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2008 Cadillac CTS: What's It Like to Live With?

Read the latest updates in our long-term road test of the 2008 Cadillac CTS V6 DI as our editors live with this car for a year.

Cadillac CTS 2008

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April 25, 2008

Cadillac: The name alone speaks volumes. Conceived in an age when a man's word was his bond, Cadillac was a commitment to excellence in both engineering and American ingenuity. More than a brand, Cadillac was a unit of measure that all luxury items, not just vehicles, aspired to duplicate.

But then things changed. Gas got expensive, foreign competition arrived and Americans' tastes changed. The wreath and crest have emblazoned some sloppy cars in the past, but those days are gone. The 2008 Cadillac CTS wears the badge with the honor and pride the symbol carries.

Cadillac's newest answer to the BMW 5 Series, Infiniti G35 and Lexus IS is so good that we bought one almost as soon as cars arrived in dealerships for our 12-month, 20,000-mile long-term test.

What We Bought
It all starts with the engine. With the 550-horsepower supercharged LS9 not being available for the CTS until next year, we were left with only two engine choices: a 3.6-liter V6 or a 3.6-liter V6. One has the benefit of direct fuel injection and makes 39 more horses. The other offers variable valve timing, a 1 mpg bump in fuel economy and is already found in our long-term Buick Enclave. There's no sense in having two vehicles with the same engine when we don't have to. So it was easy to decide upon GM's direct-injection V6, which makes 304 hp and 273 pound-feet of torque. Going for the DI motor tacked on $2,300 to the price of the base car, but also included a six-speed automatic as standard equipment.

Cadillac appointed the CTS very well right out of the box: Power driver seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel, dual-zone climate control and keyless entry are all standard. And that's nice, but this is a Cadillac not a Kia, so nice doesn't cut it. A Cadillac needs to be outstanding, outlandish, over the top. We hate to go back to that word, but it has to be a Cadillac.

Luckily, the people at Cadillac know this and had the courtesy to pile all of the luxury option packages — plus some extra goodies — into one handy box on the order sheet: the Premium Luxury Collection. This $8,165 option is a 23 percent increase over the price of the base DI CTS, but represents at least a 200 percent increase in Cadillac-ness. This almost Aveo-priced option includes the Luxury Level One and Two packages highlighted by rain-sensing windshield wipers, interior accent lighting, 17-inch cast-aluminum wheels, heated and cooled front seats and keyless access.

Our $8 grand also gets us the seating package with 10-way adjustment with programmable memory plus power lumbar adjustment, and heated windshield washer fluid.

The crest in this option's wreath is the infotainment system, complete with a 40-gig hard drive (which can store music as well as record live radio), CD/DVD player and a 10-speaker Bose stereo with 5.1-channel surround sound. Such a great piece of equipment from the General has us all nostalgic, especially Chief Road Test Editor Chris Walton, who writes in his full test, "The mind-blowing infotainment system reminds us that Cadillac was the first to offer an electric starter, a production V8 engine, a tilt-telescoping steering wheel, powered memory seats, auto-dimming high beams and even more."

Try as we might, we could not find a dealer in Southern California with the 18-inch summer-tire Performance Package (with the aggressive FE3 suspension) in stock, or without a massive wait to get it. An 18-inch all-season tire package that includes an FE2 suspension, however, proved easy to find, so we signed up.

The sticker for our loaded CTS reads $46,690, but Cadillac wasn't content letting us pay sticker. Martin Automotive Group in Los Angeles dropped $3,000 from the bottom line immediately. Then the sales representative asked if we would qualify for a Luxury Conquest rebate. Well, we'd recently bought a long-term 2008 Mercedes C300, so yes, we did. Sort of. It was good enough for them. That was another $1,500 off.

When all was said and done, we paid $42,272 including tax — $4,418 below the pre-tax, pre-paperwork MSRP.

Why We Bought It
While the CTS didn't win the big award in our recent sport sedan comparison test , it won us over regardless. The new Caddy isn't the fastest, nor is it the best bang for your buck. But none of that matters. The 2008 CTS has a soul, a passion from within. This is the sort of thing that's hard to quantify in a comparison test but leaves a lasting impression long after you've left the infinitely adjustable driver seat.

Stay tuned to our long-term blogs for the next 12 months as we put 20,000 miles on our new 2008 Cadillac CTS V6 DI. Will the veneer fade away as the miles roll by, or is this, as we initially thought, the car that will finally make Henry Leland stop rolling in his grave?

Current Odometer: 1,980
Best Fuel Economy: 22.1 mpg
Worst Fuel Economy: 13.0 mpg
Average Fuel Economy (over the life of the vehicle): 16.9 mpg

Edmunds purchased this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.

Feel Good Inc.

March 10, 2008

The CTS doesn't shout but I get it, get it anyway. It's got just enough bling to get noticed but doesn't beg for attention. I typically like big cars - the CTS feels both big and small. It has a nice exterior footprint for strip mall parking and one lane bridges yet doesn't feel small inside - lookin' at you 3-series.

The interior feels large thanks to front seats that slide waaaay back - a tilt and telescoping steering wheel helps too.

Steady, watch me navigate - this is by far one of the best factory installed nav systems around, it might even be the best...

Nice map detail, bright graphics, useful traffic info.

Thank goodness we didn't get the FE3 suspension option - the ride on this CTS is perfect just the way it is. The CTS' engine/ride/interior combination has convinced me that I'd rather have this car than a 3 or 5 series. Give me the bargain any day.

Brian Moody, Road Test Editor @ 2,951 miles.

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

Getting You "Through" the Traffic

March 18, 2008

It's always comical when you hear or see commercials where the product promises to help save time by "getting you through the traffic" in your area. Sometimes the commercial in question is for an aftermarket GPS nav system, sometimes it's for a radio station's frequent traffic reporting system, and sometimes it's for a vehicle's nav system. But in all instances, it's total B.S. With regard to our long-term 2008 Cadillac CTS, the car can most certainly inform you of traffic conditions in your local area.

But as far as getting you through these traffic conditions? Unless there's a teleporting or flying mode I'm not aware of on our CTS, I don't see this information actually helping someone save time in their daily commute across Los Angeles...

Karl Brauer, Editor in Chief @ 3,204 miles

Track Tested (driver approved?)

March 20, 2008

No, we haven't decided to move our test track to a large dirt pitch. Rather, a certain Vehicle Testing Assistant forgot his camera and was graciously loaned a pretty CTS shot from one Mr. Mike Schmidt.

Click the "continue reading" link below to see how our CTS V6 (with direct injection) fared (at a paved track) in all of your favorite tests! 0-60, 1/4 mile, 60-0, skidpad, and slalom, all there for your reading pleasure.

0-30 -
2.5 seconds
0-45 - 4.5 seconds
0-60 - 6.3 seconds
0-75 - 9.7 seconds
1/4 mile - 14.8 @ 96.3

Compare that with the Full Test we ran on a similar CTS, one with the FE3 suspension and sticky summer-only rubber that ran a 6.5 to sixty and a 14.9 @ 94.6 mph. Why? Well, here's what Chris Walton, Chief Road Test Editor and test driver had to say, " As we suspected, there's a little more time to be found with some wheelspin (but not much) afforded by the M+S tires." On the Full test he remarked, "With traction control disabled, the grippy tires don't allow for an optimal launch because after initially spinning, they lock to the pavement and the car bogs off the line."

60-0 -
117 feet
30-0 - 31 feet

Again, compare with our previous test car's 109 feet from 60 and 28 feet from 30mph. What did Walton say 'bout our Long Termer? "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!"


.85 for the summer-tire equipped test car ran in our Full Test.

Comments: "Early onset understeer is the limiting factor here, while it's easy to maintain th earc without steering correction. Wheel is pretty talkative if a little light."

63.5 mph.

Like the skidpad, the slalom number here gets trounced by the summer-tire equipped car which blasted through the cones at a darned respectable 67mph.

Walton says, " A "less-is-more" technique works best. the car will drive sideways past every gate if you want it to, but that's not fast. Steering is precise and light, but the tires and chasis are not near as capable as the Michelin Pilot PS2 + FE3 suspension combo."

The CTS weighed in at 4,005lbs.

Mike Magrath, Vehicle Testing Assistant @3,280 miles.

Perfect Old Man Car

March 31, 2008

When I was a kid, I remember my grandfather taking great pride in his Cadillac DeVille. That car just seemed to go on forever lengthwise but it was deluxe. Ever since then, every time I think "Cadillac four-door," I can't help but think "old man." I'm sorry, but that's just what I associate it with. So when I was given the keys to our new 2008 Cadillac CTS, I naturally thought, "OK, I'll be an old man for the weekend."

