2008 Cadillac CTS Long Term Road Test

2008 Cadillac CTS: IPod Connection Incomplete

May 28, 2008

Right on the front page of the Cadillac CTS webpage, a list of key features is touted. Number 5 on the list is "Full MP3 and iPod connectivity." Well, our 2008 Cadillac CTS has the optional 40 Gb hard drive and USB port necessary to gain "full iPod connectivity," but it ain't that simple.

Why? You can't use your iPod's own USB connection cord. Even though it seems to plug in properly to our USB jack, it doesn't work right. Warns against doing so in the manual, too.

The standard USB iPod cord every iPod owner owns doesn't talk to the CTS correctly, so about 40% of my songs and podcasts show up as gibberish, as seen below. And all those missing songs and podcasts show up as tracks on an album entitled "No Info." Wasn't that an 80's hair band? Another big tip-off that this is the wrong way to hook up is the huge "USB" logo that appears on the screen. It should say "iPod".

The manual says that instead of using the cord that comes with an iPod, one must buy an additional-charge iPod connectivity cord from the dealer. What? The 40Gb hard drive high-zoot Bose stereo + navi option (that costs $3150) is advertised as providing iPod connectivity. There was no asterisk or fine print stating that an optional cord is necessary when we were shopping for this car.

You don't learn that until you get the car home, have the above problems and crack open the manual. O.K., I guess I'll just buy the cord. Can't be hard to get, right? And how much could it cost, anyway? Since it's so necessary to complete the much-touted iPod connectivity, they'll probably have them right behind the counter.

I called Cadillac parts department guys at two different dealerships, and neither one knew what I was talking about. They told me they had never heard of any such cord. Third time's the charm, right? This time I walked in to a yet another Cadillac dealer parts department and spoke to the counter guy face-to-face. "Nope," he said, "I don't know about anything like that. Have you tried Radio Shack?" Then I showed him the manual excerpt above. He dug back into his computer screens and finally found it. "It's $54.98. You still want it?" Gulp. "It's a special order. It has to come out of Lansing (Michigan.) You'll have to pay first and then wait 3 to 5 business days."

Let me get this straight: $55? It's a special-order part? Dealer employees don't know about it? Cadillac or the dealers should thrown the cord in, gratis. But I'm stuck. I want to evaluate and use this iPod connection to best effect, so I've got to buy the Cadillac part to make sure the system gets the fairest possible shake. Besides, I didn't see anything like the one we need at Best Buy or Radio Shack. (We need a cord that splits in two and plugs into the USB jack and the auxiliary jack simulataneously on one end and the iPod on the other.)

And no, a standard mini-jack cord plugged into the iPod's headphone jack and the Aux jack isn't "full iPod connectivity"--that's basic MP3 stuff. You can't control the iPod from the touch screen that way--doesn't count. And that's not what Cadillac means anyway. Watch this. [Select "Music Device Capability" and then "Play Movie."]

It's too bad. Last year I happend to bring my iPod to Germany for the unveil. The touch-screen iPod interface is very, very slick--if you have the right cord, that is. But why take it this far and then fumble on the one-yard line?

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 6,075 miles

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