The Sedan and Sport Wagon are available with either a 3.0-liter, 270-horsepower V-6 or a 3.6-liter, 318-horsepower V-6. Either can be paired with a manual or automatic transmission, and rear- or all-wheel drive--though all-wheel drive models can only be had with the automatic, and the Sport Wagon isn't available in rear-drive.
Both engines are will companions, but the 3.6-liter is the sweeter-sounding and more capable of the two, especially in the upper-third of the rev range. With the 3.6-liter engine, all three types of CTS are good for 0-60 mph runs in about seven seconds.
The Coupe skips the smaller 3.0-liter engine in favor of the 3.6, but does offer both transmission and driveline choices.
Beyond the specifics, however, all of the 2013 CTS variants are rather similar. Cornering is fairly flat and very well-controlled, steering is responsive and well-weighted, and overall ride comfort is excellent--except, perhaps, for the Coupe, which can feel a bit choppy over rough surfaces.
Both transmissions also excel at their tasks, with the manual providing slick, easy shifts, with a fair degree of precision and solidity. The automatic is smooth and easy-going in normal driving, but can keep up with the rest of the package admirably in sport mode, or when paddle-shifted by hand.
Four different factory suspension setups are offered, depending on body type, engine choice, and equipment level, and while some a touch sharper than others (the FE3 package is a great compromise), all exhibit the core qualities of the CTS: a well-balanced, sporty feel with just the right mix of comfort and capability. The Performance Package brings the sharpest handling to the CTS, with Continental ContiSport Contact summer tires, improved cooling, and larger brakes.