Nothing says "I've still got sack" like a 100-foot burnout in a supercharged, pushrod-powered American wagon loaded with a toddler, a stroller, a case of Huggies pull-ups and 2 gallons of organic reduced-fat milk. This, friends, is the 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Wagon. It's a machine built for the unemasculated American male who still makes a nod to utility. And we want one. Badly.
Honestly, we're not certain who the customers are for Cadillac's wild crossbreed of speed and function. The investment banker family man with the need to carry the occasional ladder, maybe? Or, perhaps, the successful mortgage broker whose midlife crisis involves wholesome burnouts with two kids and a dog in the back?
We don't know. And, frankly, neither does Cadillac. Best of all, it doesn't really matter. Why? Because Cadillac only has to sell 37 CTS-V wagons — the third V-series car in the CTS line — to break even on the project.
And if that's not a testament to economies of scale, we don't know what is.
Wagoning the CTS-V
Talk to Don Butler, vice president of Cadillac marketing, and you begin to get an idea why this is the case. "There's not a lot different on the wagon," Butler says. "Really, it was just a matter of making certain the wagon could live up to the standard of V-branded products."
We can verify that it does. Our mother-in-law nearly slapped us silly the first time we ran the big Caddy up on the torque converter, released the brake and pinned her freshly styled locks into the leather headrests. Wagons, at least in her day, never performed such feats.
But the 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Wagon is happy to oblige. After all, it's endowed with all the trickery of other Cadillac V cars — supercharging, two-mode magnetic ride control suspension, Brembo brakes and huge, sticky Michelins. Sure, there were small compromises to keep the budget down — like the fact that this car shares its rear fascia and exhaust outlets with the standard CTS Sport Wagon while other V products get proprietary rear bumpers and exhaust outlets. But the wagon's only real compromises come in the form of additional weight and reduced rigidity.
You Can't Tell
According to Ed Piatek, CTS-V Wagon program engineering manager, the wagon is 8 percent less rigid than the sedan in bending rigidity and 3.8 percent less rigid than the sedan in torsional rigidity. However, it speaks highly of the wagon's body structure that the development team didn't feel the need to add any additional bracing over that of the standard CTS Sport Wagon.
Thanks to a heavier body structure and glass, the 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Wagon is about 154 pounds heavier than the sedan, depending on equipment. This brought the total weight of our tester to 4,485 pounds.
We'll admit to not having back-to-back drives in both the sedan and wagon, but if you're not in this game for ultimate performance, then those differences matter little. This is a fast, fun machine that just happens to offer real utility in addition to its stunning speed.
And About That Speed...
Of course, under the wagon's hood resides the same 556-horsepower 6.2-liter supercharged V8 we're now accustomed to seeing in all über-quick Cadillacs. Our test car was fitted with the six-speed automatic transmission with steering-wheel-mounted shift buttons. And if you want an exceptionally rare machine, the wagon is available with a six-speed manual transmission.
But like all CTS-Vs, this one plain stomps when it's asked to. It banged out a 12.7-second quarter-mile pass at 113.4 mph. That's 0.3 second and 1 mph off the pace of the last CTS-V Sedan we tested. Sixty miles per hour arrives in 4.7 seconds (4.4 seconds with a 1-foot rollout like at a drag strip). Again, a few clicks off the pace of the sedan (4.4 seconds), but not a deal-breaker — at least not for us.
Braking, as produced by the CTS-V's six-piston front calipers and two-piece 15-inch front rotors required 111 feet to stop from 60 mph. The two-piece rotors were aftermarket parts fitted to our car for track use during its press launch. They cost $1,295 and will be available soon from the GM Performance Parts catalog. A rear differential cooler was also fitted. It hasn't been priced yet but is estimated to cost $1,995 and is available from Cadillac dealers.
In our handling tests the wagon danced through the slalom at 68.9 mph and held on around the skid pad at a 0.88g average. That's imperceptibly less speed between the cones than the CTS-V Sedan (69.2 mph) and only marginally less grip, too (0.89g).
A CTS-V All Its Own
Still, what the numbers won't tell you is the effect a 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Wagon has on those with whom it shares the road. And that, at least in our experience, is exactly no effect at all. With the exception of one interested panhandler in the Central Valley, we drove the wagon half the length of California and then some — more than 900 miles in total — without so much as a lifted eyebrow.
This is both good and bad. For us and anyone else who prefers to slide past unnoticed, it's very good. That said, there's a certain subtlety, a slight, unheroic attitude that can only come from a car with this much power and function. Like Clint Eastwood, it makes a statement by how little it says.
It's a theme that carries through to its driver. We found ourselves doddling — driving with little intent to reach our destination. Until, like a cat who must suddenly be in another room, we'd give it all the beans to shake traffic in one deliberate move.
And shake traffic this Caddy will. Like the hell spawn of GM, the wagon transforms from docile mommy mobile to ass-tearing thunder truck in one stomp of the pedal. And it will do it with a kid and a load of lawn fertilizer in the back.
It's this car's combination of stunning feedback, massive power and high limits coupled with the ability to, say, make a Home Depot run, that makes it truly unique and immeasurably more fun than others of its ilk.
It's for Real Inside
Flop down the wagon's rear seats and there's enough room for a medium-size person to sleep — 58 cubic feet in total. And the pass-through center armrest allows you to carry long items without even folding the seats. There's even a tie-down track system behind the rear seats to help you lock your heavy items to the floor in the event that hauling ass and hauling cargo should coincide. Sure, it's not a massive wagon, but there's far more utility here than in the sedan.
Otherwise, this is the same interior we've come to appreciate in other CTS-V styles. Our tester was fitted with the optional Recaro thrones that suit those of all statures. Snug yet highly adjustable, these seats incorporate every feature we could ever want in a place to put our behind while driving — heating, ventilation and 14-way adjustability.
There's also dual-zone climate control, a rearview camera and a 300-watt 10-speaker Bose audio system with 40 gigabytes of built-in hard drive memory. What else could you really need?
Empty Your Wallet Here
All variants of the 2011 Cadillac CTS-V start at $62,990 including destination fees. But our tester, loaded with nearly every option — Recaro seats, Sapele wood trim, Thunder Grey paint, sunroof and the automatic transmission — rings up at a hefty $76,325 estimated price. Included in that figure are the two-piece rotors and rear differential cooler mentioned above.
No doubt, that's a lot of money for a wagon of any kind. Maybe this will help: Don't think of it as an $80,000 wagon. Rather, consider it a machine dedicated to your family's needs which just happens to double as a high-cost insurance policy for your masculinity.
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of this evaluation, which originally appeared on insideline.com.
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