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2017 Cadillac CTS: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader January 2017

This is not your neighbor's German luxury sedan. It's not your grandad's Cadillac, either. The 2017 Cadillac CTS is equal parts distinctly American and fully modern, a sport sedan comparable to Europe's latest and greatest. While it doesn't always compare perfectly on paper or in practice, the CTS nevertheless offers enough style, driving pleasure and overall character to make it tug at the heart strings in ways its competitors do not.

Like those other sedans, though, the 2017 CTS offers a diverse, compelling lineup of engines ranging from an efficient yet surprisingly strong turbocharged 4-cylinder to the uproarious 640-horsepower supercharged V8 in the CTS-V. A pair of strong V6 engines reside in between. The CTS also offers the full gamut of expected luxury equipment, usually at a price that undercuts its competition, as well as a surprisingly sharp and rewarding driving experience. This is especially true of the excellent V-Sport and CTS-V models.

At the same time, the CTS can't quite match the interior quality and overall refinement of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class in particular, as well as the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series and Lexus GS. It's close, and perhaps its unique character can make up for it, but we would still make sure to do a lot of cross-shopping before saying yes to this midsize Cadillac.

What's New for 2017?

For 2017, the Cadillac CTS gets a revised front grille and rear fascia design, although the changes are admittedly difficult to notice. More noteworthy, then, is the revised trim level structure for 2017, along with the rear camera mirror first seen on the CT6.

What We Like

Unique and tasteful styling; strong engine lineup; precise handling and braking; uproariously powerful and fun CTS-V

What We Don't

Run-flat tires deliver a rather harsh ride; front seats are a bit snug; CUE can sometimes be frustrating to use

How Much?

$45,600-$85,600

Fuel Economy

The 2016 Cadillac CTS is offered with four engine choices, all of which come standard with an 8-speed automatic transmission. The 2.0 model is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine good for 268 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. The Environmental Protection Agency rates fuel economy for this engine at 22 miles per gallon in the city, 30 mpg on the highway and 25 mpg in combined driving with rear-wheel drive and 21 mpg city/29 mpg hwy/24 mpg combined with all-wheel drive.

The midlevel 3.6 is powered by a 3.6-liter V6 engine that produces 335 hp and 285 lb-ft of torque. Rear-drive models are rated at 20 mpg city/30 mpg hwy/24 mpg combined, while all-wheel-drive cars earn a slightly lower 19 mpg city/27 mpg hwy /22 mpg combined.

The performance-oriented V-Sport is powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.6-liter V6 engine that pumps out 420 hp and 430 lb-ft of torque. Only offered with rear-wheel drive, the V-Sport returns 16 mpg city/24 mpg hwy/18 mpg combined.

Topping the lineup is the high-performance CTS-V, which touts a raucous 640-hp 6.2-liter supercharged V8 shared with the Corvette Z06. Fuel economy is, not surprisingly, a mediocre 14 mpg city/21 mpg hwy/17 mpg combined.

Standard Features & Options

The 2017 Cadillac CTS is available in five regular trim levels -- the base, Luxury, Premium Luxury, V-Sport and V-Sport Premium Luxury -- plus the high-performance CTS-V. Note that not every engine is available in every trim level.

The base CTS ($45,600) comes only with the 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder as well as standard 17-inch wheels, advanced Brembo front brakes, rear parking sensors, a backup camera, keyless start, 8-way power front seats with memory settings, simulated leather upholstery, OnStar with 4G LTE Wi-Fi, the 8-in CUE touchscreen interface, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, three USB ports and an 11-speaker Bose sound system. Options include heated and ventilated front seats, leather upholstery, a navigation system, a sunroof, a power-adjustable heated steering wheel and split-folding rear seat backs.

All of those options are included or supplanted on the CTS Luxury ($51,300), which further adds a panoramic sunroof, xenon headlights and the Driver Awareness package, which includes forward-collision warning, blind spot monitoring, lane-departure warning and rear cross-traffic alert systems. The 3.6-liter V6 can be had with the Luxury trim level.

