2016 Cadillac CTS-V Review
Pros & Cons
- Massive amounts of power
- world-class ride and handling
- good looks
- luxurious interior.
- Tight headroom in rear
- user interface still lacks efficient controls
- no manual transmission.
Edmunds' Expert Review
Cadillac set out with the first CTS-V in 2003 to beat the import sport-luxury sedans at their own game. With the 2016 CTS-V, Caddy may well have accomplished its goal. It serves a limited market, but if you are looking for a powerful super sedan with loads of high-end features, the 2016 Cadillac CTS-V isn't just a lower-cost alternative to the more expensive Europeans any more; it's a head-on competitor in every category.
There was a time when Cadillac set the standard for luxury, power and style. Then along came power- and performance-sapping safety, fuel efficiency and emissions rules, a period of mediocre management at parent General Motors, and the advent of the European deluxe sport sedan. Caddy slipped way behind. But GM's luxury division began clawing its way back in the early 2000s, and with the launch of the CTS-V in 2003, began mounting a challenge in the sport sedan class. Each year, improvements brought it closer to true competitiveness with Europe's best super sport sedans. With the all-new 2016 CTS-V, Cadillac has finally put a truly world-class super sedan into play.
The supercharged 2016 Cadillac CTS-V is a stunningly capable performance sedan.
The CTS-V is the most powerful car Cadillac has ever built, and it comes track-ready right out of the box (although there are a number of performance options than can make it even more track-friendly). It is 25 percent stiffer and more responsive than its predecessor. On paper at least, the CTS-V looks to be as quick or quicker than its German rivals in both acceleration and stopping times. Copious use of aluminum helps shave 100 pounds from its previous fighting weight, leaving it much leaner than the competition.
At the same time, it is a well-mannered daily driver with a nicely compliant ride in the "Tour" mode of its four driving settings. The leather-lined cabin surrounds the driver in luxury, even as its supercharger's tenor whine backed by the exhaust's throaty bass rumble makes music the best of audio systems can't match. Interior fitments include standard 20-way power-adjustable seats and optional Recaro performance seats.
Overall, there is much to like and little to criticize. There are competitors, though. The BMW M5 has long been the standard-bearer for this luxo-performance super sedan class and, unlike the Cadillac, offers an available manual transmission. But even in competition trim it gives up almost 70 hp to the CTS-V, costs thousands more and doesn't handle as well. The 2016 Mercedes-Benz AMG E63 4Matic S is possibly the most luxurious of the class and is loaded with safety systems, but has a much stiffer ride, an aging platform due for replacement and a six-figure price tag. Audi is no slouch, either, with its sleek RS 7 super sedan. Like the others, though, its base price is well above the CTS-V's and its turbocharged V8 is less powerful. Both Mercedes and Audi have all-wheel-drive versions, though, which could be desirable if you live in a cold-weather climate.
Ultimately, there really are no bad choices in the segment. But if having bragging rights to the more complete performance portfolio in the segment, saving a bundle, and/or buying an American super sedan have any importance to you, then the 2016 CTS-V just may be your top choice.
2016 Cadillac CTS-V models
The 2016 Cadillac CTS-V is a five-passenger, four-door, midsize sport luxury sedan based on the separately reviewed CTS luxury sedan but with a heavily modified body structure and suspension. There are no trim levels and only a few options and packages.
Standard equipment on the 2016 CTS-V includes 19-inch alloy wheels with summer tires, Brembo brakes, adaptive (magnetorheological) suspension dampers, an electronically controlled rear differential, xenon headlights, automatic high-beam headlight control, LED taillights, heated side mirrors with auto-dimming feature on the driver side, automatic windshield wipers and keyless ignition and entry. Inside, you'll find leather and simulated suede microfiber seat upholstery, 20-way power front seats (with power lumbar adjustment and manually adjustable seat cushion length), heated and ventilated front seats, driver memory settings, a heated steering wheel, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering column, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, dual-zone climate control, cruise control, LED accent lighting, a reconfigurable, high-definition gauge cluster, a head-up display, a rearview camera and a front curb-view camera that provides a low-level view to help you avoid curb damage.
Red brake calipers are a stand-alone option on the 2016 CTS-V.
