With the Cadillac CTS lineup expanding to include a station wagon, coupe and multiple high-performance V-Series models, it might be easy for some to overlook the model that got this car where it is today: the sedan. Since being introduced for 2008, the second-generation Cadillac CTS sedan still manages to deliver plenty of luxury, styling and performance to make it a major player in the entry-level luxury sedan market against cars like the Infiniti G37, Audi A6, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and the BMW 5 Series.
Assembled in Lansing, Mich., the Cadillac CTS is offered in five available packages ranging from the base CTS 3.0 V-6 with a starting MSRP of $36,730 up to the CTS 3.6 V-6 Premium Collection that tops out at $51,820. This model was a relatively mid-level Cadillac CTS 3.6 V-6 Performance Collection which has a base price of $43,825, but this particular car had an even $10,000 worth of optional equipment, and this CTS sedan had an as-tested price of $54,650. After spending a week with the CTS Performance Collection, I realized that few sedans in this price point can match this car's balance of luxury and performance, but if you're looking for more power, be sure to check out the 556-horsepower Cadillac CTS-V.
2010 Cadillac CTS Sedan Exterior
Despite being on the market for three years now, the angular and edgy styling continues to make the CTS one of the more stylish luxury sedans on the market. No major changes have taken place for the 2010 Cadillac CTS Sedan, but one new addition for 2010 is a new set of polished aluminum wheels that are a part of the optional ($2,090) Summer Tire Performance Package. These stylish 19-inch wheels V-shaped wheels mimic the design of the wheels used on the mighty CTS-V and help give the car some of the performance sedan's aggressive stance. Aside from the new wheels, the rest of the car remains the same including large grille and the vertical headlights and LED taillights with both featuring stylish light tubes. Even the Radiant Silver exterior color helps accentuate the CTS' unique lines despite the fact that silver and white are probably two of the most overly used and boring colors on cars today.
2010 Cadillac CTS Sedan Interior
Just like the exterior, the cabin of the CTS is a shining example of Cadillac's build quality. The CTS cabin design also started many design trends like the cockpit-like IP layout, the angular center stack/center console and the pop-up navigation system that have carried over to the SRX crossover and are sure to carry over to future models. All of the surfaces inside the Cadillac CTS use some sort of rich material with an attractive design, and even the multitude of buttons and dials give off a very upscale feeling.
The optional ($2,855) Performance Luxury Package adds even more high-class touches throughout the cabin including the heated and cooled front seats, power tilt and telescoping steering wheel, real sapele wood accent trim on the instrument panel, door panels, steering wheel and center console and is finished off with interior ambient lighting. The soft, white LED ambient lighting beams out from behind the wood trim accents at night on the instrument and door panels to help give the cabin a welcoming atmosphere. An automatic cabin odor filter is also a part of this package.
Seemingly a must for any luxury sedan these days, this car's interior option list was topped with the Navigation System ($2,145). The automatic pop-up navigation screen provides a clear display for all navigation and audio functions, while the audio system is upgraded to a 10-speaker Bose 5.1 surround sound system that has a 40-gigabyte hard drive system and iPod connectivity. Oddly enough, this car was not equipped with a backup camera despite all of the technology upgrades, but it did offer the rear park assist system to aid in backing the car as a part of the Performance Luxury Package.
Similar to the wheels that mimic the CTS-V, this test car also had Recaro front bucket seats that further made the car feel like its supercharged counterpart. The Recaro High Performance Seats Package ($2,800) provide firm bolstering from the thighs up to the shoulders for the front seats and feature power adjustable side bolstering and manually adjustable leg supports; the driver's seat has a four-way power adjustable lumbar support. All five seating positions also benefit from soft, perforated suede leather inserts, and the package is finished off with metal brake and accelerator pedals. Unfortunately, those concerned about cargo capacity may want to stay away from this package as it eliminates the split folding rear seats. Even with this package, trunk space is still sufficient with 13.6 cubic feet of available cargo volume.
2010 Cadillac CTS Sedan Performance & Handling
In between the standard 3.0-liter V-6 and the supercharged 6.2-liter V-8, the Cadillac CTS Performance Collection comes with the 3.6-liter direct-injected V-6 that produces 304 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque. Under the hood, this car also featured a $110 Appearance Package that covered most of the components with plastic to give a cleaner, more customized look drawing even more emphasis to the aluminum strut tower brace and the large Cadillac crest on the engine. For those who prefer to shift their own gears, the CTS Performance Collection is available with a six-speed manual transmission (and a price reduction of $1,300), but this test car powered the rear wheels with the six-speed automatic. In spite of the sport luxury sedan label, the 2010 CTS Sedan still manages decent fuel economy with EPA estimates of 18 miles per gallon in the city and 27 mpg on the highway.
Like the wheels and seats that mimic the CTS-V, this model also had some suspension and tuning upgrades from the aforementioned Summer Tire Performance Package that greatly improved the performance abilities of the CTS. Behind the wheel, the first clues as to the added sport package were the steering wheel mounted shift controls, but once on the road the sport-tuned suspension and the ZR-rated summer tires gave the car better handling but a firm ride that might not be appreciated by all drivers. This package, although rather expensive, is a must for anyone who expects the 4,200-pound CTS to handle anything like some of the smaller sport luxury sedans (like the BMW 3 Series and Lexus IS) that it competes against. The Summer Tire Performance Package also adds a performance cooling system and performance brake system to the car.
One of the most impressive aspects of the CTS Sedan is how well Cadillac has managed to balance the driving comfort to match some of the sportier compact luxury sedans (like the Mercedes-Benz C-Class) without alienating customers who are cross-shopping some bigger, smoother road-going sedans (like the Mercedes-Benz E-Class). Even though this particular version of the CTS was decked out in high performance upgrades, the car still felt smooth on city roads as well as the interstate but it also handled itself quite well in more challenging, twisty roads. For those looking for a perfect middle ground between the base CTS Sedan and the powerful CTS-V Sedan, checking the option boxes for the Summer Tire Performance Package and the Recaro High Performance Seats Package is definitely the way to go.
2010 Cadillac CTS Sedan Safety
As for safety, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the CTS five stars for side-impact protection and front passenger protection, but only four stars for frontal driver protection and rollover protection. Meanwhile, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) returned even better results for the CTS with 'Good' ratings for frontal-, side- and rear-impact protection; no roof-strength test results are available. Standard safety features for all 2010 CTS Sedan models include six airbags, active head restraints, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, StabiliTrak electronic stability control with traction control, tire pressure monitoring system and, of course, GM's OnStar system with automatic crash response and stolen vehicle assistance.
In just about every respect, the 2010 Cadillac CTS helps redefine what a sport luxury sedan should be from its attractive exterior styling to its plush, technology-filled cabin and especially the powerful and efficient engine. On top of that, not only has the CTS sparked a much-needed resurgence for GM's luxury division, but it is also giving the luxury brand something to build upon to better compete against competitors like Lexus, Mercedes-Benz and BMW. Following the CTS, Cadillac has introduced the second-generation Cadillac SRX crossover and two new sedans will soon be available that will sandwich the CTS in Cadillac's lineup.
General Motors provided the vehicle this road test review.
Select Photos by Jeffrey N. Ross