Full 2011 Cadillac CTS Wagon Review
What's New for 2011
The 2011 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon carries over essentially unchanged. The new high-performance CTS-V wagon is reviewed separately.
The CTS is the car by which Cadillac is known these days, and this distinctly modern, high-tech platform has morphed into a number of different forms, all of which offer an engaging driving experience as well as the luxury features and refined ride that are expected from a premium brand like Cadillac. This welcome evolution from the Cadillacs of the past into the Cadillacs of today is nowhere more apparent than in the 2011 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon.
Using the term "wagon" here seems a bit of a stretch given that this CTS is the same length as the sedan, even though a wagon has typically featured an elongated rear end. So think of this Caddy as a kind of four-door hatchback, even though "hatchback" is a verboten word among upscale shoppers in the United States. Whatever you want to call it, the key attributes of this CTS variant lie in added cargo space and increased utility over the regular sedan, as otherwise it maintains the same strengths and weaknesses in the way it drives.
Among the upsides are the 2011 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon's commendable performance, handsome cabin, user-friendly high-tech features and manageable size. The few downsides include a potentially awkward driving position, mediocre rearward visibility and handling that still isn't quite as agile as the smaller 2011 Audi A4 Avant and 2011 BMW 3 Series wagon.
With Cadillac having recently introduced the redesigned SRX compact crossover, the CTS Wagon now has the freedom to be more car and less carry-all. There's a strong argument to be made for choosing the CTS Wagon over the SRX, as it offers a fair amount of cargo capacity and can even be had with an all-wheel-drive option just like the SRX, yet also offers better performance and is considerably more enjoyable to drive.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2011 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 Premium.
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 upholstery, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and an eight-speaker audio system with CD changer, satellite radio and an auxiliary audio jack.
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 rearview camera, 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 Sport Wagons), a back-up camera and a hard-drive-based navigation system with real-time traffic and weather.
The navigation system is 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, the FE3 performance suspension and enhanced power steering. There is also a 19-inch All Season Tire package available for those who want the bigger wheels but don't want the stiffer suspension.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2011 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 available separately. The 3.0-liter V6 produces 270 horsepower and 223 pound-feet of torque and returns fuel economy of 18 mpg city/27 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined.
The direct-injection 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 7.0 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 2011 Cadillac 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 large 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 some drivers, thanks to the offset pedals and the way the otherwise attractive center stack intrudes on knee room. Comfort isn't ideal either due to seatbacks that are a little hard and shapeless. 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. Outward visibility to the rear is poor.
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 cubic feet with them lowered. This is a bit more than the Audi A4 Avant, but a little less than the BMW 3 Series.
On the road, the 2011 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 European cars a run for their money, especially when equipped with the sport-tuned suspension.
That said, the CTS lacks the dexterity of smaller cars like the Audi A4 Avant and BMW 3 Series. And 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 too firm.
Though the 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. And since the CTS weighs more than rival sport wagons, the more powerful engine is a worthy upgrade if you can swing the higher payment.