KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors
When GM set out in the late 1990s to resurrect its once-proud Cadillac brand, the public process began with Evoq, the 1999 stealth-fighter concept sports car that eventually evolved into the production 2004 XLR. But the 2003 all-new "entry luxury" CTS sedan brought this new Cadillac look and personality to market first. Its "Art and Science" theme was a bold blend of space-age style and technology, and its edgy styling was polarizing -- some liked it, some didn't. But it delivered the right stuff in performance, features and road dynamics, while only its austere interior caught critical flack. Now comes this new 2008 BMW-fighter CTS, significantly improved in every way and fully competitive inside and out.
You'll Like This Car If...
Cadillac was once the "Standard of the World," which was more than an advertising slogan. The competition is much deeper, wider and stronger today, but if you would like an unassailable reason to own, enjoy and be proud of a Cadillac again, this is it.
You May Not Like This Car If...
If nothing short of an import luxury brand will do, there are many fine alternatives from the likes of BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Jaguar, Lexus and Infiniti.
What's Significant About This Car?
The styling of the Cadillac CTS is both boldened and softened for 2008, with a more aggressive face and more rounded shapes between the edges, while its beautifully crafted new interior transforms the previous car's weakness into a major strength. An available new direct-injected 3.6-liter V6 delivers 304 horsepower with no loss in efficiency.
Our extensive 2008 CTS driving experience began on a California race track and extended through many twisty two-lanes, fast freeways, urban congestion and mixed-speed suburban sprawl, most of it in a performance-package model with the strong-performing 304-horsepower direct-injected V6. We expected the trade-off for its responsive steering, world-class road-holding and powerful braking to be an uncomfortably stiff rough-surface ride but found its suspension surprisingly supple even on the most troubled surfaces. We loved the posh, quiet cabin's cheerfully luxurious design, the multi-adjustable seats were uncommonly comfortable over the long haul and every control was easy to see, find and operate. This fine new midsize Cadillac can compete on equal terms with anything in its class.
Bose 5.1 Cabin Surround Sound
Surrealistic sound with 40-gig hard drive and iPod integration. It will download and store your CD collection and operate your iPod from the pop-up touch screen.
Advanced Navigation System
Offers real-time traffic and weather, expanded voice prompts and 3-D imaging of major landmarks. While its large center dash-top touch screen pops up fully on demand, the top portion peeks out to display key information even when stored.
The 2008 CTS debuts a dramatically different interior design theme for Cadillac, with emphasis on tasteful ornamentation and hand-crafted details. The instruments, vents and other elements are framed in chrome, the center stack blends seamlessly into the lower instrument panel and console and hand-cut, hand-sewn and hand-wrapped coverings with French stitching are used throughout. The heated and ventilated front seats use "thin-seat" technology for improved rear leg, knee and foot room. Available soft, white LED backlighting in the door-pulls, footwells and between the upper and lower instrument panels creates an effect similar to recessed lighting in contemporary homes.
The new look of the 2008 Cadillac CTS is characterized by a bold two-segment grille, chrome side air extractors and sculpted fenders emphasizing its wider tracks and more athletic chassis. Flanking the lower grille, below the vertical headlamps, are chromed wrap-around slots for additional air intakes and fog lamps. The fast-sloping roofline is nearly coupe-like in profile, the large vertical taillamps refine Cadillac's recent practice, the trunk-top center brake light doubles as an aerodynamic spoiler and an available double sunroof offers an open-sky view for both front and rear passengers.
Notable Standard Equipment
The base 2008 CTS is powered by a 258-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 driving through a six-speed manual transmission and rolls on all-season tires on 17-inch aluminum wheels. Inside its cabin are dual-zone climate controls, an eight-way power driver's seat, a Driver Information Center, a rear-seat/trunk pass-through and an eight-speaker AM/FM/CD Bose audio system with XM Satellite Radio and MP3 capability. Standard safety and security equipment includes advanced front, side and side-curtain airbags, Stabilitrak stability and traction control, daytime running lamps, Twilight Sentinel auto lamps, programmable power door locks, a theft-deterrent system and one year of OnStar security and convenience service with turn-by-turn navigation.
Notable Optional Equipment
The available "Luxury Collection" package includes upgraded seats, sound system and additional luxury features. The "Performance Collection" adds 18-inch wheels and tires, FE2 Sport Suspension and High-Intensity Discharge headlamps with adaptive forward lighting, while the "Premium Collection" offers wood trim, a 10-speaker Bose 5.1 premium audio with a 40-gig hard drive and radio rewind and pause, iPod integration, GPS navigation and EasyKey keyless entry and ignition. Major stand-alone options include the 304-horsepower direct-injection V6, six-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel drive, Ultraview roof, Bose premium audio (with or without navigation), the FE2 Sport Suspension and FE3 Performance Suspension on high-performance "summer" tires.
Under the Hood
The 2008 CTS offers two levels of 24-valve, double-overhead-cam, variable-valve-timing 3.6-liter V6 power, and the up-level version boasts power- and efficiency-enhancing direct fuel injection. Standard transmission is a six-speed manual, while a six-speed automatic and all-wheel drive are optional.
263 horsepower @ 6200 rpm
253 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3100 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/26 (automatic), 16/25 (manual)
3.6-liter V6 (direct fuel injection)
304 horsepower @ 6400 rpm
273 lb.-ft. of torque @ 5200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/26 (automatic), 16/25 (manual)
Cadillac's midsize 2008 CTS is a legitimate BMW 5 Series competitor at 3 Series prices. With a starting Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of about $33,000, it's roughly $2,000 above the 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class and $1,000 below the front-wheel-drive Lexus ES350. All three of those "entry luxury" sedan competitors are EPA-rated as "compact," and the two German entries start with much less-powerful 3.0-liter six-cylinder engines compared to the base 3.6-liter V6 of the CTS. On the resale side, the CTS should retain somewhat more of its value five years down the road compared to the Mercedes but substantially less than the BMW or Lexus. Direct-injected V6 models start roughly $2,300 higher, the top-of-the-line "Premium Luxury Collection" package adds over $8,000 and the 18-inch performance tire, wheel and sport suspension package goes for almost $2,000.