And when I jumped behind the wheel of this huge red sedan for the first time?.. I'd be lying if I said that I didn't feel like an old man at all. I did, like an old man enjoying the fruits of his retirement.

I can imagine my grandfather enjoying this car. All the deluxe amenities that would have made him soo happy, like the 10-way adjustable plush leather heated/cooled front seats, keyless access where you just pull the door handle and it opens without hesitation, and that nifty nav screen that tucks away into the dash if you don't want to use the navigation function. Plus even with all the buttons on the dash, I was still able to figure out which button worked what just by looking at them. No need to read the manual. Imagine that!

And another thing I liked about our Caddy that I'm sure Grandpa would have appreciated, too: The quiet V6. I could accelerate and would only hear the quiet thrum of the engine.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 3,724 miles

The Reason

April 02, 2008

The CTS is not a perfect car, there are a few things I wish it didn't do. None of them are enough to get me to dislike the car overall. Cadillac's excellent 3.6 liter direct injection V6 is all the reason I need to recommend the car.

This engine is smooth, responsive and has plenty of punch when you need it... Plus, am I imagining things or is there a bit of an exhaust note too? I'd gladly drive this car everyday. I'd gladly own one of these and I'm not old, I'm only.... uh, let's just say very late 30s - very late.

Brian Moody, Road Test Editor @ 3,900 miles

Bum Turn Signal

April 21, 2008

I thought I noticed this before, but I wasn't sure because it wasn't happening all the time. But now, it seems that every time you use the right turn signal to change lanes, it doesn't work. Nothing happens. Not great when you are driving on the freeway...

If you push the right turn signal all the way until it clicks, like when you are making a right turn around a corner, it works fine. But when you just want to hold it for a few seconds: nothing. The left one works just fine.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor @ 4,889 miles

A Decade Later

April 28, 2008

When I first started working at Edmunds, the company was about a year into its first long-term evaluation of a Cadillac, a 1998 Seville STS. I remember that Seville having plenty of power and gizmos, but it was unreliable and marred by awful build quality. MSRP was $52,337.

Almost a decade later, we have a new CTS (with a $46,690 MSRP) in our fleet. You'd hardly know these two cars were from the same company...

Scott Jacobs, resident photog, had this to say about the Seville at the time: "I knew this wasn't my kind of car when a kindly elderly woman at the car wash told me how much she liked my Caddy."

In contrast: When I was taking the CTS's blog post picture yesterday, a gaggle of loitering teens on bicycles stopped to watch. "Sweet ride, man," said one. In terms of design, style and youth-appeal, this is the best modern Cadillac I've experienced.

But if you still pine for the '90s, maybe you could track down a used Seville. Edmunds TMV, as of today, is - ahem - $5,107.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 4,865 miles

Rev-Matching Downshifts

May 02, 2008

The 2008 Cadillac CTS is available with a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. Our test car has the latter. While most of us around here prefer manual transmissions for the more precise control they provide, the CTS' automatic does earn extra points thanks to its rev-matching downshift ability.

If you place the transmission in manual-shift mode and select a downshift, the transmission's controller will automatically raise engine speed (rpm) to match wheel speed for the lower gear. The result is a smooth downshift, just like a heel-and-toe downshift on a car with a manual transmission.

I've been playing around with the manual-shift mode. Its shifts are reasonably quick and the rev-matching feature is very cool. Of course, rev-matching for an automatic isn't new – some cars from Infiniti, BMW and Mercedes-Benz's AMG come to mind – but having it on the CTS certainly buffs the car's sporting credentials.

A (very) amateur video demonstrating our Cadillac CTS doing it's rev-matching 'thang follows after the jump.

Here's the video:

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

Rear Visibility

May 05, 2008

It's hard to document this in a photo, but the CTS's rear visibility just plain sucks. The C-pillars are quite thick and the rear deck is high. In absolute terms, there are certainly worse vehicles. But as midsize sedans go, the CTS is below average...

Our car has rear parking sensors, and those certainly help. I'm a bit surprised that Cadillac isn't offering a back-up camera on the 2008 CTS, though.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 4,978 miles

Highway Ride

May 09, 2008

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


May 13, 2008

Our Cadillac CTS's interior is noisy. It's fine when you're driving in a straight line. (Well, except for the wind noise.) But when you're making a turn the leather creaks loudly. You hear "Creak, creak, squeak creak." Read that part out loud, it's my best onomatopoeia...

When driving in a straight line, there is some wind noise on the highway. I think it must be the awkwardly placed side mirrors. They sit kind of high and stick out like Dumbo ears.

Other than that, I'm smitten with the CTS. Perhaps it's because I grew up around General Motors products. My father always bought Chevys. My brother had a Pontiac. I had an uncle who had a new Cadillac every two years. (We're Italian.) When I was old enough I learned to drive on our special-edition Caprice Classic. We even won a Chevette in a raffle contest once.

Now, whenever I drive the Cadillac CTS, it feels like home. It's like one of my Dad's powerful, comfortable sedans but decked out in leather. Leather that creaks, that is.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor @ 5,238 miles

A Design Detail Done Right

May 20, 2008

Why does the latest CTS look so much better than the previous version? Take a look at those front fenders. They not only add a few curves to the front quarter panels, they give the whole front end a more hunkered down, planted look. The fact that the wheels almost completely fill the space beneath them helps too...

The Germans have known this for years, glad to see Cadillac is finally catching up with the times.

Ed Hellwig, Inside Line @ 5,410 miles

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.

I know this is a problem many folks do not have with the CTS and other GM cars, as their particular height and/our driving position isn't bothered by the placement. But the fact remains that the CTS' pedals are placed farther apart that a majority of automatic-equipped cars. Here's some photographic proof, with the Holden-made Pontiac G8 V6 as a comparison (chosen to show that this isn't a global GM design choice). All pictures were taken from almost the exact same position.

It doesn't look like a big difference, but when it comes to driving position, centimeters matter. The G8's accelerator and brake are roughly 20-percent closer together width-wise than the CTS.

For me, the depth difference is the bigger issue. Here, the G8's depth distance between accelerator and brake is 16-percent less than the CTS. And no, adjustable pedals don't do a thing since both move equally together.

Again, most folks don't have a problem with this pedal placement and I wouldn't hesitate recommending the CTS to anyone. For me though, it would keep me from buying otherwise appealing vehicles like the CTS, Chevy Malibu and Chevy Silverado.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 5,603 miles

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.

A few specific gripes:

Seat Velcro: At the front edge of each power seat, there is a fabric flap covering the mechanicals beneath. Upon entering the vehicle, I have been greeted by the above view on both sides of the car. The flap is sewn on the bottom, and wraps over the seat bits and closes with a strip of sewn-in velcro. Trouble is, the mating half of the Velcro is a small band-aid sized strip with a sticky back. That sticky back has come loose apparently because the adhesive has less strength than the Velcro joint itself. This doesn't appear to be a 3 yr/36,000 mile design. I can stuff the flap back under there, but the velcro no longer has any stick and it pops back out the first time a heel drags against it.

Turn signal: As Donna mentioned a handful of blogs ago, the right-hand land change momentary function no longer works. Full turns work in either direction, and the left-hand momentary works as expected. A dealer visit will be required. Methinks the turn signal switch assembly will need to be replaced. We'll let you know.

Still in all, the CTS is emerging as a very good candidate for my family's summer Oregon trip. Pencil me in for "Dibs."

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 5,830 miles

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

Now That's More Like It ...

May 30, 2008

Eureka! The *accessory iPod cord we ordered for our 2008 Cadillac CTS came in. Boy does it transform the iPod experience.

Load times take about as long as it takes me to reach up to the touch screen after I snap my iPod onto the cord — in other words, negligible. And the GM logo now appears on my iPod's screen.

None of the tracks end up in the gibberish "No Info" file — they're all where they are supposed to be. Menu choices for "Playlist" and "Podcast" are now here (although the latter is one menu level down under "Genre" instead of being at the top level as it is on an iPod — no big deal).

*more like replacement--read on ...

Cadillac called to clarify a few points:

Yes, the original plan was to offer the cord as an after-purchase accessory, on the basis that all CTS customers would not own iPods. But this plan changed ...

"The owner's manual was worded at a time prior to the decision to include the iPod cable with every USB radio. It states that the cable can be purchased with your vehicle or may be available after, from your dealer/retailer. Since the printing of the owners manual, the practice has changed and every car with a USB port now recieves a cable as standard equipment."

