2017 Cadillac CT6

Consumer Reviews
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2019
The Car Connection
2019
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Martin Padgett Martin Padgett Editorial Director
June 1, 2017

Buying tip

Base CT6 sedans are a great value, but the Luxury edition coupled with the Active Chassis Package is well-equipped and an excellent all-around

The 2017 Cadillac CT6 has a spare, light appeal that runs counter to its German rivals; with a starting price in the $50,000s, it's a great value, too.

Consider the Cadillac CT6 a down payment on the GM luxury brand's future.

The CT6 replaced the XTS as the division's full-size flagship in the 2016 model year. Its lightweight body and downsized engines are framed by an elegant, spare design, and it's graced with great handling. It has its challenges in its sound-alike name and styling themes, but it's the car GM hopes will be able to finally tackle the thorny problem of S-Class, 7-Series, and A8.

For 2017, the CT6 gains a plug-in hybrid model we've yet to drive. Until then, we've rated the CT6 an 8.0 out of 10, with kudos for its exceptional back seat and its sleek design, as well as its grippy handling. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

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Style and performance

The CT6 is the most mature piece of Cadillac styling we've seen, but it must be seen to be loved. At first glance it's impossibly close to the current mid-size CTS sedan, but that impression dissolves when they're seen in the flesh, next to each other. The CT6's details are similar, from its blade-styled LED lighting to its sharp sheet-metal creases. The CT6 plays out the same theme on a longer wheelbase, which gives it both an athletic stance and a classic, old-school long hood and trunk directly in opposition to its more curlicued competitors.

Light weight pays off in the Cadillac CT6; a twin-turbo V-6 pulls out V-8 performance, and handling is remarkably able. The CT6 comes one of three engines, all mated to 8-speed automatic transmissions. The base turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 makes 265 horsepower and comes with rear-wheel drive; there's also a 3.6-liter V-6 with 335 hp, and a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 that produces 404 hp, both with all-wheel drive.

All benefit from better power to weight than they might, since the CT6's body is made from a mix of metals and scoured clean of excess mass. It weighs just 3,657 pounds in base trim, about 1,000 pounds less than a Mercedes-Benz S-Class, though the top models are merely 225 pounds or so lighter.

Turbo-4 CT6 sedans are the most surprising to drive. They're the most agile, the lightest on their feet, the closest thing to a full-size sports sedan. But the CT6 is still a long-wheelbase car, and a wide one at that. There's simply too much car here to deliver truly sporty handling. The size makes itself known in models with the twin-turbo V-6; they're truly fast, but with a lot of weight on the nose, they tend to understeer, which is why Cadillac offers a rear-steer system to help the car turn in better.

The CT6 is a taut, sometimes overly stiff performer. Magnetic dampers give it a firm grip on body motion, albeit with less dynamic range than a more typical air-damper setup. Its electric steering has lots of weight in all modes, but it's a pleasant sort of heft.

The CT6 is fairly thrifty in turbo-4 form, but the plug-in will be a welcome addition to boost its best 25-mpg city EPA ratings.

Comfort, safety, and features

The CT6 has exceptional room, especially in back, but it's less plush that some rival luxury cars. The CT6's interior is Cadillac's finest cabin yet, and it is rife with high-quality materials. The design follows the spare philosophy, maybe to a fault in a day where the S-Class wears gorgeous arcs of chrome and glows with ambient LED rainbows.

Space isn't a problem at all. Front seats could use softer cushions and a wider range of adjustment, but the rear seat is vast for two passengers; a third will perch uncomfortably on a high middle seat.

No crash-test scores are in, but the CT6 comes with a standard rearview camera and offers lots of optional safety features like forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors, and surround-view cameras. Its industry-first rear camera mirror takes some getting used to, but offers a peek (backward) into the future.

In base form the CT6 is a luxury bargain; with all the boxes ticked, it overlaps with more lushly outfitted German sedans. Standard power features, high-end audio, and in-car wireless data connections can be augmented with massaging rear seats, tony leather treatments, and a 34-speaker Bose Panaray audio system.

