2008 Cadillac CTS Long Term Road Test

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2008 Cadillac CTS V6 DI: Parting Shots

July 06, 2009

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It's time to say goodbye to the Caddy. The Long Term Test of our 2009 Cadillac CTS V6 DI is over. It's sold. And so, to fill the void until the Long Term Wrap is posted, we bring you another installment of Parting Shots.

Automotive Editor James Riswick: "I was very excited when we got our CTS, but it was ultimately a disappointment. Its wonky driving position, incessant squeakiness and chronic trouble spots darkened its many bright spots." James Riswick, Automotive Editor

Associate Editor Mark Takahashi: "After driving the CTS back-to-back with our Hyundai Genesis for our Luxury Sedan Showdown (http://blogs.edmunds.com/strategies/2009/03/luxury-sedan-showdown-2008-cadillac-cts-di-v6-vs-2009-hyundai-genesis-v6.html), I realized Cadillac was reliant almost solely on its reputation and market perception. They're years away from becoming competitive based on quality." Mark Takahashi, Associate Editor

Managing Editor Donna Derosa:"I'm gonna miss my funky old-man car."

Automotive Editor Brian Moody "I've noticed it's becoming increasingly popular to knock all sorts of cars for all sorts of little issues, the Caddy being one victim - that's too bad b/c the CTS is an excellent car all around. I'd rather have it than a BMW 5 Series.

I would gladly spend my own money on this car - the nav system is excellent and stereo is decent. I like the way the car looks with just the right balance of painted surfaces and chrome trim. The interior is nice too although I don't need that gigantic sunroof. Another bright spot - the direct injection V6. It's good enough to get many folks to rethink the need for a V8 in luxury sedan. Thumbs up from me - when driven the way a grown up would drive it, this car is wonderful."

Inside Line Editor in Chief Scott Oldham: I'd buy one. This car proves Cadillac can design and build competitive stuff. But it needs a V8 option. And not the monster supercharged LS9 in the CTS-V. What I want is a CTS wagon with an LS3 V8, rear-wheel drive and big OFF button for the traction control."

Executive Editor Michael Jordan: "So promising, but better as a slow car than as a fast one."

Director of Vehicle Testing Dan Edmunds: "I liked the CTS, and I think it proved that GM's 3.6-liter direct injection V6 engine is more than up to the task of filling-in for a V8. And the chassis and brakes are the real deal, too--I was able to prove that to myself when I had the chance to drive one at speed around the Nurburgring Nordschleife for a few laps during a private session.

The CTS had a well-integrated audio and nav system with an attractive and functional pop-up screen. But the CTS' thin veneer of plasti-chrome tackiness (and that cheesy legacy analog clock) would have been enough for me to sign the check and shakes the dealer's hand."

Senior Editor Erin Riches: "I loved the driving position, the state-of-the-art electronics and the rear-drive thing, but the continual electronic glitches, early-onset rattling and mushy brake pedal feel wore me down. Ultimately, the Pontiac G8 is closer to the Cadillac I want GM to build than this CTS."

Senior Editor Bryn MacKinnon: "I'll never get past the CTS' exterior styling. Unrelentingly blocky. It reminded me of something a kid would draw. I did love that rich red paint, though."

Vehicle Testing Manager Mike Schmidt: "If memory serves me correctly, those are the same seats I had in my refrigerator-box fort as a kid. And just as comfortable."

Automotive Content Editor Warren Clarke: "Fun to drive and nicely put together. However, its sheet metal leaves me cold, so you'd never find one in my driveway."

Associate Editor, Josh Sadlier: "The CTS is an "almost there" car. Performance-wise, it's already there, but the wonky pedal placement needs fixing, the squeaks and rattles are unacceptable, and the interior isn't as nice up close as it is from a distance. If there's a third generation of this car, that could be the charm."

Mike Magrath, Vehicle Testing Assistant

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2008 Cadillac CTS: A Review of the Backseat

May 01, 2009

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Among entry-level luxury sedans, the 2008 Cadillac CTS is pretty accommodating in the rear-seat department, but it's not perfect. The 3 Series is perfect of course, or maybe I'm kidding.

To start, I can easily do the sit-behind-myself test in the Cadillac, which is good since I'm 5'-10" -- so four average-size adults could ride comfortably in the CTS. Unfortunately, the bench is mounted low, so even though there's ample legroom for my 34" inseam, the seat-bottom cushion doesn't quite support my thighs. It's not terrible, but I might whine about this on a 5-hour road trip. Still, the fact that I'd even consider taking a road trip in the backseat of the CTS says plenty -- I wouldn't do that in our A4 Avant.

