Review: 2008 Cadillac CTS
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
Cadillac had no really enticing cars for younger buyers until its first CTS sedan arrived as a 2003 European-style sedan. The car gave it a decidedly sportier image and indeed did draw younger buyers, some from BMW's hot entry 3-Series model line.
The first-generation CTS had chiseled, polarizing styling that set it off dramatically from other Cadillacs. Although it looked rather tall and narrow from the rear and more power was needed, the first CTS was a hit.
The CTS was the first Cadillac to use a new General Motors rear-wheel-drive platform because Cadillac knew the CTS wouldn't be considered a genuine European sedan fighter without a rear-wheel-drive design.
Such a design allows a more "balanced" car because the front tires need not be overworked by having to steer and apply power to the road at the same time. Also, front-wheel drive causes a car to be nose-heavy. You won't find a front-wheel-drive BMW or Mercedes-Benz.
Race Track Development
The new $32,245 CTS is a solid sports sedan that may do better than the first-generation CTS. It has evolutionary, rather slab-sided styling but looks more distinctive. The larger, in-your-face grille has an oversized Cadillac emblem and a better proportioned rear end with improved taillights and a wider track (distance between tires on the same axle).
Larger tires and wider rear and front tracks are covered by pronounced, sporty looking fender flares. Such tires and tracks enhance stability and handling. Even the chromed front fender vents are functional, allowing engine compartment heat to escape instead of being just decorative items, as they've been on many cars.
Longer and Roomer
However, getting in and out of the rear seat area would be enhanced by larger rear door openings.
The 2008 CTS has a more powerful 3.6-liter V6, which produces 263 horsepower (up from 255) with a regular fuel injection system. A same-size V6 with 304 horsepower costs $1,000 extra. It has a more efficient direct-injection system, which squirts gasoline directly into combustion chambers. Direct injection both increases horsepower and lowers cold-start emissions, which are the worst.
The regular 3.6 delivers an estimated 18 mpg in the city and 26 on highways, while the direct-injection V6 delivers nearly the same figures: 17 and 26. Both engines can use regular-grade gasoline.
A 6-speed manual transmission is standard. Optional is a $1,300 6-speed automatic that replaces a 5-speed unit and has a manual-shift feature that can be easily used.
Available All-Wheel Drive
Even the rear-wheel-drive CTS is heavy because it has many standard comfort, convenience and safety features, including front-seat and side-curtain airbags.
While all-wheel drive provides the best grip, it's questionable if it's needed for the CTS if the car isn't driven in areas that have heavy snowfalls because it has standard traction and stability control systems.
Steering is quick, with the right degree of power assist, and revised front and rear suspensions allow quick moves and a supple ride. Offered are FE1, FE2 and FE3 suspension setups.
Different Suspension Setups
The anti-lock brakes have good pedal feel and are impressive.
Costly Option Packages
The car also had a $1,740 package with the FE2 suspension, 18-inch aluminum wheels with wider tires, limited-slip differential and high intensity discharge headlights.
My test car's crystal red premium paint looked especially rich, but costs $995 extra.
Also available is a 40-gig hard drive that lets you store thousands of songs, although it might take cross-country trips to hear all of them. On the other hand, the new CTS would be a good car in which to make those journeys.