The CT6 also comes with the latest version 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. Still, we've almost always defaulted to its flawless implementation of Apple CarPlay: it's a smart offering and the safest, most streamlined way we know of to stay connected while driving.

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2017 Cadillac CT6

Styling

The CT6 is the most mature piece of Cadillac styling we've seen, but it must be seen to be loved.

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 CT6 is a car that must be seen in person, next to a CTS if possible, to appreciate how different it is. With the same cues on a longer body, the CT6 has a wonderful old-school stance with a clarity of detail that's the absolute opposite of where its competitors have gone.

We're going by gut to give it a score that credits excellent interior and exterior design; rivals like the S-Class are undoubtedly more extravagant and evocative, but the CT6 is striking in its simplicity, a Mies Van Der Rohe among full-size sedans, and that's worth rewarding. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Line by line, the CT6 defers to the straight edge over the French curve. The nose wears Le Mans-style vertical LED headlights that slash up and over the top of the fenders, and the taillights are vertical too, both cues in common with the smaller CTS. The CT6's broad grille is studded with a super-sized badge, shorn of the traditional Cadillac wreath. All the exterior metallic trim wears a satin final finish.

Proportion is everything to the CT6's sparsely drawn body. The long-hood, high-waisted profile lays out its luxury mission clearly, but it's hard to see that in compression-addled digital images, hard to tell it from the smaller CTS. The CT6 in person looks planted, athletic, much less a soul mate of the CTS. 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.

Inside, the CT6 plays up its width with a character line that runs across the dash. There's joy in repetition here: The hood's center peak is mirrored at the top of the dash; the frame for the center touchscreen echoes the chevron outline of the grille, and that same vee shape is stitched into the seats.

Thankfully, the cabin dials back some of the excesses of Cadillac's past, but it doesn't have the emotional appeals of an S-Class and its stunning cabin. Satin chrome keeps the cockpit from overdosing on bling—Escalade Syndrome—and it's graced by stained wood, slim lines of carbon fiber, and supple leather. It's handsomely drawn and expertly fitted, though not particularly groundbreaking.

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2017 Cadillac CT6

Performance

Light weight pays off in the Cadillac CT6; a twin-turbo V-6 pulls out V-8 performance, and handling is remarkably able.

As it did with the compact ATS and mid-size CTS, Cadillac has thrown some impressive engineering expertise behind the CT6. It's built from a mix of materials that give it one of the lower curb weights and stiffer bodies in its class, and that enables excellent performance.

We give the CT6 extra points above our base score of 5 for its excellent transmission, handling, and for its engine variety including the upcoming plug-in hybrid. All are made better by the CT6's trim frame.

There's room to make gains, of course. Without a true rival for AMG or M hardware, the CT6 leaves a point on the table, that one for cars we deem "exceptional" in their class. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Lighter weight, leaner power

The CT6 launched in the 2016 model year with a trio of direct-injected engines, all mated to 8-speed automatic transmissions. The base turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 turns out 265 horsepower. A naturally aspirated 3.6-liter V-6 is rated at 335 hp, and a new 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 bangs out 404 hp.

There's no V-8 on the menu, but the CT6 isn't pressed for power. That's because the conscious effort to reduce weight has paid off, especially in base versions.

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, which means the CT6 doesn't need as much sound deadening.

In its lightest form, the CT6 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.

CT6 sedans 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.

Quick and composed

The rear-drive, 2.0-liter model may be the best expression for Cadillac's lean ethos. At 428 pounds lighter, this version feels lighter on its feet with more agility than other models burdened with heavier running gear. The turbo-4 provides good power, and Cadillac quotes its 0-60 mph time at 6.1 seconds. With a quick turn-in and good steering response, we like this model for its fun-to-drive attitude.

The new 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 has good passing power and cuts the 60-mph sprint to 5.3 seconds. In our time behind the wheel, though, it felt like there was more weight over the nose that contributed to more understeer when pushing around corners.

Lighter base models rotate around corners better, a feeling that's helped by optional magnetic dampers and active rear steering, which is part of a $3,300 Active Chassis optional package. The rear-steering system can add 3.5 degrees of steering into the rear wheels, which can help the car better maneuver around tight parking lots.

