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  • 3/4 Front Glamour 2018 Cadillac CTS
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MPG

20 City / 28 Highway
Automotive Editor -

There was a time, not that long ago, when most Americans’ “aspirational vehicle” was a Cadillac. A Cadillac is still a sign of wealth, but for years it’s been the Escalade most aspired to, not any of the brand’s coupes or sedans. However, the razor-sharp 2018 Cadillac CTS is more stylish, luxurious and feature-packed than ever before. People may not naturally aspire to the Cadillac CTS, but there's never been less reason not to.

What's New for 2018

The CTS can now be synced to an Apple Watch via the myCadillac Apple iOS app, offering owners another wireless way to interface with their car. New is a pair of additional USB ports in the rear console, a “smart” heated steering wheel that automatically adjusts its warmth based on ambient temperature, and Satin Steel Metallic debuts as the CTS’s ninth exterior hue.

Choosing Your Cadillac CTS

Now that the ATS has established itself as the entry-level Cadillac, the CTS four-door sedan has been able to move upmarket. Given the difference between the starting MSRP for the base and top trim is $24,800, it’s spread out as well. From an ante of $47,490 (including a $995 destination charge) for a base four-cylinder rear-wheel drive CTS to an all-in V-Sport with a twin-turbo V6 and a $72,290 MSRP, the CTS range Cadillac’s created contains a car combination for almost every consumer.

The base engine is a 2.0-liter direct-injection DOHC turbocharged inline-four with automatic stop/start that produces 268 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. With standard rear-wheel drive, it returns EPA ratings of 22 miles per gallon city, 30 mpg highway, 25 mpg combined, or 21/29/24 mpg with optional all-wheel drive.

A 3.6-liter Flex-Fuel DOHC 24-valve V6 (335 hp/285 lb-ft) is optional on some trims, and, thanks in part to its use of auto start/stop, its EPA figures are still-respectable at 20/30/24 mpg (RWD) and 19/27/22 mpg (AWD).

The ultimate CTS engine – apart from the monster V8 found in the CTS-V (covered elsewhere) – is a twin-turbo version of the 3.6-liter V6 that pumps out 420 hp and 430 lb-ft. Restricted to V-Sport models and only available with RWD, its efficiency figures drop to 16/24/19 mpg.

All powerplants are paired with an eight-speed sequential-shift-control automatic transmission.

Cadillac’s CTS line comprises five trims:

Base

The base CTS is powered by a 2.0-liter turbo inline-four that puts its power to the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission operated via a console control or a pair of magnesium paddle shifters mounted to its manual tilt/telescope steering column.

Mechanically, it sports Brembo front brakes, electronic variable-assist steering and parking brake, a sport-tuned suspension, 17-inch, 10-spoke painted alloy wheels with run-flat tires, and active grille shutters. Exterior features include projector-beam automatic headlights, daytime LED running lights, and “signature” Cadillac vertical taillights, and power, heated, and body-color mirrors with integrated turn signals.

Inside, one finds Light Platinum leatherette upholstery with Jet Black accents, an eight-way power driver’s and front passenger’s sport bucket seats, a fixed rear seat with lockable pass-through door, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with cruise and audio controls, dual-zone automatic climate controls, a universal home remote, ambient interior lighting, and a 5.7-inch color driver information center.

Handling the CTS’s infotainment duties is its Cadillac User Experience (CUE) system which features an 8.0-inch color touchscreen, a rearview camera with dynamic guidelines, a Bose 11-speaker audio system with active noise cancellation, natural voice recognition, phone integration for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, SiriusXM, Bluetooth connectivity, PMA- or Qi-compatible wireless induction charging, OnStar with one-year Guidance Plan and five-year Basic Plan, a 4G LTE WiFi hotspot, and three USB ports.

Rounding out this impressive roster is a tire pressure monitoring system, adaptive remote start, perimeter locking with push-button start, rear park assist, a two-driver memory system for seat and exterior mirror presets, V2V multi-vehicle networked intercommunications system, and, every parent’s friend, the Teen Driver vehicle control, restriction, and monitoring system.

Adding leather seating surfaces – in either Light Platinum or Jet Black – requires the $2,500 Seating Package, which also adds heated and ventilated driver’s and front passenger’s seats, a split-folding rear seat, a heated steering wheel on a power tilt/telescope steering column, further LED interior ambient lighting, and the addition of auto-dimming and ground illumination to the exterior mirrors. All-wheel drive is a $2,000 option, but as it requires said Seating Package, it’s actually $4,500. The Embedded Navigation/Bose Centerpoint Surround-Sound 13-speaker audio system upgrade – which is listed at $950 – requires it, too, so in RWD models it actually adds $3,450 to the MSRP.

There are two additional options, the $225 All-Weather Mat Protection Package (Premium all-weather floor mats and cargo mat) and the $280 Summer/Winter Mat Package (the all-weather mats plus a set of Premium carpeted high-quality mats). And unless one likes “Black Raven” or “Radiant Silver Metallic,” five of the other seven colors are another $625, while “Red Obsession Tintcoat” and “Crystal White Tricoat” are $1,225 each.

Close in price is the $1,190 Brake Upgrade Kit, with slotted front and rear rotors and low-metallic brake pads. And because Cadillac knows buyers will want to show off those upgraded brakes, it offers six different sets of 19-inch wheels, priced at either $2,495 or $3,095. Further sportiness can be conferred via a $415 red-painted engine cover and $525 rear spoiler, while stargazers cannot do without the $1,450 UltraView Power Sunroof, which – while it covers both rows – only tilts or slides over the front, though it does so with express open and close and a power sunshade.

