Surrounded by athletic Germans it’s hard to imagine what a brawny American may bring to the large car table that you can’t already get somewhere else. The 2018 Cadillac CTS V-Sport is a shining show pony in the company’s sedan stable, offering a mix of style and substance that cannot easily be overlooked.
For this review, I tested the 2018 Cadillac CTS V-Sport Premium Lux model, which came in at $76,210. That’s a $71,295 base price plus V-Performance Exhaust and Engine Cover Package ($2,065), a Kona Brown semi-aniline full leather seats with Jet Black Accents ($1,500), performance brake linings ($100), a Stellar Black Metallic Paint Job ($625), and a $995 destination charge. The company also lists a $370 V-Performance Exhaust and Engine Cover Package discount of $370 on the Monroney.
On its face, the CTS V-Sport is 100-percent a Cadillac. The long, linear LED lights cut a sharp figure while the car’s signature grille shares characteristics with the face of a vintage train engine equipped with a cattle catcher. Deep hood creases set the tone for the car’s side panels as Cadillac has infused a dramatic beltline that starts at the headlamps and runs to the rear. The door panels are also deeply creased at the handle level.
At the back, the CTS V-Sport is its most brutish with squared off looks that remind you of the heritage of the model. The overall design is purposeful, grand, and powerful.
Cadillac equips the CTS V-Sport with a 3.6-liter V6 engine that is ready to deliver 420 horsepower and 430 lb.-ft. of torque as fast as your foot can touch the pedal. Its acceleration is smooth thanks to an eight-speed speed automatic transmission. Push the Mode button on the center console to put the car in Sport mode and utilize the magnesium paddle shifters to have the most street-friendly fun behind the wheel. The engaging drive is only limited by the vehicle’s large size and your driving abilities.
The CTS V-Sport hugs the road, delivering a stable and surefooted experience. Unless you’re truly throwing it around tight turns, the stability control allows for very little body lean. The suspension absorbs most of the road’s imperfections without passing them onto the cabin’s passengers. Braking is strong, thanks in no small part to the standard Brembo performance front brakes.
Inside, Cadillac’s design team has made decisions to consistently remind you that you’re driving one of their vehicles including touch climate and radio controls on the center stack that are positioned in the outline of the Cadillac logo. The overall look is handsome, but the touch sensors are not nearly as reactive as they should be. Controlling the stereo volume is hit or miss but more 90-10 in favor of missing rather than hitting whether or not the system will register your touch.6
Leather and suede abound in an attractive layout. Craftsmanship is top notch and there were no rattles from any equipment on my tester, including the rear sunshades.
Climate controls are much more receptive to touch though the system’s fan runs very loud at any time other than when it is off. The temperature settings also seem to vary from the selected temperature by a solid five to ten degrees. Want 70 degrees? Better set it at 80. The seat ventilation also didn’t seem to work, or at the very least keep up on a warm 72- degree day.
The Cadillac comes equipped with comfortable seats, front and back. Leather upholstery comes standard as do performance front seats, which hold you in place fairly well around tight turns. However, the seating was not without its trouble. In the tester I drove, seat settings did not stick once programed. While having to move the seat between drivers isn’t a big deal, if your vehicle offers seat settings, they should work as advertised.
The car’s Cue infotainment system is featured on an 8-inch touch screen display in the center stack. It is refreshingly reactive and easy to navigate. The rearview camera works as well as you’d want it to with the resolution of the picture being perfectly adequate.
A 12-inch driver information display showcases all the necessary information and then some in an attractive and orderly, if not slightly overcrowded way. However, it is easy to eliminate portions of information you do not wish to see from the display.
The large trunk of the CTS V-Sport fits a grocery run or bookbags well, which is no surprise. It has some bump outs near the taillights which means that the floor is not flat, which can be a bit of an organizational issue when you’re loading in the fruits of your grocery shopping labor. The innermost part of the trunk loses about 1/3 of its width so you’ll want to carefully position your golf clubs and take advantage of the folding rear seats if you plan to transport more than one set.
The Cadillac CTS V-Sport doesn’t have a lot of standard active safety equipment but much of the common technologies are available including adaptive cruise control, forward collision alert, front and rear automatic braking, lane departure warning, active lane keep assist, blind spot warning, and rear cross traffic alert.
The Cadillac CTS V-Sport is priced competitively, however, if you buy the CTS it’s likely because you went in looking for it. The CTS appeals to a very specific customer who likely isn’t inclined to buy a German or Japanese sedan. That being said, if you’re a buyer interested in the CTS, there’s no reason not to cross-shop those cars because they’re priced so similarly.
Despite its issues, the Cadillac CTS V-Sport makes a good case for being the large car you’ll want if you’re in the market for a comfortable cruiser that can get you where you’re going in a hurry. But be warned, it’s not as overtly sporty or bountifully luxurious as some of its European competition.