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2010 Cadillac CTS V6 Premium Review

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By Steve Purdy
Detroit Bureau Chief

This weeks car review is something special – the Lansing-built, rear-wheel drive Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon.

Our test car is the loaded Premium model with a starting price of about $51,000. It includes the larger, 3.6-liter, 304-horsepower, direct injected V6 engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The basic CTS Sport Wagon starts at about 38 grand, about 3 grand more than it’s sedan sibling.

The CTS Sport Wagon is really a niche vehicle with limited appeal. If you compare it feature-to-feature, dollar-to-dollar with Cadillac’s SRX crossover (both of which, by the way, are fresh designs) the SRX comes out ahead, unless your particular desire is for the element of “sport.”

Our local dealer has not been getting many CTS Sport Wagons from the factory and had just one in stock the day I visited, but as nice weather returns after this hard winter I expect they’ll be selling more.

It’s interesting to note that both the base 3.0-liter engine and this 3.6-liter with more than 30 extra horsepower are rated by the EPA with the same mileage – that is, 18mpg in the city and 26 on the highway. We managed 19.9 in our cold winter week of mixed driving. With the 18-gallon fuel tank we can expect well over 300 miles/tank. With an admirable zero-to-60 time of 7-seconds flat we never felt we needed more power.

Style and design are “knock-your-socks-off” cool. For those who complain that all cars look alike these days, I’ll bet you’ll not include this one. This is the vastly improved second generation CTS from Cadillac exhibiting the dramatic, angular, sharp-edged design language that grew out of the Evoq show car. The dramatic, three-foot-high tapered taillights, for example, extend from the bumper to the roof rack framing the rear hatch door.

The interior design is not quite as dramatic but will still get your attention with classy ambient lighting, rich materials, stylish design and – one feature that is a must for a luxury car, in my view – a nice analog clock.

Being about the size of a BMW 3-Series I find it a bit small for a guy as big as I. But once into the cockpit it feels to me just as the GM designers intended, I’ll bet – that is, both luxurious and sporty. Just one niggle presented itself initially. The controls for the handy information system that reveals instant mileage, miles to empty and lots of other tidbits of useful knowledge, is obscured behind the thick multifunction stalk on the left side of the steering wheel.

I’ll rate the acceleration, agility and overall performance of the CTS Sport Wagon as first rate. The suspension, a conventional, fully independent strut design in front and multi-link system in the rear, is stiff – certainly too stiff for many folks. But this is, after all, a sport wagon with a good measure of utility.

Speaking of utility, we have an admirable 58-cubic-feet of cargo space with the rear seat backs flopped forward. The power rear hatch is programmable for lift height and the load floor is reasonably flat and beautifully designed in terms of both functionality and finish.

If a good share of your driving is on rough or ill-maintained roads, this might not be the car for you. If, on the other hand, you’re fond of spirited driving, and like a modest measure of utility, this might be the car for you. Compare the CTS Sport Wagon to it German competitors and I think you’ll agree there’s more for your money with the Cadillac.

Steve Purdy, Shunpiker Productions, All Rights Reserved