They suggested that we look in our trunk, because the cord is now put there on the assembly line. This would mean that a dealer would have to remove the cord (and other items) during the Pre-Delivery Inspection and put them in the appropriate place in the car before a customer takes the keys.

"For the first half on 2008, iPod cables were placed in the center console as shipped from the Lansing Grand River Assembly Center. Per a request from the assembly plant, we have changed this practice and now the cable is part of the "trunk kit" as shipped from the plant. This "trunk kit" also includes items including the owners manual, roof cell masts, floor mats, etc. It is now the responsibility of the dealership to place the cable in the console upon delivery of the car and part of the normal dealer prep process."

OK, sure. This isn't uncommon. But something went wrong here. Our car has a January 2008 build date, so according to this ours should have been in the center console. It wasn't in the glove box or console when we received the car (which we anonymously purchased from a dealer,) and I just checked the trunk. It has nothing in it but a sealant kit, a compressor (no spare on the FE2,) and the battery behind a flap.

This morning I went to my local dealer to pick up my new special-order cord. While there, I looked at two CTSs sitting on the showroom floor. Both had the high-zoot stereo, but neither had a cord inside. Presumably, this is to prevent theft or loss in the showroom. The salesman said the car does come with the cord. "Was this always the case?" I asked. One guy wasn't sure, the other was farily certain this has been the policy for all 2008 CTS with the USB jack. Still, the cord (and the owner's manual) was not in the two cars on this showroom floor, so it is possible to forget to put stuff back in.

All of this could explain why the parts department guys didn't know about the cord; most wouldn't have been asked for one before.

Moral of the story? If you buy a CTS with the impressive Bose system, make sure the cord is in the car before you drive off because, despite what the manual says, you're supposed to get one. If you visit a dealer to test-sit or test-drive the car and you want to try out the iPod connection (and you should), you might have to ask a salesman to dig up a cord if the floor model or demo car doesn't have one in it.

Now I have the weekend to try it out. *Rubs hands together*

Dan Edmunds, Driector of Vehicle Testing @ 6,140 miles

Radio Tivo

June 02, 2008

On the commute to and from work I found one aspect of the hard-drive Bose audio system in our 2008 Cadillac CTS to be invaluable: I can pause, rewind and resume playing any radio program. I can skip commercials. It's radio Tivo, folks (well, not actually Tivo brand, but you get the idea.)

My 50-mile commute through the heart of LA can be terrible. I have two or three routes I can use, so AM traffic reports are a key part of my exit strategy. But I frequently find that the concentration required in traffic — staring at the bitchin' Camaro in the next lane, evading the idiot on the phone cutting me off, moving aside for lane-splitting motorcycles — often distract me from hearing the actual traffic report just when I need it most.

"Did he just say that big crash was on the I-5 south?" I wish I could rewind to hear it again. In our 2008 Cadillac CTS I can do exactly that. Su-wheet. In a single commute using it in context, the CTS's radio Tivo went from being an interesting idea to a must-have.

But I also experienced what might be the dark side of hard-drive, computer-based audio — a new way to "crash" a car, if you will. About halfway home, four of the five front speakers went out (the center channel still worked.) No amount of fader adjustment could bring them back. Once in my driveway, I tried shutting-off the engine, waiting 10 seconds or so and then restarting — essentailly rebooting the car.

It worked, and the CTS's stereo has been behaving normally ever since. We'll watch for this to see if it recurs. Perhaps it was a fluke.

But I have to say that I've begun to see scattered instances of odd problems that were cured by rebooting on other brands of cars with high-tech on-board systems. I'm going to have to start keeping a log because I can't remember specific examples. People may have been been conditioned to accept rebooting as a way to solve problems on a PC, but I don't think this is acceptable behavior in a car, ever. After all, I keep hearing that full-blown steer and brake-by-wire systems are coming.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 6,265 miles

Burning oil and rubber

June 08, 2008

This weekend our long term 2008 Cadillac CTS took a little oil and left a little rubber.

Official numbers are:

1) 1.3 quarts of Mobil 1 5W-30

2) 38 feet

Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief @ 6,647 miles

Our 2008 Cadillac CTS Has No Blue Teeth

June 13, 2008

With the July 1st hands-free mobile-phoning law just around the corner here in California, I thought I'd get acquainted with our 2008 Cadillac CTS Bluetooth pairing procedure. I exhausted all the intuitive hands-on paths within minutes and called (with a headset) back to the Mothership to ask if our CTS was even Bluetooth capable. "Nope, don't think so, but you should RTM and make sure before you post on it."

I consulted the manual and found nothing. The words Bluetooth or Phone or Telephone, aren't even listed in the index. Oh great, this is going to require some further research. It's casual Friday for cryin' out loud, and I've got so many amusing emails to forward to all my Contacts before lunch.

So I grabbed the car's window sticker and headed over to my desk to determine if our car should have it. Our car has three options: Premium Luxury Collection, 18" All-Season Tire Performance Package, and Crystal Red Premium Paint.

I punched up 2008 Cadillac CTS standard and optional equipment at and right there, within the CTS PDQ Premium Luxury Collection (w/ Man) info it clearly states "Bluetooth cell phone connectivity to vehicle audio system." The problem is our CTS doesn't have a manual transmission. For some reason the CTS PDQ Premium Luxury Collection (w/ auto) option does not include Bluetooth.

Could it be GM figured only those drivers who would need their right hands for shifting would require hands-free Bluetooth connectivity?

To make certain all my bases were covered, I ventured on over to the General Motors site and found a tutorial on how to pair a Bluetooth enabled phone with the 2008 CTS. You can read it here, but suffice to say I only got to step 6 (of 28 total) before I was rejected. When I said, "HANDS FREE," the car responded, "Enterstreet — Invalid Command."

Turns out our CTS is without blue teeth, unlike this guy.

Chris Walton, Chief Road Test Editor @ 6872 miles


June 19, 2008

As much as I dig the Cadillac's fancy-pants infotainment system there is one aspect of it that I just cant get used to: The alphabetic layout on the destination entry screen.

Now, I'm sure a lot of you are going to ask "what's the problem? Everyone knows where the letters of the alphabet are!", but if you ask this via our blogs, and you aren't using a Maltron or a speech-to-type system, then you've just proved my point. QWERTY makes sense in a keyboard layout, we all use it every day... Just think how awkward typing would be if tomorrow you came into work and instead of your tried and true layout that you know blind, the keys had been rearranged alphabetically. It's tricky, and that's why a lot of navigation systems offer users the choice of alphabetical or QWERTY. Sorry Dvorak users, still no love for you on any system.

Mike Magrath, Vehicle Testing Assistant @ 7262 miles

Tell Me Why I'm Wrong

June 30, 2008

Our Long Term Cadillac CTS is well worth the $46,000 as equipped sticker price. It's fun to drive, has plenty of cool gadgets not to mention it is a really attractive car. Looks aren't everything but I can't stand having something that everyone else has, that's why I like the CTS. I find my self looking over my shoulder or out the window just to get a glimpse... The pulled back headlights, and bulging fenders give it a tough look. I like the Audi A6 or Infiniti M35 for about the same money - I'll pass on the "me too" 5-series, especially in black or silver.

Think the CTS is too expensive? It's not. These days to get a really nice car you've got to spend $30,000 plus, to get something special you've got to spend more than $40,000. Am I wrong?

Brian Moody, Road Test Editor @ 7,539 miles.

What Does This Thing Do?

July 01, 2008

I admit that this post on the 2008 Cadillac CTS hasn't got a lot of meat on its bones. But anyone who has ridden in the car with me for more than an hour or so has asked the same question: "What's this thing do?"

It happened again last night. I had no answer except, "Nothing, apparently."

My best guess is that it hides a portal that, once opened, would reveal a black hole and catapult us all into another dimension. Either that or it hides a bolt that holds the console in place.

I'm tempted to pry it off, but I fear I'll break something. The owner's manual is no help, but a quick read did eliminate the "shift-lock override" theory.

Any other bright ideas?

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 7,733 miles

Subscriptions, Subscriptions

July 02, 2008

Another night in our 2008 Cadillac CTS went without a hitch. It's a very nice car in nearly every way. My wife has never considered herself a Cadillac person, except perhaps in the rockabilly Kustom Kulture ironic sense. But she surprises herself for liking this one. "If only it didn't have so much cheesy chrome..." she mused, pointing to the plethora of shiny rings and bezels inside.

