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PERFORMANCE | 9 out of 10
CTS-V accelerates ferociously
The fastest, most powerful American sedan in history
Movements are precise, yet untroubled by cracked pavement or pot holes
The 2009 Cadillac CTS-V takes the middle-of-the-pack performance of the Cadillac CTS and cranks it to 11. Or maybe even 12, thanks to a massive new engine and upgraded suspension and aerodynamics.
For 2009, the Cadillac CTS-V receives a heart transplant from its corporate cousin, the Chevrolet Corvette ZR1. Jalopnik reports that the Cadillac CTS-V has a "6.2-liter supercharged engine," similar to the Corvette's, "but here making a not-quite-as-ridiculous 551 lb-ft and 556 hp." Those numbers may not be as stunning as the Corvette's, but they are still enough for Motor Trend to declare the 2009 Cadillac CTS-V "the fastest, most powerful American sedan in history." That statement is impressive in itself, but Jalopnik goes even further by noting that, based on track times, the Cadillac CTS-V is "the fastest production sedan in the world." Power delivery from the engine is nearly effortless, as Cars.com mentions that "the torque band [is]...broad enough, and the sound level is low enough at high revs, that it's easy to crash into the rather hard rev limiter." Effortless delivery doesn't mean docile acceleration, though; ConsumerGuide claims that the Cadillac CTS-V can hit 60 mph "in 3.9 seconds with either manual or automatic transmission," which is faster than many of today's purebred sportscars. Road & Track jokingly comments that "the speedometer in this car is pointless; it should just be a sticker that says 'You're speeding.'"
Yes, the 2009 Cadillac CTS-V is neck-snappingly quick with either of the two available transmissions, which Motor Trend lists as "the proven Tremec TR6060 six-speed manual or GM's new 6L90 six-speed automatic." Both transmissions earn high praise in reviews read by TheCarConnection.com—particularly the manual. ConsumerGuide says it "works smoothly, with a precise but meaty feel," while Cars.com raves about the "pleasing short-throw shifter and ratios matched to the engine's hearty grunt." As for the automatic, Road & Track reviewers note that it "offers an enjoyable experience," thanks to "quick upshifts and rev-matched downshifts that can be controlled by paddles on the steering wheel." However, as experts at TheCarConnection.com have mentioned, using the paddles first requires that you shift the drive selector into the manual shift gate, which can be annoying.
Otherworldly power and performance usually come at a steep cost when it's time to fill up the tank. The Cadillac CTS-V certainly fits the mold here. Although no EPA figures are available, Cars.com reports that "Cadillac says we're looking at mpg in the teens," though they "put on 90 miles at speeds between 55 and 70 mph, and the trip computer showed an average 21.9 mpg." However, that trip does include a drop of "1,300 feet of elevation, all told."
Unlike some American sportscars, which can pass muster simply by virtue of their acceleration times, sports sedans are measured as much by their handling prowess as their straight-line performance. In this area, the 2009 Cadillac CTS-V definitely holds its own, though a few minor gripes pop up. Starting with the criticisms, Cars.com says "the one line that could use strengthening is the steering, which doesn't have the feedback of the best track cars"—an opinion shared in several reviews read by TheCarConnection.com. After that, however, it's pretty much all praise for the Cadillac CTS-V, which ConsumerGuide contends has "tenacious grip in turns, and tremendously powerful brakes." Automobile Magazine reports that Cadillac CTS-V's "ability to provide a civilized ride along with blistering track performance is largely a credit of the latest-generation Magnetic Ride Control," which features "variable dampers" in the shock-absorption system capable of "adjusting their firmness level every millisecond." Overall, Autoblog finds "it's a nice balance that lets you know you're driving a serious automobile with very serious sporting pretensions, but that it doesn't mind getting up and going to work each morning."
The 2009 Cadillac CTS-V has almost single-handedly reshaped the sport-sedan landscape and is one of the best-performing vehicles on the road.