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- Much better interior
- Can beat the Germans at their own game
- V-Sport engine is verifiably quick
- Eight-speed automatics are very good
- No more wagon
- CUE can still be buggy
- V-6 isn't a huge step up from turbo-4
The 2017 Cadillac CTS should be on any shoppers short list for mid-size luxury
On paper, the 2017 Cadillac CTS is the only mid-sizer from the luxury General Motors marquee. In the real world, it feels more crowded than that: The CTS shares a skeleton and some powertrains with the ATS, and confusingly, the nearly named CT6 seems like the more luxurious ride.
But there's no need for alarm. Whether trimmed in base, Luxury, Premium Luxury, V-Sport or V-Sport Premium Luxury trims, the 2017 Cadillac CTS is still a unique thrill behind the wheel.
The CTS competes in the lucrative luxury mid-size segment against the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Audi A6, BMW 5-Series, and Lexus GS.
Inside and out
The CTS is still Cadillac's "Art and Science" approach with the fewest number of filters. The look has been softened over the generations, but the CTS is still a sharply focused sedan (no more coupe, sorry) in a mid-size segment with a soft-focus bent.
Cadillac reworked some of the lines for 2017 in the front and back. The front bumper receives a light touch to bring the vertical LED headlights down toward the road more, the rear bumper has been re-worked with vertical exhaust ports that bookend an updated valance. Emphasis on the word "worked" there—there's a lot going on.
Under the hood, Cadillac's 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4, a 3.6-liter V-6, and a force-fed twin-turbocharged V-6 are all available without stepping into the CTS-V, which we cover separately.
In base trim, the 268-horsepower turbo-4 shuffles down the line quickly up to 60 mph in 6 seconds. The 335-horsepower V-6 doesn't improve much on that 0-60 mph time, but the 420-hp turbo V-6 in V-Sport cars certainly does, to the tune of 4.7 seconds to 60 mph. All of the engines are paired exclusively to an 8-speed automatic with paddle shifters, and all but the V-Sport models can be fitted with all-wheel drive.
We've spent more time in the V-6 than any other drivetrain configuration, and while we like it, it's not a huge step up from the base turbo-4. It makes the Cadillac a more confident tourer; the V-Sport is the quick pick if you don't have the blood pressure for a Corvette-powered CTS-V.
Cadillac's adjustable dampers are king here: the third-generation of GM's Magnetic Ride Control transform the mid-sizer into a luxury pace car and we highly recommend taking a look at shelling out the cash for them, if possible—your track times will thank you later.
Comfortable, quiet, cool, and safe
Inside, the CTS steps up from the ATS in terms of material, layout, and tech. Cadillac's active noise cancellation is here in full force—on the turbo-4 models, it's necessary. Front seat passengers are coddled in extremely comfortable (without being overly soft) buckets, and adults can fit comfortably in the rear after a head fake to get inside. The sloping rear roofline is the culprit for all the shucking and jiving, but it's not overly annoying.
Its cargo room isn't exactly grand at just 13.7 cubic feet, but it's enough for a weekend trip with gear for two.
Federal regulators have given the CTS five stars across the board, including a five-star overall rating, and the CTS comes with up-to-date advanced safety features. No automatic emergency braking is available here, but there are plenty of blind-spot monitors and forward collision warnings to keep in line with the rest of the competition. The IIHS has given the CTS mostly "Good" scores, except a "Marginal" rating in small-overlap front crash protection.
Like many others in its class, the CTS can be stuffed full of the newest tech that the luxury segment demands. New for 2017, an 8.0-inch infotainment screen is standard, as is Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. Among our favorite features: adjustable suspension, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, a rear camera mirror borrowed from the CT6, and power-operated cupholder.
Yeah, an automatic cupholder.
The CTS hasn't been fully rated by the EPA, but most models will land around 25 mpg combined—regardless if you opt for the turbo-4 or V-6. Adding all-wheel drive shaves roughly 2 mpg off highway and combined fuel economy.