Additional standard technology includes remote engine start, an automated parking system (parallel and perpendicular), OnStar telematics, 4G data connectivity with WiFi capability, wireless smartphone charging, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, Apple CarPlay integration (Android Auto integration comes later in the model year) and an upgraded Cadillac User Experience (CUE) infotainment system with navigation, an 8-inch touchscreen interface, voice controls and an 13-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system with three USB ports, an auxiliary audio jack, and satellite and HD radio.
A Luxury package includes three-zone climate control, heated and folding rear seats, a rear window power sunshade, manual rear side window sunshades and a 110-volt household-style power outlet. A sunroof is an option available only with the Luxury package.
There's a Carbon Fiber package designed to generate increased downforce that adds a hood vent, rear spoiler, front air splitter and rear air diffuser all made of book-matched carbon-fiber weave.
An Advanced Security package adds a steering column lock, vehicle inclination tilt sensor and alarm, locking lug nuts, laminated glass rear door windows and a specially shielded anti-theft alarm system.
Stand-alone options include red or dark gold Brembo brake calipers (replacing the standard gray color), polished aluminum or dark-painted 19-inch alloy wheels, a performance data and camera data recorder and 16-way-adjustable Recaro performance seats. Buyers also have the no-cost option of ordering the CTS-V with or without the base (not carbon-fiber) front air splitter.
Performance & mpg
A slightly retuned version of the same supercharged 6.2-liter V8 engine found in the mighty Corvette Z06 powers the 2016 Cadillac CTS-V. It makes 640 hp and 630 pound-feet of torque, down just a tad from the Corvette's 650 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque.
A new eight-speed automatic with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters is the only transmission available. It sends power to the rear wheels via an electronic limited-slip differential. The system has four drive modes -- Snow, Tour, Sport, Track -- with varying amounts of throttle, transmission, steering, suspension and stability control calibration. In Track mode, there also are five levels of traction control for further refinement of how much the traction and stability control systems intervene.
The CTS-V might be a luxury sedan, but it can accelerate just as quickly as a Chevrolet Corvette.
In Edmunds track testing, a 2016 CTS-V lunged to 60 mph in a sizzling 4.1 seconds.
The new engine and transmission bring improved fuel economy to the third-generation CTS-V: an EPA-estimated 17 mpg combined (14 city/21 highway). While not remarkable for a high-performance sedan and still subject to a $1,000 federal "gas guzzler" tax (collected directly from General Motors and added to the price of the car), efficiency is up substantially from the previous CTS-V's 14 mpg combined rating.
The 2016 CTS-V comes with antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front and rear side airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. Also standard are front and rear parking sensors, a front curb-view camera and rearview camera, a head-up display and adaptive forward lighting.
Standard active safety systems include forward collision alert, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning and lane departure intervention. GM's Safety Alert seat works with the various other alert systems, vibrating the bottom left or right edge of the driver seat depending on which side the potential danger lurks.
In Edmunds brake testing, a CTS-V stopped from 60 mph in just 102 feet, which is true sports-car territory.
In government crash tests, the regular CTS on which the CTS-V is based on received an overall five-star rating for frontal and side crash and rollover protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the CTS its highest rating of "good" in the moderate overlap frontal-offset and side-impact crash tests.
As should be the case with its monster of an engine and body structure stiff as an English lord's upper lip, the CTS-V's acceleration and handling are the equal of or better than any of its European rivals. Cadillac claims a 0-60-mph acceleration time of 3.7 seconds and an electronically limited 200 mph top speed, and we can't wait to put it to the test. There's no manual transmission available, but the eight-speed transmission with its electronic brain is quicker -- and smarter-- than most human drivers.
The CTS-V also has things covered if you don't plan on racking up most of its miles on the track. This is not just a pretty racecar. It is a luxurious and well-crafted road machine that's compliant enough to be an easy and thoroughly engaging daily driver. The exhaust note can be menacing at full throttle, but sound modification systems and a nicely insulated cabin make this a surprisingly quiet car on the highway. A cylinder deactivation system shuts down half the V8's cylinders when cruising, helping to make the CTS-V a well-mannered road machine.
The optional Recaro front seats are racetrack-ready, but we're fans of the standard seats, too.
The seats are comfortable and supportive, whether you stick with the standard 20-way Cadillac performance seating or go for the optional Recaros for increased support in more rigorous driving conditions. Steering responsiveness and body control is tremendous, as the CTS-V's electronic stability and traction controls and continually adjusting magnetic ride control team up to make it an easy driver, whether touring or flat-out.
