2008 Cadillac CTS: Brakes Don't Feel Great
April 22, 2009
I've driven our long-term 2008 Cadillac CTS very rarely and whenever I do get into the car, my first thought is: "Why don't I drive this car more often?" The seats feel good, the driving position feels spot-on and the center-stack electronics feel state-of-the-art. And the exterior styling, while not to my taste, is like nothing else on the road.
Within a few minutes, though, this feeling is dampened by:
-all the rattles that have plagued our long-term CTS since the 10,000-mile mark;
-the glitchy audio/navigation system (XM shut down for 30 minutes last night -- it wasn't a signal problem; the screen just went blank. After a restart, all was well again).
Today, the brakes got on my nerves, too. They work. But the bite isn't immediate in our long-term car and pedal feel borders on mush. Our CTS just doesn't stop with the authority I'd expect of a sport sedan.
To be fair, our FE2 long-term car has different braking hardware than the FE3 test car we liked so much. We're talking smaller rotors (12.4-inch discs at each corner instead of 13.6-inch discs up front and 13.4-inch discs in back) and aluminum instead of cast iron calipers (same piston count, though, with two per caliper up front and a single in back).
Tires are undoubtedly a huge factor as well. Our CTS wears quite worn Michelin Pilot HX MXM4 P235/50R18 all-season tires, which don't really compare to the newish, high-performance Pilot Sport PS2s of the same size on that earlier test car. Even when these all-season Michelins were new, they were only good for a 117-foot stop from 60 mph (compared to 109 for the CTS with summer tires).
At the time, Chief Road Test Editor Chris Walton commented, "These brakes don't feel a bit like the previous CTS test car's -- especially during full ABS stops. Lots of hop and shudder as tires hunt. So much shudder, in fact, to throw the shifter from Drive into Neutral."
If I got my own 2008 or 2009 Cadillac CTS, I wouldn't bother with the mid-grade FE2 suspension version and its inferior brakes and tires. The additional $1,500 for the FE3 suspension, brake and tire upgrades (plus any additional cost for winter tires mounted on steelies) is worth it.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 28,034 miles