The Premium Luxury trim ($58,800) adds 18-in wheels, a magnetically controlled adaptive suspension, a head-up display, a surround-view parking camera, a self-parking system, tri-zone climate control, heated rear seats, Cadillac's special rear-camera mirror, rear sunshades (power rear) and the availability of different interior color combinations. The Premium Luxury trim's Driver Assist package bolsters its standard items with automatic braking and collision mitigation as well as adaptive cruise control. The 3.6-liter V6 is standard.

The V-Sport ($60,300) gains a twin-turbo V6 plus a variety of other performance enhancements (sport-tuned steering and magnetic suspension, upgraded Brembo brakes, summer tires, an electronic limited-slip differential and a special Track mode for performance driving). It's otherwise equipped similarly to the Luxury apart from its standard self-parking system and the unavailability of a sunroof.

The V-Sport Premium Luxury ($70,430) essentially adds all the extras from the regular Premium Luxury trim level.

Finally, there's the CTS-V ($85,600). It essentially builds upon the V-Sport's content with a supercharged V8 and an even higher pedigree of performance elements. It too can have most of the Premium Luxury's items, although they're available through a mix of packages and stand-alone options. You can also specify special Recaro sport seats and a Carbon Fiber package, which adds a variety of carbon-fiber elements to the exterior.

Safety

The Cadillac CTS comes standard with a full complement of safety equipment, including electronic traction and stability control, side-curtain airbags and a backup camera. Optional safety equipment includes blind spot monitoring, lane-departure warning, forward-collision warning and rear cross-traffic alert systems plus automatic braking as a further add-on.

In crash tests carried out by the federal government's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the CTS earned a perfect 5-star rating in all categories. The nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave it the best-possible rating of Good in most crash tests, but it only the received a Marginal rating (third-best of four) in the new small-overlap front crash test. Its forward-collision warning and mitigation system received a rating of Superior.

Behind the Wheel

We spent time behind the wheel of each trim. The 2.0 has sufficient power and the softest ride of the three, but it's not quite as responsive as the V6 -- even if you play with the adjustable Drive Mode Control feature. Indeed, we think the 3.6 is the right engine choice for the CTS. Handling is spot-on, as is feedback from the steering, though our test car's optional 19-in wheels and run-flat tires delivered a pretty jarring ride. Instead, we might suggest sticking with the stock 18-in wheels.

While we were thrilled about the muscular V-Sport, that model became old news thanks to the CTS-V. With 640 hp and excellent performance upgrades, the CTS-V sets a new performance standard that other upscale sport sedans -- like the Mercedes E63 AMG and BMW M5 -- will have to follow. We're especially impressed with its ride quality, which offers tracklike handling or cushy luxury, depending on which you prefer. Chalk that up as a benefit of GM's amazing magnetic ride control system.

Inside, the CTS delivers a big dose of Cadillac luxury, with an attractive interior design complemented by available semi-aniline leather, a beautifully sculpted dash and contrasting suede and wood inserts. Overall material quality and construction isn't entirely up to what you'd get in an Audi, BMW or Mercedes, though, and despite some very welcome updates, the CUE tech interface can still irritate.

Other Cars to Consider

2017 Audi A6 --The A6 won't perform like the CTS, but its ride is smoother and its interior is more spacious and of a higher quality.

2017 BMW 5 Series -- The BMW 5 Series offers excellent performance, a lot of engine options and the all-important BMW name. The CTS costs less when comparably equipped and gets better fuel economy. The 5 Series is also set to be replaced next year.

2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class -- The redesigned Mercedes-Benz E-Class is an exquisitely luxurious sedan that challenges its S-Class big brother for opulence and refinement. Its new E63 AMG variant should definitely challenge the CTS-V for performance supremacy.

Used BMW 7 Series -- If you like the CTS's combination of luxury and sport but want a larger car with a more luxurious ride, the BMW 7 Series might be for you. Prices are steep, though, so you may want to consider a used model.

Autotrader's Advice

While we appreciate the 2.0-liter engine's punch, we think the 3.6-liter V6 delivers the best combination of performance, comfort and economy. The Luxury trim is the best equipped and probably what most Cadillac buyers will want. Performance enthusiasts, however, should look no further than the CTS-V -- unless its $85,000 price tag doesn't fit into their budgets. In that case, the V-Sport is an excellent consolation prize.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2017 Cadillac CTS: New Car Review - Autotrader