All this should be taken in context. The CT6 is light and lively in its class, but it's still a big car with a long wheelbase. There's just 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. The steering is heavier and more direct than you'll find in the CT6's full-size rivals, but it fits the car's character well.

However, we think Benz and Audi do a better job of spanning the possibilities of ride quality with air dampers than Cadillac does with its magnetic shocks, which have less of a tunable range. The CT6 always rides firmly, no matter which mode is dialed up, from Tour to Sport. The S-Class and A8 can flip from cushy cruiser mode to equally firm tune at the flick of a switch, and versatility counts.

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2017 Cadillac CT6

Comfort & Quality

The CT6 has exceptional room, especially in back, but it's less plush that some rival luxury cars.

The CT6 sports Cadillac’s finest cabin yet, and it is rife with high-quality materials. And yet, in some ways, it's a touch less refined than some main rivals.

We've given the CT6 a score of 8 for comfort, utility and quality, based on its vast rear-seat space, good cargo and interior storage, and fit and finish. Its front seats aren't as comfortable as those in some competitive cars, and its middle back seat barely qualifies as a fifth position. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The point to be made, in styling and quality, is an esoteric one. The CT6 competes with some of the finest cars and finest interiors on the planet. Its design and trim choices lean toward spare and pure. It's the Barcelona chair of its class, and that's an exciting direction for Cadillac.

That said, the cabin lacks some of the unexpected flourishes that have unexpectedly turned the German ubersedans into evocative, emotionally appealing machines. Compare the CT6's interior to that in the S-Class, with its lush ambient lighting and round chrome vents, or the Audi A8 and its fantastic sandwiched wood-and-metal trim. The materials chosen for the CT6 are fitted as well as anything we've ever seen from Cadillac; it's the aesthetics that could be warmer.

On a functional level, the CT6 has some room for improvement. The driver's seat is a luxurious place to command a very pleasant car, but the driver's seat is very firm and and flat. It needs to pick a side, with either more bolstering or softer cushions. The power seats don't have enough range of motion to deliver some drivers an ideal seating positions.

Space is abundant inside the CT6. There is plenty of room for long-legged drivers, and two rear-seat passengers are treated to the best seats in the house. The back seats have NBA-sized rear leg room and plentiful head room. An executive package adds massaging and reclining rear seats on top of 10-inch screens for entertainment.

An unfriendly middle seat is better covered with a large rear center console that doubles as a useful cargo area. The two outboard rear seats are sculpted, which is more comfortable for adult-sized rumps, while the middle passenger is asked to ride atop the transmission tunnel bump.

The CT6's trunk swallows 15.3 cubic feet of gear that isn't made any bigger by split-folding rear seats. Hauling long, skinny items is helped by a rear pass-through, but large items may not fit inside the CT6's cargo hold without fold-down rear seat backs.

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2017 Cadillac CT6

Safety

No crash-test data exists for the CT6; its rear camera mirror is just one of its nifty tech tricks.

The CT6 hasn't been crash-tested yet, so we're punting on awarding it any points in the plus or minus column on that basis. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Cadillac does ladle on the safety technology, in the hopes of preventing accidents before they put the sedan into real-world crash tests. All versions come with the usual airbags and stability control, as well as a rearview camera.

Outward vision is good, too. A minor quibble: the CT6's rear seat belt receptacles are mounted low, and they're hard to find and use, especially when the center armrest is down.

A Driver Awareness and Convenience Package is optional on the base model, and standard otherwise. Its safety features include forward-collision warnings; blind-spot monitors; lane-departure warnings; and lane-keep assist.

Optional safety packages help bolster available features in the CT6. Night-vision cameras, automatic parking assistance, adaptive cruise control, and automatic emergency braking are spread across two options packages that are included in top-trim models.

Other safety options include two we love. There's a set of surround-view cameras, and the setup also 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; it flips from its standard rearview mirror to a mode that displays rear camera information on the mirror glass, for an unobstructed view three times the size of a typical rearview mirror. It's difficult to adjust your brain's perspective on both views, but there's little argument to be had with the rear camera mirror's wealth of information.

