The 2005 Cadillac CTS could be called the great American sports sedan. It certainly fits that description with its sporty handling, exhilarating acceleration and powerful braking. If you haven't been in a Cadillac in a couple of years, you'll likely be surprised and impressed by this newest generation. Their names are like alphabet soup: CTS, STS, XLR, SRX. But driving one of them confirms Cadillac now builds world-class automobiles. It was the CTS that kicked off this renaissance. Introduced as a 2003 model, its edgy styling immediately grabbed the spotlight. Praise of its dynamic qualities quickly followed from the automotive press, which focused on its superb rear-wheel-drive chassis. Two years later the CTS is improved and more refined. It's now powered by a new generation of V6 engines designed to be smooth and quiet but more powerful, with state-of-the art features such as variable-valve timing, dual overhead cams, and four valves per cylinder. The 2005 CTS comes with a choice of these new VVT V6 engines, a new 2.8-liter V6 and a 3.6-liter V6 introduced as an optional engine last year. We've tested the latter and found it to be powerful and silky smooth, especially around town. And for those who want a four-door Corvette, there's the CTS-V, a hot rod that looks like a CTS but sounds and accelerates like a Corvette. With its Corvette engine, sports suspension and Brembo brakes, the CTS-V offers racecar performance. And should we remind you that it's rear-wheel drive, the layout of choice for high-performance cars? You could look up "sports sedan" in the dictionary and a picture of the CTS-V would not be out of place. Nor would it feel out of place on a race track. CTS-V is only available with a manual shifter. For 2005, a new six-speed manual gearbox is also available for the regular CTS models. Most buyers opt for the automatic, but the new manual is remarkable for its smooth shifting and smooth, easygoing clutch. Both the 2.8-liter and 3.6-liter V6 engines are available with the six-speed manual or the more popular five-speed automatic. We'd march immediately to the responsive automatic if the manual wasn't so good. The 2005 CTS also gets a new instrument cluster and a choice of new 16-inch wheels. The interior is still austere, a complaint when the CTS was first introduced, but the quality of some of the soft-touch materials now seems better. Equipped with the smooth 3.6-liter V6 and its smooth suspension, which was refined for 2004, the CTS is a smooth, sophisticated car that belies its sporting potential until you mash down the gas and attack the corners. The CTS builds on Cadillac's century-long tradition of technology and design innovation, and is a modern interpretation of the strikingly beautiful cars that made Cadillac famous. Built on GM's acclaimed Sigma rear-wheel-drive architecture, the CTS was rigorously tested at the famed Nurburgring racetrack in Germany.