On another note, yesterday I had to approve a purchase request submitted for the renewal of the XM subscriptions in our CTS (yes, there are two) and it got me to thinking about subscription services in general.

On top of the car payment and the cost of filling the tank with gas, the CTS has no less than 4 subscriptions to renew if you want to keep all of the electronic toys up and running.

XM radio: $12.95 per month

XM traffic for the NAV system you already bought: $3.95 per month (or $9.95 per month if you reject XM radio.)

On-Star crash notification, emergency services, diagnostics: $18.95 per month.

On-Star turn-by-turn voice NAV and concierge services: $9.95 on top of the $18.95 base service (not available separately)

On-star calling minutes: 100 minutes = $39.95; 500 minutes = $174.99. A Verizon cell phone/On-star in-car shared minutes scheme is cheaper: 700 shared minutes costs $69.99 per month, according to the On-Star website.

Excluding the phone minutes, re-upping for everything in this car totals $45.80 per month, plus tax. Annual discounts bring it down to $501.80 per year, plus tax, and the XM prices drop even more if you have more than one car or receiver on your account.

The turn-by turn part of On-star seems redundant in this NAV-equipped CTS, and the only economical way to make use of in-car calling requires one to have a Verizon cell phone. But if you had that, why would you need separate in-car calling?

As for the traffic, I'm not sure the XM data is up-to-the-minute enough to be useful:

On last night's commute home, I ran into more than one situation like this: XM traffic showed my route all green, including my current position.

But the view out the front window was quite different. I have several freeway options when I drive home, and I'd want enough accuracy to make solid, on-the-fly decisions.

In some ways, I'd rather the price of such stuff be buried in the option cost and the service be permanently active. The list of things in my life that cost "only" $14.95 per month is staggering.

I just added a thrid cell phone for my daughter: only $9.95 per month

We want to upgrade to HD service from regular digital satellite: only $19.95 more

Netflix, premium cable channels, the monthly service for the digital picture frame for Grandma, an XBOX live account — it never ends.

But another part of me likes the fact that I can discontinue payment for a feature that isn't working out. I just cancelled an XBOX Live account today, for example. Subscriptions also keep the pressure on the service providers to constantly perform, compete with other services and innovate.

How many of you are re-upping for this stuff once the trial period ends? How many are not? Would you rather see it priced into the vehicle option cost, or does the monthly strategy with opt-out possibilities seem better?

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 7,824 miles

Low oil

July 16, 2008

The oil level on the CTS was low at only 9075 miles, (it was within the lowest OK mark on the fussy dipstick shown above), so I added 1/2 quart of Mobil 1 5W-30. It calls for that oil right on the filler cap. The Inside Line Executive Editor just drove back from an Aston intro in San Francisco, and it's taking me to the MotoGP U.S round at Laguna Seca this weekend. Stay tuned for more.

Albert Austria, Senior Vehicle Evaluation Engineer @ 9075 mi

MotoGP weekend

July 21, 2008

I went up to San Francisco and Laguna Seca in the CTS this past weekend for the MotoGP race. I covered just over 1100 mi and got 25.0 mpg on the nose in a mix of highway, city, and curving road driving. It's a terrific highway cruiser and city car: great ride, decent handling, very good powertrain, and fantastic exterior / interior styling. I would choose the CTS over the ES and C-class, but not the 3-series and IS - they're better handlers. The CTS is a legitmate alternative to any of them. Several Edmunds/IL members were in MotoGP attendance, because they, like you, really love performance, whether on two wheels or four. You motobikers out there already know about that. Unless, of course, you ride a Harley...

Albert Austria, Senior Vehicle Evaluation Engineer @ 9298 mi

City boy

July 22, 2008

Although the Cadillac CTS is a supreme highway cruiser, it really enjoys the city life. The sharp, agressive styling stands out in the metropolitan streets, and imparts a sense of urban cool on its owner. "Where's my car?" I asked the valet after already waiting for 15 minutes. "Sorry, sir, what vehicle was that?" he said. I proudly replied, "Red Cadillac." Ten years ago, perhaps my response would have carried some embarrassment. But no longer. It was nice to not answer the valet with the trite BMW/Benz/Lexus response. The CTS confidently plays in the bigs with this trio. My only styling beef is with the wheels: they scream "Geez!"

Albert Austria, Senior Vehicle Evaluation Engineer @ 9744 mi

The CTS Lean

July 24, 2008

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, @ 10,275 miles

We should have waited

August 15, 2008

(Photo courtesy of General Motors Corporation)

We should have waited. Our 2008 CTS has a lot going for it; looks, driving dynamics, kick-ass features. But it lacks a certain something. A certain wagonness. Trunks just don't do it for me. Not enough space, difficult access and stunted looks. Wagons are cool and I want this one. With a six-speed manual of course.

Click the link for the news story and more photos.

Mike Magrath, Vehicle Testing Assistant


August 18, 2008

It's been about three months since I've been in our Long Term 2008 Cadillac CTS and I think that it's spent that entire time being driven over cobblestones. Even with the radio on, the slightest road imperfection causes the CTS to erupt with noise.

Here's a list of things that squeak or rattle in our CTS.

Driver seat (this is particularly bad when turning, braking or accelerating. Or entering / exiting the vehicle)

Passenger seat

instrument cluster (chrome surrounds buzz and rattle)

rear seats


center console

Shift lever

Nav screen (intermittent when rising)

The driver seat-back also feels as if it's sagging down slightly to the right.

Mike Magrath, Vehicle Testing Assistant @ 10,943 miles

Piped light

August 26, 2008

I noticed the CTS tail lamps over the weekend for the first time. The press kit calls this lighting element a LED "light pipe" for the rear marker lamp. But for me and a few others here, it looks like an incandescent or fluorescent bulb; LEDs are pretty small. The Engineering Editor said that perhaps there are several LEDs distributed throughout, but the illumination seems too uniform for that. And the Director of Vehicle Testing said the pipe reminded him of this thing. In any event, the light pipe looks good and conveys the vertical styling theme of the tail lamps. Another great styling detail on a sharp car.

Albert Austria, Sr Vehicle Evaluation Engineer @ 11,461mi

Window Switch Woes, Part Deux

September 05, 2008

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, @ 11,493 miles.

Caddy Does Carmel

September 12, 2008

Earlier this week, after a brief stopover at the Romans estate (above left), our long-term 'Lac and I headed for Land Rover's Off-Road Driving Experience in Carmel, roughly 6 hours north of L.A. If it's trail-busting tales you want, you'll have to wait for next Friday's Weekly Top 3 post over at the Strategies Blog. But if you're jonesing for a fragmentary yet hard-hitting assessment of the CTS qua road trip companion, you've come to the right place.

Stuff That Doesn't Work

The automatic triple-blink turn signal function when changing lanes to the right. Push up on the stalk and...nothing — not even a single blink. You have to click it into place, as if you're turning at an intersection, and then click it back.

Stuff That's Annoying

Squeaky seats. Wonky driving position. Crude power window switches. And a navigation system that takes an extraordinarily long time to calculate your route — we're talking upwards of 30 seconds in some cases, which can be a bit harrowing if you've just plugged in your address and find yourself approaching a key intersection with your electronic copilot still deep in thought.

Stuff That BMW Should Be At Least A Little Nervous About

The steering — I really like it. It's virtually slop-free, there's a pleasant weightiness at speed, and the effort builds progressively around bends. And the body control — it's really good, which is all the more impressive given that our car lacks the maximally sporty FE3 suspension. I took route 198 on the way up and route 58 on the way back (both highly recommended for enthusiasts), and the CTS delivered a command performance, faltering only in the tightest corners, where the Caddy's imposing heft and compliant suspension tuning conspired to upset its composure.

Stuff That Lincoln Should Be Petrified About

Everything. The CTS positively pwns the MKS in every significant way, except maybe Sync. Best American luxury sedan under $50k? It's not remotely close.

Stuff That Kicks A**

Rear-wheel drive, defeatable traction control, 300+ hp, and a gravel turnout in the middle of nowhere. Warning: gleeful doughnuts may cause scenic vistas to become temporarily obscured.

Josh Sadlier, Associate Editor, @ 12,310 miles

Another View of the Cockpit

September 24, 2008

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

Audio On The Fritz

October 02, 2008

Above is a shot taken this morning of the multi-media screen in our long-term 2008 Cadillac CTS. Everything is normal here.

Last night, though, the audio emitted nothing more than the sounds of flatulence, complete with little pauses and ripples just like the real thing. Changing channels, cranking the volume, switching among AM/FM/XM... nothing curbed the poop.