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2017 Cadillac CT6

Features

In base form the CT6 is a luxury bargain; with all the boxes ticked, it overlaps with more lushly outfitted German sedans.

In the features category, we've awarded the Cadillac CT6 extra points above our base score of 5 for its good mix of standard and optional features, and for its infotainment system despite its flaws (more on that later).

There are more points we might have awarded, but the CT6 doesn't have a vast range of interior trim options or other custom trim choices. Its warranty lacks the valet service of Hyundai's fledgling Genesis brand, or the free maintenance offered by Jaguar. While it has dozens of wonderful tech features, none is transformative in its class. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Cadillac CT6 models and features

Cadillac sells the CT6 in base, Luxury, Premium Luxury, and Platinum models. Base models are equipped with a 2.0-liter turbo-4 and rear-wheel drive. Higher trims can be equipped with a choice between a 3.6-liter V-6 or a 3.0-liter turbo-6 and all-wheel drive.

Every model of the CT6 comes equipped with leather upholstery, power adjustable driver's seat, rearview camera, heated front seats, power adjustable steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, and 18-inch wheels.

A Driver Awareness and Convenience Package is optional on the base model, and otherwise standard. It comes with forward-collision warnings with automatic braking; lane-departure warnings; lane-keep assist; blind-spot monitors; and a panoramic sunroof.

The CT6 Luxury adds a 10-speaker version of the Bose audio system, a heated steering wheel, and 16-way power front seats.

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

Several option packages are offered. A rear-seat executive package is available with 10-inch entertainment screens, power reclining and massaging rear seats, heated and cooled rear seats, a center armrest with media controls, HDMI input, wireless headphones and rear climate controls. Yeah, it's that swank. An active chassis system adds magnetic adjustable dampers, rear-wheel steering, and 20-inch wheels.

Separately, a Bose Panaray 34-speaker audio system is a $3,700 option. We weren't wowed by its performance with uncompressed audio files in the same way audiophiles are stunned by the latest Burmester and Bang & Olufsen setups.

The Platinum model comes standard with all of these packages, plus the Driver Assistance with Night Vision Package outlined in the Safety section.

Cadillac CT6 infotainment

Communications and entertainment features consist of an 8-speaker Bose audio system, Bluetooth connectivity, wireless cell phone charging, three USB ports, OnStar 4G LTE with wi-fi hotspot capability, and satellite radio.

The CUE infotainment system has been updated and now uses a 10.2-inch touchscreen, and incorporates Apple CarPlay compatibility. We give the CT6 a point in this category not for its embedded CUE setup--but because CarPlay works almost flawlessly, and it's one of the few luxury sedans to offer the Apple conduit for safe smartphone usage (the 2017 E-Class is another). Use CarPlay once to send a text message via voice commands, or to find a navigation point, and you'll see why its stripped-down interface handily outpoints almost every manufacturer-supplied interface.

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2017 Cadillac CT6

Fuel Economy

The CT6 is fairly thrifty in turbo-4 form, but the plug-in will be a welcome addition.

According to the EPA, the CT6 equipped with a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 manages 22 mpg city, 31 highway, 25 combined. The 3.6-liter model does a slightly better at 18/27/22 mpg.

When equipped with a turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 and all-wheel drive those figures dip significantly to 18/26/21 mpg.

Those figures are unchanged from 2016. The big news for 2017 model year is the imminent arrival of the plug-in hybrid. 

The new powertrain is due to arrive around the end of the year. With a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4, a 18.4-kwh lithium-ion battery, and a pair of electric motors, it will put out a net of 335 hp. Cadillac says the car will deliver twice the gas mileage of its standard powertrain offerings, but no EPA ratings have been released.

We'll update this section when more information is released. Until then, we've rated the CT6's fuel economy based on its existing drivetrains, giving some weight to the highest-volume powertrain and to the imminent arrival of the plug-in. That puts the CT6's green score at 7. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

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8.0
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 9
Performance 8
Comfort & Quality 8
Safety N/A
Features 8
Fuel Economy 7
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