Cadillac's interior designs have been a bit hit or miss in recent years, but the 2016 CTS-V is definitely a hit and truly competitive with the best that the competition has to offer. The design is sophisticated and sporty, yet luxurious, and the layout is driver-oriented with all the instruments and controls easy to see and ready at hand. There's lots of leather and suedelike microfiber, hand-stitched accents, excellent fit and finish and thoughtful technology integration. And, as is the case with many modern cars, there are a lot of shiny finishes and glass surfaces likely to demand frequent application of another kind of microfiber -- woven into a cleaning cloth.
Special interior touches, such as a standard reconfigurable gauge cluster and synthetic suede trim, help set the 2016 CTS-V apart from its lesser siblings.
Cadillac's notoriously touchy CUE system has been improved for the 2016 Cadillac fleet, and the CTS-V is one of the first to market with the new processor and programming. Cadillac says CUE now provides much quicker response to fingertip input and voice commands, and many of the commands have been simplified. We still wish, though, for a few knobs and dials with which to activate frequently used devices such as the climate and audio systems.
The cabin is roomy up font, but while legroom in the rear is adequate, headroom can be a bit tight for taller occupants. Cargo space in the trunk is nominally 13 cubic feet, par for the segment. But instead of hydraulic lifts, the CTS-V still uses gooseneck trunk hinges that press down on stuff that gets in their way and limits the usable trunk space.
Most helpful consumer reviews
Features & Specs
NHTSA Overall Rating
- Frontal Barrier Crash RatingOverallNot RatedDriverNot RatedPassengerNot Rated
- Side Crash RatingOverall5 / 5
- Side Barrier RatingOverall5 / 5Driver5 / 5Passenger5 / 5
- Combined Side Barrier & Pole RatingsFront Seat5 / 5Back Seat5 / 5
- RolloverRollover5 / 5Dynamic Test ResultNo TipRisk Of Rollover10.1%
More About This Model
Cadillac has spent the past 15 years honing its expertise building sport sedans. And the latest one, available this September, not only looks both swanky and muscular but moves like nothing Cadillac has ever built before.
The brand has long been known for powerful V8s. And this one uses the same supercharged 6.2-liter engine as Chevrolet's top Corvette: the Z06. That means with 640 horsepower on tap, the Cadillac delivers way more power than its rivals. Cadillac says the CTS-V can leap to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds and reach a full 200 mph if given the space.
The beauty of this Cadillac is that it's not just a muscle machine. Inside it's as luxurious and well crafted as the best German sedans. The ride is just compliant enough to make it an easy everyday driver.
Unlike some high-performance luxury cars, Cadillac bakes most of the important equipment into the CTS-V standard so buyers won't have to spend a lot more to access the sedan's ultimate potential.
What Is It?
The Cadillac CTS-V is a high-performance midsize luxury sport sedan based on the basic chassis and body shell of the CTS sedan. And to battle the best sport sedans from Europe, Cadillac installed a brutally powerful supercharged 6.2-liter V8. The sophisticated engine generates 640 hp at 6,400 rpm and 630 pound-feet of torque at 3,600 rpm.
That's just 10 fewer horses than the fire-breathing Corvette Z06. Cadillac backs this mill with an eight-speed automatic that can be manually shifted by steering-wheel-mounted paddles. Yes, the aforementioned Corvette makes a manual transmission available, but Cadillac representatives say so few would choose the option on the CTS-V that it didn't make sense.
Before that horsepower reaches the ground, it is distributed to the tires by an electronically controlled limited-slip differential. Onboard computer systems can read road and vehicle conditions and decide to send more power to a specific tire to either help balance handling, increase traction — or both. Speaking of traction, while some of Cadillac's rivals offer all-wheel drive in this ultra-performance class, it's not offered here. So if all-season travel in foul weather is a requirement, the company does spec a specific snow tire for the CTS-V.
Cadillac has made many significant upgrades and improvements to the bones of the CTS to ready it for the demands of track driving. The basic CTS structure has been made 25 percent stiffer with additional steel braces in crucial areas. There's a firmer suspension with less body roll and adjustable Magnetic Ride Control shock absorbers. The shock damping is 40 percent quicker-acting than the system on the last CTS-V.
