Though it may be one of the most powerful sedans on the market, it isn’t the most refined.
– Miami, Florida
With a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 and sharp styling that can be likened to a military stealth jet, the Cadillac CTS-V is still one of the most striking performance sedans on the market. And with 640 horsepower on tap, one of the most powerful, too. Unfortunately for fans of the big, brutish four door, it’s beginning to show its age.
Whereas recently revamped rivals like the Mercedes-AMG E63 S and BMW M5 are more refined, the CTS-V falls short in a few areas, particularly technology and comfort. But if you’re willing to overlook a few fit-and-finish issues, performance remains a strong selling point, not to mention it’s easily the most affordable option in its class.
It’s hard to find fault in the styling of the CTS-V: It’s sharp and sexy, and immediately recognizable as a Cadillac product. Whereas other vehicles in this class have toned down their looks dramatically (i.e. BMW M5), the CTS-V stands apart as truly stunning and muscular. It wears a handsome set of 19-inch wheels, optional dark gold Brembo brake calipers ($595), and even features carbon fiber exterior accents as part of the $6,250 carbon fiber package, most notably the front splitter, rear spoiler, rear diffuser, and hood vent.
The CTS-V doesn’t make a great daily driver. Trips to the supermarket feel unnecessarily dramatic thanks to the loud cabin, pierced by the sound of the exhaust, and the twitchy throttle. Magnetic Ride Control makes the otherwise stiff suspension a bit more tolerable, thankfully.
The cabin isn’t exactly lush, either. The Recaro sport seats may be covered in faux Alcantara suede, and come adjustable in a million different ways, but they’re still pretty uncomfortable and tight, even for my lanky six-foot, 165-pound frame. Piano-black plastic covers most of the dash, and feels especially cheap in comparison to the soft leathers. The touch-activated center console is a maddening setup, with no physical knobs or dials even for simple features like air conditioning or volume.
Cadillac has attempted to revamp its CUE technology with version two, which includes a clearer home screen layout, some new apps, and advanced map technology (all available on this vehicle). Unfortunately, the system lacks the same modern feel as some of its counterparts; the eight-inch touchscreen does not react immediately to touch inputs, and combined with a still cluttered layout, it’s especially difficult to navigate on the move.
Steering wheel controls, thankfully, do make life a bit easier, and the addition of Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and continued inclusion of 4G LTE Wi-Fi connectivity help alleviate some of the frustration, and keep the score near average.
This thing just wants to go; at any speed, in any gear, all 620 horses are always available from the supercharged 6.2-liter V8. If there’s a sedan that has such an excess of power – apart from maybe the Dodge Charger Hellcat – I haven’t driven it. All that intoxicating power is sent to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. The gearbox is really well sorted, downshifting automatically with even the lightest throttle pressure, and jumping into higher gears at highway speed in an effort to increase efficiency.
Magnetic Ride Control assures all that power is kept in check; the 4,000-pound sedan is flat in the corners and stable on the straights. The steering is heavy and direct, and the chunky performance tires (P265/35R19 front, P295/30ZR19 rear) keep the car well planted. For its size, the CTS-V is pretty agile on the twisty stuff.
The CTS-V is well equipped when it comes to safety. Lane departure warning with blind spot monitoring and lane keep assist, rear cross-traffic alert, front and rear parking sensors, radar cruise control, and auto seatbelt tightening all come standard.
It’s safe to assume that most people aren’t buying the CTS-V for fuel economy; the performance sedan returns just 14 miles per gallon city, 21 highway, and 17 combined. That’s a bit below average for its class. The Mercedes-AMG E63 S is more efficient, returning 18 mpg combined, as are both the Audi S6 (18 mpg combined), and the BMW M5 (17 mpg combined).
With an asking price of $86,495, the CTS-V is no performance car on a budget – but it is well priced relative to its class. The least expensive Mercedes-AMG E63 S starts at $104,400, while the BMW M5 can’t be had for less than $102,600. And don’t forget the Cadillac is more powerful than both of them.
Fully loaded, the CTS-V can get a bit pricey. The version I tested was filled to the brim with $12,945 worth of options, including a $6,250 carbon fiber package, $2,300 Recaro seats, and a $1,600 performance data and video recorder. Still, the total cost came in just over six figures, putting the final price at $100,435.