It's pretty obvious why the bench is mounted as low as it is when you assess the headroom situation. There's not a lot to spare over my head and I'm not the kind of person who needs a lot. Still, carrying a six-footer back here shouldn't be a problem (unless that person is also whiny about thigh support). For shorter people, it's worth noting that the low bench doesn't impede outward visibility too much (because the car's beltline is not too high). Also, the rake of the seat-back cushion is comfortable.

Rear-seat amenities in the CTS consist of individual reading lights and a fold-down center armrest with cupholders. I'm a little disappointed with the adjustable vents on the back of the console. I don't necessarily expect discrete temperature control at this price ($46,690), but some kind of rudimentary warm/cool adjustment would be nice.

P.S. I forgot to give the CTS big credit for having a lot of footroom under the front chairs. This is never a sure thing when you have deluxo-power-adjustable seats up front, and it makes a huge difference for long-legged people in back.

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2008 Cadillac CTS: It's OK to Lose to BMW

April 30, 2009

2008 Cadillac CTS 3.6 V6

A Cadillac doesn't need to handle like a BMW, providing Nurburgring corner-taking on American streets.

A Cadillac doesn't need to ride like a '98 Cadillac Deville, wafting down the road as if on American coastal waters.

The CTS thankfully does neither. However, I don't think it achieves the appropriate balance between the two that would represent what an American luxury car can be in the 21st century.

For one, it falls too far onto the copy-cat BMW side (at least with our FE2 suspension). I know what you're going to say: "But you car media types harp on anything that doesn't drive like a 3 Series. Mercedes and Lexus are treated like rotten bananas because they don't transmit enough steering feel."

Well, I completely agree. BMW produces wonderful machines and I'd be happy to own just about anything they presently sell (I'll skip the X's, thank you). But Mercedes-Benz produces wonderful machines as well, they just do things differently. Things are more relaxed, more refined behind the wheel of a Benz. You're less involved with the driving experience, but you're far from isolated. There's an impenetrable quality to the structure and an impeccable attention to engineering detail. Perhaps it doesn't score 10s on the fun-to-drive scale, but the C, E and GLK classes (to name a few) are beautiful automobiles created without worrying about where this or that car magazine placed it against the high-strung BMW.

Which brings me back to our long-term Cadillac CTS. Every time I drive it, I feel like I'm hanging out with a guy who's desperately trying to be cool, but ultimately can't hang with the in crowd. It rides too rough to be luxurious and isn't agile enough to be sporty. I think Cadillac would be better suited to benchmark Mercedes-Benz (or Jaguar) in regards to ride and handling, then spice it up with the type of style that only Cadillac can provide and the German brain could (or would) never create. Actually, when driving the CTS back to back with our long-term Genesis, I couldn't stop thinking that the Cadillac should drive like the Hyundai -- and that's not intended as a slag against either.

Don't get me wrong, the CTS is a nice car that moves the brand in the correct direction away from the correctly criticized front-drive disappointments of Cady's recent past. But putting on ear muffs when enthusiast publications sprout off Bavarian comparisons would do them good.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 28,313 miles

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2008 Cadillac CTS DI V6 vs. 2009 Hyundai Genesis V6: Smackdown

March 29, 2009

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"Gentlemen," Cmdr. Mike "Viper" Metcalf memorably advised, "This is about combat. There are no points for second place."

And so it is with our latest Edmunds Daily comparison test, which pits two of our long-term luxury cruisers against each other -- CTS vs. Genesis -- in a no-holds-barred battle for sybaritic sedan supremacy.

Check it out, and tell us which one you would have picked, and why.

Josh Sadlier, Associate Editor, Edmunds.com

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2008 Cadillac CTS: Nice View Through the Roof

March 23, 2009

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I kind of miss all the over-the-top names GM used to give its engines, transmissions and any other new fangled piece of hardware it was trying to promote - Fireball V8, Dynaflow transmission, etc.

Turns out, the General still pulls out a good name or two every once in awhile. You see, this isn't your run-of-the-mill sunroof, this is an UltraView roof. Opens up nearly 70% of the roof to both the front and rear passengers, says so right there in the brochure.

It's easy to forget about when it's closed as the cover fits so snugly, but when its open the effect on the cabin is noticeable. Sure, it only actually opens half way, but just having the clear glass achieves much of the same effect.

I also noticed that for a car with just over 27,000 miles on it, our CTS still feels rock solid. Yeah, it has its shares of small squeaks, but nothing that I wouldn't expect from a car with two years worth of miles on it.