So many fart jokes to choose from that my mind is frozen. One might say... constipated.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor @ 13,280 miles.

Hey, I Can See That Building From Here!

October 07, 2008

Remember when I said I could see the outline of my apartment building on the Scion xB's navigation system? Well, the Cadillac CTS tops that. This navi adds little 3D animated versions of really tall and/or noteworthy buildings. As you can see from the photo above, the digital version is pretty darn close to the actual thing. If you scan left on the map, another similar building down the street is shown along with a digital rendering of one of the LACMA buildings.

Although this mostly seems like a "Hey, look what we can do!" feature, it's probably not a bad idea to have renderings of notable landmarks to assist in navigation.

I really want to know how they do it, though. Does someone go around taking pictures of random, big buildings and then hand them off to 3D animators to create the buildings? And what does Manhattan look like? I'll have to check that sometime.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 14,157 miles

Putting Golf Clubs in the Trunk

October 08, 2008

You know how people claim that goose-neck trunk hinges are a sure sign of inferior quality and cost cutting, while struts are more expensive and therefore better? Well, here's a reason why that's wrong.

The struts shrink the size of the trunk opening, particularly on our Cadillac CTS. As the below video shows, it requires a bit of finagling to fit wider items like golf clubs through the opening. Once in, the battery compartment prevents you from fitting the clubs perfectly width-wise (which they did in a Chevy Cobalt nearby). This makes loading multiple golf bags or other items with the golf clubs more difficult. And since this is a Cadillac, how it holds golf clubs is certainly important.

By comparison, the so-called cheaper goose-neck hinges found in the BMW 5 Series, for instance, allow for the trunk to be more easily opened and provide a wide opening that you can lower golf clubs straight into. And cheap they are not. These hinges are actually fully enclosed and in the Mercedes C-Class, are more than just two hinges, there's actually a rather elaborate mechanism at work.

Therefore, I don't think the type of trunk hinges a car has is a sure-fire sign of quality. Sure, it can be can example of cost/quality (say, when one car has non-sheathed goose-necks that crush your groceries or when a $16,000 Cobalt has struts). But when each is done right, there's logic behind both designs — a decision made by engineers rather than bean counters.

In the CTS, struts were probably required regardless, given the short deck and the consequent need to extend the trunk lid past 90 degrees. And given that short opening, it would also be difficult to fit bulkier items like boxes into the 13.6-cubic-foot trunk. Just a trade-off, I suppose, for the CTS' hot styling.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 14,157 miles

Low Range? Like, No Duh.

October 16, 2008

Can somebody please tell me how the Low Range readout on the left is more informative than the needle approaching the 0 on the right. Both are telling me in not so specific terms to get some gas soon. But other cars in the Cadillac's price range have range readouts that will count down all the way to 0 (my wife's VW Passat included). And it's that last 30 miles or so when the Range feature becomes so much more valuable than the old analog gas gauge.

But not in our 2008 Cadillac CTS. At 35 miles to go the readout stupidly switches to Low Range. In other words it becomes useless.

The worst part? I wrote a similar blog about our long-term Chevy Tahoe nearly a year ago. You'd think GM would listen to me and address this obviously growing problem.

Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief

Real-Time Traffic Review

October 17, 2008

On Wednesday morning I had the unfortunate chance to make use of the Cadillac's real-time traffic feature, which is built into its navigation system. It was unfortunate because I was stuck in a big bad traffic jam (red dots), not because I used the system. In fact, the system worked great.

As you can see in the photo, it alerts you to which roads are clogged (red dots) and which are moving (green dots). It also tells you where there are accidents (yellow diamond shapes) and will route you around such holdups if you ask it to.

Unlike some gimmicks in new cars, this one works well and is easy to make use of. Put it on the worth-the-money list.

Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief

Floppy Top

October 21, 2008

Time has loosened the cloth sun shade in the Cadillac CTS. It's got a little give to it now. So, when you drive with the windows down, it flops around loudly in the breeze.

I've never been in love with this shade anyway. I like to be able to completely block out the blistering California rays. But this shade is designed to let in some light.

By contrast, the shade in our BMW X5 is so drum tight you could bounce a coin off of it.

What's up with that, Floppy?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

Life is Good at 134 mph

November 06, 2008

Closed course, professional driver, please don't try this at home, blah, blah, blah. Caddy like go fast, and it still had more in it.

Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief @ 16,147 miles

Make that 136 mph

November 06, 2008

All photoshop, I swear.

Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief

Cheaper than the G8...

November 07, 2008

Smart > G8 > Cadillac CTS. At least insofar as the first service cost goes.

Recently the CTS went over to Martin Cadillac for routine service; oil change, chassis lube, tire pressure, and fluids. The job took about two hours and the final cost was $0.00. Nice. Too bad the dealer's valet took 45-min to find and get the CTS back in my hands. You get what you pay for, right?

Mike Magrath, Vehicle Testing Assistant @ 14,888 miles

Hidden Robot Music

November 11, 2008

While indulging in some rare quiet alone time while parked in a strip mall, I heard a strange sound coming from the center stack of our long-term Cadillac CTS. It was like a tiny, long-forgotten sound effect from Tron, played by a tiny Eddie Van Halen on a tiny electric guitar. It's a lot like bad sci-fi movie robot noises. Deetledeetledootledeetledeetledoodleedeetle. It just kept going.

It actually took me a while to figure out where it was coming from. I had to really lean in close to the navigation controls to confirm where it was coming from. I didn't think of it again until the next day when I was driving around without the sound system on and heard it again. It was quite faint, but it was there. For the rest of my time in the CTS this weekend, I found myself constantly straining to catch an auditory wisp of the frantic notes. Anyone else every experienced this in a CTS? In another vehicle?

Bryn MacKinnon, Senior Editor, @ 15,520 miles

A Long Way

November 17, 2008

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....

Thankfully, I'm clear as a bell when it comes to the CTS.

To avoid another day of So Cal smoke along with coughing and sore throat, my family bolted for the CTS and drove about an hour and a half down the coast to get some fresh air. The CTS is an excellent highway car, the rear seat is big enough for kiddie seats and/or adults, the stereo is good and XM's Nav Traffic helped us avoid closed freeways. I'm looking for something to dislike but so far I can't find a deal breaker.

Brian Moody, Senior Automotive Editor @ 16,257 miles

How Does It Compare?

November 24, 2008

We've had a lot of nice things to say about our long-term 2008 Cadillac CTS. What we haven't really gotten into is how it stacks up against other midsize luxury/sport sedans.

For example, right now over on the Edmunds blog we've got a 2009 Sport Sedan Shootout featuring the Acura TL SH-AWD, Infiniti G37 and Volkswagen CC VR6 4Motion. What would have happened if we'd thrown our CTS long-termer into the mix?

For one thing, the CTS would have been the most expensive by a couple grand. Also, its FE2 suspension and all-season tires would have been handicaps in the twisties — the Caddy's 63.5 mph slalom run trails the VW by 0.2 mph and the sport-tuned Japanese entrants by a wide margin. However, I think the CTS would give the CC a run for its money in a beauty contest, inside and out, and its DI-V6 and real-world ride/handling balance are quite impressive.

Where would you rank it?

Josh Sadlier, Associate Editor, @ 16,358 miles

Love the Nav, Love the Car

November 27, 2008

I really like the CTS nav system with on exception. I wish I could pick "Full Map" (as shown here) and still see XM or iPod song info - like maybe at the bottom of the screen or something. Either way, it's not a deal breaker.

I've been driving this car for about one week straight and I cannot find anything significant to complain about - it is truly a terrific car.

The odometer is approaching 20k and there are no rattles or squeaks to note. The nav screen does make a little noise when it goes up and down but it seems like it only happens when the temp gets below, say 60 degrees.

Brian Moody, Senior Automotive Editor @ 16,803 miles

Talking Turkey with the TL

December 01, 2008

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

Likes and Dislikes

December 05, 2008

Some things I like about our 2008 Cadillac CTS:

The day/night button for the nav screen (circled in blue in the above photo). You don't have to scroll through menus to find how to switch the nav to daylight bright or nighttime dim. Just push that button.

The volume and tuning KNOBS which are positioned above all the other buttons so that they're easy to grab without taking your eyes off the road.

How the driver-side climate controls are paired with the heating/cooling seat buttons, again for easy access.

What I'm not crazy about...

