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2016 Cadillac CTS-V Review & Test Drive

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Sometimes I feel as if I have “arrived” in life when I accomplish a major task or have a positive life-changing event take place. Unfortunately, most times, such a feeling only lasts for a short duration. However, I can directly compare that feeling to my time with the all-new 2016 Cadillac CTS-V, a vehicle that seems to signify the brand arriving at a point to surpass the European competition with their fire-breathing dual-personality midsized luxury performance sedan.

>> Get the best price on the Cadillac CTS-V from a network of local dealers now. <<


As you probably already know, the new Cadillac CTS-V packs plenty of performance goods, to the tune of 640 horsepower and 630 pound-feet of torque from its 6.2-liter pushrod LT4 supercharged V8 engine mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. To my surprise, unlike another performance sedan with an outrageous horsepower figure I recently reviewed, most of that power can be laid to the ground without life-fearing drama. To that note, the new Cadillac CTS-V is a dynamic marvel, one that excels at more than just shredding its rear tires. The CTS-V has finesse, character, and best of all, it gets its purposed job done consistently followed up with big Cheshire cat smiles. No hell-kitten experience here.


As some would make a convincing argument otherwise, the new Cadillac CTS-V isn’t just a new 4-door Corvette Z06 because they essentially tout the same engine. The new CTS-V is its own animal, one that proudly wears is uniquely trimmed skin to become the unmistakable hunter that devours just about every other sedan in its class. Moreover, the CTS-V isn’t shy to take on a select number of prided exotics at the same time. The new CTS-V exhibits long nights of putting in the proper engineering and design details, from its remarkable millisecond-reacting magnetic ride suspension system and 295/30/R19 rear and 265/35/R19 front Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires, to the ZF-sourced electric-assisted steering rack and luxurious yet sporty interior. The dual purposes of the CTS-V place it in a category of being a rarity, a master of many trades if you will. It’s the family hauler and the respectable weekend track toy on demand. It’s Scarface and Cinderella’s love child.

The way the new CTS-V drives fits a mold that just about anyone with a valid license will enjoy. While the CTS-V can be intimidating when you lay into the throttle, it is also quite the civil vehicle in its soft Touring mode and muffled sound by way of closed exhaust valve actuators out back. The 8-speed automatic transmission also does its job to work with the supercharged V8 consistently shifting smoothly even when you are at full throttle, though with a bit more snapping authority in Sport and Track modes.


The four drive modes, Touring, Sport, Track and Snow/Ice, all have their way of dialing-in the CTS-V to be whenever you desire. Touring mode is more reserved in its adaptability for local streets, highways and comfortable commutes to and from work. Sport mode, while it incrementally tightens the magnetic dampers and adds a bit of weight to the steering effort, it mostly adapts to permit the right appetite for carving up back canyon roads still permitting the 8-speed automatic transmission to reach its highest gear for quietly cruising by state troopers on the side of the road. Track mode dials everything up to hits highest level leaving stability and traction control in the back seat only grabbing a hold of spinning wheels at the slight detection of pushing its lateral limits. Speaking of limits, the CTS-V is hardly ever taxed to the limit on public roads unless you don’t mind spending the night at your local flashing blue-lights-inn.


Fitting the “you gotta pay to play” bill, the CTS-V likes to drink copious amounts of premium unleaded fuel getting an EPA estimated 14 mpg city, 21 mpg highway, and 17 mpg combined. Surprisingly, getting those figures is still through use of the clever cylinder deactivation system enabling a V4-cylinder mode under light loads. Fortunately, for me, during my week-long adventure getting an average of about 13.9 mpg, gas prices were pretty low, and I didn’t mind my several trips to the gas station. After all, with 640 horsepower at your beckon and the remarkable handling attributes of the CTS-V with its Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde disposition, filling up the 19-gallon tank feels well worth it.

Inside of the new Cadillac CTS-V, you have much of a familiar cabin that takes a page from the current CTS. Where the CTS-V departs from its stablemate is the unique dashboard cluster featuring its exclusive graphical interface with sporty dials. The central focus point of the cluster, the center tachometer, changes its background to emphasize its importance when switching from Touring to Sport or Track modes.