Ed Hellwig, Inside Line @ 27,079 miles

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2008 Cadillac CTS: Yes We Can

March 09, 2009

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Germanic ride/handling characteristics? Yes we can. Striking styling inside and out, with mostly high-quality cabin materials? Yes we can. Burly V6 with a properly sporting engine note? Yes we can (and no, Nissan/Infiniti can't). A car that's so good it doesn't require the familiar "...for an American car" qualifier? Yes we can.

But, um, yeah. Savage rattling and squeaking from the seats and a bunch of other places, even when the car's simply taking a set while cornering? At 26,250 miles, unfortunately, yes we can.

Josh Sadlier, Associate Editor, Edmunds.com

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2008 Cadillac CTS: There's Warmth in the Way It Drives

February 09, 2009

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I finally got a weekend with our long-term 2008 Cadillac CTS. I enjoy being in this car. I like the sharp response when you jab the accelerator. The steering feels quick, too, and despite a slight gumminess off-center, there's a fluidity to it that most GM steering racks do not have (with a big exception granted to the current Cobalt SS ). In addition, the brake pedal is nice and firm, as is the ride quality.

Sometimes, though, the ride is too firm -- to the point that the chassis feels unsettled on the grooved concrete slabs of the I-405 freeway. During these times, the CTS seems less sophisticated than other sedans you (or I) might spend $46K to buy.

Yet, I find myself wanting to forgive the car for this compromise. There's a unity and a warmth to the packaging of the second-generation Cadillac CTS. It reminds me of the Infiniti G35/G37: Not perfect like a BMW or Benz, but simultaneously talented and flawed in ways that tug at your heart. The only thing is, I think the cheaper Pontiac G8 might tug at my heart more.

But, look, the baguette I bought at the farmers market fits in the cupholders. It stayed put under (moderate) acceleration and braking, too.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 25,372 miles

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2008 Cadillac CTS: Detroit to Los Angeles Part 1

January 23, 2009

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I arrived in Detroit Saturday night after three days behind the wheel of our long-term BMW X5. On Sunday and Monday I attended media days at the Detroit Auto Show. Then, on Tuesday morning, Inside Line's Lead Senior Editor Ed Hellwig and I fired up our long-term 2008 Cadillac CTS and headed back to Santa Monica. Here is Part 1 of that story.

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2008 Cadillac CTS V6 DI: Day 1: West Hollywood, CA to Grants, NM

December 11, 2008

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The CTS might be Cadillac's attempt at a German-style sports sedan, but it is also every bit the Turnpike Cruiser. There's an ease - a lightness - to the whole operation. The steering system doesn't tire you with the need for constant correction. The suspension doesn't crash. The body doesn't hop or float. She likes 80 mph and is unmoved by strong crosswinds. So far, the CTS is a good road companion.

This is especially true on the largely straight and flat southern route we've chosen for the trip, using I-10 and I-40 as our primary eastward paths. The Cadillac's navigation system suggested we use the center route, through the Rockies. This is because computers are stupid and don't know from snow. Has the Cadillac's nav system been stuck in a blizzard near Eagle, Colorado where semi-trucks slide helplessly backward down a steep grade? No sir, it has not.

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2008 Cadillac CTS: Talking Turkey with the TL

December 01, 2008

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Would you park this car in your driveway? I could, happily, as the CTS continues to impress as the perhaps the most well-rounded GM product available in eons. We scooted down to San Diego from L.A. for the Turkey Day holiday, where I managed some real-world feedback regarding one of the CTS's closest competitors.

My bro-in-law's father-in-law Tom was also in S.D., having just piloted his month-old 2009 Acura TL out from Illinois. Fresh out of his seat in the TL, I stuck him in the CTS to get some feedback. His take? The first thing Tom noticed in the CTS was the tighter turning radius and far-cleaner dash layout. He felt the ELS audio system in the TL was superior to the Bose setup in the CTS (neither impressed me for the $$). Tom asked how he'd "download his phone" and I had to explain that our CTS did not have Bluetooth, but that it was available in late '08 models and all 2009 models. Overall, Tom was truly impressed by the CTS, and mentioned it was easily a car he could see himself (a retired exec) or many of his friends driving.

Hopping in his TL, I noted initial throttle response was not as sharp as in the Caddy (thank the direct-injection), but the TL pulled harder from the mid-range on up, and sounded far sweeter when you revved it out. The TL is well sorted, but the rear-drive Caddy has better steering feedback and more satisfying dynamics, not surprising considering how much power the front-drive TL sends through the wheels that also steer the car. Compared to the CTS, the new TL's interior is a button fest, and sitting in it after the CTS really makes you appreciate the Caddy's understated style, and more subtle application of technology. If you're a gizmo-freak, the TL is definitely the ride for you. For those who want a just slightly less tech-laden car, in a surprisingly classy package, the sweet CTS is worth a hard look.