The only thing that bugged me, besides that clock on the dash (I prefer an easy-to-read digital readout), is the door handle positioned over the window controls. I'm sure it's something that the owner of this car would get used to but since I wasn't familiar with it I found myself hitting that door handle every time I went to open the window without looking. The first time I did that I was pulling out of our parking garage and had to scan my pass to get out of the garage so needed to get the window down in a hurry. When I hit the door handle, I thought perhaps the window controls were in the center console instead. Meanwhile a car was waiting behind me to get through the gate and I panicked for a second til I realized the controls were under the door handle. Breathe.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 17,724 miles

West Hollywood, CA to Grants, NM

December 11, 2008

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.

Light traffic and relentless forward progress means that we didn't often worry about the CTS's poor rear-three-quarter visibility. Those fat C-pillars, which look so good from the outside, block out a fair amount of the world. We've therefore chosen to ignore what is behind us.

One other issue: The edge of the center stack irritates my right leg. It's too close and its edge is too sharp. I've modified my driving position so that the edge is tucked in the fleshy crevice between my right kneecap and whatever we call that skeletal knob about an inch below and outboard of my knee.

Other items of note: Arizona creeps me out. The place is overrun with cops (often in Ford Escapes?!) and roadside municipal spy devices. I was relieved to cross into New Mexico where I could have a not entirely tasty meal at a charming local eatery called "Denny's." Here the piped-in Christmas tunes largely drown out the teenage girls in the next booth chattering about their children.

Also, I saw the first and what I believe to be the only Mitsubishi Raider pickup truck in the wild, just north of Phoenix.

The CTS consumed a bit more than two tanks of gas to cover the 776.5 miles, and the Cadillac's trip computer claims we got 24 mpg during the trip at an average speed of 66.8 mph.

Daniel Pund, Senior Editor, Detroit @ 18,762 miles

The Prodigal Son

December 11, 2008

In trying times such as these, great American families - think the Corleones and the Waltons - draw closer, gaining strength from their primal solidarity, their shared blood. And so it is with a great sense of duty that our ruby-red Cadillac CTS will over the next couple of days make its way back to its ancestral home in Detroit.

Also, Southern California, where the CTS has spent the first 18,000 miles of its life, is filthy with dinosaurs (see picture). This makes the region nearly a quarter as horrifying as a Michigan winter.

According to the Caddy's navigation system, the trip from West Hollywood to Detroit is 2,282 miles. If we choose to do the trip crazed-trucker style, the nav system claims we'll make it in 31 hours and five minutes. That's going to require a sustained speed binge (averaging an aggressive 74 mph).

We'll update you with progress reports and/or speed-addled gibberish as we go.

Daniel Pund, Senior Editor, Detroit @ 17,988 miles

Grants, NM to Joplin, MO

December 12, 2008

One of the dear friends we call a commenter, ace47, doesn't want to read any more about how the Cadillac CTS rides nicely or how its navigation system performs. Okay, ace. Here's something you haven't read before: Did you know that if you leave the Caddy's ignition in accessory mode while filling the car up with gasoline, you can watch the miles-to-empty readout climb as each drop of fuel fills the tank? Didn't think so.

Further, we're not sure if our man ace47 (let's face it: there's no chance he's a woman) knows that after you fill up the tank and go into the Norther New Mexico gas station and purchase a bottle of water and a coffee, the woman behind the register will ring it up and say, "Woo, boot da bead off da bat."

Other items of potential interest to ol' ace

The Caddy's iPod interface probably works beautifully when it works at all. For me and my antiquated, steam-powered iPod, the interface shows no love. It simply taunts me with a "device not supported" message. So it's the old-school AUX input for this Luddite.

We found down-sized version of the famed Cadillac Ranch along the side of an expressway off-ramp in Northern Texas, which uses half-buried VW Beetles in place of vintage Cadillacs. Hey, times are tough.

We witnessed a distressing tendency of drivers in New Mexico to roll their vehicles for no apparent reason. We saw two such single-car incidents on dry, straight, lightly trafficked roads. How do you do that?

The CTS has now racked up 1,625.8 miles on this trip and its average speed (68.5 mph) and average fuel economy (24.2 mpg) continue to inch ever upward. Also the ride quality is quite good.

Daniel Pund, Senior Editor, Detroit @ 19,612 miles

Joplin, MO to Detroit, MI

December 13, 2008

While I was away, the ground underneath Detroit collapsed and the sky lit on fire and the end of days was right up Woodward Ave. Honestly, can't we just lock UAW president Ron Gettelfinger and Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker in a steel-cage so they might have it out for real? Only one will emerge under his own power. And frankly, at this point, I don't even really care which one it is.

Ah, but the CTS, right? Yeah, brilliant car. I really like it and it's not every car I would say that about after three days of non-stop driving across some of America's less-dramatic landscape. As my desire to reach home grew my patience with left-lane dawdlers shrank. Through Illinois and Indiana, where traffic was light, I set the CTS's cruise control to a speed that felt right in the Caddy but was apparently considerably higher than others on the road that evening. No problem: I got my system down and everything. 1. Approach slow car at good clip. 2. Make sure he knows you're there. 3. Flick off cruise and back off slightly. 4. Hit the resume button as he starts to swerve to the right. This method resulted in a minimal loss of speed for me and was unspeakably satisfying when it all went to plan. And when, it didn't, I always had the Caddy's 300-plus horsepower to power around the occasional comatose driver.

Make the jump for final figures and a special surprise!

Okay, so I lied. There's no special surprise. But here are some photos of things I saw on the road that may or may not be of interest to you. Also, I discovered that Yakov Smirnoff is still getting work in Branson, MO — What a country!

The CTS does not fear your kitsch. No, not even at the "T ADING OST."

Hey, what's with the big circular air cleaner on the top of the engine? What's this? 1972?

Okay, so making fun of a town's name is a cheap shot, but...Festus? Come on?

Aaaaaaahhhhhh!...oh, wait.

Seriously? I thought we were done with this, people.

I had no idea technology had progressed to this point. A combination sink/soap dispenser/hand dryer? That's Awesome! And, in a pinch, it could serve nearly all your rest-stop needs — nearly.

Final figures for the 2,466.8-mile trip (the navigation's 2,200-mile estimate was for the center route through Colorado, not my southern route), according to the CTS's trip computer: The Caddy achieved an average fuel economy 23.5 mpg (not stellar) and average speed of exactly 70 mph. Stay tuned for updates from Detroit, where the snow is already on the ground. Or is that post-apocolyptic nuclear fallout? Either way, I see a snow angel in my future.

Daniel Pund, Senior Editor, Detroit @ 20,453 miles

Welcome home. Here's your shovel

December 17, 2008

I didn't have to wait long to get a good test of the Cadillac CTS' snow-driving prowess. Detroit got a good dusting last night and we were out early enough to drive the Caddy on lightly traveled roads. I got to Woodward Avenue just in time for the transition from pure pretty powder to snotty gray slush.

Our rear-drive CTS wears Michelin Pilot HX MXM4 tires, which Tire Rack classifies as Grand Touring All Season rubber. Slush counts as a full season in the upper Midwest and I'm not sure that's covered in "All." We concur with Tire Rack's assessment that this model Michelin exhibits "Fair" performance on snow and ice. That ranking makes the HX MXM4 the worst-performing in the snow of the Michelin models in its catagory.

Spoiled by dedicated snow tires on my personal car, I find the all-season Michelins only borderline acceptable, at least in the brief time I've spent with them on slippery stuff. Even with a very light throttle foot, I'm getting a whole lot of traction control interventions (stability control intervention comes with a heavy foot), making forward progress, um, deliberate. On the upside, the CTS' traction control system comes on smooth.

More study is needed though. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go find a large, empty, snow-covered parking lot to practice my donuts and drifting winter-driving techniques.

Daniel Pund, Senior Editor, Detroit

The horror, the horror

December 22, 2008

What you see above you is an approximation of what Detroit looked like last Friday, and through much of the weekend that just passed. I apologize for the lack of an actual photo. The thing is, I've been a little too busy trying to not die and/or get somewhere or another in the Caddy.

Remember how in my last installment of the Cadillac CTS long-term blog, I described the car's Michelin all-season tires snow performance as "Fair?" Yeah well, I take that back. I'm now deciding whether their snow performance would more accurately be described as "Useless" or in the words of (I think) Emerson Fittipaldi "The Tires, They Are Sheet!"

Possibly the tires are more worn than their 20,000 miles would justify due to stunts like the one pictured below.

