A competent, stylish, safe American sedan with a range of powertrain options, the 2017 Cadillac CTS remains an interesting alternative to the BMW 5-Series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, and Audi A6s of the world. Unless backseat space is high on your priorities list, that is.

Pricing and Equipment

The Cadillac CTS starts at $46,990 (including a $995 destination charge) and includes a decent amount of stuff for the price, including a rearview camera, dual-zone automatic climate control, leatherette upholstery and rear parking sensors. For an additional $2,500, a Seating Package adds heated leather seats up front and a few other amenities.

At this point, though, most buyers will do better to step up to the CTS Luxury model. With a starting price of $52,690, this trim comes with everything included in the base model, the Seating Package, plus the following features:

  • Driver Awareness Package (forward collision warning, lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and a vibrating Safety Alert Seat)
  • Power-adjustable steering wheel
  • 13-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system
  • 17-inch, 10-spoke alloy wheels with dark painted pockets
  • HID headlamps with LED running lights

The next level up is the CTS Premium Luxury trim with a starting MSRP of $60,190 and upgrades such as 18-inch, 15-spoke wheels, GM's excellent Magnetic Ride Control suspension, carbon fiber or wood interior accents, a surround-view camera, and illuminated door handles and sill plates.

Things get fun at $61,690, when the CTS VSport arrives. Aside from a 420-horsepower, twin-turbocharged V6 and a limited-slip differential, the VSport adds unique 18-inch alloy wheels with painted pockets, and Pirelli summer-only fun-flat tires to the Luxury line package. In the cabin, magnesium paddle shifters sit just behind the steering wheel.

Finally, for a starting price of $71,790, buyers can upgrade to the CTS VSport Premium Luxury trim. This model builds on the VSport trim, and adds a 12.3-inch reconfigurable gauge cluster that features a unique V-Sport performance theme.

That 420-hp VSport is, naturally, at the top of the range (unless we're talking about the monstrous CTS-V and its 640-hp engine). Most consumers are more likely interested in the base 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder or naturally aspirated, 3.6-liter V6. The former puts out 268 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, while the six-cylinder appears on the Luxury and Premium Luxury trims as a $2,000. It produces 335 horsepower and 285 pound-feet of torque.

All available engines, including the turbocharged V6, work alongside an eight-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel-drive is available across the range as a $2,000 option.

Performance Pros

Cadillac CTS
  • The CTS isn't your granddaddy's Cadillac – its handling prowess matches its European rivals.
  • The Magnetic Ride Control suspension remains a must-have option, transforming the CTS from relaxed cruiser to firmly-sprung sports sedan in the blink of an eye.
  • The 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder is more powerful than a BMW 530i and Mercedes E300, and is more affordable to boot.
  • It's not the excellent ZF-built eight-speed auto in Europe's finest luxury sedans, but the CTS' only gearbox performs admirably and invisibly.

Performance Cons

  • Those who really feel the need for speed may find the 2.0-liter turbo-four base engine to be a little sluggish.
  • The 2017 Cadillac CTS, in all available trims, is a fairly thirsty vehicle, offering less impressive (EPA-estimated) fuel efficiency than others in its class. The base engine returns just 20 miles per gallon in the city with rear-drive. Expect a figure in the high teens with all-wheel drive.

Interior Pros

  • We found the front seats to be comfortable and supportive.
  • Even on lower trim levels, the CTS cabin boasts high-quality materials and luxurious details.
  • There's a power-operated cup-holder cover!

Interior Cons

Cadillac CTS
  • Although roomy enough for small children, the backseat is a little cramped for teenagers and adults.
  • Cadillac's CUE infotainment system remains a polarizing system, but whether you love or hate it, it's still more of a hassle than the knob-operated systems from German automakers.
  • The CTS doesn't offer a large amount of cargo space, especially compared to other vehicles in its class.

The Most Pleasant Surprise

The Cadillac CTS' performance should be enough to impress driving enthusiasts that are turned off by BMW's move to softer, more relaxed vehicles.

The Least Pleasant Surprise

A 2.0-liter, turbocharged sedan with an eight-speed automatic transmission should return better than 20 mpg. If fuel economy is important to you, the CTS might be a bad choice.

The Bottom Line

Thirsty though it may be, the Cadillac CTS has made strides as a driver-oriented luxury sport sedan in a segment traditionally dominated by the BMW 5-Series. While it remains to be seen whether it will resonate with customers, at least in our eyes the 2017 CTS is a smart buy for enthusiasts looking to move into a larger luxury sport sedan.