Paul Seredynski, Executive Editor @ 17,566 miles

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2008 Cadillac CTS: A Long Way

November 17, 2008

Cimarron 2_edited.jpg Let's consider the smallest Caddy's path to greatness...OK, that's enough. Cadillac, you've come a long way baby - the CTS is great looking, fun to drive and loaded with tech features that are both useful and cool. By the way, when I drove a V6 powered Cimarron, I don't recall totally hating it - was I bonked in the head since rendering my memory unreliable? Things...getting...dark - voices... distant....

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2008 Cadillac CTS: Another View of the Cockpit

September 24, 2008

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Recently, a long-time friend informed me that he rented a 2008 Cadillac CTS in San Jose, CA, drove it to Santa Cruz on Highway 17, and loved it. This is a friend who has never owned a domestic-brand car. He's not really even into cars, but he has three requirements for the next car he buys:

1. Rear-wheel drive

2. Sharp handling (up to a point)

3. Able to accommodate his 300-lb bodybuilder frame

The CTS is the first moderately-sized sedan in a long time that he's been able to drive comfortably. (Sedans like the BMW 3 Series and Infiniti G35 have been struck from the list because they pinched his shoulders and restricted arm movement.)

I got into our long-term Cadillac CTS this morning and realized why my friend likes this car so much. The driver seat is broad and flat, and for an average-size adult like myself, there's the sensation of having a lot of room on all sides of you -- more so than I'd get in a G35, a 3 Series or even a 5 Series.

Although the driving position in the CTS isn't perfect, there's a lot to be said for this cockpit if you're on the big side. And I like the fact that the Cadillac can be this roomy without seeming too casual. Even though materials quality falls short of any BMW, there's no denying this is an elegant cabin.

Erin Riches, Inside Line Senior Editor @ 13,051 miles

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2008 Cadillac CTS: Window Switch Woes, Part Deux

September 05, 2008

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Unlike the CX-9's window switches, those in our long-term Cadillac CTS are working just fine. The problem is the way they feel. It's hard to tell from the picture, but the top edge of each switch is sharp in an unfinished sort of way. I can't think of another car in which this is the case -- power window switches always seem to have rounded edges, because (duh) fingertips prefer rounded to sharp.

This wouldn't be particularly remarkable in, say, a Cobalt XFE. But in a luxury sedan with a sticker north of $46k? Ouch. If Cadillac wants to build a world-beater, it's got to dot its i's and cross its t's. Magrath's fit-and-finish observations (most of which I can confirm) and this window-switch gaffe have got me thinking that The Mechanic has a point.

Josh Sadlier, Associate Editor, Edmunds.com @ 11,493 miles.

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2008 Cadillac CTS: The CTS Lean

July 24, 2008

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Our long-term Cadillac CTS looks pretty bad, in Michael Jackson's sense of the term. Bad enough that I'm tempted to do the gangsta lean when I'm behind the wheel. Trouble is, the CTS has other ideas, thanks to its unfortunate dead-pedal-to-throttle relationship. Forget the gangsta lean -- the "CTS lean" is what our Caddy imposes on its drivers. (Photo explanation after the jump.)

It's been awhile since we've busted out the brush tool on this blog, so I decided to bring it back for diagramming purposes. Here's what's wrong, IMHO. The dead pedal, (1), is angled too far forward, and it's also located too far forward of (2), the gas pedal. Consequently, in order to rest my left foot on (1), I not only have to point my toes forward like a ballet dancer (or like Snake Doc on the elliptical machine) -- I also have to slide the seat cushion up farther than I'd like in order to reach the throttle.

Result? My left leg's out straight, yet my right leg's bent, which makes me feel all out of whack. Diggin' the scene with a CTS lean, if you will. Adding injury to insult, the swooping center stack, (3), swoops right into my bent right knee -- and the encircled plastic trim in the photo is hard, not soft (BMW, Audi and even Hyundai are known to put soft stuff in this region), which makes me want to slide the seat back and give my knee some breathing room. Oops; can't do that, because then my left foot can't reach the dead pedal.

Am I nitpicking? I don't think so. There's an element of athleticism in the act of driving, and I think it's fair to expect a car with athletic pretensions, like the CTS, to offer a driving position that makes the driver feel planted and ready to go. In my book, this entails putting the dead pedal at a natural angle and on roughly the same plane as the gas pedal. Every other current sport sedan I can think of gets this right, with the exception of a certain CTS relative -- the Pontiac G8.

