The 2017 Cadillac CTS midsize luxury sedan has been modified front and rear for the model year, touching up the grille and moving the vertically oriented LED headlights downward. The reworked back bumper is fitted with vertical exhaust outlets on 2017 CTS models, and an 8-inch infotainment screen is now standard, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. A new Carbon Black appearance package is optional for 2017 CTS Luxury and Premium models.
The 2017 CTS is the third generation of the CTS, launched as a 2014 model.
All along, the Cadillac CTS has stood apart from the luxury-sedan pack in appearance, flaunting an abundance of sharp creases, as well as a stunning array of LED lighting up front. Sharing its basic foundation and some powertrains with the smaller ATS, the CTS feels snug inside for a midsize sedan.
CTS comes standard with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, rated at 268 horsepower and capable of reaching 60 mph in a brisk six seconds. The 3.6-liter V6, making 335 horsepower, doesn’t accelerate much quicker. For 0-60 mph acceleration in just 4.7 seconds, you need to move up to the V-Sport edition, with its twin-turbocharged V6 generating 420 horsepower.
All engines mate with an 8-speed automatic transmission that includes paddle shifters. Rear-wheel drive is standard, all-wheel drive is available.
The Cadillac CTS-V delivers fantastic acceleration performance, excellent high-speed stability and outstanding handling. Adapted from the Chevrolet Corvette Z06, the CTS-V’s supercharged 6.2-liter V8 whips up a startling 640 horsepower and 630 pound-feet of torque. Acceleration to 60 mph takes only 3.7 seconds. Lightweight carbon fiber is used for the hood and bumpers. Fenders are widened, to encompass bigger tires. ZF electric power steering promises satisfying feedback. Magnetic Ride Control, now in its third generation, keeps the ride luxuriously easygoing when full-bore performance isn’t called for.
CTS ($45,995) comes standard with the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, leatherette (vinyl) upholstery, CUE infotainment with an 8-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth, 11-speaker Bose audio, 10-way power front seats, a rearview camera, rear parking assist, and 17-inch wheels. Rear-wheel drive is standard, all-wheel drive is optional ($47,995).
CTS Luxury ($51,695) add leather upholstery, HID headlights, a power tilt/telescoping steering column, and panoramic sunroof. (All prices are MSRP and do not include destination charge.) All-wheel drive is optional ($53,695). CTS Luxury luxury is available with V6 rear-wheel drive ($53,695) and V6 all-wheel drive ($55,695).
CTS Premium ($59,195) comes standard with the 3.6-liter V6 and adds rear camera mirror, surround-view cameras, head-up display, 18-inch wheels, parking assist, tri-zone climate control, heated rear seats, and a 12.3-inch gauge cluster. All-wheel drive is optional ($61,195).
CTS V-Sport ($60,695) comes with 420-horsepower turbocharged V6 engine and rear-wheel drive, along with Magnetic Ride Control, Brembo brakes, a limited-slip differential, and 18-inch wheels. V-Sport Premium ($70,795) adds 20-way power front seats, reconfigurable gauge cluster, aluminum pedals, adaptive cruise control, and front/rear automatic braking.
CTS-V ($85,995) features a Corvette Z06 engine that issues a rousing 640 horsepower.
Despite many changes over the years, the CTS still qualifies as the most exaggerated example of the Art and Science design theme for which the company has long been known. Viewed from the rear, in particular, the CTS stands out among competitors in its category. While plenty of observers praise the look, it’s still somewhat controversial.
Rear pillars are thick. Newly accented by vertical exhaust outlets, the taillights tend to look taller than in the past. Up front, vertically-oriented LED headlights integrate well into each fender, but give the impression of pulling the front-end downward. An additional horizontal bar has been added to the CTS grille.
Inside as well as outside, the CTS qualifies as handsome. On upscale trim levels, at least, cut/sewn upholstery blends with genuine wood trim. A single trim piece highlights the center stack. Large display screens dominate the futuristic dashboard. In upper trim levels, a 12.3-inch screen substitutes for separate gauges.
Front seats provide exceptional comfort, without excessive softness. Bucket seats are wide and deep, thus welcoming for long journeys. Front seats with 20-way adjustment are available and noteworthy, offering excellent support.
Because of the sloping roofline, getting into the back seat demands a head-ducking; but once there, adults can expect comfortable space. Headroom is sufficient, though models with a sunroof lose some clearance. High rear cushions result in a lack of leg support, as well as reduced space for knees and heads.
Active noise cancellation helps keep the experience quiet, which is most welcome with four-cylinder engine. At 13.7 cubic feet, cargo space isn’t as voluminous as some owners might prefer, though it’s sufficient for a weekend trip.
Cadillac CTS handling ranks with its German-brand competitors. In any form, base to top level, the CTS behaves with confidence and poise.
GM’s Magnetic Ride Control suspension, if installed, features dampers filled with magnetically charged fluid. In mere milliseconds, the system can alter suspension stiffness from highway-smooth to sporty-firm. Exceptionally stable, a CTS with this setup never feels uncontrolled or suffers a floaty sensation.
Although the four-cylinder base engine may seem strained at times, it performs with haste. As a result, there’s no compelling reason to move up to the 335-horsepower V6. Still, the latter responds progressively and predictably, making it a sensible choice for long-distance travel as well as daily commutes.
For more vibrant performance, the 420-horsepower twin-turbo V6 in V-Sport models is the answer. Handling upgrades, including quicker steering, a track mode, and bigger front brakes, and 18-inch Pirelli tires (19-inch available) ensure a tenuous grip when the road gets curvy. Cadillac’s 8-speed automatic earns high praise in any model, but the CTS-V version is exceptionally smooth and quick-shifting.
Fuel economy isn’t bad for a vehicle of this nature, helped by stop/start technology and active grille shutters. The turbo-four base engine is EPA-rated at 22/30 mpg City/Highway, or 25 mpg Combined, versus 20/30 mpg City/Highway, or 24 mpg Combined, for the 335-hp V6. The V-Sport’s turbo V6 is EPA-rated at only 16/24 mpg City/Highway, or 18 mpg Combined. Naturally, all-wheel drive lowers those figures.
As expected, the 640-horsepower CTS-V fails any frugality test, EPA-rated at 14/21 mpg City/Highway, or 17 mpg Combined. Such figures aren’t likely to dissuade admirers of an American sedan that approaches supercar status, yet can be driven daily without fuss.
The 2017 Cadillac CTS is worth considering as a true competitor to the luxury German brands, in both style and performance. One CTS or another belongs on the tentative shopping list of anyone seeking midsize luxury. Nicely equipped in base trim, the CTS gets better yet as you move up the trim-level scale.
Driving impressions by Aaron Cole and Andrew Ganz, The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.