Full 2013 Cadillac CTS Coupe Review
What's New for 2013
Besides a few minor styling tweaks, the 2013 Cadillac CTS Coupe returns unchanged.
From outward appearances, the 2013 Cadillac CTS Coupe is impressive. Bold lines and an aggressive stance present a truly modern interpretation of what a luxury coupe can be, and then this car backs it up with cutting-edge electronics and jaw-dropping performance.
Yet for all the provocative look, the CTS Coupe's beauty is only skin deep, as there are too many sacrifices that have to be made in the name of style. While the raked roof line might look sharp, an unfortunate consequence is a lack of headroom for all occupants. Furthermore, rear visibility is as bad as it gets, and it forces the driver to rely almost solely on the parking sensors and rearview camera when in reverse. The Coupe's trunk is also on the small side, a problem compounded by large hinges that intrude on the cargo space.
Such drawbacks can be overlooked in favor of blistering performance, but while the CTS is powerful and athletic, it is also heavy, which compromises the car's responsiveness. Ride quality also suffers, particularly with the optional performance suspension. The even more powerful CTS-V (covered in a separate review) will certainly quicken a few pulses, but the compromises in the packaging remain.
When it comes to the competition, the Cadillac CTS Coupe has a bolder personality than its rivals, yet it can't match them for refinement. The best of these cars include the Audi A5, BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. The 2013 Cadillac CTS Coupe has the right kind of look and the right kind of personality, but it lacks a dimension of daily practicality that we expect.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Cadillac CTS Coupe seats four people and is available in base, Performance and Premium trim levels. A high-performance CTS-V Coupe version is covered 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, remote ignition (requires automatic transmission), cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, eight-way power front seats (includes two-way lumbar adjustment), a split-folding rear seat, leatherette premium vinyl upholstery, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, OnStar emergency communications, Bluetooth phone connectivity and an eight-speaker Bose sound system with a CD player, an auxiliary audio jack and satellite radio.
The CTS Coupe Performance trim adds adaptive xenon headlamps, foglamps, a blind-spot warning system, a rearview camera, additional sound insulation, driver seat memory functions, heated front seats, 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 Performance Luxury package includes special wood trim, automatic wipers, heated and ventilated front seats, a power-adjustable steering wheel, automatic cabin air filtration and interior accent lighting. If you do not opt for this package, a navigation system is available that includes a pop-up touchscreen interface and real-time traffic and weather.
The CTS Coupe Premium includes both the Performance Luxury package and navigation system. When equipped with rear-wheel drive it 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
Powering the 2013 Cadillac CTS Coupe is a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 318 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque, and it's matched to a six-speed manual transmission as standard equipment (a six-speed automatic is optional). Rear-wheel drive is standard, while all-wheel drive is optional. Expect 0-60-mph times in the mid-6-second range, which 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 whether the car is rear- or all-wheel drive.
Standard safety equipment for every 2013 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 and rear parking sensors. Also standard is the OnStar emergency communications system, which includes automatic crash notification, on-demand roadside assistance, an emergency button, stolen vehicle locator and active intervention, and remote door unlock. 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 but still strong.
Interior Design and Special Features
As with the CTS sedan, the interior of the 2013 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 -- a smart and elegant alternative solution to having a separate control panel. Cadillac cleverly provides a redundant control knob for scrolling through iPod or satellite radio menus, since doing so with a touchscreen interface can be frustrating and distracting.
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 an awkward driving position, plus the seatbacks are flat and stiff. Rear seat passengers must deal not only with a lack of headroom but also direct exposure to solar heating through the large piece of glass overhead. To make matters worse, the limited front-seat headroom in this car is further compromised by the optional sunroof.
Trunk space is a smallish 10.5 cubic feet, and the narrow opening requires quite a bit of imagination when it comes to packing large, bulky items. The trunk lid's large gooseneck hinges also swing quite far down into the space, threatening to crush anything fragile that might be in their way.
The 2013 Cadillac CTS Coupe drives more like a sports car than a luxury sedan. The firm ride quality is not so different from that of its rivals, but the Summer Tire Performance package produces a genuinely harsh ride for a negligible improvement in cornering grip. 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, this 3.6-liter V6 should satisfy the majority of drivers. The car drives smoothly 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.