Despite all the attention lavished on Cadillac’s newest cars, the compact ATS and the full-size XTS luxury sedans, its midsize CTS series remains the automaker’s best selling product. Offered in distinctively-styled sedan, coupe and wagon variants, there’s a CTS model suited to nearly every midsize luxury shopper’s expectations.
Cadillac isn’t making any significant changes to the CTS model range for 2013, and that’s fine with us. We like the linear and angular “Art & Science” exterior styling, which we find to be distinctive without being over-the-top. Unlike some Cadillac models of the past, the CTS neither borrows from nor copies other carmakers' designs.
The angular styling of the exterior carries over inside the CTS as well, where glossy piano black, chrome and polished wood blend into a more assertive mix than you’ll find in Japanese or German rivals. Cockpit materials, as well as fit and finish, are what you’d expect in a mid-range luxury car, and a clear step above where Cadillac was just a decade back.
CTS models generally offer the choice of two V-6 engines. Base models come with a 3.0-liter V-6 good for 270 horsepower and 223 pound-feet of torque, mated to the buyer’s choice of six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmissions. Those demanding more thrust can opt for a 3.6-liter V-6, rated at 318 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque, also offered with manual or automatic gearboxes. Rear-wheel-drive is standard across the range, but all-wheel-drive is an available option for those choosing the automatic transmission. If you’re eying a CTS Coupe, you’ll have one less decision to make, since it ships only with the larger 3.6-liter V-6.
Those used to vintage Cadillacs will likely be surprised by the CTS’ blend of handling prowess and ride comfort. As you’d expect, the Coupe is the sportiest of the bunch, but even the Sedan and Sport Wagon can be fitted with two levels of sport-tuned suspension and a summer-only tire package. While opting for improved handling will make the CTS’ ride stiffer, we’d never call it harsh, which is a tip of the hat to Cadillac’s suspension engineers.
The front seats are a comfortable place to soak up highway miles, but the rear seats are a bit tight in all variants. Climbing into the back of the Coupe requires a bit of bio-origami, which may reduce the car’s appeal for those who regularly transport four adults. Opting for the available sport seats will add bolstering for enthusiastic driving, but at the expense of long-distance ride comfort. Base models come with “leatherette” upholstery, but you’d likely have to special-order a car to get this since the vast majority of CTS models on dealer lots will be upgraded to the leather seats.
Standard equipment, even on base trim cars, includes features like Bluetooth connectivity; a Bose audio system; automatic headlights; dual-zone automatic climate control and an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat. Step up to the “Luxury” trim level, and you’ll add things like keyless entry with push-button start; automatic wipers; additional sound deadening; leather upholstery; heated front seats and a rearview camera. Opt for “Performance” trim, and you’ll get the larger 3.6-liter V-6 engine; an all-season performance tire package and an upgraded Bose audio system. Finally, “Premium” trim cars get the standard feature already mentioned, plus a panoramic sunroof; navigation; a heated steering wheel and real-time traffic and weather reporting.
If safety is a concern, all CTS models come with GM’s OnStar telematics system, and all have scored well in government crash testing. Each includes safety features such as electronic stability control, traction control, side and side-curtain airbags and active front head restraints.
For an in-depth look at the 2013 Cadillac CTS, see our comprehensive review on The Car Connection