Cadillac CTS 2017 3.6L RWD Reaches the Top

Roomier than the entry-level ATS and slender than the larger CT6, the Cadillac CTS is the American luxury brand’s Goldilocks product. It is just right.

After introducing a new mid-range V6 version last year, the CTS entered 2017 with a slightly redesigned grille, updated rear fascias, and a redesigned infotainment system. Cadillac has also streamlined its CTS lineup for the fourth year of the third generation car. The 3.6-liter V-6 is available in only two of the five trim levels: Luxury and Premium Luxury. The former starts at $54,690 and the latter, tested here, is priced at $60,190. (Cadillac also sells a CTS with a turbocharger in the base and luxury trims and with a twin-turbo V-6 in the V-Sport and V-Sport Premium Luxury. The CTS-V with a 640-hp V-8 is a separate model.)

Six more years

The new 3.6-liter V-6 from the CTS doesn’t have much in common with its predecessor. Even its displacement is slightly larger, at 3,649 cc instead of 3,564. Power is now rated at 335 hp, 14 hp more than before, while torque rises to 285 lb-ft at 5300 rpm from 275 previously at 4800 rpm. . All that grunt is sent to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission that can be controlled by a pair of magnesium steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. We tested the rear-wheel drive model, but all-wheel drive is available for $2,000 more.

HIGHS: Great steering, great chassis, great driving.

The added oomph paid off on the track, with the CTS going from zero to 60 mph in just 5.7 seconds—0.3 seconds better than the 2014 rear-wheel drive model with the older engine. A quarter-mile time of 14.2 seconds at 101 mph beats the previous 14.6-second run at 99 mph. But that’s not enough to outpace the turbocharged six-cylinder BMW 540i, which beat this Cadillac by a full second at 60 mph and in the quarter mile. The Bimmer is also rated at 335 bhp but is clocked at a quarter-mile trap speed of 109 mph; Credit is credited to the 332 lb-ft of torque developed over a wide rpm range, and possibly BMW’s conservative power ratings.

According to the EPA, the 3.6-liter CTS engine drinks 87 octane at 20 mpg city, 30 mpg highway, and 24 mpg combined. Over the course of our time with Caddy, we noticed an average of 20 mpg and scored 27 mpg in our 75-mph highway fuel economy test.

added lightness

This 3.6-liter CTS may not be the fastest option in its class, but it’s certainly among the most enjoyable to drive, as GM’s Alpha platform remains the gold standard for dynamic behavior in the midsize luxury sedan segment. The CTS’s sturdy chassis delivers sharp feedback and a comfortable ride, while the extensive use of aluminum components keeps the CTS hefty. At 3,795 pounds, the CTS weighed 276 pounds less than the BMW 540i mentioned above.

With its responsive, electrically assisted rack-and-pinion steering, near-50/50 weight distribution, and a powerful brake pedal with plenty of feedback, the relatively lightweight CTS is an ideal partner on winding roads. Our CTS Premium Luxury test car also benefited from standard adaptive dampers as well as a $1,465 V-Sport package that adds specific suspension tuning, 13.6-inch front brake rotors (1.0 inches larger than standard), and an 18-inch wheel set wrapped in tires Summer Pirelli P Zero Run Flat, and a richer three-spoke steering wheel.

Around the 300-foot skateboard, the CTS dominated the tarmac at 0.94g, matching the side grip of the $136,975 Audi RS7 performance we tested. Meanwhile, the CTS’s standard Brembo front brake calipers worked with sturdier V-Sport package tires and larger brake rotors to stop the CTS from 70 mph in fade-free 153 feet.

lower interior

Unfortunately, the CTS’s attractive chassis dynamics are held back by its interior design. Fit and finish leave a lot to be desired, with our test car showing large gaps in the panel around the glove box and noticeably skewed wood inlays. Plus, the CTS features a $395, dealer-installed steering wheel that’s wrapped in microsuede and feels great in your hands, but looks cheap because of the scratches and creases in the fabric.

LOWS: Faded fit and finish, cramped back seat, crowded cabin.

The CTS still has a relatively narrow rear seat with 35.4 inches of legroom, two inches less than that of the Audi A6 and one inch for the BMW 5 Series. No less than a well-padded 60/40 folding seat, the Premium Luxury model adds heaters to the rear seats. exterior and separate climatic zone for the rear cabin. (Automatic dual-zone climate control and heated and ventilated front buckets are standard even on the low-end 3.6L Deluxe.)

Our luxury luxury test car is also equipped with the $2,850 Technology Package, which adds a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, aluminum pedals, 20-way power-adjustable front sport seats, automatically tension belts, and forward-activated Automatic Emergency Braking. and rear, adaptive cruise control, additional security measures such as armored rear windows and an upgraded alarm system. Other options included $1,500 Kona Brown leather seats, $595 Phantom Gray Metallic paint, $525 dealer-installed rear spoiler, and $250 additional capacity cooling, putting the price of the CTS tested at $67,770. $6,080 more than the base price of the 420-horsepower CTS V-Sport.

CUE wanted more

Every 2017 CTS delivered to dealerships after March 2017 benefits from the latest version of the Cadillac user experience, known as CUE. The all-new infotainment system features logically arranged menus and a simplified home screen that can display an extensive navigation map, climate control information, basic radio controls and related phone information, all on one page.

Graphic buttons installed in the lower left corner of the 8.0-inch touchscreen make it easy to explore the countless CUE functions without getting lost in the many system menus. The touchscreen is also more tolerant of slightly missed jabs and requires less fingertip pressure to respond. Not all issues are resolved though, as the annoying capacitive capacitive stereo volume and climate controls remain in CUE.

Despite its flaws, the Cadillac CTS remains the American luxury brand’s best car — as well as one of its most attractive mid-size luxury sedans.

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