2017 Cadillac CT6 3.0TT Review - Big Car, Big Money, Big Power
2017 Cadillac CT6 3.0TT Luxury
Whether the 2017 Cadillac CT6 is the Cadillac you want, surely the CT6 is what you want Cadillac to be.
It’s not unreasonable to consider yourself a candidate for the Cadillac you can most easily afford: the ATS. But what does the ATS say about Cadillac; what image does it present?
Odds are the SRX-replacing Cadillac XT5 is the Cadillac you’re most likely to buy, the Cadillac that will earn more than one-third of the brand’s U.S. sales, but the XT5 is already popular enough to be decidedly mainstream. Cadillac sold more XT5s in the final six weeks of 2016 than the CT6 managed in nine months.
There’s always the Escalade, the upper-echelon Cadillac that’s far more likely in this SUV-crazed world to capture the well-heeled Cadillac buyer’s attention — but shouldn’t a big Cadillac have a properly big back seat? Shouldn’t it be properly long, low, and wide? Shouldn’t it have the streetside presence of a much more costly car, rather than the silhouette of its $49,000 Chevrolet sibling? And don’t you want to have a barrel of fun hustling your big Cadillac down your favourite Nürburgring-impersonating road?
There’s the rub, of course. You may not want, need, or expect your 17-foot-long Cadillac sedan to be enjoyable to drive — not just to be in, but to drive. Moreover, even if that’s what you want, it may not be possible for the CT6’s endearing on-road behavior to counteract a number of Cadillac idiosyncrasies.
Before we deal with the 2017 Cadillac CT6’s perks and peculiarities, understanding the CT6 we’re testing is vital. A basic, $54,790 rear-wheel-drive Cadillac CT6 with a 265 horsepower, 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder isn’t going to feel like the all-wheel-drive 3.0-liter, twin-turbocharged, 404 horsepower car we tested, and not just because of the 139-horse difference and extra set of driven wheels. (In between, there’s a $57,490 335-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 that comes standard with AWD.)
Our CT6 3.0TT AWD Luxury test specimen was equipped with Cadillac’s Active Chassis Package: magnetic ride control, 20-inch wheels (rather than the base car’s 18s), and active rear steering. The final element turns the rear wheels in the same direction as the front pair for greater agility at higher speed; in the opposite direction for a tighter turning circle at low speeds.
The Active Chassis Package was by no means the only addition to the CT6 with which we spent a late-January week, but it was key, along with the mighty engine, to transforming the way the CT6 makes its way down the road.
BLESSINGS & BENEFITS
And oh me oh my does it ever make its way down the road. Credit the twin-turbo V6 for providing torque all across the rev range, causing lag to be an unknown property, and crafting a refined but enthusiastic sound — essentially the only sound that makes its way inside — that prods you to accelerate longer than you legally ought to.
It’s not quite the accelerative force you’ll experience in the smaller CTS Vsport, a car that’ll make its way from rest to 60 mph half a second quicker. But the CT6’s power deficit (16 fewer horsepower than the Vsport, 30 fewer pound-feet of torque) is marginal, and its weight disadvantage (the CT6 3.0TT AWD is only 161 pounds heavier than a V6 AWD CTS) is minor. The eight-speed automatic that seems unfinished at low speeds and light-throttle applications comes into its own under a heavier right foot, swiftly shuffling through gears with the zeal and refinement you wish to encounter across the rev range.
While Cadillac’s new flagship sedan is a meaningful 8.5-inches longer than the CTS, building a bigger car seems to have had no deleterious effect on dynamics. Though lacking the CTS’s sharper, more communicative steering, the Cadillac CT6 is a shockingly effective corner carver for a car of such size. Forget the size, these are vibrant responses regardless of the dimensions. Body roll is held in check, sudden directional shifts are shrugged off, and the CT6 3.0TT blasts out of corners with real aggression.
