Full 2013 Cadillac CTS-V Review
What's New for 2013
The 2013 Cadillac CTS-V returns essentially unchanged.
In the realm of luxury performance sedans, the Germans have reigned supreme for quite some time. But what about those who want to proudly wave the stars and stripes and make a statement with a distinctly American interpretation? The answer is simple: the 2013 Cadillac CTS-V.
"Cadillac?" you may be wondering in disbelief. Far from being one of the road-going yachts the brand was once known for, the CTS-V is an all-out performer with a 556-horsepower supercharged V8. In a straight line and around corners, it can keep up with just about every other high-performance sport sedan available. The CTS-V also boasts a distinctively aggressive appearance and a relatively affordable price that will leave you with a hefty amount of cash in your pocket compared to any of its competitors.
Unfortunately, the CTS-V does have a few shortcomings. Although it shines on a racetrack, this 4,300-pound Cadillac can feel a bit cumbersome on real-world winding roads bordered by ditches and canyon walls. The same can be said when maneuvering in tight quarters at slower speeds, as the CTS is hampered by poor rearward visibility. Front seat comfort is also a typical concern.
Yet, there is no denying that the 2013 Cadillac CTS-V is one of the most invigorating high-performance sport sedans on the planet. Anything that can stand toe-to-toe with the Audi S6, BMW M5 and Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG is most definitely worth a look. That the CTS-V also provides all-American attitude and style that makes it quite appealing overall.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Cadillac CTS-V is a five-passenger high-performance version of the CTS sedan. That car is reviewed separately, as are the CTS-V coupe and wagon.
Standard equipment includes 19-inch wheels, summer performance tires, high-performance brakes, a limited-slip differential, magnetically controlled adaptive suspension, automatic and adaptive xenon headlamps with washers, foglamps, rear parking sensors and automatic wipers.
Comfort and convenience features include keyless ignition/entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, a cabin odor filtration system, heated eight-way power front seats, driver memory functions, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, leather/faux-suede upholstery and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Electronic features include OnStar emergency communications, Bluetooth phone connectivity, a rearview camera, a navigation system, real-time traffic and weather, a pop-up touchscreen interface and a 10-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system with a CD/DVD player, satellite radio, digital music storage, auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB audio interface.
Options include a panoramic sunroof, heated and ventilated Recaro sport seats, and faux suede covering the steering wheel and shifter.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2013 Cadillac CTS-V is powered by a 6.2-liter supercharged V8 that produces 556 hp and 551 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual and rear-wheel drive are standard, but a six-speed automatic is a no-cost option. In Edmunds performance testing, an automatic-equipped CTS-V went from zero to 60 mph in an impressively quick 4.3 seconds. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 14 mpg city/19 mpg highway and 16 mpg combined with the manual and 12/18/14 mpg with the automatic.
Standard safety features for the 2013 Cadillac CTS-V include antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front-seat side airbags and side curtain airbags. Also standard is OnStar, which includes automatic crash notification, on-demand roadside assistance, an emergency button, stolen vehicle locator and active intervention and remote door unlock.
Braking performance is excellent, with the Caddy posting a short stopping distance of 104 feet from 60 mph in Edmunds testing: a good result among competing cars.
In government crash tests, the regular CTS received the best possible rating of five stars in the overall, frontal and side crash categories. Likewise, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the CTS its best rating of "Good" in the frontal-offset, side and roof strength tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2013 Cadillac CTS-V's interior isn't much different from the regular CTS model, but considering that it has one of the nicer passenger compartments in the segment, that's not such a bad thing. The overall look is highclass, with an attractive and functional layout for gauges and controls. Materials aren't the best in class, but they're generally high quality.
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 both the comfort and support required for spirited driving. The optional Recaro seats address this issue and feature ventilation as well. Essentially, they're a must-have feature.
Out back, the trunk offers a smallish 13.6 cubic feet of cargo room, and the relatively narrow opening can make loading bulky items like golf clubs 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 2013 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 quick. 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 an E63 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.