In surveying the available reviews, we can be quite sure that the 2009 Cadillac CTS offers exceptionally good performance. The CTS’s performance impresses even the most jaded journalists and reviewers, who positively beam about the its handling.
The Cadillac CTS “drives like a proper BMW rival,” says Motor Trend, and Car and Driver ventures that “the CTS is more comfortable than a Sport-package-equipped BMW 3-series or Infiniti G37 without giving up much ultimate performance.” ForbesAutos.com commends the crisp steering and excellent road feel, and says that even at the limits of grip, the suspension brings predictable and forgiving behavior.
The 2009 Cadillac CTS performance can be cranked to an edgier level with the stiffest FE3 suspension option, also equipped with the Y43 package, which includes 18-inch wheels and Y-rated Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 summer performance tires. “This CTS's high-performance Michelin PS2 tires are standard equipment on some Porsches, and they have much to do with the way this car feels and performs,” says Edmunds, who test a CTS equipped as such, also noting the CTS’s especially short stopping distances and great pedal feel.
Some reviewers are perfectly happy with the more powerful 304-hp engine, while others wish for more. ForbesAutos.com says, “While it doesn’t bubble with enthusiasm when revving to its 7,000-rpm redline, it delivers more than enough energy to hustle this nearly 4,000-pound sedan along with gusto.” But Edmunds contends that the 2009 Cadillac CTS is slower than competitors with similar power outputs, “likely due to the fact that it weighs about 300 pounds more than the BMW 335i and Lexus IS350.”
Many media outlets also note that premium fuel is recommended for the more powerful engine, but with this more advanced direct-injection design, better fuel economy may be a bonus perk. ConsumerGuide tests both 3.6-liter engines and finds that the direct-injection engine provided significantly higher gas mileage.
Reviewers give rave reviews of the six-speed automatic transmission, which is commended for having great, smooth shifts during leisurely driving and snappy responses in high-performance situations. Car and Driver says that in the transmission’s sport setting, “it quickly gets bold, dutifully holding gears...and aggressively downshifting under braking.” CNET confirms that the transmission has been programmed to downshift depending on how hard you brake going into a corner and not upshift in corners, which makes the 2009 Cadillac CTS especially enjoyable to drive on the track.
A manual gearbox is offered on the base Cadillac CTS, but Car and Driver states that “even with a new shift linkage for shorter throws, the manual isn’t nearly as fluid as those from BMW,” reporting an abruptly engaging clutch pedal and high center console that places the shifter in an odd place.