Used 2016 Cadillac CTS-V Review

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.




What's new for 2016

The Cadillac CTS-V is all-new for 2016. Highlights of this racetrack-capable luxury sedan include a 640-horsepower supercharged V8, a stiffer body structure, improved suspension and steering and a more thoroughly refined interior with new technology features.

Vehicle overview

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.




Trim levels & features

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.

Safety

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.

Driving

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.

Interior

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.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.