The CTS has been Cadillac's talented star: a stylish, fun, and agile sports sedan and a credible alternative to a BMW 5 Series or Mercedes-Benz E-Class. It's one of the most driver-focused midsized luxury sedan you can buy.
The CTS delivers an inviting blend of comfort, quietness, and sporty driving performance. Most versions have a 3.6-liter V6. That should provide enough zip for most people. If you want more zip, you can opt for the twin-turbocharged V6 in the high-end Vsport version, which dials up the fun meter. And the top-level CTS-V kicks it up a notch with its supercharged, 640-hp 6.2-liter V8.
The base turbo model comes with a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder engine.
We chose all-wheel drive, which has increasingly become de rigueur for many luxury cars sold in the Snow Belt. All models now come with a slick eight-speed automatic transmission. We measured a respectable 22 mpg overall.
In everyday cruising the CTS feels deft and light on its feet, and the steering is responsive and well-weighted, contributing to a sense of precision and control. At our track the body stayed level when we pushed it around fast turns, and the CTS kept its cool while threading our avoidance maneuver.
The ride is steady and composed, but it's also quite firm, so you feel some taut little jiggles on all but the most pristine pavement. While underway, cabin noise is very well suppressed.
It's clear that Cadillac spared no expense in redecorating the interior, and the result is a world-class cabin with excellent fit and finish, acres of padding, and sumptuous genuine leather. The front seats are very comfortable, but the cabin is a little snug. The rear seat can accommodate two adults, though not very happily. The extra length that came with the redesign mostly wound up in the engine bay, allowing for a stylishly muscular front end but no extra leg room.
Despite its highlights, the CTS comes up frustratingly short in a couple of areas. Our biggest complaint centers on the controls for the CUE (for Cadillac User Experience) infotainment system, in particular the flush-mounted, touch-activated switches.
You can't locate them by feel alone, and the controls often don't work as expected, so you need to take your eyes off the road to double-check them.
Climate and audio functions are controlled through a large touch screen, which has large fonts and is generally easy to read. But figuring out how to navigate the system is difficult, even for simple functions such as manual tuning. Using the audio-system voice or steering-wheel controls can help you avoid fussing with CUE. But overall the difficult-to-use system considerably hurt the car's score in our tests.
Another gripe is the CTS' small trunk, which is able to hold only two large suitcases and a couple of duffels. The 60/40-split rear seatbacks can be folded down to expand cargo space. For those who put a high priority on driving enjoyment, though, the CTS is hard to beat.