- Distinctive styling, especially Sport Wagon
- Excellent handling and braking
- Top tech features, including Bluetooth
- World-class quality levels
- Class-topping weight impedes performance
- Busy interior design
- Notchy manual transmission
The 2010 Cadillac CTS takes an edgy, American approach to European performance-and style, with the stunning CTS Sport Wagon.
The 2010 Cadillac CTS is General Motors' entry-level luxury sedan in the U.S. market. Redesigned in 2008, the CTS lineup gets a new Sport Wagon model for 2010 (and a CTS Coupe is coming in 2011). With a base price of about $37,000, the CTS lineup can run up to $54,000 for the premium all-wheel-drive wagon-and the related CTS-V supersedan costs far more (it's reviewed separately). Though the CTS is a little longer and wider than its competitors, the Cadillac goes up against the BMW 3-Series, the Infiniti G37 / EX35, the Audi A4, and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
The 2010 CTS is, in some eyes, the most distinctive of all the vehicles in this set.
Sharply folded edges, a chunky stance, and lots of chrome details give the sedan a stubby, sporting look. The huge Cadillac wreath-and-crest logo in front isn't subtle, but then, not much about the CTS is. This latest version is less tall and awkward than the prior version, and it projects a uniquely American look that's appealing from most angles. The 2010 CTS Sport Wagon is a little visually kinkier; the rear end intentionally rises out of skew to the rear side windows, and the V-shaped tailgate narrows cargo room a little for a brand-underscoring styling moment. There's a subtle motion along the body that emphasizes, rather than subdues, the big rear end. If you're no fan of Cadillac's "Art & Science" styling theme, it doesn't get any softer with the added wagon back. The interior design is attractive, but it might not suit everyone's tastes, especially those used to the Teutonic design approach of less is more. It's smooth and flowing in its contours, but far glitzier 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.
Either body style in the 2010 CTS lineup can be ordered with a smaller or a larger V-6, with a choice of rear- or all-wheel drive. A manual transmission is of-fered on the sedan, but it's automatic-only for the CTS Sport Wagon. The base engine is a 3.0-liter V-6 with direct injection and 270 horsepower. Fuel economy hasn't been released, but it's not expected to be any more efficient than the larger V-6-just less expensive to order. For that reason alone, TheCarConnec-tion.com would recommend the larger 3.6-liter V-6. It's also the better choice be-cause of its zippy acceleration and ample power. With 304 hp on tap, Cadillac says the manual sedan will accelerate to 60 mph in 6.7 seconds; the base auto-matic Sport Wagon, in 7.0 seconds. The manual shifter's fine, but GM six-speed automatic changes gears sweetly, and in the Sport Wagon it gets paddles for a more sporting flair. Cadillac tunes in great steering feel in the CTS, and with four different suspension choices, it can be suited to most drivers. TheCarConnection.com prefers the FE3 setup, which helps produce entertaining handling and a firm ride that's still smooth enough for everyday driving, even on the upgraded 19-inch wheels and summer tires.
The 2010 CTS is a snugly fitting machine, especially in sedan form. In front, firm sport seats give good support, with a little skimping of knee room where the elaborate center console flares. The sedan's shorter rear door openings and slighted legroom make the CTS Sport Wagon the clear choice for anyone trans-porting more than two adults at a time. The Sport Wagon's relatively easy to en-ter 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. It's useful in back, in that the CTS Sport Wagon adds 25 cubic feet to the passenger space, and lets owners flip down the rear seats for a total of 53.4 cu-bic feet of room. It's easily accessed, with a power tailgate as standard and a roof system that adds uncovered capacity to its cargo-hauling profile. Under the flat cargo floor and built into its sides are trays, hooks, and a little basement-style storage area, all of which give the Sport Wagon a definite advantage over the CTS Sport Sedan's decently roomy trunk and its relatively smaller cargo opening. Quality mavens may quibble over the CTS' liberal use of plastic, but the interior boasts high-quality upholstery and trim that's certainly the equal of the other ve-hicles in the class, if more attention-grabbing.
The 2010 Cadillac CTS Sport Sedan / Wagon earns four stars for driver-side front impacts from NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), and five stars in the front-passenger and in both side-impact tests. The IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) gives the CTS "good" ratings for impacts front and side, and the CTS is on their Top Safety Pick list. Standard safety equipment in-cludes six airbags, as well as traction and stability control; all-wheel drive is an option on CTS Sport Sedans, standard on CTS Sport Wagons. OnStar is stan-dard; adaptive lighting and parking sensors are available.
With the addition of the CTS Sport Wagon, Cadillac's touched up the standard features on the lineup for 2010. The base sedan comes with power doors, locks, and mirrors; cruise control; automatic dual-zone climate control; a power driver seat; a tilt and telescoping steering wheel; an AM/FM/CD/XM audio system with auxiliary jack; an air filtration system; and automatic headlamps. The Sport Wagon adds a power tailgate to that list. The major options include a panoramic sunroof; Bluetooth connectivity; a particularly advanced, easy-to-use entertain-ment system with hard-drive music storage and memory to hold radio broad-casts; a navigation system with real-time traffic; ventilated seats; a pet cover for the wagon's cargo hold; and 18- or 19-inch wheels and tires, to go with different suspension packages and all-weather or summer tires.