Third time’s the charm for Cadillac’s CTS Sport Wagon
September 24, 2010
Tooling along at an indicated 113 mph on a reliably untraveled rural route, a trunk chock full of groceries and some very weird Deep Tracks on the radio, I finally came to peace with the Cadillac CTS.
For it was with the extra room of the automobile’s more-than-a-little-Batmobile-styled Sport Wagon variation and the added confidence of all-wheel drive that I casually ran the cajones out of the CTS, running the V6 up to about 6,400 rpm and feeling entirely safe and confident.
Finally, CTS’s oddly futuristic, hyper-angular looks, its luxurious interior and all those attributes everyone else gushed about finally clicked for me. And the extra bulk of a full-blown wagon made the CTS seem a little bit more “there,” if you know what I mean.
And while the CTS’s not-unreasonable 304 horsepower could always be happily supplanted by the mind-blowing roar of the V-model’s 556 horses (the wagon and the Corvette engine do not quite intersect, at this point), the wagon’s standard motor still provides plenty of spark. Mix in the all-season utility of all-wheel drive and you’ve got a pretty nice mix.
Click the six-speed automatic transmission into Sport Mode and the revs hold for more sporty wagon action. And with word that Cadillac’s European competitors (BMW and Mercedes, especially) are en route to completely phase out their U.S. market wagon offerings, it’s a nice option if you’re looking for a bit more family friendly cargo space wrapped in a still-chuckable machine that’s car, not tippy crossover.
That big rear quarter in wagon-land, complete with cargo tiedowns, a tonneau cover and a power liftgate, still allows for pretty decent rear visibility, despite a large chunk of the window being obscured by a non-hideable wiper blade the size of a Charleston Chew. Lexus has recently figured out how to hide that wiper, and maybe GM will follow suit eventually.
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You also get all of the fulsome rear seat goodness for the passengers, or drop those seats and turn it into a truly sporty utility vehicle that’s no SUV lummox, and 58 cubic feet of storage.
Checking the roads, especially in Denver, I note that Cadillac enthusiasts still seem to opt for the ungainly Escalade as their weapon of mass destruction; I’d love to see the playing field a little more even with more down-to-earth machines like the Sport Wagon.
Hell, even the CTS’s curious interior has grown on me, with the possible exception of those still incomprehensibly flat-bottomed seats. I even experimented with cranking the angles so I’d potentially wedge my keister in a secure position; to no avail.
Cadillac’s navigation system now makes more sense after several previous experiences, with a touchscreen that peeks out at you part of the time and then pops up, toaster-style, for fuller views. And the wood, chrome and Cadillac-scented leather is all nice and sophisticated, especially the deep-dish chrome instruments.
As a side note, I should also mention the time (though I would probably appreciate some more) in CTS’s real crossover brother, the new-ish SRX. What once was a vehicle more wagon-like than SUV-esque, the new SRX has moved into the teardrop-shaped territory of lux crossover competitors such as Infiniti’s FX family, the Lexus RX and the Acura MDX.
My short highway stint in the SRX was largely memorable for the impressive if somewhat anxious boost of the automobile’s optional 2.8-liter turbocharged V6, yielding 300 horsepower. The turbo is new territory but like Ford’s EcoBoost push, the main idea is to provide ample power (as it does) without the fuel consumption of the 4.6-liter engine once standard on the old model.
SRX has indeed become a more sporty machine, replete with optional 20-inch wheels, a specialized AWD system and accoutrements including a fancy “U-Rail” tracked cargo management system in the back.