SAN JOSE, Calif., - Just how much better is the all-new 2008 Cadillac CTS, well, where do you want to start?
Let's talk design. Although the new CTS looks just like old one, it looks nothing like the car it replaced. The grille is deeper and meshed, it has side vents and the car literally looks like its speeding while still.
At night the CTS' distinctive face and rump are illuminated by the innovative use of LED lighting. What Cadillac designers have done is retrofit the CTS with the vertical sharpness of Cadillac's fabled fins. But rather than use metal this is now done with lights. What's more, ambient interior lighting is now an option.
When it came to the interior, materials, fit and finish, roominess, and ergonomics have all been improved, not by a little bit but by a bunch. We spent a little time riding in the back seat of the CTS and were impressed with the amount of head and leg room we had, even when the front seat passenger slid his seat back several inches. The 2008 Cadillac CTS is truly a four-passenger sedan.
We were particularly pleased with the center stack. It mirrors the V-shape of the CTS' grille but Cadillac has forgone the use of a high tech mouse. All the controls were right there within easy reach. And the center stack wasn't cluttered with gobs of buttons and switchers. Still, the car was chock full of technology. Heck, the audio system can now be controlled with voice commands.
Other creature comforts included adaptive headlights, a 40 GB hard drive, satellite radio, a navigation system, heated windshield wiper fluid, MP3 and WP3 capability, keyless operation, double sun roof, heated and cooled front seats and rear park assist.
But the new CTS was more than a smooth comfortable sedan it was also a driver's car. On a run from here to the Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, Calif., we found the car to be super quick. Our test vehicle was powered by a 3.6-liter V6 with direct fuel injection that made 304 horsepower and 273 pounds-feet of torque. It was mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.
Cadillac said the new engine had 15 percent more power, an eight percent increase in torque, three percent better fuel consumption, reduced cold start hydrocarbon emissions by 25 percent and yet it delivered all these improvements while running on regular gasoline.
There were some stretches during our test where we drove much faster than the law allowed. More than once, we had the 2008 Cadillac cruising past the century mark. The car was sure treaded; the suspension kept the ride tame and the CTS seemed right at home at speeds commonly found on Germany's Autobahn. What's more, the brakes slowed it down swiftly.
But it was the steering the really stood out. On a drive route that was rift with twisties, the 2008 Cadillac CTS planted itself exactly where we steered it without one bit of deviation. That steering wheel just felt good in our hands and the way the CTS responded to our input made us feel even better.
Although we didn't get the chance to drive it, the standard engine, a fuel injected 3.6-liter V6 didn't seem to be a slouch. It made 263 horsepower and 253 pounds-feet of torque. Either engine can also be mated to a six-speed manual transmission.
Most of the roads here were nothing like what you'd fine in our urban centers. We'd like to see how easy the CTS parks and how it handles the needed quick bursts acceleration and the rapid deceleration of expressways and it does it have curb appeal? Can the suspension handle really rough city streets? We think that that the 2008 Cadillac CTS will do just fine but we plan to find out for ourselves.
Prices start at $32,990.