And I grant that no car or truck was exactly at the top of its game in the rapid-accumulation 10-inch mess of snow that fateful Friday. But the Caddy would have been down-right scary, had it been able to get going. Once stopped, the CTS' rears simply did not have the grip to get rolling, no matter how carefully I applied the power. On my lonely six-mile commute to work, I got stuck no fewer than three times. And I don't mean that the car fell off the road into a ditch. No, no, I was simply stuck feet into an intersection, furiously rocking the car between drive and reverse. Twice I managed to free myself. That was embarrassing enough for a guy who grew up driving Mustangs and MGs in this garbage.

The true humiliation came when I made it part way into a busy intersection and a large fin of snow/slush brought me to a halt as I was trying to turn left and I sat there through two traffic-light cycles before one of the guys whose path to work I was blocking got out of his Grand Cherokee and pushed me out. The shame.

The saving grace was that the CTS carries California plates. I was therefore a Californian in the minds of those I'd inconvenienced. And Californians are a breed of cat, expected by Michiganders to be situationally inept and lacking in fortitude. So as I drove away, I waved to my savior and said, "Thanks, um, dude."

I drove the wife's all-wheel-drive, snow-tired family truckster for the remainder of the weekend. And I will continue to do so in heavy snow unless or until we get some snows on the Caddy.

Daniel Pund, Senior Editor, Detroit at 20,620 miles

Shall we play a game?

December 23, 2008

At last count, 31 of you faithful readers have smacked Advice Editor, Phil Reed for choosing to drive the summer tire-shod Infiniti FX50 to snowy Colorado recently.

Today, with a fresh couple of inches of snow on the ground here in Detroit, I decided to play a little game I've tentatively named, "Exactly how wrong was Phil?"

The Point: To determine, in something approximating controlled conditions, exactly how much worse are summer performance tires than all-season tires when driving on snow.

The Players: I happen to have at my disposal our long-term Cadillac CTS, which I think I've mentioned on several occasions wears half-worn all-season Michelin tires that aren't particularly good in the snow. I also have in the office garage a brand-spanking new Infiniti G37 sedan, which carries Bridgestone Potenza RE050A summer performance tires with only about 1,000 miles on them. I know, I know, it's not apples to apples exactly. But it's the closest comparison that I could pull out of my, um, hat.

Cadillac CTS/Michelin all-season tire

Infiniti G37 sedan/Bridgestone summer tire

The Playing Field: The private roads around the Edmunds Detroit office in Southfield, MI (seen below from the14th floor).

The Procedure: Drive one lap around our monster office complex in each car while avoiding property and/or personal damage.

The Results: We took the Cadillac first, it being a known quantity. It successfully completed the roughly one-mile trip. It only really had trouble getting rolling from a stop. Its stability system intervened five times, but three of those were later in the loop where I was just goofing off, hanging the tail out for kicks. The Cadillac eventually made it up the final obstacle, the steep snow-covered ramp that goes from outside directly to the second floor of the parking garage.

The Infiniti rated a DNF. It simply could not manage the snowy ramp, no matter how much momentum we carried. After three attempts, under the watchful eye of building security, we relented and took an easier route into the garage. Theoretically given enough momentum we could have crested the ramp, but the utter lack of grip from the tires meant we couldn't possibly get enough speed in the run-up. And we're not sure we'd have wanted that much speed anyway. The Infiniti's noisy traction control system meted out tiny bits of wheel rotation such that with our foot to the floor we manage a top speed of 20 mph in about a 1/4-mile straight. Steering control was by wishful thinking. And the rear would slew sickeningly sideways near drainage grates, essentially trying to slide down the drain. Fail.

The conclusion: Let's just say, I'm very happy that I'm not driving a summer-tired sporty sport ute through Colorado right now. Possibly now, I will complain slightly less about the Cadillac's winter-weather performance. Possibly.

Daniel Pund, Senior Editor, Detroit

The Fob's Fob

December 29, 2008

Now, it's a Caddy, baby. With the addition of this choice gold-tone key fob for the CTS', um, key fob, our BMW-fighting, rear-wheel-driving CTS sports sedan is now in touch with Cadillac's baroque recent past. We're shopping now for a vinyl top with landau bars (gold, natch).

Credit for the fob goes to the previous owners of my home, who graciously left the wreath-and-crest nugget attached to spare garage keys. It was commissioned by a south-eastern Michigan Cadillac dealer, which is apparently "Your Caring, Servicing, Selling Master Dealer."

Daniel Pund, Senior Editor, Detroit at 20,725 miles

Now with intermittent windows

January 06, 2009

I am reliably informed that this is an imperfect world. I offer yet more proof of this in the form of the Cadillac CTS' rear-window operation — or lack thereof.

At first I thought it was due to the punishing cold. Sometimes windows stick to the seals until they get warmed up and the electric motors don't have the juice to bust them free. That the rear side windows responded sometimes in the deepest darkest cold night but ignored my request once the cabin was warmed up blew a hole in that theory. Sometimes the windows rise, sometimes they don't. Sometimes they make a clicking sound but no motion and sometimes they do nothing at all.

It looks like the fault is in the driver's side door switches, because the windows usually respond to the rear door window switches.

With the CTS going home to California next week and since it doesn't make the car dangerous to drive in anyway, we'll probably just wait until we get back to LA to have them looked at.

Daniel Pund, Senior Editor, Detroit at 20,760 miles

Short Fuses

January 07, 2009

Gather 'round kids. Let me tell y'all the legend of the mini mini fuse. You see, it all started this gray morn when I pushed the windshield washer button for my (largely) trusty steed. But did I receive a quenching squirt to clear my view of accumulated road-salt residue and your garden-variety dirt? I did not. Uh oh.

Out comes the owner's manual to look for the location of the fuse that I am now praying will be blown so that I can replace it and be on my way. Under some black plastic engine-compartment trim and beneath the fuse box cover with its three locks, is my culprit. Yep, the tiny little red blade-style fuse is blown. Great. Easy fix.

So I truck myself up to a major chain automotive parts store (visibility through the windshield is not yet bad enough to justify wiping it by hand). But I can't find as tiny a fuse as I need. They have regular and they have mini but not this one. "Hmmm," says the store clerk when I show him the fuse. "I think someone came in here before with one of those. I've heard of them. But we don't have them."

He directs me to a parts store across town that caters to guys who actually fix cars instead of to customers who only mount their own Yosemite Sam mud flaps and air fresheners. When I show the guy behind that counter he says, "Oh wow, can I show this to another of our guys?" I hear him say, "This is what I was talking about. I wasn't making it up." He tells me he's trying to get a supplier for this new mini-mini fuse. "I want to be the only one with them."

"You're going to have to go to the dealer. Bring your own lube," he adds, helpfully.

Fine. The increasingly opaque windshield is beginning to give me pause but I mosey on down to Massey Cadillac, an old-school Caddy dealer if ever there was one. "I need one of these," I say to the man at the parts counter, pulling the microscopic fuse out of that tiny pocket within the right front pocket of my jeans. "Hmmm, lemme check [tap, tap, tap, tap, tap...] yeah, we've got one. Seven dollars." Oh, come, fine. I pass on the 22-inch Vogue chrome wheel and tire package they're selling for $2,700 and the varsity jacket with the Cadillac logo for $215. I wonder momentarily if I could manage to expense an Escalade chrome gas door ($145) and if I can fit it to the CTS before giving the car to Oldham next week.

The fuse is replaced and the washer pump kicks out the juice something fierce now. An increasing number of new cars will be using this new teeny, tiny fuse, I'm told. I'm now considering getting in to the fuse business.

Daniel Pund, Senior Editor, Detroit at 20,772 miles

Increasingly remote

January 13, 2009

As a farewell to the CTS long-termer Detroit gave the Caddy one last blast of winter. As I write this, Messrs. Oldham and Hellwig are driving the Caddy back to California to finish out its stay in the long-term fleet. Either that or Hellwig is pushing the CTS out of a roadside ditch along I-94 that's knee-deep in snow while Oldham screams from the heated driver's seat, "Come on, guy, put down your purse and push!"

Anyway, the picture above reminds me of one the Cadillac's attributes that I haven't given proper public credit: the factory-installed remote start function. I know Cadillac, or even GM, is not alone in having a factory system. But I can tell you that the pricier BMW X5 that the boys left with me in Detroit doesn't have it. I will miss it. It protected me from countless cold-induced muscle spasms and made me the envy of my neighborhood. (Yes, even more than usual).

