2016 Cadillac CT6 Review

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Kirk Bell Kirk Bell Editor
June 13, 2016

With the space of a larger car, the handling of a smaller car, and a starting price in the $50,000s, the CT6 is a large luxury car value.

Cadillac's upmarket shift hasn't gone as smoothly as the company had hoped. A universally praised redesign of the CTS moved it up in size and price, but sales have been tepid and customer incentives have soared as high as a combined $10,000. Many have suggested it might have been better if the new mid-sizer didn't share its name with the formerly compact, formerly cheaper CTS.

That's where the all-new full-size Cadillac and its all-new name—CT6—may avoid such positioning missteps, and finally reestablish the brand as a serious player in the luxury market. With the CT6, Cadillac has set its competitive sights on flagships from Lexus, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi.

The CT6 continues the evolution of Cadillac's "Art & Science" design language. The nose features vertical LED headlights that slash up and over the top of the fenders. These frame a broad grille with Cadillac's new de-wreathed-and-supersized badge. The car has an athletic, planted stance with the sheet metal draped over the wheels. The long dash-to-axle ratio indicates this is a rear-drive-based car, the short front overhang adds to the athletic look, and the long rear overhang gives a sense of direction and indicates this a large car.

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Inside, the CT6 has a horizontal theme to emphasize the width. A single character line runs the full width of the dash, and the center peak from the exterior can be found in the middle of the dash as well. The shape of the opening for the 10.2-inch center screen echoes the chevron shape of the grille, and the same shape can be found in the seat pattern. Satin chrome is used to keep the car from looking too "blingy," and it is accented by wood, carbon fiber, and leather.

The new Omega architecture combines aluminum and steel, and Cadillac says that makes it lighter than an all-aluminum car would be. The result is a car that, in its lightest form, weighs in at just 3,657 pounds, about 1,000 pounds less than the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

Given its modest weight, one might expect the CT6 to drive like a sport sedan. However, there is simply too much car here to deliver truly sporty handling. Instead, the CT6 combines a capable dynamic character with on-road comfort.

From the driver’s seat, all CT6 models have the vault-like, hunkered down ride quality of the top full-size luxury sedans, though the suspension is a bit firmer than you’ll find in the 7 Series and certainly firmer than in the S-Class. Similarly, the steering is heavier and more direct than you’ll find in the CT6’s full-size rivals.

The CT6 launches with a trio of direct-injected engines, all mated to 8-speed automatic transmissions: a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 making 265 horsepower, a 3.6-liter V-6 with 335 hp, and a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 that produces 404 hp.

The purest expression of the CT6’s weight savings ideology is actually the 2.0-liter, rear-wheel-drive base model. With 428 fewer pounds to carry around, this version feels the most agile, the lightest on its feet, and the closest thing to a full-size sports sedan. The 4-cylinder provides surprisingly good power, too.

The new twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 delivers strong, smooth power. However, it also adds more weight over the nose. That makes turn-in a bit slower and gives the car a tendency to understeer when pushed into corners. The lighter base model rotates a bit better and so do models equipped with the optional active rear steering system (part of the $3,300 Active Chassis Package), which can apply 3.5 degrees of opposite steering angle to the rear wheels to virtually shorten low-speed turns.

The CT6’s interior is Cadillac’s finest cabin yet, and it is rife with high-quality materials. It has the next generation of the CUE infotainment system, complete with a 10.2-inch, high-definition touchscreen, and a touchpad that can recognize handwriting in a search for addresses or points of interest.

However, in some ways the cabin doesn't measure up to those of its rivals, which are some of the finest interiors on the planet. It lacks the little design flourishes and unexpected bits of metallic trim that the German sedans have. The driver’s seat isn’t as comfortable, either, with too little bolstering and not enough range of motion for all types of drivers to find their ideal seating positions. Space, however, is not a problem.