Helping to achieve a stunning 1.0g of cornering grip are larger 19-inch forged aluminum wheels. The front wheels wear 265/35ZR19 tires and the 10-inch rear wheels house massive 295/30ZR19 rubber. To help slow the sedan down, Cadillac tapped Brembo to develop giant 15.3-inch front and 14.3-inch rear disc brakes. That's supercar-size stopping ability.
Buyers of modern high-performance sport sedans expect the ability to customize the feel of their cars, so Cadillac has four driving modes: Snow, Tour, Sport and Track. Each click of the button specifies unique calibrations for the transmission, suspension, steering and stability control to offer an increasingly involving driving experience.
And yet, unlike Cadillac's rivals, there is no custom "individual" mode in this system. On other sport sedans, these modes allow the driver to, for example, pair certain features together like sporty steering and transmission calibrations with a softer suspension setting. It's a feature we think belongs on a car in this class.
What Body Styles and Trim Levels Are Available?
The previous-generation CTS-V was available as a sedan, coupe and even a station wagon. But this all-new Cadillac CTS-V is only available as a four-door sedan, just as the original was back in 2004.
The CTS-V is designed to battle expensive European high-performance sedans. So by starting at $84,990, the American undercuts its rivals by around $10,000. One of the benefits of selecting the top performance model in the CTS range is that safety features like lane departure warning and lane-keeping assist are standard, as are some handy tech features like automatic parking assist, which can park the car with the driver only selecting the gear and applying the throttle and brake.
Another great standard feature for urban dwellers is the curb-view camera system, which shows the driver a bird's-eye view when approaching a parking spot. It's good for preserving the expensive carbon fiber below the bumper. However, it's easy to ratchet up the base price by adding a pile of stand-alone options.
What Performance Options Are Available?
This is, of course, a performance car, so there are some options that really improve the experience behind the wheel. For $5,500, the Cadillac can be optioned with a carbon-fiber package, which includes book-matched carbon pieces around the exterior of the car designed to increase its downforce on the track.
A performance data recorder ($1,300) is a particularly cool option that allows owners to record lap times (including speed data) with a front-camera HD video of the track. The $2,300 Recaro performance seats provide more lateral support for aggressive driving. One of the least expensive options is also one of our favorites. For $300, there's a suedelike microfiber steering wheel and shift knob.
Other options include specially painted brake calipers ($595) and wheels ($900) as well as two unique exterior paint colors (tricoat white or red) for $500.
With every option checked, the CTS-V, at $99,830, just undercuts the six-figure milestone.
What's It Like To Drive Aggressively?
The CTS-V is an absolute blast to drive. In many ways, this is the closest you can get to a four-door Corvette. The big V8 has so much power and torque on tap that flooring the throttle means it will keep pace with some very speedy company.
Cadillac says it will run through the quarter-mile in the mid-11-second range at more than 125 mph. Believe it or not, that's as quick as the $245,000 Ferrari 458 Italia. And unleashing all that speed on a racetrack is a breathtaking experience.
We spent a day with a CTS-V on the historic Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. The four-mile road course is a high-speed track. And in this Cadillac we stormed to more than 150 mph in sections. At that speed, the CTS-V was rock-steady and felt planted on the track. Of course, we had the driving mode for "Track" selected. That brings up a white background for the tach (also in Sport) in the gauge cluster.
The CTS-V comes with GM's Performance Traction Management system, which governs the stability and traction control system and lets the driver choose among five menus with decreasing levels of intervention from the car's performance safety systems. We selected Level 3, which retains some stability control involvement if the car really begins to slide.
The transmission's shifting in Track mode is aggressive, so it holds onto the gears longer before upshifting. That's handy as you brake hard into a sharp corner, so the right gear is selected at corner exit. If it's not, the shift paddles make quick work of that need. Drive the CTS-V hard as we did and the incredible power, grip and highly accurate steering make the experience wonderfully fun.
Is It Manageable in Normal Driving?
On the street, where most CTS-Vs will live, the sport sedan shows its softer side. Click "Tour" and the suspension becomes suppler and the exhaust quiets down. And when driven with a gentle right foot, the V8 can run on half its cylinders to save fuel. There's also a big 19-gallon fuel tank (2 gallons larger than the last CTS-V) so this should be an excellent road trip machine.
