New & Used Cadillac CTS: In Depth
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The Cadillac CTS is a mid-size luxury sedan that competes with the BMW 5-Series, Audi A6, and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class. The 2014 redesigned CTS has grown in size, thanks to the introduction of the compact ATS sport wagon. The CTS sits underneath the XTS in the Cadillac lineup.
Read The Car Connection's full coverage of the 2013 Cadillac CTS.
The CTS succeeded the Catera, a blandly styled sedan about the same size that, while pleasant to drive, had unremarkable interior appointments and reliability and quality issues to boot. Produced at a new plant, in Lansing, Michigan, the CTS has always achieved much better ratings, and quality has been praised.
While the CTS when first introduced for 2003 made a strong statement on the outside and was quite well received in that respect, its interior—in particular, its drab, plasticky instrument panel—was almost universally panned. On introduction, the CTS was powered by a 220-horsepower, 3.2-liter version of the V-6 that had been used in the Catera. But soon after, for 2004, that engine was joined by a new 255-horsepower, 3.6-liter DOHC V-6 that had made the CTS feel much more lively without negatively affecting fuel economy. Later, the 3.2-liter was replaced by a smaller 2.8-liter version of the DOHC V-6. When introduced, it was also the first Cadillac in many years to offer a five-speed manual transmission, but the linkage was a bit balky for a luxury car; the six-speed manual that was introduced for 2005 is an improvement.
Although the interior was an eyesore that was tough to look past, the 2003-2007 Cadillac CTS models, especially with the stronger engine, are enjoyable to drive, with excellent steering and a tight, responsive feel that's very different than Cadillacs of the past. The CTS has had good crash-test ratings and a full roster of safety features from the start.
Cadillac made good with a redesigned 2008 CTS that, while keeping the former version's basic silhouette, doorlines, and roofline, was substantially changed throughout. Slightly more width and length plus well-detailed front and rear-end styling helped the CTS stand out, and the CTS received a stunning new interior—incorporating vastly improved materials and surfaces and a innovative retracting navigation screen—that together finally made the whole package right. In this latest version of the CTS, GM introduced a new direct-injected version of the 3.6-liter V-6, making 304 horsepower; and for 2009, Cadillac replaced the lower-output engine with a 3.0-liter version of the direct-injection V-6, making 270 horsepower. The latest 2008-2010 CTS models offer six-speed manual or automatic transmissions, and all-wheel drive is available.
Angling for heads-up competition with Mercedes-Benz's AMG brand and BMW's M Division, Cadillac offers the V range. From 2004 through 2007, the CTS-V came with a 5.7- or 6.0-liter V-8, making 400 horsepower, but an all-new 2009 CTS-V harnessed the Corvette ZR1's 6.2-liter V-6, making 556 horsepower, with huge brakes to match and GM's Magnetic Ride Control allowing a tolerable ride plus track-ready capability.
For 2010, a new CTS Wagon and CTS Coupe joined the lineup. Both have CTS-V variants available. For the 2012 model year, a new version of the 3.6-liter V-6 became available, with 318 horsepower. Bluetooth also was made standard across the lineup. For the 2013 model year, a new adaptive remote start system was added to all CTS models, while a trio of new color options and a slightly revised grille update the look. CTS-V models get new two-piece front brake rotors.
The entry-level Cadillac of today is tomorrow's mid-sizer. Cadillac has introduced a new family of vehicles, smaller than the CTS lineup, in the 2013 model year as the ATS.
A new generation of the CTS has been unveiled for the 2014 model year, making its debut at the 2013 New York Auto Show. Powered by a new twin-turbocharged V-6 engine rated at 420 horsepower, as well as a turbocharged four-cylinder option and a normally aspirated V-6, the CTS now has an entirely new look, and has grown as well, into the mid-size class, and intro a true competitor for sedans like the BMW 5-Series and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class. A full line of sedans and coupes and V-Series cars are expected, though it's uncertain if the wagon edition will return.