The rear seat is similarly spacious. At 40.4 inches, it has enough leg room for an NBA forward, and head room is plentiful, too. A large center console provides storage and a nice armrest. It covers what is otherwise a rather unfriendly middle seating position.

Like most cars in this class, The CT6 offers a multitude of safety features. These include forward collision alert, lane departure warning with lane keep assist, front pedestrian detection, rear cross-traffic alerts, blind-spot monitors, intelligent high-beam headlights, low-speed automatic front braking with pedestrian detection, low-speed automatic rear braking, and night vision. There is also a surround-view camera system, and an industry-first rear camera mirror.

The CT6 hasn't been crash tested yet, but its solid structure should produce top results.

Fuel economy ratings have pegged the CT6 near the top of its competitors. Fitted with a small-displacement, turbocharged 4-cylinder engine has its benefits: the EPA rated it at 31 mpg in highway cruising.

In addition to the safety features, Cadillac offers numerous luxury amenities and technical features. Like the rest of the GM fleet, there's OnStar 4G LTE with a wi-fi hotspot. An optional Rear Seat Package has a massaging function and two 10-inch rear screens. A 34-speaker Bose Panaray audio system is offered, and so is a panoramic sunroof.

In addition to active rear steering, the Active Chassis Package features GM's Magnetic Ride Control suspension and 20-inch wheels.

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2016 Cadillac CT6

Styling

The 2016 Cadillac CT6 combines an athletic stance with the regal lines of a large luxury sedan, all wrapped in the most mature version of the brand's Art & Science design language.

The CT6 continues the evolution of Cadillac's "Art & Science" design language, and shares much in common with the CTS sedan, which is 8.5 inches shorter. The nose features vertical LED headlights that slash up and over the top of the fenders. These frame a broad grille with Cadillac's new de-wreathed-and-supersized badge. There are two versions of the grille. The base version has more piano black trim, while the version for the top-end Platinum model has more satin chrome trim.

Speaking of trim, all of the chrome is satin, so as not to be too garish.

Engineers worked hard to keep the structure above the front wheels as low as possible, and that helped the designers give the car an athletic, planted stance with the sheet metal draped over the wheels. The long dash-to-axle ratio indicates this is a rear-drive-based car. The short front overhang adds to the athletic look, while the long rear overhang gives a sense of direction and indicates this a large car.

Continuing beyond the long hood and past the cabin's relatively high waistline, the CT6 is also similar to the CTS from the rear. The shapes of the C-pillars and muscular rear haunches are close, though the CT6's additional length lets the lines play out over a larger canvas. Also, at the very rear, the CT6 shares the CTS's high rear deck and sharply vertical taillights.

Inside, the CT6 has a horizontal theme to emphasize the width. A single character line runs the full width of the dash, and the center peak from the exterior can be found on top of the dash as well. The shape of the opening for the 10.2-inch center screen echoes the chevron shape of the grille, and the same shape can be found in the seat pattern. Again, satin chrome is used to keep the car from looking too "blingy," and it is accented by wood, carbon fiber, and leather.

9

2016 Cadillac CT6

Performance

The light weight creates controlled dynamics, and while all three engines provide plenty of power, the CT6 lacks the V-8 many luxury buyers might expect.

Like the ATS and CTS, Cadillac has thrown some impressive engineering expertise behind the CT6. This car uses the lightweight principles Cadillac employed for those cars and takes them a step further.

The body structure combines aluminum and steel, and Cadillac says that makes it lighter than an all-aluminum car would be. That’s because steel blocks sound better and therefore Cadillac needed to add less sound deadening material.

The result is a car that, in its lightest form, weighs in at just 3,657 pounds. That’s about 1,000 pounds less than the S-Class and 100 pounds less than the size-smaller 5 Series and E-Class. Of course, that’s only with the 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 and rear-wheel drive. Models with the twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 and all-wheel drive weigh in at 4,085 pounds. That’s still 225 pounds lighter than the lightest BMW 7 Series, but it means the CT6 doesn’t exactly spar against the welterweights.