The roads around the track weren't particularly rough, so it's difficult to know just how the CTS-V will react to New York-, L.A.- or Detroit-class potholes. Those high performance tires can get loud — "thwacking" over rough concrete highways or rumble strips. But generally the ride was smooth and compliant.
Tour mode also relaxes the transmission, so it has a tendency to upshift to the most economical gear. If you need to make a quick pass, you'll wait a beat for the eight-speed to shift down one or more gears. But when it does, the thrust is awesome and violent. You'll also hear a glorious whine from the supercharger and that howling exhaust again — which uncorks above 3,000 rpm.
Click over to Sport and the suspension tightens, the steering becomes weightier, the transmission is livelier and the throatier exhaust note returns. Unless we were commuting and trying to save some fuel, that's the way we'd drive this Cadillac most of the time.
How Comfortable Is Its Interior?
Cadillac has markedly improved its interior design and materials in recent years. The previous CTS-V had a cabin that didn't feel quite as posh or luxurious as its rivals. Not so anymore. The mix of surfaces and textures is upscale and befitting a car in this price class.
Our test car was equipped with the optional Recaro seats and suedelike shifter and steering wheel; both options are money well spent. The Recaros can be adjusted almost infinitely to dial in just the right level of thigh and upper body lateral support.
All 2016 model-year CTS sedans benefit from a faster processor in Cadillac's CUE infotainment system. The company has simplified many commands with shortcuts, but often-used controls (like audio system volume) still aren't as efficient as they should be. Just give us a knob, please.
The rear seat is not quite as roomy as some in the class. The CTS-V has about the same legroom as its peers, but headroom is somewhat compromised. Even so, the rear seat will accommodate a 6-footer.
What Kind of Mileage Does It Deliver?
Cadillac didn't have the EPA-certified mpg figures available for the CTS-V as of press time. However, the company did say the V will be subject to the lowest-level gas-guzzler tax of $1,000 and that fuel economy ratings will be improved over the last CTS-V.
The pervious CTS-V with an automatic transmission returned a fairly dismal 14 mpg combined. For comparison, a current Corvette Z06 with the same powertrain returns 16 mpg combined. So one could expect that the combined fuel economy figure for the heavier 2016 Cadillac will likely fall in between these two vehicles.
What Are Its Closest Competitors?
The sport sedan that started it all — the BMW M5 — is one of the CTS-V's chief adversaries. The BMW's 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 generates 560 hp and 500 lb-ft of torque and is paired to either a manual transmission or an automatic seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The M5 is known for its engaging personality and communicative chassis, but it is an older car, last redesigned five model years ago. And for the power-hungry and price-conscious, the Cadillac is lighter, packs an extra 80 hp and costs around $10,000 less. That's a fairly strong argument in favor of the CTS-V.
The Mercedes-Benz E63 is a roomy and refined sedan with a sumptuous interior. It packs a 550-hp and 530 lb-ft wallop from its 5.5-liter twin-turbo V8. The optional S-model boosts power up to 577.
The Mercedes offers less power but is just about as quick as the Cadillac in a straight line thanks in part to the standard all-wheel-drive system. The Mercedes also comes as a wagon, so if all-weather security and cargo hauling are priorities, the Benz is a solid choice. Trouble is, it starts about $10,000 more than the Cadillac and can climb well north of $100,000 when fully optioned.
Why Should You Consider This Car?
If you aren't encumbered by decades of German badge loyalty and would be proud to own a 200-mph super sedan designed and built in America, then the Cadillac store is a great place to spend your money. In just about every performance parameter, the CTS-V either meets or exceeds its rivals, which certainly earns its owner some bragging rights.
Why Should You Think Twice About This Car?
Cadillac has done an excellent job engineering the CTS-V. It looks terrific, it's insanely fast and it's a great deal. The trouble is, the brand behind the metal lacks the prestige and curb appeal of the German luxury marques. If brand cachet is just as important to you as horsepower, perhaps it's best to wait until Cadillac catches up to the pack.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.
Used 2016 Cadillac CTS-V Overview
The Used 2016 Cadillac CTS-V is offered in the following submodels: CTS-V Sedan. Available styles include 4dr Sedan (6.2L 8cyl S/C 8A).
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Should I lease or buy a 2016 Cadillac CTS-V?
Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.