By Bob Nagy
The introduction of the Cadillac CT6 marks the return of GM’s premier division to the global prestige-luxury segment. Embodying a bounty of advanced design thinking, this full-size flagship 4-door matches distinctive styling and loads of premium features with outstanding dynamic characteristics and solid value. Offering three different powertrain choices, four trim grades and rear- or all-wheel drive (RWD, AWD) configurations, the new CT6 pushes boundaries in tradition-defying ways ranging from a superlight but super-strong structure to the availability of a surprisingly potent turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. Those qualities should serve Cadillac well in its attempt to attract a new generation of buyers seeking an American-built alternative to slightly larger Euro rivals like the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class as well as the Lexus LS.
Fans of the division’s Art and Science design themes who want the comfort, interior room and high-tech features of a large luxury sedan but the dynamic qualities of a sporty midsize 4-door could well find the perfect travel mate in the new Cadillac CT6.
Those who demand traditional Euro prestige or need the extra rear room available only in a long-wheelbase model may be better off with regular or stretch versions of established alternatives like the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
The Cadillac CT6 is all-new for 2016.
Regardless of engine or powertrain configuration, the new Cadillac CT6 is one seriously competent and genuinely engaging vehicle on any road. Cadillac’s commitment to slashing every ounce of unnecessary mass...
... while creating a strong, rigid central structure yielded a full-size package that’s a mere 17 pounds heavier than its midsize CTS sibling and nearly a half-ton lighter than a Mercedes S-Class, a fact that endows it with nimbleness and agility that must be experienced to be appreciated. Coupled with its well-sorted suspension, steering and brakes, even the 2.0-liter rear-drive CT6 merits high marks for its spirited character and ability to track cleanly and confidently through corners. Things just get better on V6 models fitted with the available Active Chassis Package that complements on-demand AWD in V6 models with Magnetic Ride Control and 4-wheel steering. Sole caveat: Some Cadillac traditionalists may find the CT6’s ride compliance a tad too taut for their tastes.
BOSE PANARAY AUDIO SYSTEM
Available on CT6 Premium Luxury models and standard on the Platinum grade, this first-ever and Cadillac-exclusive Panaray setup uses 34 small but strategically placed speakers along with design technologies culled from Bose professional and home-entertainment products to deliver clear, crisp, room-filling sound.
ACTIVE CHASSIS PACKAGE
Available on all V6-powered CT6 models and a Platinum standard, the Active Chassis Package leverages the capabilities of Cadillac’s on-demand all-wheel drive by adding GM’s multi-mode Magnetic Ride Control and active rear steering, enhancements that endow this primo sedan with even better low-speed agility and high-speed stability.
Roomy, quiet and well-appointed even in base form, the spacious cabin of the new CT6 reflects a tasteful blend of fine leather, real wood and distinctive carbon-fiber accents that put a contemporary spin on traditional luxury. An 8.0-inch configurable instrument cluster is replaced by a 12-inch unit in the Premium Luxury and Platinum models, but all CT6s feature a more responsive version of the CUE infotainment system that gains a larger 10.2-inch screen and a new console-mounted touch pad. Comfortable, supportive front buckets are matched with an equally accommodating 40/20/40 rear bench seat that offers an impressive 40.4 inches of legroom.
Emphasizing the classic proportions of a powerful rear-drive sedan, the CT6 features a long dash-to-axle ratio and embodies the latest Art and Science visual language reflected in crisply tailored (and primarily aluminum) body panels as well as its bold, new face. An evolutionary recasting of the prominent Cadillac grille wears a unique finish on the Platinum variant, but all CT6s get LED headlights framed by vertical LED light blades and LED rear lights with similar vertical orientation. Beyond model-specific 18-inch, 19-inch and 20-inch alloy wheels, trim grades are largely differentiated by detail touches like front cornering lights and illuminated door handles.
Even the “entry-level” CT6 2.0 Turbo boasts a bounty of features starting with leather upholstery, wood trim, extended-comfort 14-way-power front seats, the latest and best version of Cadillac’s CUE infotainment system, Bose Audio, active noise cancellation and OnStar with 4G LTE. Luxury/Premium Luxury adds detail enhancements like upgraded leather, Surround Sound, a wide-angle rear-camera mirror, concierge lighting and a hands-free power trunk. Platinum-spec includes the awesome Bose Panaray setup, Night Vision, digital instrumentation with head-up display, quad-zone air, Active Chassis with 4-wheel steering, an industry-first surround-view video-recording system, articulated rear seats and dual-screen entertainment plus advanced active/passive driver assists.
Extras on the base CT6 are largely confined to the 3.0-liter V6 engine, AWD, active/passive safety touches, embedded navigation and a panoramic sunroof found in the Driver Awareness and Convenience Package that’s standard on all other models. Luxury/Premium Luxury CT6 options include the Bose Panaray audio system, Enhanced Vision and Comfort Package (rear-camera mirror, panoramic sunroof, ventilated front seats/heated rear seats), Rear Seat Package (fully articulated/massaging outboard seats, dual 10.3-inch hideaway video screens) and the Active Chassis Package, while Premium Luxury also offers Driver Assistance with Night vision (adaptive cruise, front/rear auto-braking, infrared night vision). All are standard on the CT6 Platinum.
The new CT6 offers three different engines, each backed by a smooth and responsive paddle-shiftable 8-speed automatic transmission. Base motivator is a 265-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder fitted to the rear-drive CT6 which is roughly 300-400 pounds lighter than the AWD-only V6 models. It develops a healthy 295 lb-ft of peak torque – 11 more twist units than the 335-horsepower naturally aspirated 3.0-liter V6 – and while both give the new CT6 brisk acceleration the 4-cylinder boasts 22/31-mpg city/highway EPA numbers compared to the 3.6-liter’s 19/28-mpg stats. Topping the range is a new 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 that cranks out 404 ponies and 400 lb-ft of torque but posts slightly less impressive 18/26-mpg fuel-economy figures. Premium fuel is preferred by the turbo-4 and required by the force-fed six.
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4
265 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
295 lb-ft of torque @ 3,000-4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/31 mpg
335 horsepower @ 6,800 rpm
284 lb-ft of torque @ 5,300 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/28 mpg
3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6
404 horsepower @ 5,700 rpm
400 lb-ft of torque @ 2,500-5,100 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/26 mpg
The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the 2016 Cadillac CT6 starts just below $54,500 placing it about $5,000 over the aging XTS but tens of thousands below the most affordable Audi A8, BMW 7 Series or Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Stepping up to a V6 will add another $2,000 to that number and moving to Luxury trim pops both by about $3,000 while also introducing the first 3.0-liter Twin-Turbo variant at roughly $64,500. Moving to Premium Luxury boosts the bottom line on a CT6 into the mid- to the upper-$60K range while the Platinum-spec models bump it by another $20,000 or so – although at that level pretty much everything merely available one step down is standard equipment. Kelley Blue Book has not yet determined a Fair Purchase Price or 5-year residual values for the new Cadillac CT6.