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First Drive: 2010 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon

By KBB.com Editors on September 25, 2009 11:02 AM
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Cadillac's new-vehicle barrage continues unabated, and the latest to cross our path is the just-launched 2010 CTS Sport Wagon. While sharing much of its mechanical pedigree with the CTS Sport Sedan, Cadillac's first-ever production wagon does offer its own unique take on style and versatility while retaining virtually all of the great dynamics that have been engineered into the Sigma platform that underpins both of these mid-size offerings.

Visually, there's no doubt about the Sport Wagon's family heritage. From its B-pillar forward, all trim and sheetmetal are CTS sedan spec. Even the rear doors are interchangeable. However, the Sport Wagon's top panel and rear quarters represent a fairly high-profile point of departure. It starts with a sweeping roofline accented by a pair of longitudinal chrome spears that provide stylish cover for inboard anchor points required to affix the Sport Wagon's optional roof-loading system. At the rear, its more accommodating bodywork resolves into a large, power-operated and fully programmable liftgate framed by a subtle roof spoiler with high-mounted stoplight and prominent vertical rear lamp assemblies that use light-pipe technology to add interest.

Inside, these two CTS kin also maintain a similar relationship, with the Sport Wagon netting the same look and extensive feature set as the Sport Sedan. While the front buckets are identical, the wagon's adult-scaled aft quarters offer a 60/40 split bench with backs that fold flat to expand the capacity of its rear cargo bay from 25.0 to 58.0 cu ft. The Sport Wagon also comes with an adjustable cargo management system and hidden underfloor storage for smaller items.

Like the CTS Sport Sedan, the new CTS Sport Wagon is available with one of two direct-injected V6 engines. Both are fitted with variable valve timing, burn regular unleaded gasoline and are backed by an electronically controlled six-speed automatic transmission. The standard 3.0-liter makes 270 horsepower and 223 lb.-ft of torque, while output figures for the step-up 3.6-liter in the Sport Wagon we drove jump to 304 and 273, respectively. While the base engine is fully capable, the bigger six definitely feels more in character with the Sport Wagon's market, delivering up 60 mph in about 6.5 seconds and making passing maneuvers even more relaxed. Interestingly enough, the larger V6 exacts virtually no real-world fuel-economy penalty.

In freeway cruise mode or tearing through the twisties, this new Sport Wagon proved every bit as capable as the highly regarded CTS sedan. Cadillac tweaked the noise/vibration/harshness characteristics in all 2010 variants, and the changes yield impressive benefits on all but the roughest of road surfaces, even when fitted with the top-line FE3 suspension package. While FE3 mandates rear- rather than all-wheel drive, it, too gets a 2010 enhancement. Beyond bringing the quickest steering and tautest spring/shock setup, the latest incarnation steps up the wheel/tire fitment from V-rated 235/50s on 18-inch alloys to 245/45 Z-rated "Summer" rubber on 19-inch wheels.

With pricing on the new CTS Sport Wagon running in the low to high $40,000 range depending on engine and drivertrain configuration, this smartly styled hauler delivers an engaging mix of style, flexibility and driving dynamics that should make it a solid competitor for upscale alternatives like the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series, Mercedes, Mercedes-Benz E-Class or Volvo V70 wagons.

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