2012 Cadillac CTS Review

We drive Cadillac's best seller.

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April 5, 2012

2012 Cadillac CTS Review

Can the standard CTS hang with the competition from overseas?

Meet Cadillac's Best Seller
When the head honchos at Cadillac began changing the lineup to counter the perception that the company had become an old man's brand, the CTS was conceived as the mid-size mid-luxury car that would rejuvenate the brand. We'd say that the CTS, which marked the debut of the brand's 'Art and Science' design theme, has done a pretty fair job of accomplishing the mission it set out to achieve.

The odd thing is that thanks to the fact that the car is available in coupe, sedan, and wagon forms, with hot-rod 'V' versions of all three available, the 'regular' CTS sedan kinda gets lost in the shuffle. Gearheads with deep pockets and lead feet will be tempted by the 'V' versions, of course, and the anti-crossover crowd will be seduced by one of the few wagons sold in the States. But what about those who want or need four doors, care not a whit about extra speed, and don't need a wagon's cargo space? Can the standard CTS hang with the competition from overseas?

2012 Cadillac CTS Features & Prices Our tester came from what Cadillac calls the Premium Collection, which is basically the top trim level. As such, it came equipped with a 3.6-liter V-6 (over the base 3.0-liter V-6), a sports suspension, a six-speed automatic transmission, leather seats, GM's OnStar service, a dual exhaust, 18-inch wheels, an antiskid system, traction control, heated and cooled front seats, a power tilt/telescope steering wheel, rain-sensing windshield wipers, an eight-way power adjustable driver's seat, dual-zone climate control, a navigation system, a split-folding rear seat, heated sideview mirrors, satellite radio, Bluetooth, a leather/wood wrap for the steering wheel, a heated steering wheel, high-intensity discharge headlamps, fog lamps, keyless starting and entry, a remote start, a sunroof, a rear-parking assist system, a cargo net, and a rearview camera.

Those standard features and a few more came to $48,290. Our car had the $2,810 CTS Touring Package, though, which added more options, including a few substitutions over the standard features. Gone were the heated steering wheel and split-folding rear seat--the split-folding seat was deleted and the heated steering wheel replaced by a suede steering wheel. Other Touring Package highlights included a 'sport finish' grille, chrome door handles, suede fabric inserts, wood trim, metal pedals, and a 'sport' center mounted stop lamp.

Our car also had a 19-inch summer tire Performance Package, with the 18s obviously being replaced by 19-inch wheels wearing summer rubber. Other items included in the package are paddle shifters, a performance cooling system, performance brakes, a limited-slip differential, and a performance suspension. That package ran up another $2,090, and a compact spare tire and wheel kit (replacing the standard tire inflator kit added another $350. The $5,250 in options brought us to $53,540 and the $875 destination took the as-tested total to $54,415.

That may seem like a lot, but compared to some of the German and Asian competition in the segment, and factoring in the equipment list, that's not too shabby of a luxury deal, although we hesitate to use the word 'bargain.'
2012 Cadillac CTS Hitting The Road This ain't no fire-breathing, muscle-bound 'V,' this is your commuter Caddy. That means it's smooth and silky while tackling daily duties, although with 318 horsepower (up 14 from last year), the CTS isn't exactly a slouch.

Ride and handling trends towards the smooth side, as well, although there's a definite sporting flavor here. The CTS isn't a driver's car in the way that a 5-Series is, but it never runs from a challenge, either, and the experience is engaging enough. If getting the best driver's car means a lot to you, you might want to take a gander at the Infiniti M or the 5-Series, but the CTS does strike a nice balance between luxury and sport.
2012 Cadillac CTS Interior We found the interior to be a little on the small side for a car this large-five adults were a tight fit. We do like Cadillac's pop-up nav/radio display-kitschy though it may be-and we found the overall design to be pleasing to the eye, although some of the materials don't quite match the rivals for quality.
2012 Cadillac CTS Art Meets Science The 'Art and Science' design theme remains as angular-and as controversial-as ever, dividing opinions among viewer. Generally we like the look, but it's not the right cup of tea for everyone. It's muscular, masculine, and a little mean. It lacks the flowing lines of the M, the signature blended style of the 5, or the classy inoffensiveness of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class. Instead, it makes a very American styling statement, as if we'd forgotten that association of Cadillac and Detroit. Like or hate it, the CTS does kind of stick out like the American tourist in Paris.
2012 Cadillac CTS At The Pump A CTS like ours gets an EPA rating of 18 mpg city/27 mpg highway, and we averaged 17.7 combined mpg over about 250 miles of mostly urban commuting.
2012 Cadillac CTS The Wrap-Up In order to keep pace with the other marquee marques, Cadillac knows it needs cars that appeal to more than just the South Florida set. That was the impetus behind the first CTS, and the second-generation car is doing a better than decent job of carrying on that mission, with a good mix of luxury and sport.

The styling will divide, the interior needs just a touch more class (but only a touch), and rear seat could stand to be roomier. But the CTS does many things well, and you can still tell your friends you have a Cadillac.

Except this time, they won't decide to move you to Del Boca Vista.

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