By Mark Maynard
Cadillac insists there are separate buyers for its SRX crossover and its new CTS sport wagon. I was skeptical because both are five-passenger, cargo-carrying vehicles with all-wheel-drive options. The SRX is taller, while the sport wagon is more carlike.
After a recent week in the wagon, I can see some possible separation.
This wagon is so quiet and smooth rolling that I didn’t turn on the radio for three days. After eight-plus hours at work, the silence was replenishing. And it was perplexing that a Cadillac could be this well sound-proofed and not be numb to the touch.
The edgy styling sets the stance and the car delivers like a sport sedan with couple’s luggage space. It is a “we” car for parents who are now empty nesters, even if back-seat space is snug. The seat bottoms are short and the center position has no head restraint. For those who need more back-seat space, there is the SRX or Escalade.
And there is some compromise to over-the-shoulder visibility at the rear corners. But in parking situations, the rear-view camera gives a 180-degree view, which “sees” oncoming traffic before the driver can put eyes on it. Cabin controls for vents-heat-AC and the menu controller all work without frustration to the user. Door closure, gear shift engagement, turn signal and wiper mechanisms function with precision.
The base model ($39,090) comes with a 270-horsepower, 3.0-liter, direct-injection V-6 and six-speed automatic with Driver Shift control. All-wheel drive adds $1,900. The test car was the uplevel V-6 Premium, which was $50,485 as tested. This model adds a 304-hp, 3.6-liter direct-injection V-6 with the same transmission and extras, such as an Ultraview sunroof, navigation system and 10-speaker Bose audio system. Fuel mileage of 26 mpg on the highway is typical of wagons in the segment — Audi A4, BMW 3-series, Volvo V70 — but the Cadillac uses 87 octane and the others require premium.
A V-series wagon has been seen in testing, so expect a high-performance model to be added soon.
Without looking closely at interior appointments, the driving experience presents a defining image of the new Cadillac. A hand-stitched instrument panel, center console and door trim add an element of craftsmanship that presents a tailored look. But look closer and there is room to polish the presence. Some of the plastics and how the pieces fit seem more like generic General Motors, but the New GM. The quality is better than ever, but some of what I saw in this Cadillac is similar if not exactly as well done as the materials in the Chevy Malibu.
CTS does create a premium “feel,” but the Cadillac name brings higher expectations — and there will be improvements. The landscape with luxury cars is always evolving, spokesman David Caldwell said in an e-mail.
“Nobody stands still,” he said. “Our interior designers are working on a lot of ideas on new ways to render luxury going forward.”
2010 Cadillac CTS V6 Premium Collection
Body style: five-passenger, midsize wagon in rear- or all-wheel drive
Engine: 304-horsepower, 3.6-liter, direct-injection V-6
Transmission: six-speed automatic with Driver Shift Control
EPA fuel economy estimates: 18 mpg city, 26 highway; 87 octane recommended
Cargo space: 25 cubic feet behind rear seat, 58 rear seat folded
Length/wheelbase: 191.3/113.4 inches
Curb weight: 3,872 pounds
Standard equipment includes: keyless lock/unlock and starting, leather-trimmed upholstery, heated and cooled front seats, power liftgate, Sapele wood trim, navigation system with Nav Traffic and 10-speaker Bose audio with 40-gigabyte hard drive, Ultraview sunroof, 18-inch polished aluminum wheels and all-season tires, sport-tuned suspension, fog lights, power tilt-telescopic steering wheel
Safety features include: six air bags, active front head restraints and belt pretensioners, four-wheel-disc ABS, stability and traction controls
Base: $49,490, including $825 freight charge; price as tested, $50,485
Options on test car: Crystal Red tintcoat, $995
Where assembled: Lansing, Mich.
Warranties: four years/50,000 miles bumper-to-bumper coverage; five-years/100,000-miles powertrain
Mark Maynard is driving in cyberspace at Mark.Maynard@uniontrib.com.
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