Open the door and step inside. Let the wealth of leather waft up your nostrils, beckoning your bum to have a seat. You should probably press the starter button and go for a drive, too. Since you’re in there.
If people buy Cadillacs because they like their car on the sumptuous and glitzy side, they’ll slip right into the CTS. Layers of cut-and-sew leather top the dash and doors, intoxicating occupants with their fragrance. Magnesium paddle shifters gleam as ambient light seeps from crevices at night and from the twin pane sunroof during daytime. Large expanses of carbon fiber and subtle chrome add sporting elegance.
Once inside, occupants relax with heated/ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, and tri-zone automatic climate control. A power rear sunshade and manual side shades repel bright rays. Bose audio pleases discriminating ears.
As does technology that will make retired space shuttle pilots long for lost orbits. Cadillac’s CUE infotainment system is accessed via touchscreen that scrolls like an iPad, can be controlled by voice, and connects with USBs and Bluetooth calling/streaming audio. It clearly does not like my obsolete iPhone, but navigation and Apple CarPlay worked flawlessly for others in my posse. Drivers get a reconfigurable instrument cluster, head-up display, rain-sensing wipers, and power tilt/telescoping steering column.
Step outside. From the eggcrate grille flanked by projector beams and LED light blades to sharply creased bodysides, formal rear roof, and vertical taillamps, it’s clearly a Cadillac. You know the car is big when 18” wheels look like quarters. Designers could push it further, but the CTS displays a strong affinity for Cadillac’s heritage.
If shuttle pilots want to feel rocket thrust, they should order a CTS-V with 650 horsepower V8, but this CTS suits private jet pilots. Understand, it’s not slow with a 3.6-liter V6 that delivers 335 horsepower through an eight-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel-drive ensures it goes to good use. Step easy and leave the annoying auto stop/start tech on to see 19/28-MPG city/hwy.
Underway, the CTS’ chassis is among the best. That’s because it was developed on Germany’s famed Nurburgring, fraught with complex crests and turns, that worked over the Brembo brakes and helped tune the suspension. Magnetic Ride Control, also used on Corvette, reads the road 1,000 times per second to stiffen and loosen the shocks for a near-magical erasure of rough pavement that would unsettle otherwise amazing cars. It feels natural, in tour or sport mode, with precision that’s more Jaguar than German.
Hauling fin at any speed, it’s nice to know there’s an armada of safety gear aboard. That big Cadillac crest in the grille hides the radar unit for adaptive cruise control and forward collision alert with auto stop. Always consult the rearview camera and surround view monitor in tight quarters, but rear cross path detection could save your bumper. Blind spot warning and lane keep assist also do their part. Need help parallel or perpendicular parking? The car can find a spot and do it semi-autonomously.
Cadillac’s greatest challenge may be getting drivers to step inside showrooms. Sure, the CTS’ back seat is a little tight, the interior is loaded with glitzy gadgets, and your cool gramps will like the styling. But, I’d put it against the Mercedes E-Class, BMW 5-Series, or Audi A6 any day. It’s as enjoyable to drive as it is to smell and caress, leaving you with a big leather hug. The CTS starts at $45,560, but came to $66,425 as tested.
2016 Cadillac CTS
Five-passenger, awd sedan
Powertrain: 335hp 3.6-liter V6, 8-spd auto trans
Suspension f/r: Elect. Ind/Ind
Wheels f/r: 18”/18” alloy
Brakes f/r: disc/disc
Must-have features: Leather, chassis
Fuel economy: 19/28 mpg city/hwy
Assembly: Lansing, MI
Base/as-tested price: $45,560/66,425