Full 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Review
What's New for 2011
For 2011, the Cadillac CTS-V has a new fender vent design, and a rear-vision camera is now standard. Cadillac also introduces a free program that covers oil changes, filter replacements, tire rotation and vehicle inspection for 4 years/50,000 miles.
Ripping a page out of the muscle car playbook, the 2011 Cadillac CTS-V is a familiar production car that has been stuffed to the fender wells with a rip-snorting V8. Instead of the CTS's standard V6, you'll find nothing less than a 556-horsepower, supercharged 6.2-liter V8 under the V's power-dome hood.
Fortunately, this is not just a machine for straight-line performance. The engineers have suitably beefed up the suspension and brakes to make the CTS-V as capable of scrubbing off speed and cutting through corners as it is of streaking down a straightaway. Not only has this Caddy posted one of the quickest acceleration times Edmunds has recorded for a four-door sedan but it has showed its high rear end to both the BMW M5 and the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG during the racetrack portion of our super-sport sedan comparison test.
But the 2011 Cadillac CTS-V doesn't have just world-class performance going for it; this Caddy also provides an amenable ride for both daily driving and long-distance road trips. Though it's priced similarly to comparably equipped sport sedans such as the BMW M3 and Mercedes C63, the larger CTS-V offers more passenger space, making it a rival to the BMW M5, Jaguar XFR and Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG. Of course, these competitors also offer incredible performance and luxury, yet they are priced $17,000-$23,000 higher.
The 2011 Cadillac CTS-V does have a few minor negatives. At 4,300 pounds, this sedan can feel like a hefty chunk of metal on tightly winding roads. And the standard front seats leave much to be desired in terms of both comfort and support (though this can be remedied with the optional Recaro seats). But nitpicks notwithstanding, the CTS-V is a stunning achievement that restores meaning to Cadillac's classic slogan, "Standard of the World."
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2011 Cadillac CTS-V is a high-performance sport sedan that's offered in a single well-equipped trim level.
Standard features include 19-inch alloy wheels, high-performance tires, Brembo brakes, adaptive xenon headlights, an adaptive suspension with adjustable dampers, keyless ignition/entry (including remote start on automatic-transmission models) and rear park assist.
Inside the cabin, the standard features list continues with leather upholstery, power-adjustable heated front seats with driver-seat memory, a suede-trimmed power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and dual-zone automatic climate control. High-tech bells and whistles include OnStar, Bluetooth, a hard-drive-based navigation system with real-time traffic updates and a Bose surround-sound audio system (with a CD/MP3 player, satellite radio, USB/auxiliary audio jacks and digital music storage).
Options include a panoramic sunroof, 14-way power-adjustable Recaro sport seats (with heating and ventilation), a wood trim package for the interior, and faux suede wrapping for the shift knob and the rim of the steering wheel.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2011 Cadillac CTS-V is powered by a supercharged 6.2-liter V8, a slightly detuned version of the engine under the carbon-fiber hood of the mighty Chevrolet Corvette ZR1. It sends a jaw-dropping 556 hp and 551 pound-feet of torque to the rear wheels. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard, and a six-speed automatic transmission with shift buttons mounted on the steering wheel is available as an option.
In Edmunds performance testing, an automatic-equipped CTS-V sprinted from zero to 60 mph in a remarkably quick 4.3 seconds and ran through the quarter-mile in 12.4 seconds at 114.7 mph. The EPA puts the CTS-V's estimated fuel economy at 14 mpg city/19 mpg highway and 16 mpg combined with the manual transmission, and 12/18/14 mpg with the automatic.
The 2011 Cadillac CTS-V comes standard with antilock disc brakes, stability control and traction control, front-seat side airbags and side curtain airbags. GM's OnStar emergency communications system is also standard. Braking performance is excellent, with the Caddy posting a short stopping distance of 109 feet from 60 mph in Edmunds testing.
The regular CTS on which this V-specification model is based has earned a "Good" rating (the highest possible) from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in both frontal- and side-impact crash tests. In government frontal crash tests, the CTS earned four stars (out of a possible five) for the driver and five stars for front passenger protection. The CTS also received a five-star government rating for both front- and rear-seat passenger protection in side-impact crashes.
Interior Design and Special Features
First, the bad news: The 2011 CTS-V's interior isn't much different from that of the regular CTS model. Now the good news: The CTS already sports one of the nicer passenger compartments in the segment. The overall look is high-class, with an attractive and functional layout for gauges and controls. Materials aren't the best in class, but they're generally high quality and a noticeable improvement over those used in the previous generation. The faux suede seat inserts and steering wheel/shift knob trim are an especially nice touch.
As noted earlier, the CTS-V's interior also sports as much head- and legroom as most of the super sedans in the midsize class. The cabin's most significant shortcoming is the design of the standard front seats, which lack either comfort or the support required for spirited driving. The optional Recaro seats address both of these issues and are highly recommended. Out back, the trunk offers a smallish 13.6 cubic feet of cargo room, and the relatively narrow opening can make loading bulky items difficult. The split-folding rear seat found on other CTS models isn't available here, but a trunk pass-through opening is standard.
The fact that the 2011 Cadillac CTS-V tips the scales at just over 4,300 pounds makes its astounding performance all the more remarkable. The combination of its muscle-bound V8 and modest exhaust note makes the CTS-V deceptively fast. While the manual transmission is a good one, with a nice firm shift action and a surprisingly light and progressive clutch, you'll actually get quicker acceleration with the automatic transmission when it's in Sport mode. However, the automatic doesn't confidently blip the throttle on downshifts like a C63 AMG, and it's neither the quickest nor the smoothest unit we've experienced.
The CTS-V's standard Magnetic Ride Control suspension offers a good balance between ride quality and handling via driver-selectable Tour or Sport modes. While it's capable of throwing down some seriously quick lap times, the CTS-V can't hide its 2-ton-plus mass on a winding piece of asphalt. That hefty feeling in tight corners is quickly forgotten, however, when you turn its mighty V8 loose on the straightaways.