The optional Recaro buckets up front provide optimal bolster support yet prove to be largely comfortable on long hauls. The soft-but-sporty subtleties of the CTS-V’s interior, such as the carbon fiber trim, perforated suede microfiber seat inserts, suede headliner and door trim, all come together to exude the right amount of luxury appeal with a pleasing sports car tone.


The pitfalls of the CTS-V’s interior start with barely having enough rear seat headroom for 6-foot tall folks like myself and the CUE infotainment system being inconsistent in its operation for some. While the CUE system has had its fair share of disagreements from the journalistic populous, it has improved in some ways to boast faster operation and response from an updated processor and the added feature set of Apple Car Play or Android Auto (late availability). In my assessment, the touch capacitive buttons aren’t all that bad once you get used to them, something I could honestly live with considering how much fun 640 horsepower can be with your family strapped into the other seats. The LT4 supercharged engine is our entertainment. The crisp and deep bass-sounding Bose audio system is an added bonus to the blissful sounds of the supercharger whine and burbling exhaust.


Cadillac’s mission to be the staple for American luxury cars can be considered as a rebirth of American muscle mixed in with European flair, but with a unique carbon fiber-trimmed style to boot for vehicles like the CTS-V and its ATS-V stablemate. The CTS-V brings a little extra to the table to literally turn heads and force others to recognize that it means business. The darkened headlights, bulging carbon fiber hood, quad exhaust tips, and large underbody spoilers all make the convincing case of a menacing performance vehicle. Additionally, the CTS-V’s idle at a stoplight is a giveaway to its muscle car side with a subtle rumble from the supercharged pushrod V8 engine softly rocking the vehicle’s body side to side. Cadillac engineers had to giggle over this trait; I know I do every time I jump behind the wheel.

In its third generation, the Cadillac CTS-V steps up the performance sedan game to reach the panicle of the performance food chain in such a compartmentalized segment. Having a 0-60 mph time of about 3.7 seconds, a top speed edging 200 mph, and a performance data recorder to show your friends how fast your “family car” is on the track, Cadillac is putting themselves out there as a builder of luxury cars with near-supercar performance, and that’s not a bad thing in my book.


The new Cadillac CTS-V’s starting price point at $83,995 is well worth the sum of its parts. However, loading up a few desirable option packages will have the CTS-V easily reaching just shy of $100K. Taking into consideration the price of a comparably-equipped BMW M5 or Benz E63 AMG, the CTS-V proves to be the better deal touting better lap track lap times in several recent tests. Still, for the majority of CTS-V buyers that will never set foot on a track, Cadillac’s luxury hot-rod is well deserving of being the favored choice for those who want something different that justifiably has consistent heart-pounding performance, luxury feel when you want it, and unique American style.


My 2016 Cadillac CTS-V test vehicle came to an as-tested price of $91,190, including a $1000 gas guzzler tax, the options of the $2,300 Recaro performance seats, a $1,600 Luxury Package (rear split-folding seat, rear climate control, power rear sunshade with manual rear door shades, heated rear outboard seats, and 110volt power outlet), and a $1,300 Performance Data Recorder.

>> Get the best price on the Cadillac CTS-V from a network of local dealers now. <<

Copyright: 2015


  • Price: Base CTS-V $83,995 / As-Tested CTS-V $91,190 including $925 destination charge
  • Engine: 6.2-liter LT4 Supercharged V8 640 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm / 630 ft-lbs. torque @ 3,600 rpm
  • Transmission: 8-speed automatic w/steering wheel shift paddles
  • Turning circle: 40.3 ft.
  • Length: 197.6 inches
  • Height: 57.2 inches
  • Width: 72.2 inches
  • Track: f/r-62.1/61.2 inches
  • Legroom: f/r-45.7/35.4 inches
  • Headroom: f/r-40.4/37.5 inches
  • EPA passenger volume: 110.7  cu.ft.
  • EPA trunk volume: 13.7 cu.ft.
  • 0-60 mph: 3.7 seconds
  • Fuel tank: 19 gallons
  • EPA fuel mileage: 14 mpg city / 21 mpg highway

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