Short Take Road Test: 2008 Cadillac CTS
By Jared Gall of Car and Driver
Cadillac's sharp, wedgy "art and science" design theme has fully matured on the latest CTS, and an aluminum, dual-overhead-cam V-6 with variable valve timing and direct fuel-injection finally brings the marque's engine room onto the same high-tech plane as the styling department.
The 304-hp direct-injection V-6 gets all the attention for now while the automotive community eagerly awaits the appearance of the supercharged V-8-powered CTS-V. Meanwhile, the 258-hp base engine is basically a carry-over from the previous-generation CTS, in which it was the optional V-6. A six of equal size to the direct-injection engine—3.6 liters with port fuel injection and variable valve timing—the now-base mill checks in $2300 cheaper than the higher-tech (and higher-power) engine.
Down 46 horses and 20 pound-feet on the DI engine, the indirectly injected base mill still brings a hearty portion of power with 258 horsepower and 253 pound-feet of torque. With the test gear strapped on, our six-speed automatic CTS managed a 7.0-second 0-to-60-mph romp en route to a 15.4-second quarter-mile at 91 mph. The more powerful uplevel engine (with a six-speed manual) achieves the same marks in 5.8 and 14.6 seconds at 97 mph.
Sane and Responsible Drivers, Enjoy. But What Are You Doing Here?
From the driver's seat, an extra 1.2 seconds in a full-throttle blast to 60 are glaringly obvious, but in more measured driving, the difference between the two engines is purely statistical. Both sound fantastic for V-6s, both pull hard all the way to their 7000-rpm redlines without noticeable straining, and both have sufficient power for commuter duty.
When coupled with the six-speed automatic, the base engine returned two-lane-friendly 30-to-50- and 50-to-70-mph passing times of 4.1 and 4.9 seconds, respectively. It's not the sort of carefree passing power that allows a driver to whip into the left lane and tuck back in front of traffic before he's had time to exhale, but it's certainly enough to keep passengers from white-knuckling their armrests in all but the most questionable situations.
Not Quite a Sports Sedan, but Still Sporty
Figures slightly better than those are likely with the top-shelf FE3 sport suspension, which is not available with the weaker engine. Our tester had the mid-grade FE2 package. Other than the snappier suspenders, though, anything one might want in a CTS can be had with the base engine, including, for 2008, all-wheel drive.
Here in this hard-headed, lead-footed C/D stronghold, we favor the direct-injection 3.6 on principle and power alone, but out in the real world, it's an extra $2300 for horses that will likely remain corralled and fewer miles between jerky breaks on each tank of unleaded. If someone says, "CTS-V," and you say,"Whazzat?" then save your pennies and enjoy the base engine. With it, the new CTS is still a sharp sedan.
C/D Test Results:
EPA city/highway driving: 18/26 mpg