Full 2012 Cadillac CTS Coupe Review
What's New for 2012
The 2012 Cadillac CTS gets an additional 12 horsepower, along with a slightly revised grille, active front head restraints, standard Bluetooth, an optional blind-spot warning system and an optional heated steering wheel.
The 2012 Cadillac CTS Coupe grabs your attention like few cars can. It's muscular, edgy, aggressive and in your face. Yet there's still refined sophistication thanks to its chrome trim, classy interior and unmistakable Cadillac design cues. Now, this is usually where we'd say, "It's more than just a pretty face." But the truth is, the CTS Coupe suffers for its good looks. There are significant functional trade-offs even compared to other luxury coupes, and the CTS's performance isn't as lively as you'd think.
While the Coupe's cabin design is a dead ringer for the attractive and well-built one found in the CTS Sedan (reviewed separately), actual interior room is notably less. Of course, coupes are expected to be less spacious than their four-door comrades, but the CTS Coupe doesn't even meet these lowered expectations. Front headroom is limited and becomes downright cramped when you opt for the sunroof. Rear passengers are always cramped, and worse, they're under the rear glass and thus subjected to the sun. Rear visibility is also notably poor, while the trunk is severely compromised by large hinges that'll crush just about anything placed beneath them.
Unfortunately the CTS Coupe's styling isn't really backed up by better performance. Its handling is athletic, but its ample size and weight make it seem far more cumbersome than its main competitors. Its 318-horsepower V6 is more powerful for 2012 and certainly wouldn't be described as slow, but its acceleration is actually on par with the 211-hp turbo-4 found in the Audi A5. An Infiniti G37 or BMW 335i are more than a second quicker from zero to 60 mph and feel it. If you really want power, you have to step up to the more expensive CTS-V high-performance model.
So, the 2012 Cadillac CTS Coupe is essentially just a pretty face. While there's inherent appeal in this, we'd strongly suggest looking at one of the aforementioned competitors, along with the new Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe or even the revised Dodge Challenger SRT8, as they represent less compromised choices for a sport luxury coupe.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2012 Cadillac CTS Coupe seats four people and is available in base, Performance and Premium trim levels. The high-performance CTS-V Coupe is addressed in a separate review, as are the CTS sedan and wagon models.
The base CTS Coupe comes standard with 18-inch wheels, a limited-slip differential, automatic headlights, heated mirrors, rear parking sensors, keyless ignition/entry, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, eight-way power front seats, a split-folding rear seat, leatherette premium vinyl upholstery, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, OnStar, Bluetooth and an eight-speaker Bose sound system with a CD player and satellite radio.
The CTS Coupe Performance trim adds foglamps, adaptive xenon headlamps, a blind-spot warning system, a rearview camera, remote ignition, additional sound insulation, driver seat memory functions, heated front seats, front seat lumbar adjustment, leather upholstery and a 10-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system with a CD/DVD player, digital music storage and an iPod/USB audio interface. The Luxury Level One package adds automatic wipers, interior accent lighting and a security system. The Luxury Level Two package includes Level One equipment, plus heated and ventilated front seats and automatic cabin filtration. A heated power-adjustable steering wheel can be added to this package. Also optional is a navigation system, which includes a pop-up touchscreen interface and real-time traffic and weather.
The CTS Coupe Premium includes all of the above equipment and when equipped with rear-wheel drive is eligible for the optional CTS Touring package. This adds Recaro sport seats, faux suede trim for the steering wheel and shift lever, alloy pedals and the 19-inch Summer Tire Performance package (available by itself on both the Performance and Premium trims with rear-wheel drive) that includes 19-inch wheels, summer tires, a sportier tuned suspension, upgraded brakes, a performance cooling system, a different grille and steering wheel paddle shifters.
Optional on all but the base trim is a tilt-only sunroof.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2012 Cadillac CTS Coupe is powered by a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 318 hp and 275 pound-feet of torque. Rear-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic are standard, but all-wheel drive is optional.
In testing, last year's rear-wheel-drive CTS Coupe accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 6.7 seconds; expect the 2012 car to be a tenth or two quicker. Even so, the coupe is slightly slower than most competing luxury coupes.
EPA-estimated fuel economy with the automatic is 18 mpg city/27 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined regardless of rear- or all-wheel drive. Getting the manual drops those figures to 17 mpg city/25 mpg highway.
Standard safety equipment for every 2012 Cadillac CTS Coupe includes antilock disc brakes, traction control, stability control, front-seat side airbags, front and rear side curtain airbags, active front head restraints, rear parking sensors and the OnStar emergency communications system. A blind-spot warning system and a rearview camera are standard on the Performance and Premium trims.
In Edmunds brake testing, the CTS Coupe with the 19-inch summer tires came to a stop from 60 mph in an impressive 106 feet. With smaller wheels and all-season tires, that distance is likely to be longer.
Interior Design and Special Features
As with the sedan model, the interior of the 2012 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 for even those of average height.
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 2012 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.
The CTS Coupe also isn't as quick off the line as many of those same rivals. On its own merits, however, its 3.6-liter V6 should satisfy the majority of drivers. It's smooth around town, and the automatic transmission shifts smoothly and unobtrusively. More aggressive driving warrants dropping the gear selector into 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.