Because it’s a Cadillac, there are six additional interior trim kits – three woods at $850, one in aluminum for $950, and two in carbon fiber for $1,150 – plus a long list of accessories, making it possible to spend more than $60,000 on a base 2.0-liter RWD CTS purely through checking all those options boxes.

Luxury

The $53,190 Luxury trim includes the base trim’s features plus its optional Seating Package, UltraView roof, and Navigation/Bose Centerpoint system as standard. The price premium also includes the Driver Awareness Package, a suite of safety systems that includes forward collision warning, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane keeping assist, a following distance indicator, rain-sensing automatic wipers, and dynamic HID headlights.

All-wheel drive remains a $2,000 option, as is the now-available 3.6-liter Flex-Fuel V6. The exterior color situation stays the same, while Very Light Cashmere creates an interior tone trio. The most important option for many – and available for $2,465 with either engine and RWD or AWD – includes a sport suspension with Magnetic Ride Control, 18-inch two-tone V-Sport wheels with summer-only tires, a V-Sport brake package and V-Sport badged steering wheel. V-Sport logo floor mats can be added separately for $205.

If those 18-inchers aren’t fancy enough, Cadillac offers another six 19-inch extra-cost wheel options for $2,195 or $2,795, depending on style. The brake upgrade option remains one (even with V-Sport brakes), as do the engine cover, rear wing, floor mats, and interior trim kits.

Premium Luxury

Top-dog in the standard CTS family is the aptly-named Premium Luxury trim, which starts at $60,690. Its base engine is the V6, and, in addition to the Luxury’s features, it adds the V-Sport Package’s Magnetic Ride Control suspension as standard, with the remainder an additional $1,465. For the last time, AWD is available for $2,000.

The list of standard equipment swells with all-around camera, automatic front, rear, parallel and perpendicular parking assist, authentic wood or carbon fiber trim, and a rear camera mirror. Also included is the Luxury Package, with tri-zone climate control, heated outboard rear seats, a color reconfigurable windshield heads-up display, power rear sunshade, manual rear side window sunshades, illuminated door handles and front door sill plates, and a 110-volt power outlet.

What hasn’t been included yet is fully-leather upholstery, but $1,830 can buy it now in the standard colors in the Performance Seat and Cluster Package. As expected, it comes with 20-way performance front bucket seats in place of the standard ones, aluminum sport pedals, and a giant 12.3-inch color Driver Information Center display in place of the stock 5.7-inch one. Similarly, if one wants to upgrade the standard full-leather and/or two alternatives to the three standard shades, Cadillac swaps in semi-aniline leather in two new color schemes – Kona Brown with Jet Black accents or Jet Black with Morello Red accents – for another $1,500.

The Advanced Security Package (theft-deterrent system with tilt sensor and alarm, locking lug nuts and steering column, and laminated door glass) and Driver Assist Package (adaptive cruise control, forward and reverse automatic braking, and automatic seat belt tighteners) are $1,020 each. If one wants those last two with either seat package, Cadillac will combine the three as the $2,850 Technology Package. That’s right; with that $1,020 discount it’s buy two get one free.

The paint, wheel, mat, and accessory situation remains the same, but even without them, a AWD Premium Luxury with the tech package breaks the $70,000 barrier.

V-Sport

Starting at $62,190, the V-Sport CTS is only $1,500 more than the Premium Luxury, but it’s a whole different animal. Trim resets to pre-Luxury Package levels, and the 420-hp twin-turbo V6 comes standard under the hod. The V-Sport adds a track-specific driver-selectable mode to the Magnetic Ride Control suspension, enhanced ZF premium steering, an electronic limited-slip differential, and the V-Sport 18-inch wheels and Pirelli summer-only run-flat tires.

Interior and exterior colors and materials are the same as with the Luxury trim unless one selects the Morello Red Edition. Not named for its paint – as it's available with Crystal White ($1,225), Phantom Gray ($625), Satin Steel ($625), or Black Raven (free) metallics – this $4,000 package’s name refers instead to the Jet Black upholstery’s Morello Red accents. It includes Recaro performance seats in leather with sueded microfiber inserts and seatbacks, 18-inch ultra-bright machined finish alloy wheels with After Midnight painted pockets, and a black chrome grille.

For non-Morello Red Edition cars, one’s choice of 19-inch wheels is back, as are other options including the mat packages, UltraView roof, trim kits, and rear spoiler, plus $100 performance brake linings and a $1,650 Catback exhaust system.

V-Sport Premium Luxury

The same $10,100 that fully-loads a standard Premium Luxury model does the same in a similar way to the V-Sport, creating this $72,290 apex CTS. As one would expect, it’s essentially a V-Sport with the Premium Luxury’s features and Technology Package, but it has a few unique tweaks. It has the same 12.3-inch reconfigurable gauge cluster, but Cadillac has customized its appearance with a unique V-Sport performance theme.

Another benefit of this combinative environment is being able to choose from the best of everything. Here, for instance, when outfitting its interior, one can opt for either of the Premium Luxury’s semi-aniline selections ($1,500), the V-Sport’s Morello Red Edition equipment ($4,000), or one of the standard full-leather choices.

CarsDirect Tip

The CTS has two drivetrains, three engines, five trims, and more options, packages, and ways to put all those together than can hardly be believed. As mentioned, even the base RWD four-cylinder’s price can exceed $60,000 if you check enough boxes. That money, however, is far better spent on the sweet-spot price-, performance-, and package-wise: a V6-powered Luxury model with AWD and the V-Sport Package. At $59,655, it gives you everything but the twin-turbo motor and the highest-ticket luxury and technology items at a reasonable price.

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