Power, prestige and practicality wrapped in a gorgeous body.

2016 Cadillac CTS-V Review

America Finally Has Its Superior Sports Sedan

By: Amos Kwon

Web2Carz Editor-In-Chief

Published: March 23rd, 2016

Cadillac went all out with the high-powered version of their already great CTS sedan. Ever since the CTS emerged in 2003 as an alternative to German sports sedans, it has carved out its own niche despite its struggles to be truly competitive. The new CTS-V shows the world what true intimidation looks like with aggressive styling, mad power and refinement in a truly American way. Cadillac engineers gave it their all, and it's not just about raw potency -- the CTS-V shows us what a homegrown sports sedan is all about.

We took the CTS-V for some spirited test drives, even though we received the car for testing during a Chicago winter. We're thankful for the opportunity to get behind the wheel and, of course, for a handy set of Pirelli snow tires.

  • Driving Impressions

    A key measure for us isn't just high-speed, hard-turning, apex-nailing drives. It's also about how well a performance car drives on an every day basis, and here is something the CTS-V does very well. The Magnetic Ride Control ensures adaptability, so city driving over bumps and undulations isn't bone-jarring. In fact, the CTS-V is very composed at lower speeds, with no jerkiness or skull whacking to speak of.

    • Ride Quality: Magnetic Ride Control works wonders, adaptiing beautifully to any pavement and driving style. Around town, it's supermely comfy. Under hard driving, the CTS-V is as planted as a column of marble.
    • Steering: Could use better feel, but turn-in is immediate, and the CTS-V responds quickly.
    • Acceleration: Like a rocket sled, pretty much. It's frightening how fast this car is, and it's more power than you'll ever need.
    • Braking: The big Brembo brake calipers and huge rotors provide excellent stopping power, and the pedal is progressive.
    • Handling: The heavy CTS-V corners flat. It's a race car with seating for five.

  • Technology & Safety

    Though the CTS-V's updated CUE system is much improved, with better responsiveness and visuals, it's by no means at the head of the pack -- considering much cheaper cars like the Hyundai Sonata do it far better. The 8-inch touchscreen does get a faster processor, so inputs are much better. Apple CarPlay usability is a bonus since you can send it directly to the screen. The huge 12.3-inch customizable instrument cluster makes you want to play with it all day, and steering wheel controls are a breeze to use once you get used to them. Android Auto will be available in the not-too-distant future.

    The head-up display is a boon for this kind of car, since you don't even have to take your eyes off the windshield. It's now comes standard on the CTS-V. The weird storage binnacle in the center console opens via haptic touch, but it often opens accidentally when using the CUE buttons, and it can be tough to close. The idea is slick, but the execution of it is not.

    • Infotainment Screen Size/Quality: The large 8" color touchscreen has improved responsiveness and visuals. Much better than the last version but still not great.
    • Bluetooth Phone Pairing: iOS and Android pairing setup is quick and simple. Identifies and automatically pairs upon startup.
    • Sound Quality: Voice quality on phone calls were clear and strong. No issues to speak of.
    • Controls: Though the touchscreen is responsive, the CUE's physical buttons are still too small for any car, especially for one this fast.
    • Gauges: The CTS-V's instrument cluster can be busy with red, white and blue all over, but the fact that you can configure it to your liking is a big plus. The white on black analog-style gauges are highly legible and very pleasing to the eye.
    • Safety: Forward Collision Alert is one of the best we've seen, vibrating the seat instead of just giving visual and audible alerts. Key features such as lane-keep assist with lane departure warning, rear camera and rear cross-traffic alert come standard.

  • Exterior Design & Styling

    It's hard to build a super sedan with Ferrari-like performance without making it look like a contraption from a Batman movie, but Cadillac does the CTS-V right by not festooning it with too much bodywork. What the CTS-V does in terms of styling is quite the opposite of the super-'Vette.

    No one will accuse the CTS-V of being overstyled, unlike its Corvette Z06 brother who shares the same engine. The CTS-V's grille is sporty with a tasteful cross-hatch pattern, the aero effects are subtlely aggressive, and even the spoiler is understated. The overall look of the CTS-V is powerful but well-styled.

    • Front: The eggcrate grille is the right amount of sporty style, complementing the nice bulge in the carbon fiber hood.
    • Rear: Quad exhaust and black spoiler give it away, but its an otherwise conservative approach for a land rocket.
    • Profile: It still manages to be lean and maintains the right proportions. This car will still look great in ten years.

  • Driver and Passenger Comfort

    For such a ballistically powerful car, the CTS-V remains a remarkably comfortable place to drive or be driven in. There's ample room for six-footers in front or in the back, and whether it's a leisurely trip around town or blasting through twisty roads, the CTS-V is supportive and spreads out the pressure nicely on both the seat bottoms and seat backs.

