2009 Cadillac CTS Review
America's best sports sedan.
The Cadillac CTS is a responsive sports sedan with excellent handling and high-speed stability, yet it's smooth and quiet when cruising.
The CTS comes with two versions of a 3.6-liter V6 engine, one with conventional fuel injection, rated at 263 horsepower at 6400 rpm and 253 pound-feet of torque at 3100 rpm, and the second, with Direct Injection, rated at 304 horsepower at 6400 rpm and 273 pound-feet of torque at 5200 rpm. Either is available with a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission, and with rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.
The difference in performance, feel and sound between the two V6 engines is amazing. The standard engine works well, but the Direct Injection engine just has more of everything; more power, more torque, more response, more driving enjoyment, and at little or no penalty in fuel efficiency. The Direct Injection is a more efficient system. It's also extremely responsive. The 304-hp V6 feels ready to go out and play anytime you want, delivering a really solid combination of power, torque and assertive sound whenever the throttle is opened all the way up.
The six-speed manually controlled automatic is very quick and positive to shift, up or down, with a little bit of throttle blip on the downshifts to keep the drivetrain happy and to keep the tires from skipping and chirping. The six-speed manual offers an easy clutch and requires only a light touch on the shift lever to change gears. The choice is up to your preference. We liked both of them.
Underneath all the attractive sheetmetal is a suspension system with a forward-mounted power rack-and-pinion steering system that pulls, rather than pushes, the steering arms. (It pulls on the steering arm of that front tire which will be on the outside in the turn so, in a right-hand turn, it is pulling on the left-side steering arm, placing that side in tension rather than compression.) The steering is sweet to drive, very accurate, with good feel and a nice, weighty demeanor.
All-wheel drive is optional on the CTS. We found it makes the car feel very stable and adds to driver confidence on winding roads.
The brakes are excellent, equipped with ABS and Electronic Brake-force Distribution. They provide very good stopping power, even for a car that tips the scales at well over two tons.
For all its steering, cornering and handling prowess, the CTS doesn't seem to exact any penalties in quietness or harshness over the road, an impressive combination. It's very solidly put together and, in all other modes besides wide-open-throttle, it's quiet inside, even with its 17-inch high-performance tires.
Driving the CTS-V is a completely different experience. It's not a lightweight, at well over 4000 pounds, but with 556 horsepower and 551 pound-feet of torque, it will not be denied. Yet, it's also perfectly capable of being trundled and idled around town. The clutch is light, the shifter feels just about perfect, the seats are comfortable and, if the task at hand is a trip to the grocery store, the CTS-V can, indeed, do it just fine. It's even fairly quiet, and the ride is not harsh.
On the public roads, it idled smoothly and quietly and responded to throttle inputs unlike any other Cadillac in our experience. Big torque, big power, right now. The huge tires didn’t make very much road noise, but they did provide the kind of cornering we’re simply not used to in a fully equipped, 4300-pound luxury sedan. In combination with those instant-acting shock absorbers and the big tires, the CTS-V felt like a German-style sports sedan, with quick steering and deft handling on the country roads, smooth ride, and massively powerful brakes.
On the track, we found the CTS-V to be a rocket, fast and predictable. We found we could drive it very hard with the confidence that we were still well within our driving abilities. It is a superb car, capable of running against the best sedans from Germany and Japan.
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