direct competitors. I wouldn’t say the same about the non-V, though I agree with the author that its exterior still turns heads amongst an otherwise blah crowd, which adds value that can’t necessarily be discerned via the window sticker.

    • 0 avatar

      The only reason I’m not insanely jealous is that I felt very very lucky to get through an entire week with a V wagon without getting into trouble.

      What color did you get?

      • 0 avatar

        Thanks! I got it in the Opulent Blue. I briefly thought about keeping the painted wheels for a more restrained look, but it’s already a station wagon (i.e conservative enough), so I went for the black wheels and yellow calipers. It looks good on the configurator, so hopefully it will when I see it in person.

    • 0 avatar

      I just sat in a CTS-V wagon this past weekend at an auto show. It is the most badass car that exists today, IMO. Congratulations–count me as another jealous one. At 31, I’m also not the typical Cadillac demographic, however, this is an extremely unique car, and the people who buy it are not buying it for the standard luxury brand/panache as much as they are buying it for how simply phenomenal and unique it is. You, sir, are a man of principal and character!

    • 0 avatar

      Count me in on the jealous train. Great choice that will get you respect from any fair-minded car enthusiast.

      Just saw a (non-V) CTS Wagon in Opulent Blue and it looked great. Can only image how good it’ll look with the black wheels and yellow calipers.

      I’m “only” 28 and bought a lightly used CTS sedan. I was very open to getting a wagon, but couldn’t find any in my area that were not base models. A V of any sort would be awesome, but living in LA I felt that it would be like a caged animal on the roads here, and couldn’t justify the MPG hit.

      Enjoy the V wagon — it’s one of those rare special cars I can see people keeping for a lifetime.

    • 0 avatar

      You are my hero! I love my BMW wagon, but if I could have remotely justified the price differential I would have bought a CTS-V wagon JUST BECAUSE!

      • 0 avatar

        I drove the cts-v wagon for an hour or so once….you need $1000 at all times for bail money.

        Compared to an M5,however, it is far more practical and half the price for the same thing.

        Not that either one is “practical”.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes- if I could have one (somewhat realistic) car for free and not have to worry in any way about gas/insurance/maintenance costs affecting my budget this is probably what I’d pick. Different color maybe, but otherwise…

    • 0 avatar

      Congrats, and excellent choice on the car. I saw one in the “bass-boat metallic black” with the black wheels and yellow calipers and I was in love. I think the blue will look awesome too.

      I have to disagree about the interior though, I thought it looked great, especially in the CTS-V with the alcantara, didnt look outdated to me. BMW interiors may have some slightly better materials, but they have no style at all, Infiniti doesn’t look any different or better than the CTS, Lexus looks old fashioned. Maybe you can make a case for Audi interiors having better quality materials and nice style, but they are not known for holding up well either.

      I cannot speak for the Nav system since I didnt use it, and they may not have all of the techie toys that BMW offers, but honestly, when you are blowing the doors off your buddy’s M3s, who cares?!?!

  • avatar

    Yet another example of pairing the manual transmission with the wrong engine in the lineup. By now, we all know it has nothing to do with what the consumer would want. They probably don’t even bother making any manual transmission/anemic engine cars anyway. Its just so as to have a lower “starting from” sticker for the ads.


  • avatar

    Not a big fan of American iron, but I would buy a CTS-V in a heartbeat. It just has the ‘look” with the balls to back it up. When it first came out, the origami look was startling, but to me, it has aged very well. I can’t resist staring every time I see one. Especially in the aforementioned black.

  • avatar

    Sobering review. I think the term you are looking for is “Blandtastic”.
    We shall see but I am afraid the ATS will be reviewed in similar fashion when it is compared to its contemporaries in the marketplace. Blandtastic indeed.

  • avatar

    I want to love this car, but from reviews, it just doesn’t sound competitive with it’s rivals. It’s a real shame, because it’s decidedly more interesting to look at than the current crop of entry-level luxury sedans with the exception of the S60.

    If the reliability record proves solid, and it’s resale value proves as low as other Cadillacs, this could be a nice used buy if your plan is to drive it into the ground.

    • 0 avatar

      Reliability depends on the year. The 2008s started out worse than average, but have aged well, and are now about average.

      2009s have been worse than average so far. I’ve actually noticed a blip for this model year for a few GM and Chrysler models–wonder if all of the uncertainty affected attention to QA.

      The 2010s are better than average so far, based on a small sample size.

