What's New for 2010
The 2010 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon is an all-new wagon version of Cadillac's successful CTS sedan.
What is an American luxury car? For years, the answer was a no-brainer: body length measured in yards, enough chrome to blind a welder, sofa-on-wheels suspension tuning and the sort of eye-catching styling that's still honored today. Oh, and it was a sedan or coupe. As the decades wore on, the answer became muddled. Yet in the last two years, Cadillac has begun to redefine what an American luxury car can be, and nowhere is that more evident than with the 2010 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon.
The words "American," "luxury," "sport" and "wagon" would probably seem oxymoronic to many buyers. However, wagons are all the rage in Europe, and to regain its status as "Standard of the World," the CTS Sport Wagon is intended to help Cadillac establish a presence across the pond while at the same time kindling some interest at home for this versatile body style that's unfairly deemed uncool. With eye-catching styling and a driving character that prioritizes performance and handling, the CTS seems pretty darn cool to us.
Beyond its hatchback wagon rear end, the Sport Wagon is indistinguishable from the CTS sport sedan. That means it shares that car's strengths and weaknesses. We've already alluded to the commendable performance. The interior is well styled, its materials are high quality and its electronic features are state-of-the-art. However, some drivers may find the CTS's awkward driving position and compromised rear visibility to be deal breakers. Its handling also isn't quite as sharp as what you'll get out of an Audi A4 Avant or BMW 3 Series.
Of course, the Sport Wagon has been launched at around the same time as the Cadillac SRX compact crossover, so there's some in-house competition to contend with. While the SRX (and other crossovers, for that matter) may have a cargo capacity advantage, it's not as big as you'd think, and the sleek CTS can run circles around it should you enjoy a spirited drive now and then. From a rational standpoint, the CTS makes more sense, and one could argue that the wagon's stylish looks offer plenty of ammunition for an irrational viewpoint as well.
In the end we think the 2010 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon is worth a look by wagon, sedan and compact crossover buyers alike. It isn't perfect, but it's certainly a strong step forward in Cadillac's quest to regain its standard-bearer status.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon is a five-passenger wagon available in five trim levels: 3.0 base, 3.0 Luxury, 3.0 Performance, 3.6 Performance and 3.6 Luxury.
Standard equipment on the 3.0 includes 17-inch alloy wheels, a power liftgate, automatic headlights, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, an eight-way power driver seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, premium vinyl "leatherette" upholstery, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and an eight-speaker CD stereo with an auxiliary audio jack and satellite radio.
The 3.0 Luxury adds an eight-way power passenger seat, heated front seats, driver memory functions, leather upholstery, a wood-and-leather steering wheel, a heavy-duty pet net, a cargo cover, interior ambient lighting, Bluetooth and a six-CD changer.
The CTS 3.0 Performance has the Luxury's equipment plus 18-inch wheels, performance brakes, upgraded FE2 sport-tuned suspension and adaptive HID headlamps. The 3.6 Performance adds a bigger V6 engine and a 10-speaker surround-sound stereo with digital music storage and a USB/iPod audio interface.
The Luxury Level Two package can be added to the Performance trims and includes rear parking sensors, a split-folding rear seat, heated and cooled front seats, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering column, keyless ignition/entry and remote engine start. The 3.6 Premium has the Level Two equipment plus a panoramic sunroof (optional on all other CTS models), a back-up camera and a hard-drive-based navigation system with real-time traffic and weather. The camera and navigation system are optional on all but the base CTS. The 19-inch Summer Tire Performance package available on 3.6 models adds 19-inch wheels, summer tires, an upgraded FE3 performance suspension and enhanced power steering.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2010 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon is available with one of two V6 engines. Rear-wheel drive and a six-speed manual are standard with both, while a six-speed automatic and all-wheel drive are separately optional. The 3.0-liter V6 produces 270 hp and 223 lb-ft of torque. It returns fuel economy of 18 mpg city/27 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined.
The 3.6-liter V6 produces 304 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. Its estimated fuel economy is 18/27/21. In performance testing, a 3.6 rear-drive Sport Wagon went from zero to 60 mph in 7 seconds.
The CTS's standard safety features include antilock disc brakes, traction control, stability control, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and GM's OnStar emergency communications system.
In government crash testing, the CTS was awarded a perfect five stars for side protection. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, the sedan was awarded the best rating of "Good" in frontal-offset and side impact testing. In Edmunds brake testing, the 3.6 Sport Wagon with FE2 suspension and summer tires came to a stop from 60 mph in a solid 118 feet.
Interior Design and Special Features
A pleasing mix of available wood accents, tasteful alloy trim and a stitched soft-touch dash covering make the Cadillac CTS interior one of the most elegant designs in its class. The optional navigation screen retracts into the dash, but leaves the top inch visible as the touchscreen display for the audio system -- a slick touch.
We have a few nits to pick, however. The driving position is awkward for many, thanks to awkwardly offset pedals and the knee-room-robbing (though quite attractive) swoop of the center stack. Outward visibility to the rear is poor. Overall interior room is quite good and better than most competing models, but rear-seat access can be a bit tricky due to a low rear roof line. Comfort front and back isn't ideal due to seatbacks that are a little hard and shapeless.
Cargo capacity is obviously important with a wagon, and the CTS provides a generous 25 cubic feet with the rear seats raised and 53.4 with them lowered. This is a bit more than the Audi A4 Avant, but a bit less than the BMW 3 Series.
On the road, the 2010 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon is very stable and copes well with quick directional changes. The steering is nicely weighted and precise. Overall, this Cadillac offers an excellent ride and handling balance that gives the Europeans a run for their money, especially when equipped with the sport-tuned suspension. That said, the larger CTS lacks the nimbleness of cars like the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4 Avant. On the other hand, those looking for a more traditional Cadillac ride may find the FE2 suspension that's standard on the 3.0 Performance and 3.6 trims to be too firm -- let alone the even firmer FE3.
Though the new direct-injected 3.0-liter V6 is a competent base-level engine, keep in mind that its fuel economy is no better than that of the 304-hp 3.6-liter V6, and the latter's power delivery is far more authoritative. Particularly given that the CTS weighs more than rival sport wagons, the bigger engine is a worthy upgrade if you can swing the higher payment.