Review: 2003 Cadillac CTS

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

SEE ALSO: Cadillac Buyer's Guide

THE AUTO PAGE
By
JOHN HEILIG

SPECIFICATIONS

MODEL: Cadillac CTS
ENGINE: 3.2-liter V6
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 220 hp @ 6000 rpm/220 lb-ft @ 3400 rpm
TRANSMISSION: Five-speed automatic
WHEELBASE: 113.4 in.
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT: 190.1 x 70.6 x 56.7 in.
STICKER PRICE:  $37,565

    It's hard not to like the Cadillac CTS. It's been a long time since 
people have been able to say they like a Cadillac. 

    CTS is the type of car that gets admiring glances from everyone. It gets 
thumbs ups all along the road. And everyone who drives it appreciates it.

The first thing that strikes you about CTS is its inspired styling. So 
many cars these days have what can only be classified as uninspired styling. 
In many cases that makes sense, because you want a conservative look to your 
sedan.	
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But if you're plunking out $37,565 for a car you want something that is instantly recognizable and something that people will appreciate when they see it coming down the roadIn truth, the Cadillac Catera, which was the predecessor to the CTS, had uninspired styling. It had nice styling, but it was pretty normal looking. CTS, on the other hand, embraces Cadillac's edgy styling, with hard lines and sharp angles. The "face" of the CTS will be seen in Cadillac's two-seater sports car that is due in the near future. It is similar to the Escalade and Escalade EXT faces as well, sharing the edgy styling. There are angles to the headlight and taillight nacelles that are striking. It is a beautiful car by my standards, and by other people's standards as well. There's one disadvantage to the edgy styling of the CTS. We discovered that the paint on the rear "bumper" was chipped at the extreme point, probably from too much "hunt and feel" parking. This could obviously be corrected on future versions of the car. Inside the CTS, you sit behind a wood and leather steering wheel and the standard complement of gauges, as well as an analog clock. Obviously, all the other functions are handled by computer readouts on the dash. There is an excellent Bose sound system that offered great entertainment and was relatively easy to figure out. There were times when we had trouble exploring some of the options, but in general you don't need a Ph.D. in computer science to figure out the radio. The radio had a tuning knob so you didn't have to figure out some graphic symbols to find the stations you wanted. It was easy to figure out, tune and set the stations you want in memory. In the center of the sound system was a CD player and there was a cassette player as well. The HVAC system was equally easy to decipher. It was a dual zone system so my wife and I could figure out what temperature we each wanted the vehicle to be with a minimum of haggling. Under the hood is a 3.2-liter V6 that delivers 220 horsepower. It is connected to the rear wheels through a five-speed automatic gearbox. There was no auto-stick option, which would have been a help on more challenging roads. The dash itself had a nice look to it, with a minimum of wood trim. As with much of the trim in the vehicle, there was a wood shift knob and wood pieces on the door pull handles. Those, and the wood on the steering wheel, were the only pieces of wood trim in the car. I had one problem with the instruments. I happen to like my instruments to be bright. The brightness control is on the overhead console, and I had to look in the owner's manual to find where it was. Performance of the CTS is very good. Obviously, if it's competing against the Lexus ES300, the Infiniti GS350, so it's in the same performance class. It would have been nice to have a slightly more powerful engine, but the CTS is well powered. Ride quality is slightly on the soft side. I might have liked it to be slightly firmer, but firmness reduces ride quality, and this is, after all, a Cadillac, so one would assume a softer ride than one would expect from a more sporty brand. I think a sport suspension option with stiffer springs and shocks would be a valuable option for the CTS. Cruise control switches are on the steering wheel, as is a sound system volume knob and station hunter. Wiper controls are on the right stalk with a down to wipe one-wipe function. All in all, I think the Cadillac CTS is an excellent vehicle. It gives a good example of what Cadillac styling is going to be like over the next couple of years and I find that to be exciting. There are no fins, and in this case it's fine. It has vertical taillights, though, which is close enough. © 2002 The Auto Page Syndicate

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