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.
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2018 Cadillac CTS Overview
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:
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.
2018 Cadillac CTS Review
The CTS was the first European-influenced Cadillac, matching the design, performance, and comfort of Europe’s finest models. The 2018 Cadillac CTS reflects a multi-generational evolution of this mid-size luxury sedan, taking on Germany’s best with its recognizable canvas.
The 2018 Cadillac CTS comes in five trims: CTS, Luxury, Premium Luxury, V-Sport, and V-Sport Premium Luxury. The first two trims come with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, the middle trim has a V6, while the two V-Sport trims feature a twin-turbocharged V6 engine. An eight-speed automatic transmission comes standard across the CTS line.
There's only a minimal performance difference between the standard turbo engine and the V6. Nevertheless, our “best value” pick is the mid-range Premium Luxury on account of its engine and standard amenities. Building on the other trims, this grade adds 18-inch painted aluminum wheels set within run-flat tires, magnetic ride control, upgraded interior trim, three-zone climate control, a power rear sunshade, a head-up display, surround vision camera, and automatic parking assist.
- Model: 2018 Cadillac CTS Premium Luxury
- Engine: 3.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder
- Output: 335 hp/285 lb-ft
- Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
- Drivetrain: Rear-wheel drive
- MPG: 19 city/27 highway
- Options: The Technology Package ($3,730, theft-deterrent system, 20-way performance front seats, aluminum alloy sport pedals, 12.3-inch gauge cluster, automatic safety belt tightening, adaptive cruise control, forward and reverse automatic braking).
- Base Price: $47,490 (including a $995 destination charge)
- Best Value Price:$64,420
The 2018 CTS offers three engine choices. The 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder comes standard, with an output of 272 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. Your second choice is a 3.6-liter V6, generating 335 hp and 285 lb-ft of torque. Both engines offer similar power and fuel efficiency, the latter due to cylinder deactivation that shuts down two cylinders under light loads. Models equipped with either engine offer standard rear-wheel drive and available all-wheel drive.
All V-Sport models come with a 3.6-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine, generating 420 hp and 430 lb-ft of torque. It's a rear-wheel drive model only and comes with an eight-speed automatic transmission, same as the other engine pairings. This engine choice provides a natural segue to the high-performance CTS-V, which Cadillac markets separately.
The Premium Luxury’s V6 engine is strong, delivering excellent off-the-mark acceleration and a zero to 60 mph time of approximately six seconds, imbuing grade-touring confidence. Enjoy clean, quick shifts with the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. Expect adept steering and peerless highway tracking.
Beautifully crisp lines dominate the CTS’ sheet metal with LED lighting amplifying the corners. Stacked exhaust ports grace the rear, offering further confirmation that this is no ordinary sedan.
The CTS’ exterior is stunning, while its interior seems understated, although handsome. The cabin eschews the sharp exterior angles for clean, soothing lines. Top-end versions do the best job of mingling leather with wood, but even on base models the canvas is exquisite.
The center console features a standard 8.0-inch touchscreen, which twins well with the 5.7-inch monitor between the gauges. On top-trim models, you’ll find a 12.3-inch reconfigurable gauge cluster.
The front seats are comfortable, even plush. The rear seat is also comfortable, although legroom is tight and the seat is most suitable for two, not three. If you place a premium on cargo space, the 13.7 cubic-foot trunk disappoints, coming in smaller than some compact models.
The Best and Worst Things
The cockpit design is one of the best we’ve seen in this segment. On the other hand, the CUE interface was cutting edge when it rolled out a few years back, but it's time for an update.
Right For? Wrong For?
Individuals who might consider a German make and aren’t sure Asian competitors provide a similar ownership experience. The Cadillac CTS has its own design elements, but underneath it does an excellent job of matching the best from Audi, BMW ,and Mercedes-Benz.
Customers wanting a traditional, boaty Cadillac. The nearest Cadillac model offering a throwback ride and feel is the similar-sized XTS.
The Bottom Line
Cadillac brings its “A” game to the segment, delivering a model that goes wheel-to-wheel with the best the market has to offer. Its robust engine lineup, advanced technologies, and clean interior are among the 2018 CTS' strongest attributes.