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. The car's sharp creased lines became Cadillac's new design language, and nowhere is this language spoken more clearly than with the entry-level CTS Sedan. Now in its second generation, the creases have been smoothed out a bit, and the car's interior-a sore point for many years-is now widely hailed as one of the best in recent Cadillac history. Most importantly, for the first time in a very long time, Cadillac is now a name comfortably tossed around in the company of such luxury giants and BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi. For 2011, a sleek coupe joins the sedan and wagon (reviewed separately), bringing the CTS line into full competition with its European and Asian competitors.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 New for 2011
For 2011, a rear vision camera is offered on the sedan; models without navigation feature a view screen built into the rear view mirror. Also new for 2011 are an available heated steering wheel, a new front fender vent design and a new 19-inch wheel and tires package. All CTS models come standard with Cadillac's Premium Care Maintenance, which covers oil changes, tire rotation and engine and cabin air filter replacement for four years or 50,000 miles.Driving It Driving Impressions
Our extensive 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 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 mid-size Cadillac can compete on equal terms with anything in its class.Favorite Features
Bose 5.1 Cabin Surround Sound
This sound system boasts 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 2011 CTS imparts 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.Exterior
The defined look of the 2011 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 CTS is powered by a 270-horsepower 3.0-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 SIRIUS 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 Package" includes upgraded seats, sound system and additional luxury features. The "Performance Package" adds 18-inch wheels and tires, FE2 Sport Suspension and High-Intensity Discharge headlamps with adaptive forward lighting, while the "Premium Package" 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 a six-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel drive, Ultraview roof, Bose premium audio (with or without navigation), rear vision camera (with or without navigation), the FE2 Sport Suspension and FE3 Performance Suspension on high-performance "summer" tires.Under the Hood
The 2011 CTS offers two levels of 24-valve, direct-injection, double-overhead-cam, variable-valve-timing V6 power. The standard 3.0-liter V6 is good for 270 horsepower, while the optional 3.6-liter engine pushes output to an impressive 304 horsepower. The 3.0-liter comes standard with a six-speed manual, while a six-speed automatic is optional. Cars with all-wheel drive can only be equipped with the automatic transmission.
270horsepower @ 7000 rpm
223 lb.-ft. of torque @ 5700 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/27 (automatic, RWD), 16/26 (manual, RWD), 18/26 (AWD)
304 horsepower @ 6400 rpm
273 lb.-ft. of torque @ 5200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/27 (automatic, RWD), 16/25 (manual, RWD), 18/27 (AWD)
Cadillac's mid-size 2011 CTS is a legitimate BMW 5 Series competitor at 3 Series prices. With a starting Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) close to $36,000, it's more than the BMW 3 Series, roughly on par price-wise with the C-Class, and slightly less than the front-wheel-drive Lexus ES 350. The top-of-the-line "Premium" package adds over $6,000 and the 18-inch performance tire, wheel and sport suspension package goes for almost $3,500. To see what others in your area may have paid for their CTS, be sure to check the Fair Purchase Price on kbb.com. On the resale side, the CTS should retain lower residual values than the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, BMW 3 Series and the Lexus ES 350, but maintain a healthy lead over the Lincoln MKZ.