Given its modest weight, you might expect the CT6 to drive like a sport sedan. However, there is simply too much car here to deliver the sporty handling of one of the best mid-size sports sedans on the planet. Instead, the CT6 combines a capable dynamic character with on-road comfort.

From the driver’s seat, all CT6 models have the vault-like, hunkered down ride quality of the top full-size luxury sedans, though the suspension is a bit firmer than you’ll find in the 7 Series and certainly firmer than in the S-Class. Similarly, the steering is heavier and more direct than you’ll find in the CT6’s full-size rivals.

The CT6 launches with a trio of direct-injected engines, all mated to 8-speed automatic transmissions: a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 making 265 horsepower, a 3.6-liter V-6 with 335 hp, and a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 that produces 404 hp.

The purest expression of the CT6’s weight savings ideology is actually the 2.0-liter, rear-wheel-drive base model. With 428 fewer pounds to carry around, this version feels the most agile, the lightest on its feet, and the closest thing to a full-size sports sedan. The 4-cylinder provides good power, too. Cadillac quotes a 6.1-second 0 to 60 mph time and that feels right.

The new-twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 delivers strong, smooth power, cutting the 0 to 60 mph time to 5.3 seconds. However, it also adds more weight over the nose. That makes turn-in a bit slower and gives the car a tendency to understeer when pushed into corners. The lighter base model rotates a bit better and so do models equipped with the optional active rear steering system (part of the $3,300 Active Chassis Package), which can apply 3.5 degrees of opposite steering angle to the rear wheels to virtually shorten low-speed turns.

9

2016 Cadillac CT6

Comfort & Quality

The 2016 Cadillac CT6's cabin is roomy and comfortable, but it lacks some of the niceties high-end buyers might take for granted.

This is Cadillac’s finest cabin yet, and it is rife with high-quality materials. It has the next generation of the Cadillac User Experience infotainment system, complete with a 10.2-inch screen and a new touchpad with handwriting recognition.

The CT6 competes with some of the finest cars and finest interiors on the planet, and in some ways it just doesn't measure up. It lacks some of the design flourishes and unexpected bits of metallic trim that the German sedans have. For instance, the CT6 has little detail around the seat adjustment controls that Mercedes would garnish with extra bits of chrome trim. The doors also don't have automatic closers that suck them in the final few millimeters when they haven't been closed tightly. The seat belt receptacles in the rear seat also sit too low, making them hard to find when you try to buckle in, especially with the center console down. These are minor complaints, but they add up to a touch less luxury than is offered in the CT6's accomplished rivals.

The driver’s seat is a luxurious place to command a very pleasant car, but it too trails the competition. The driver's seat is a bit too firm, without enough bolstering and too little range of motion in its adjustments to allow all types of drivers to find their ideal seating positions. Space, however, is not a problem, as there is plenty of room for even tall drivers.

Rear seat passengers will be even more comfortable than those up front. The rear seat has enough leg room for an NBA forward, and head room is plentiful, too. A large center console provides storage and a handy armrest. It covers what is otherwise a rather unfriendly middle seating position. The outboard seats are practically buckets and the middle occupant has to sit on a perch and deal with the transmission tunnel. A Rear Seat Package includes massaging and reclining rear seats, as well as a pair of 10-inch screens for entertainment.

The trunk is large with 15.3 cubic feet of storage space. However, the rear seats don't fold down to increase carrying capacity. Instead, Cadillac offers a rear pass-through that will accommodate long, skinny objects like skis.

7

2016 Cadillac CT6

Safety

The rear camera mirror is a great new technology among a slew of the latest safety technologies.

The CT6 offers as much outward visibility as any large luxury sedan. A surround-view camera system displays everything around the CT6 on the CUE monitor, and has a feature that records video from the front and rear while the car is in motion, or from all directions when the security system is activated. There's also an industry-first rear camera mirror that delivers a rearward view that is unobstructed and three times the size of a typical rearview mirror.

