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First Drive: 2010 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon

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2010 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon

2010 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon

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The 2010 Cadillac Sport Wagon may be the GM brand's first car with a built-in family-planning moment. "Honey, do we really want more than one kid?"

Still, it's far from the horrifying prospect that, say, a Chevrolet Venture might have been, back in the days when GM wasn't very serious about building exciting vehicles for more than two people. From our first drive in the CTS Sport Wagon, we have the feeling it's the sleeper option among the latest crop of not-quite-crossovers that will include the likes of the 2010 Acura ZDX.

In fact, by our measures, the 2010 CTS Sport Wagon's an even better deal than the CTS sedan, if you're compelled by its outre shape.

Cadillac brought us to Detroit a few weeks ago, to drive the new Sport Wagon along with the vehicle it will compete with most directly--the 2010 Cadillac SRX. The latter's a crossover based on front-drive parts, with optional all-wheel drive. The CTS Sport Wagon stems from the rear-drive CTS family, which includes the CTS sedan, CTS-V sedan, and next year, the CTS Coupe.

Like the four-door, the wagon comes with either a direct-injected, 3.0-liter V-6 with 270 horsepower, or a 3.6-liter V-6 with 304 horsepower. The six-speed manual available in the sedan isn't an option, but GM's six-speed automatic, with paddle shifters and sweet gear changes, does all the teamwork to combine the power with either rear- or optional all-wheel drive. Any CTS still can be ordered with tighter suspension settings, but our clear favorite is the "FE3" setup on rear-drive versions, shod with summer tires.

The wagon's clearly more visually kinky than the four-door. The far line of its upright roof pillar is intentionally out of skew to its rear glass edge. V-shaped details on the tailgate remind you of Cadillac's tailfinned past, gently. And those cues all usher your eye right down the sides of this "Art & Science" body, and make a compelling--sexy?--statement about its rather sizable tuchis. The Sport Wagon, ladies and gentlemen, has got back.

It's useful back, in that the CTS Sport Wagon adds on 25 cubic feet to the passenger space, and lets owners flip down the rear seats for a total of 53.4 cubic feet of room. It's easily accessed, with a power tailgate standard and a roof system that adds uncovered capacity to its cargo-hauling profile (but that would spoil the shape, no?). Under the flat cargo floor and built into its sides are trays and hooks and all sorts of Cirque du Soleil attachments to tie down anything you'd care to tie down back there. With its permission of course.

The styling is your call to make, but in our day of driving the CTS Sport Wagon, the reasons to choose it became clear. If any more than two adults will be riding in your CTS, the Wagon's the winner. Mainly, it's because of the vertical height and longer rear doors. The CTS sedan can be a tough clamber for big guys and gals; the cutouts for feet are particularly small. The Sport Wagon's relatively easy to enter and exit, and that makes all the difference for those extra passengers. Their luggage can ride in back, or maybe your pets, or possibly, the effects of a binge at Costco.

The drawbacks to the CTS are here in spades. If you're no fan of the Art & Science theme, it doesn't get any softer with the added door. The interior's far more glitzy than any Audi you may have sampled, and some plastic pieces seem to stand front and center for attention--a trend we're also noticing in other high-end brands, too.

Dolled up with all the major options--a panoramic sunroof, all-wheel drive, a 40GB hard drive for navigation and music files, heated seats, and Bluetooth connectivity, and the CTS Sport Wagon will tingle the nether regions of a $50,000 sticker.  It's still in the range of an Audi A4 Avant--and superior in many ways.

We'll have more on the Sport Wagon to come, including our full review of the 2010 CTS lineup. Steer over to our 2010 Cadillac CTS page for more photos, pricing and specifications.

2010 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon

2010 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon

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