      Full details:

  • avatar

    I had a new CTS as a loaner car to use over Thanksgiving. The Cadillac dealer neglected to inform me they close early on Saturdays and I was unable to pick up my Escalade from routine maintence. So I ended up taking the family to San Diego in their CTS. It can accomodate four people and their luggage, but just barely.

    For a car as big as the CTS is on the outside it doesn’t have much interior room inside. The front feels cramped with a low lower dash intruding near your knees and a wide center console. The rear even with the front seats a big forward is a squeeze. My Pontiac G8 is about the same size but is much roomier inside. How do American engineers managed to make massive cars with tiny interiors?

    The interior design itself is whacky. The styling, the materials, the shape of the front seats, everything about it is pretty much wrong. The materials don’t feel nice minus the leather itself and the workmanship is horrid. It has one of the most uncomfortable pair of chairs I’ve endured in recent memory. Absolutely nowhere near the same universe as the 2010 Saab 9-5 I just picked up. The car feels more like a Chevy than something luxurious or substantial.

    The base V6 has no business being in a Cadillac product. It is very unrefined, very loud and not very powerful. Once up to speed it will cruise all day at 80-90mph and the fuel economy was decent at 25mpg overall fully loaded and at full speed. It was painful around town and to listen to. Cadillacs (and Lincolns) should always have more than enough power, that is part of their image and a reason people buy luxury cars. I have driven a few of these with the 3.6L engine as well and while the performance is better it is still just adequate and sound horrible when caned. This is a car that really needed a mid-level V8, which could have transformed the driving experience.

    To the car’s credit it is very quiet when going very fast and has a nice highway ride (at the expense of handling, which is fine for many people). Yes both my G8 and 9-5 handle better, accelerate better, sound better, the Saab is even quieter, the G8 isn’t but is plenty acceptable and are both roomier inside and have much better styling.

    Aside from the CTS-Vs and the wagon the line just isn’t worth owning.

  • avatar

    I like to think of the CTS-V as a Siberian tiger. Beautiful, Strong, very powerful, graceful and very dangerous. Destroys anything that dare challenge it. Made by real car people, for real people unlike feminine turd mobiles like lexus, buick and acura bought by latte sipping uppity whores to drive to book clubs.

    I wish the people who bought it, PeteK included, are banned from driving their car. This thing is an art/masterpiece and should be put on a pedestal in some museum or maybe i’m just envious of him. Poverty sucks :(

  • avatar

    I’m so glad Cadillac has dumped the retractable screen in the upcoming models. In my opinion, it adds unnecessary cost and maintenance problems to the car.

    My coworkers wife purchased an SRX. Within 3 months her screen stopped retracting. I always knew motorized stuff like this would eventually stop working, but, 3 MONTHS???

    Can’t wait to get my hands on an XTS.

  • avatar

    I also think Cadillac should be ashamed to not make the fog lights STANDARD. Maybe not the chromed trim on the foglights, but, the foglights themselves should come with the car.

    When I’m on the road and I see a CTS without the foglights I think to myself: “oh, THAT’S THE CHEAP ONE”.

    I should never be able to say that about a Cadillac.

  • avatar

    Gas struts expensive??? My old 99 A8 has chewed up it’s gearbox $5k and fuel pump $800 but the worn out gas struts that now remind me daily by allowing the trunk to fall on my head are a bargain at a mere $60 each. Telling me that they couldn’t afford $120 to have some proper lift for the old trunk lid??? And my fan just went this past weekend only $80 for the ACM Engine Cooling Fan Clutch, from German too. Just keeps on getting better and better and I though that the car was dead and it was time for me to get a 2001 A8!!!

    • 0 avatar

      I think there are two reasons car makers have gone from gas struts to these goosenecks:

      I have a 1st Gen 300SRT8 and it has gas struts. While they do save space, they can’t be used with auto-close trunks (like on my S550). The new chrysler 300 has these goosenecks and they pop fully open when the button is pressed.

      Also, I’ve noticed these gas struts have washers and other parts that RATTLE when you have the trunk subwoofers. The goosenecks don’t rattle.

  • avatar

    I love the CTS-V look. Especially the wagon. I’m not one for the loud, mean-looking car, but it looks both tough and modern. It looks ready for the track, but still perfect for the valet line at the opera. It hits the balance the Audi S cars have perfected.

    Strangely, by contrast, the regular CTS I can’t stand. It looks fat, bloated, and dated, and according to the review, it drives that way. My garage at work is full of the CTS, probably all with Kiwanis Club stickers. You usually see some old guy slowly hauling himself up out of it in the morning. One guy even put aftermarket pinstrips on his. Sadly, it seems to fit the character of the car.

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