A Driver Awareness and Convenience Package is optional on the base model, and standard otherwise. Its safety features include forward collision alert, a following distance indicator, lane departure warning with lane keep assist, front pedestrian detection, rear cross-traffic alerts, automatic safety belt tightening, blind spot monitors, intelligent high-beam headlights, rain-sensing wipers, and low-speed automatic braking.

Cadillac offers three other major safety packages. The Driver Vision Package comes with the Driver Awareness safety features, plus an automatic parking feature. The Driver Assistance Package adds adaptive cruise control, low-speed automatic front braking with pedestrian detection, and low-speed automatic rear braking. The Driver Assist Package comes with adaptive cruise control, front and rear automatic braking, and enhanced night vision, which identifies people and large animals as heat signatures on a display in the driver information center.

The CT6 hasn't been crash tested yet, but its solid structure should produce top results. 

10

2016 Cadillac CT6

Features

The CT6 is bargain-priced compared to its full-size luxury rivals, though it approaches their territory when all the boxes are checked.

The 2016 Cadillac CT6 is offered in base, Luxury, Premium Luxury, and Platinum models. The base comes with a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 and rear-wheel drive. The other models are offered with a 3.6-liter V-6 or a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6, both with standard all-wheel drive.

Standard equipment on the base model includes dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, 14-way power driver's seat with memory, a rearview camera, heated front seats, a power tilt/telescoping steering column, a universal garage door opener, and 18-inch alloy wheels. Communications and entertainment features consist of an eight-speaker Bose audio system, the CUE infotainment system with 10.2-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth connectivity, wireless cell phone charging, three USB ports, Apple Car Play compatibility, OnStar 4G LTE with wi-fi hotspot capability, and satellite radio.

The Luxury model adds a 10-speaker version of the Bose audio system, a heated steering wheel, and 16-way power front seats. It also gets a Driver Awareness and Convenience Package that is optional on the base model. It comes with forward collision alert, navigation, a following distance indicator, lane departure warning with lane keep assist, front pedestrian detection, rear cross-traffic alerts, automatic safety belt tightening, heated front seats, blind-spot monitors, intelligent high-beam headlights, power folding mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, low-speed automatic braking, and a panoramic sunroof.

The Premium Luxury model adds an Enhanced Vision and Comfort Package that comes with the rear camera mirror, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, and a panoramic sunroof. It also gets a larger 12-inch gauge cluster, a head-up display, a panoramic sunroof, and 19-inch wheels.

An Active Chassis Package features GM's Magnetic Ride Control suspension, 20-inch wheels, and active rear steering. A Rear Seat Package features power reclining rear seats with lumbar adjustment; heated and ventilated rear seats; a rear center armrest with media controls; rear seat entertainment system with two 10-inch screens, a remote control, an auxiliary input jack, an HDMI port, and two wireless headphones; and four-zone automatic climate control. A Bose Panaray 34-speaker audio system is a $3,700 option. The Platinum model comes standard with all of these packages, plus the Driver Assistance with Night Vision Package outlined in the Safety section.

7

2016 Cadillac CT6

Fuel Economy

A plug-in hybrid is on the horizon, but for now the CT6 offers a fairly thrifty 4-cylinder, as well as a pair of V-6s that don't drink fuel like the V-8 and V-12 engines from the competition.

According to the EPA, the CT6 equipped with a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 manages 22 mpg city, 31 highway, 25 combined. When equipped with a turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 and all-wheel drive those figures dip significantly to 18/26/21 mpg. The 3.6-liter model does a slightly better at 18/27/22 mpg.

A plug-in hybrid will arrive late this year or early next year. It will team the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine with a pair of electric motors and an 18.4 kwh lithium-ion battery. Total output will be 335 hp, and Cadillac says the car will deliver double the fuel economy of the conventional powertrain offerings.

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