Full 2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe Review
What's New for 2011
The 2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe is an all-new model.
The 2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe is a looker. It's a striking interpretation of Cadillac's sharp-edge styling, and it manages to turn heads with its raked roof line, flat slab sides and intricate faceting of every surface. Paint it flat black and it'll look like something an F-117 stealth fighter pilot might drive. Styling is subjective, of course, but most of our staff agree that the CTS Coupe blends beauty and aggression in a way few other cars do.
But as the old adage goes, "beauty is only skin deep." Underneath the angular sheet metal is a lightly modified CTS sedan chassis and the uplevel 3.6-liter V6. The interior is almost identical as well, but with less headroom and a smaller rear passenger compartment. Rearward visibility is even worse than it is in the sedan, and even the trunk lacks usable space. Comfort and function, it seems, have taken a cramped backseat to style.
Normally, we associate such inconveniences and sacrifices with an increase in performance, but the 2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe is merely a midpack runner. Even with the optional performance suspension, the coupe's handling prowess doesn't increase much, and the ride quality notably suffers. If you aren't looking for all-out performance, we'd suggest sticking with the base suspension.
All of this puts the CTS Coupe at a disadvantage in the luxury coupe arena. It's easily outclassed by more refined models such as the Audi A5, BMW 335i, Infiniti G37 and Mercedes E350 Coupe, all of which are more appealing and similarly priced. In terms of style, the CTS Coupe certainly stands out from this crowd, but it'd be hard to argue that any of those competitors are somehow unattractive. So if the 2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe is truly pulling at your heartstrings, know that it will more for appearance than substance.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe is a midsize luxury car with seating for four. Buyers can choose among three trim levels: base, Performance and Premium. Standard base features include 18-inch alloy wheels, heated outside mirrors, rear parking sensors, dual-zone automatic climate control, full power accessories, keyless ignition/entry, cruise control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, 10-way power-adjustable front seats, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with audio controls and an eight-speaker Bose audio system with six-CD/MP3 in-dash changer and satellite radio.
Stepping up to the Performance trim level adds adaptive xenon headlamps, foglights, Bluetooth, driver seat memory and heated front seats. An optional Performance Luxury package adds a rearview camera, an in-cabin air filtration system, LED interior accent lighting, heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, power steering-wheel adjustments, wood interior trim and a 10-speaker surround-sound system that includes a 40GB hard drive for audio storage and a USB port. The range-topping Premium trim includes all of the above, then tacks on a sunroof and a touchscreen navigation system with real-time traffic and weather.
Options include the Summer Tire Performance package, which, besides tires, features 19-inch wheels, a performance cooling system, a sport suspension, upgraded Brembo brakes and steering-wheel-mounted shift buttons (automatic transmission). The navigation system and sunroof are also available on lower trim levels.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe is powered by a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 304 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. Rear-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive available as an option. A six-speed automatic transmission is also standard, but a six-speed manual is offered on rear-drive Performance and Premium models.
In testing, a rear-wheel-drive CTS Coupe with an automatic transmission and Summer Tire Performance package accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 6.7 seconds, which is slightly slower than most competing luxury coupes. Fuel economy estimates stand at 17 mpg city/26 mpg highway.
Standard safety equipment for the 2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe includes antilock disc brakes, traction control, stability control, front-seat side airbags, front and rear side curtain airbags and GM's OnStar emergency communications system. In brake testing, the CTS Coupe came to a stop from 60 mph in an impressive 106 feet.
Interior Design and Special Features
As with the sedan model, the interior of the 2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe features a pleasing angular theme to match the exterior edginess. Soft-touch materials are plentiful, accented by tasteful wood trim. The optional navigation system emerges from the top of the dash and retracts almost fully, leaving a small section visible as a touchscreen display for the audio system -- an ingenious and elegant solution to having a separate control panel.
Unfortunately, the interior also comes with its fair share of flaws. Outward rear visibility is notably poor, forcing the driver to rely on the optional rearview camera when maneuvering in reverse. Overall comfort is hampered by flat and stiff seats. Rear seat passengers must deal with a lack of headroom and the raked rear window that will leave their heads exposed to direct sunlight most of the time. To make matters worse, the optional sunroof significantly shortens front seat headroom. Trunk space is a smallish 10.5 cubic feet, and the narrow opening requires quite a bit of jostling in order to fit bulky items. The large gooseneck hinges also swing quite far down into the space, crushing anything fragile that might be in their way.
The way the 2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe drives is a distinct departure from the cushiony ride that has been the company's hallmark for decades. The coupe's sporty ride quality is much like that of its European rivals, but it also becomes overly harsh if you opt for the Summer Tire Performance package. Yet even with this higher-performing option, the CTS still isn't as nimble as sharper-driving rivals.
On its own merits, the 2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe's drivetrain should satisfy the majority of drivers. The 3.6-liter V6 is smooth around town, and the automatic transmission shifts smoothly and unobtrusively. More aggressive driving warrants dropping the gear selector into the Sport or manual mode to wind the engine into the upper reaches of the tachometer. At these levels, the V6 is much more responsive and delivers a healthy dose of excitement.