Josh Sadlier, Associate Editor, Edmunds.com @ 10,275 miles

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2008 Cadillac CTS: A Nice Ride

May 27, 2008

I spent this past Memorial Day weekend in our 2008 Cadillac CTS. I hadn't spent much time in the CTS since I attended the launch of the car in Germany about 10 months ago, where I drove a 6-speed manual equipped FE3 on the Nurburgring.

My wife and I didn't take it anywhere near as spectacular, as we stayed in-town this weekend--too many races to watch on the Tivo and whatnot. But even on the freeway cruise to Griffith Park Observatory and on the roads around my neighborhood, the new CTS was still impressive.

Ride and Handling: Our FE2 provides a good balance of ride and control--not too stiff over LA freeway joints and aged asphalt, yet no hint of float or excessive body roll. The damping sits right in the sweet spot. The steering is well-weighted and precise and the Caddy has a good sense of straight-ahead. This is definitiely not your grandfather's Cadillac. Because I like a bit more sporty edge in my own cars, I'd still probably go with the FE3. But there is nothing sub-par about the FE2.

Powertrain: Decent power from the 3.6-liter DI engine. People still look a little downcast when you say "V6," but this is old-school thinking in this case. Direct-injection gives the CTS over 300 horsepower, a figure that ought to be more than enough for most folks. I certainly had no regrets. If only the 6-speed automatic transmission had steering paddles like the, ahem, Aura.

Interior: I like the sweep of the dash and center stack--it looks quite nice. Most of the interior materials and detailing are good. But for me the interior chrome accents are a bit much. I could deal with the number of them if they looked more like metal than so many chrome parts from an Aurora plastic model kit. And I wish I could ditch that analog clock.

Seats: My wife thought the seats were very comfortable, a rare event for her. And that wasn't merely because they had mutli-stage seat heaters, either. No, they genuinely fit her 5'4" frame quite well. I wasn't as in love with them myself, as it feels like my upper back and shoulders don't touch the seats at all. Nevertheless, I felt just fine after an hour or so behind the wheel.

Styling: With the track increase came flared fenders and a wider stance. The rounded flares make it look tougher yet much less slab-sided than before, and the edgy design theme now looks less overpowering. I don't know if I'll ever make peace with the grille, but it is growing on me.

Headlights: The adaptive headlights provide great illumination in turns and the high beams really toss out the lumens. The "light-tubes" in the front and rear make for interesting-looking parking lamps.

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2008 Cadillac CTS: I Just Couldn't Buy One

May 22, 2008

I couldn't wait for us to get our Cadillac CTS. I eagerly pestered Phil Reed about what color we were getting and what items we would be adding to the options list. After my initial drive of a short-term car, I walked away very impressed by the solid driving manners that established a new sport sedan formula that is distinctly American. Most of all though, I loved the CTS' high style marks inside and out, high-quality interior materials and intelligent electronics interfaces that set it apart from the pack. This would be the car I'd buy in this price range.

But then I drove the LT car several times, and although my initial impressions held up, a few major negatives started to de-cloud my initial glee, which led me to the conclusion that I just couldn't buy one. First, the seat backs are too hard and I feel like I'm sitting against them rather than in them. The bigger problem, though, is the same one I have with a great many General Motors vehicles: pedal placement. The accelerator and brake are located too far apart in terms of both width and depth. When I adjust the seat to comfortably reach the accelerator, it requires an uncomfortable ankle-twisting motion for me to be able to fan my foot to the brake. If I adjust the seat to comfortably reach the brake, I can toe the accelerator, but now I'm located too far away from the steering wheel. Either way, I'm terribly uncomfortable.

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2008 Cadillac CTS: Highway Ride

May 09, 2008

2008 Cadillac CTS -- Brent Romans

The FE2 suspension is the midlevel choice among three different suspension tuning options for the 2008 Cadillac CTS. I know we were keen on getting the max-attack FE3 package when looking to buy a CTS, but I think the (equipped) FE2 is the way to go.

I did two one-way trips in our CTS, each about 250 miles and four hours in duration. Based on this, I know I wouldn't want any more suspension stiffness than the FE2 provides if I had to drive our CTS every day...

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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2008 Cadillac CTS V6: Kick Start

March 11, 2008

I love that the Caddy's front seats slide back so far but there's a price to pay. I slide the seats farther back than I normally would because..., well, because I can. The result is a lot of kicking and front seat backs that are frequently dirty. Hopefully, this will turn out differently with adult passengers...

One day I will invent an alternative vehicle that's powered entirely by kicking the driver's seat from behind - hours of driving for free. Dora sandals optional.

Brian Moody, Road Test Editor @ 2,985 miles

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