    The leather and microfiber seating surfaces in both front and back are both racy looking and appropriate for a car that's performance-focused. The seat heaters work almost too well, and we can't imagine using more than the lowest setting even during the coldest of Chicago winters.

    • Front Seats: Near infinite adjustability makes it easy to find the perfect seating position for any driver. The bad part is trying to get your hand between the seat and the door liner to make adjustments. There's just not enough space between the two. Adjustable bolsters and self-tightening seat belts make sharp turns secure for the driver and front passenger.
    • Rear Seats: Plenty of space in back, and the optional three-level heated rear seats will keep passengers very happy.
    • Visibility: Placing this car into a turn is easy thanks to solid forward visibility. Parking it front-in with the super-low splitter is less frightening with the camera. In spite of large C-pillars, the CTS-V provides good rearward visibility.

  • Storage and Cargo Room

    Though you won't mistake this beast for a family sedan, it does provide a decent amount of storage options. The center console binnacle, though awkward to get to, is useful for smaller items. The cupholders hideaway via the automatic sliding door, but they're not exactly deep, which could pose a problem when you're nailing an apex with hot coffee in tow.

    The door pockets are helpful, though not voluminous and the same goes for the center armrest compartment. The small cubby just in front of the armrest is good for pocket change. There's not much more space to speak of for the front seat occupants, but that's par for the course with a car like this.

    • Storage: Enough to get through the day but perhaps not quite enough for a long road trip.
    • Trunk/Cargo Room: 13.7 cubic feet here, not massive but also only about 2 cu ft. shy of a big Honda Accord. It'll house luggage, golf clubs and a healthy amount of gear.
    • Binnacles: Door pockets are long but not very deep. Center console compartment is good only for small items and keeps them in place via the automatic and sometimes awkward door. Glove compartment is average on space.

  • Final Impressions: The Caddy Super Sedan Is Here

    We've waited three generations of CTS-V, and Cadillac has finally delivered its best performance car to date. 640 horses might be overkill for everyday driving, but when it comes to going up against the BMW M5 and the Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG S, you have to bring the heat, and the CTS-V does that and more. It's been clocked to 60 mph from zero in 3.5 seconds, which is on par with the Germans. But what the CTS-V does is provide those stats with distinctly American flavor that need not make any apologies.

    The fact that it still has the creature comforts and daily drivability of the fantastic CTS is a huge benefit. Knowing you can mash the throttle and beat nearly everything out there in the turns, as well as the straightaways makes this sub-$100K car that seats 5 more than worth its asking price. Cadillac engineers went whole hog on the CTS-V and it shows. Acceleration, braking, and handling are superb. We'd like to see a better UI soon, as well as better steering feel. You certainly can't have it all, but you can absolutely have one superb sports sedan, American or otherwise.

  • Price & Specifications

    Engine: 6.2-liter supercharged V8

    Transmission: 8-speed automatic with manual shift mode and launch control

    Drivetrain Layout: Front engine, rear-wheel drive

    Power Output: 640 horsepower, 630 lb-ft of torque

    Fuel Economy (mpg): 14 city / 21 highway

    Base Price: $83,995

    As Tested: $91,385 (incl. $995 destination)

    Standard Features: Performance Traction Management, Magnetic Ride Control, Limited-Slip Differential, 19" Premium Painted Wheels, Brembo Performance Brakes, Stabilitrak Stability Control and Traction Control, Tire Pressure Monitoring System, Carbon Fiber Hood, Leather Seats with Microfiber Sueded Fabric Inserts, Microfiber Sueded Headliner, Driver Memory Seat Adjuster, 12.3" Reconfigurable Cluster, Cadillac CUE with Navigation, 8" Full-Color Touch Display, Bose Surround Sound, Apple CarPlay Capability, SirusXM and HD Radio, Bluetooth, Head-Up Display, Leather Wrapped Sport Steering Wheel, Power Tilt & Telescoping Steering Column, Sport Alloy Pedal, Dual Zone Climate Control, Rainsensing Windshield Wipers, Outside Heated and Power Mirrors with Driver's Side Auto-Dimming, High-Intensity Adaptive Headlights with Intellibeam, Keyless Pushbutton Start, EZ Key Passive Entry System, Adaptive Remove Vehicle Start, Automatic Parking Assist, Curbview Camera, Wireless Charging.

    Options on our test vehicle: Recaro High Performance Seats with Sueded Microfiber Inserts and Seatbacks, Performance Data Recorder, Dark Gold Brembo Brake Calipers, Sueded Microfiber Steering Wheel and Shifter.

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