Most Americans think of station wagons as boxy, unattractive, and designed for nerdy drivers who just want basic transportation. Cadillac has come up with the CTS Sport Wagon and is hoping to compete with BMW and Mercedes in their performance class of wagons.
The new wagon is a new body style and the first ever Cadillac wagon. The Sport Wagon is roughly the same size as the CTS sedan. The CTS Sport Wagon shares the sedan's front end styling, but the roof and rear end are completely different. The design offers a nice alternative to the Volvo V70 and the Audi A4 Avant.
The wagon's rear end features tall vertical taillights that taper to a point at the top. I tested the Premium model ($51,720) that comes standard with a panoramic sunroof, as well as a subtle, integrated roof load management system.
The CTS Sport Wagon Premium came with GM's 3.6-liter direct-injected V6 engine, which makes 304 horsepower. Cadillac also offers a 3.0-liter version of the 3.6, also with direct injection, will become the base engine. It will produce 270 horsepower, and GM says it will get up to 28 mpg on the highway. Both engines come mated to a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic with manual shift capability. As is the case with the sedan, the wagon will come with rear- or all-wheel drive.
My CTS came with an optional Performance Package ($2090) which included 19 wheels with 245/45 ZR19 high performance tires, sport suspension, steering wheel mounted shift controls, a high capacity cooling system, and larger disc brakes.
The wagon weighs 241 more pounds than the CTS sedan. Much of the weight increase can be attributed to the extended roofline, the structural buttressing, and the electric hatch, but some is likely due to the glass roof that came as an option on my test car. With the wagon being heavier than the sedan, a clear disadvantage, the extra weight is offset by improved weight distribution. Sport Wagons are less nose-heavy than CTS sedans, with 48.6 percent of the mass over the rear wheels versus the sedan's 46.7 percent. With more weight resting on the rear wheels, they can put more power on the ground.
Cadillac says the wagon will go from 0 to 60 in 7.0, and the sedan does it in six flat. Cadillac says that roughly 0.3 second is sacrificed to the weight and another 0.3 is lost to the newly optional and heavier 19-inch wheels and larger brakes of the FE3 suspension. There's also a revised torque converter that is supposed to increase smoothness and efficiency, and it, too, may have contributed to the Sport Wagons slower time. The excellent handling, brakes, and steering all transfer over from the CTS sedan.
The CTS Sport Wagon's main advantage is its cargo utility. It has 25 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second-row 60/40-split-folding seats. From the floor rails that provide attachment points for various tie-downs to the perfectly trimmed carpet, Cadillac seems to have created an exact replica of the cargo compartment of the Mercedes E-class wagon.
The power-opening liftgate is very convenient and can be operated with the key fob. The rear floor has a cargo management system with adjustable in-floor storage. Otherwise, the CTS Sport Wagon shares the sedan's interior, including the hand-cut-and-sewn upholstery and trim, and the available 40-gigabyte hard-drive radio and pop-up navigation screen.
Unlike the Mercedes wagon, the Cadillacs new design gives it an air of sportiness. The only option the Premium Sport Wagon ($54,635) lacked was all-wheel drive. Even at that price, the Cadillac wagon is still less expensive than comparably equipped competition from Audi, BMW, and Mercedes.