When people think of performance sedans, their minds naturally jump the the Germans: the BMW M5, the Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG, or the Audi RS 7. Often missing from that list is the Cadillac CTS-V, which has long been the American competitor to those titans. This is disappointing, because the 2018 Cadillac CTS-V is an incredible vehicle. The big luxury sedan is extremely fast in a straight line, sharp in the corners, while remaining comfortable and luxurious at a price significantly less than its rivals.

Best Value

We would actually keep our CTS-V pretty simple. It comes as well equipped as any car that costs nearly $90,000 should. The $6,250 required for some Carbon Fiber trim is a bit steep, and the performance trade offs require you be going way faster than you should on a public road, even if the CTS-V is very capable of those speeds. The $2,500 luxury package doesn't include anything that excites us, and we wouldn't want to pay $500 for some red brakes either. The Performance Data and Video Recorder is cool, but we just don't see ourselves using it very often.

In fact, there is only one option that we would spend our money on: the 16-way adjustable Recaro seats to hold us snugly in the corners. With that singular option, the CTS-V remains a great value, staying well below the $100,000 mark that its German rivals often surpass.

  • Model: 2018 Cadillac CTS-V
  • Engine: 6.2-liter supercharged V8
  • Output: 640 hp / 630 lb-ft
  • Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
  • Drivetrain: Rear-wheel drive
  • Fuel Economy: 14 City / 21 Hwy
  • Options: 16-way Recaro performance seats ($2,300)
  • Base Price: $88,490 (including a $995 destination charge and a $1,000 gas guzzler tax)
  • Best Value Price: $90,790

Performance

Cadillac CTS-V

The Cadillac CTS-V is an absolute monster. The CTS-V has 640 horsepower and 630 pound-feet of torque on tap courtesy of a 6.2-liter supercharged V8 engine (sourced from the Corvette Z06) sent through an eight-speed automatic transmission. This powerplant allows this Cadillac to hit 60 mph in just 3.7 seconds, and keep on going all the way to a claimed top speed of 200 mph. That's insanely fast, and while the E63 AMG, and RS7 may have a slightly quicker sprint due to their all-wheel-drive setups, neither can match the Caddy's top speed. This top speed detail may seem frivolous in the states, but it invites an argument to be made that the American CTS-V is a better Autobahn blaster than any of the offerings from Audi, BMW, or Mercedes. Cadillac is actually beating the Germans at their own game.

The Cadillac doesn't just offer straight-line speed – it's nimble in the corners too. The CTS-V gets stiffened with extra chassis and shock-tower bracing, which combine with the same super-sticky Michelin Pilot Super Sports tires found on most exotics. The combination allows the CTS-V to achieve almost 1g of lateral grip in the corners, which is enough to make your face feel like it's about to slide off. Thanks to its standard magnetic dampers, the Caddy is also capable offering a comfortable and compliant ride, making it perfectly reasonable for daily driving – if you're able to afford feeding it that is. The CTS-V gets just 14 miles per gallon city, qualifying it for a $1,000 gas guzzler tax.

Style

The Cadillac CTS starts off as a good looking vehicle that stands out from the rest of the pack, following the standard Cadillac design language. The CTS-V turns the aggression up a few notches, by blacking out the trim, replacing the normal hood with one made of muscled carbon fiber, and adding some aerodynamic tweaks here and there to increase downforce. The effect works well, making the V stand out from the rest of the CTS crowd nicely. Many of its rivals look quite conservative by comparison, so it's nice to see a luxury car visually blended with a muscle car.

Inside, the CTS-V is properly luxurious, with active noise cancellation and most of the luxury trimmings of a fully loaded CTS. Cadillac designers somehow managed to sneak this one past the General Motors bean counters, as the interior is full of premium materials that help justify the price tag. The 20-way adjustable luxury seats can be replaced with 16-way Recaro performance seats, and a Luxury Package is available to add features like tri-zone climate control and rear seat heaters. The primary annoyances of the CTS remain in the V, with a rear cabin that's a bit cramped for a mid-size sedan and a small trunk.

The Best and Worst Things

You may expect us to start gushing about the car's speed here, with good reason, but the best thing about the CTS-V is the price. While $90,000 is a lot of money to spend on a car, it's a downright bargain compared to other luxury super sport sedans. The Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG starts at $105,395, the BMW M5 starts at $103,595, and the Audi RS7 starts at $114,875, all before you start adding costly options and packages. When you start comparing fully loaded models, you can be looking at savings of almost $40,000.

The worst thing about the CTS-V is the safety. It does pretty well overall, but the IIHS rating of Marginal in the small-overlap front crash protection category is enough to prevent it from taking home any Top Safety Pick awards. Additionally, you can't equip it with automatic emergency braking, which is a pretty common feature at this price.

Right For? Wrong For?

Cadillac CTS-V

The Cadillac CTS-V is perfect for someone who finds the German supersport sedan options to be a bit stoic. The CTS-V looks bad to the bone, and it has plenty of character in the form of a big American V8. Not everyone wants to travel around incognito.

On the other hand, the CTS-V isn't for those who are looking to save the planet. The gas mileage is downright atrocious and a big V8 is anything but eco-friendly, but then again, the CTS-V doesn't exactly care. If you want fast acceleration and a clean conscience, buy a Tesla Model S instead.

The Bottom Line

It's really hard to beat the Germans in the luxury sedan game, but the 2018 Cadillac CTS-V makes a very compelling case. This Caddy is blisteringly fast, luxurious, and capable of providing a comfortable and competent ride in all situations. Best of all, it undercuts the price of the competition by a significant margin, while still providing every bit of the experience. Overall, the Cadillac CTS-V is a fantastic vehicle, and the world is a better place because of it.