Brake feel could be better. More importantly, particularly in Sport mode that makes the most of throttle response and properly weights the steering, ride quality becomes too stiff, exacerbated by the low-profile tires on 20-inch wheels. The rear end is prone to harsh impacts unbecoming a car in this category. Ideally, Cadillac would allow a driver to choose Tour and Sport settings separately for the steering, powertrain, and suspension, as many other likeminded systems do.
QUIRKS & QUARKS
The CT6 3.0TT all but nails the driving experience, but the driving environment is another matter.
Yes, there’s enough luxury equipment to go around. Sure, rear seat space – massive center tunnel aside – is expansive. The trunk, let down by a slim opening and an odd shape, still swallows 15.3 cubic feet of snitches, I mean squealers, I mean cargo. Road and wind noise don’t merit discussion. Bose’s 34-speaker Panaray sound system produces the same clarity at a wake-the-neighbors level as it does at a put-the-baby-to-sleep setting. Front seat comfort, bolstered by Mercedes-aping controls on the door, exhibits a new Cadillac seating standard.
In a flagship luxury car, however, stuff, space, and silence isn’t just expected. It’s assumed.
Also assumed, at least in 2017, is an intuitive and speedy infotainment unit and an interior free from obvious miscues.
The mode button that switches the CT6 out of Tour and into Sport or Snow settings responded. Sometimes.
Selections made in the gauge cluster, via steering wheel controls, are met with the timely response of your iPhone. 3G.
The capacitive touch buttons still responsible for some climate functions may complete the task you demand. If you ask nicely.
Cadillac’s favored volume slider is unnecessary, the Home button is a bizarrely long reach for the driver, and the touchpad — not the wheel/knob setup that accompanies superior systems — isn’t the answer for a driver who doesn’t want to take his eyes off the road to survey the screen for accuracy.
Build and material quality does not appear to be the issue (apart from a driver’s door that didn’t like to remain in its detents). The metal shift paddles feel more expensive than a whole Chevrolet Spark. The Panaray’s central speaker rises out of the dashtop with nary a peep.
But the CT6 is a finicky place to spend time. Flagship Cadillacs should always infuse relaxation and never incite frustration.
CASH & COMPETITORS
This is not the DeVille your aunt’s building manager drives for a late-night airport limo service. Don’t be offended. I’m not criticizing Aunt Mabel, her super, late nights, limo services, or airports.
But the bridge our minds cross from DeVille, DTS, and XTS across to the 2017 Cadillac CT6 3.0TT AWD Luxury is a bridge that shouldn’t have been built.
This CT6 costs $75,310.
The Advanced Chassis Package we mentioned earlier? $3,300. Bose’s 34-speaker Panaray audio? Brace yourself: $3,700. The Enhanced Vision & Comfort Package (rearview camera mirror, two sunroofs, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats) is $2,025. This particular paint selection, Stellar Black, is $595.
Recognize that this is no mere replacement for Jack Klompus’ Fleetwood. Cadillac’s CT6 aspirations include Mercedes-Benz E-Class-like pricing with S-Class dimensions, an Audi A8 back seat with an Audi A6 payment, a BMW 7 Series for the price of a 5 Series. Prices for the S-Class, A8, and 7 Series, start at $97,525, $83,450, and $82,495, respectively.
CT6 pricing doesn’t begin to enter that territory until you’ve slathered the 3.0TT Premium Luxury with every option or chosen the $89,785 CT6 Platinum.
In 2017, Cadillac is not The Standard Of The World. Place blame at the feet of downmarket dealer environments, or rough resale values, or a brand image harmed by generations who are more likely to link big Cadillac sedans to Morty Seinfeld’s Del Boca Vista than Uwe Ellinghaus’ Brooklyn backdrops.
Regardless, the CT6 doesn’t belong in the same conversation as the German leaders, even if it is quieter and drives better.
Imperfect but appealing, flawed but desirable, the 2017 Cadillac CT6 is the car that could begin to change all that. In exchange for your early adoption, Cadillac gives you full-size stature for mid-size money. With top-notch handling thrown in as a bonus, that’s not a bad deal.
[Images: © 2017 Timothy Cain]
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