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- Highs Athletic handling, crisp styling, serious power from the CTS V-Sport and CTS-V engines.
- Lows Unrefined standard engines, inconsistent build quality, lags behind rivals in the luxury department.
- Verdict The 2018 Cadillac CTS is a standout when it comes to sporty styling and great handling, but getting serious performance requires upgrading from the standard engines.
In a field of luxury sports sedans that are canted more toward the posh end of that space, the Cadillac CTS is a breath of fresh air for driving enthusiasts. Its rear-wheel-drive layout, balanced chassis, and direct steering make quick work of curvy back roads. It imparts a feeling of athleticism from which modern BMWs have drifted. And its edgy exterior styling stands out from the crowd, for better or worse. The Caddy also offers all the popular infotainment features that premium-segment buyers expect, including an onboard Wi-Fi hotspot. However, the CTS underdelivers on the luxury front: rear-seat passenger space is limited, build quality isn’t consistent, and powertrain refinement is subpar. Such shortcomings are what cause the Cadillac to lag behind a rival like the Mercedes-AMG E43. Still, the CTS remains one of the better choices within the sport-luxury segment.
What's New for 2018?
Two additional USB ports now live in the back of the CTS’s center console so that rear-seat passengers can charge their devices. Up front, the optional heated steering wheel now turns itself on in low-temperature conditions, while a new exterior color—Satin Steel Metallic—is now available. Revisions to myCadillac iPhone app now include Apple Watch compatibility, allowing users to select a variety of commands from their wrists.
- Base: $47,490
- Luxury: $53,190
- Premium Luxury: $60,690
- V-Sport: $62,190
- V-Sport Premium Luxury: $72,290
- CTS-V: $88,490
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Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Three different engine choices provide power outputs ranging from plentiful to potent, but powertrain refinement doesn’t seem to be a priority in the CTS. An eight-speed automatic transmission manages satisfactory gearchanges, and most CTS models can be had with either rear- or all-wheel drive. The base CTS’s 268-hp turbocharged inline-four can outrun the best four-cylinder sedans from Europe, but its engine sound is less refined than the fours in, for example, the BMW 530i or the Audi A6 2.0T. And unfortunately, the Caddy’s optional 335-hp 3.6-liter V-6 struggles to compete with six-cylinder rivals from BMW and Audi. But opt for the 420-hp twin-turbocharged 3.6-liter, and the CTS becomes a performance powerhouse with almost 100 more horsepower than either of those German sedans. If that’s simply not enough grunt for you, then Cadillac offers the brilliant CTS-V with 640 hp, but its price is nearly $20,000 higher than its nearest relative. The CTS is a sedan that loves to be pushed hard. Its chassis is one of the best among the world’s four-doors, athletic and lively, even in base trim. The top twin-turbo V-6 is seriously quick, but both the base four-cylinder and the mid-level V-6 beg for more refinement. Otherwise, our complaints are minor. The CTS is one of the most dynamic sedans in the mid-size luxury segment. Turn-in is wonderfully sharp, and the CTS seems to hunker down through corners. Body roll is well controlled, and even in aggressive maneuvers, the CTS remains composed and unruffled.
EPA fuel economy testing and reporting procedures have changed over time. For the latest and most accurate fuel economy numbers on current and older vehicles, we use the U.S. Department of Energy's fueleconomy.gov website. Under the heading "Find & Compare Cars" click on the "Compare-Side-by-Side" tool to find the EPA ratings for the make, model, and year you're interested in.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The cabin of the CTS is made from a collection of materials that run the gamut in look and texture—both smooth and perforated leathers, open-pore wood, gloss-black trim, chromed plastic, and faux suede. The combination of so many different materials, as nice as they are, results in a busy interior design. Unfortunately, we’ve sampled some CTS models that suffer from poorly fitted interior panels. The interior is arranged with the driver in mind. Most of the controls are within easy reach, and the driving position is ideal for sporty driving. Both the standard analog gauges and the optional digital gauge cluster are easy to read at a glance, with the latter being both better-looking and reconfigurable to show a variety of information. Premium Luxury models feature a full-color head-up display that makes it even easier to see pertinent information, such as speed and navigation commands, without looking away from the road. When it comes to practicality, the CTS holds its own but is hardly the class leader. Although it has a couple of tricks up its sleeve—such as a handy hidden smartphone cubby in the dash—its middling trunk capacity, high lift-over height, and smallish interior-storage bins make it just average in this category. The 14-cubic-foot trunk also offers three large bins, two of which are hidden under the cargo floor.
Infotainment and Connectivity
There’s no need to check option boxes to get the CTS’s high-tech infotainment system. Cadillac has made everything but navigation standard, including a Wi-Fi hotspot. This year marks a turning point for Cadillac’s CUE infotainment system, as it sees a major overhaul that improves usability. The updated system features a more intuitive menu layout and larger buttons that are easier to activate while driving, but the same 8.0-inch touch-sensitive display. Sharing the CTS with another driver? The system is capable of creating and storing individual user profiles and offers customizable settings. The rest of the CTS’s standard infotainment offerings are comprehensive: three USB ports, real-time traffic and weather updates, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, onboard Wi-Fi via a 4G LTE data connection, and Bluetooth phone and audio streaming.
Safety Features and Crash Test Ratings
Overall Safety Rating (NHTSA)
Some older vehicles are still eligible for coverage under a manufacturer's Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) program. For more information visit our guide to every manufacturer's CPO program.