Daniel Pund, Senior Editor, Detroit at 20,800 miles

Installing Aftermarket Oil

January 16, 2009

Today our 2008 Cadillac CTS drank the majority of that quart of Mobil 1 5W-30. The installation of the fluid took just a few minutes and we poured it ourselves. That is all for now.

Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief @ 23,411 miles

MLKD Road Trip

January 20, 2009

Imagine, if you will, that the above photo depicts our long-term 2008 Cadillac CTS speeding north up California's 5 Freeway. Although a dead camera battery prevents us from showing you an actual photo of this past weekend's 1000-mile road trip, it did happen. And with nearly 25,000 miles on the odo, the Caddy still looks every bit as good now as it did in this year-old photo.

The CTS had barely cooled its 304-horsepower V6 from its three-day Detroit-to-L.A. run before we gassed up for Sacramento.

With two cross-country drives and a months' worth of nasty Michigan weather in between, the CTS remains a staff fave.

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 24,429 miles

Detroit to Los Angeles Part 1

January 23, 2009

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.

There was so much snow in Michigan the morning we left, I-94 was closed for some stretches, forcing us to rethink our route. The Cadillac was handling the weather well enough, but if speeds were going to top 50 mph, we needed to head south. That meant we would cross through Kansas instead of Iowa and Nebraska. And what's in Kansas? That's right, Kansas City BBQ. We hit Arthur Bryant's for ribs and fries. It's a landmark. And it was good. Not as good as the Texas BBQ we hit in the R8 last year, but good.

The Cadillac was sorta comfortable. Unlike the BMW, the Cadillac's seat and driving position ended up causing leg cramps after just a couple hundred miles. This made gas stops a welcome break. I even resorted to sticking my wallet and other items under my right thigh, trying to improve the support.

This was disappointing. I was expecting more long-haul comfort from such an expensive sedan.

Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief

Detroit to Los Angeles Part II

January 24, 2009

Soon after our meat sweats in downtown KC we reached the heart of dustbowl country. Time to boogie. We had an appointment in Durango, Colorado to pick up a 1975 Ford F-250 Factory Highboy pickup purchased sight unseen by a very trusting Ed Hellwig.

The plan was to buy the truck in Durango and drive it back to Santa Monica, so we knew that the 800-mile run from Durango to L.A. would be more like a walk. This was when we could make up some time, plus Ed was worried that if we were late, the truck would already be gone to a higher bidder.

I assured him that the line of F-250 Factory Highboy enthusiasts looking for a well-worn, rusty truck in Durango in the middle of winter was a short one, but he wouldn't listen.

This is a gas stop somewhere in middle America. Look around; every vehicle in sight is domestic. You don't see many BMWs in Kansas. We were already getting comments from fellow motorists on the Caddy's condition. "Well, that's a dirty car, ha ha ha. What, they don't have car washes in California? Yuk, yuk, yuk."

The cops were out and about through the plains, but our trusty Escort Passport 9500i kept us ticket-free. In fact, I drove nearly 5,000 miles that week and was not pulled over once.

The Caddy's nav system was a very nice luxury to have (we never had to crack an actual map) and its graphics are more detailed than the display of the X5's system, so looking ahead to the next town and finding gas stations is easier in the Cad than the BMW. But it did this to us about a dozen times and it went into a rebooting fit for about 20 minutes just outside Durango. The screen said the system was overheating.

Strange. Eventually the system always found our desired destination, and the reboot problem hasn't been seen since.

And there it is. When I took these pictures, Ed had owned the truck for about 10 minutes. Yeah it's cool. Even a four-speed. But it's not exactly King of the Interstate. Hell, we weren't even sure the 33-year-old truck would make it back to L.A.

From here on out our top speed would be about 68 mph. Up to this point, the Cadillac was averaging 22 mpg at an average speed near 70 mph.

Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief

Detroit to Los Angeles Part III

January 26, 2009

We were going to, but then we remembered that the CTS is not an E85 drinker. Neither is the X5. But through states like Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa, E85 is all over the place. Back home in California we see thousands and thousands of Flex-Fuel Tahoes and Yukons around, but in Los Angeles E85 is like good Chinese food; it's just impossible to find.

Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief

Detroit to Los Angeles Part IV

January 28, 2009

It was somewhere between Kansas City and Durango (I think; it's all a blur.) that we found actual value in the Cadillac's OnStar system. We couldn't believe it either, but the system's turn-by-turn feature is actually really cool.

Here's how it happened. We looked up a hotel on Mapquest. Asked for directions from our location and noticed the "Send to OnStar" tab. We clicked it, put in our account number and zap, the directions were beamed to the car. Instantly the display within the speedometer was showing directions and a voice was telling us where to go.

And the best part? The directions were right.

Think about it. You can load the system with dozens of destinations before you ever leave your house. This seems like a real reason to get a car with OnStar. What do you think?

Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief

Detroit to Los Angeles Part V

January 29, 2009

After taking the time to photograph our trusty steed in New Mexico and Colorado simultaneously we continued to drive west, me in the very dirty Cadillac CTS and Ed Hellwig in his new 33-year-old truck. Now our speed was limited to 68 mph so Ed could keep up, and we would need to stop every 150 miles so Mr. Hellwig could refuel.

At that rate, the Cad's average speed was plummeting, but its fuel economy was through the roof. On the final day of the trip I covered almost 800 miles of interstate, but averaged only 60 mph. Fuel economy jumped to 24.1 mpg. Good, but still way below the car's EPA highway rating of 26 mpg, no doubt due to the numerous elevation changes and high winds on our route.

More highlights on the next page.

After I snapped this pic I stood in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah all at the same time. I like Colorado the best.

Just busting though the Arizona desert. Cruise control set on 68 mph.

Beats the office. Even at 68 mph.

Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief

Detroit to Los Angeles Part VI

January 30, 2009

Back in L.A. after 2,493.1 miles. Besides surgery to remove the severe cramping from my right leg and lower back there was really just one thing left to do...

Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief

Electronic Gremlins Persist

February 02, 2009

I drove the long-term CTS for the first time ever this weekend. Overall, a nice machine. As we've reported in various road and comparison tests, it's a capable handler and has adequate power.

But careful readers of CTS blog posts will remember a few unresolved issues with our CTS...

The first is an audio problem Dan Edmunds reported in June of last year. I happened to have the exact same experience last Saturday when I fired up the Caddy's otherwise spectacular Bose audio system.

The front left and right speakers (all four of them — two on the dash and two in the doors) simply weren't working — a problem even the untrained ear (mine) can recognize. The affirmation came when I manually dialed all the power to the left front speakers (see red circle on photo), at which point there was no sound at all. Punch it back a few clicks and the rear speakers and front center channel came back on line. Hmmm...

And again, just like Dan's experience, turning the car off and back on (rebooting?) cured the problem. Bill Gates wrote this solution and for it he deserves a swift kick in the nuts. This seems to me to be the worst kind of problem that can exist — one that's electronic and intermittent. Good luck demonstrating that one to the service writer.

"No, really, I swear..."


Anyhow, there's more. Donna first noted the right turn signal malfunction way back in April 2008. This problem, we'll admit, hasn't been fixed because of our own delays. Well, sort of. We've had the car at the dealer on one occasion and skipped a second chance to resolve the issue knowing it would be out of service too long during the time it was scheduled to be driven back to California. So we're living with it. And the rear window switches on the driver's door which only function intermittently.

Good times.

Josh Jacquot, Senior road test editor @ 24,944 miles

Will I still love you tomorrow?

February 04, 2009

The CTS will be going away soon and it's too bad. I'll miss it.

I really like the CTS: decent handling combined with great ride quality, good steering (all of the aforementioned better than the C300), good brakes, great interior design and features, and sharp exterior styling.

Do I mean sharp styling as in handsome, or as in sharp edges? Well — both.

And this is the one concern area if I were to consider buying this car: will the car's sharp-edged styling hold up over time?

You see, when I buy a new car, I want to keep it for at least 5 years, maybe 10.
(Edmunds/IL readers, though, should buy a new vehicle every 3 years to keep this Economy going!)
But what about the design of the CTS? If I were to buy one and keep it, would it end up being a $40K regret down the road?

Allow me to paint a heavy-handed styling classification, in broad strokes:

1. There are some cars that look good when they are released, and look good 10 years later (e.g., Ferrari Daytona, original Viper GTS (blue with white stripes, of course), C4 and C6 Corvette, Datsun 240Z).

2. There are some cars that were ugly when released, ugly later (e.g., Pinto, most everything AMC, new Ferrari California, etc, the list goes on...).

3. There are a few cars that were ugly when they came out, then got (way) better looking (e.g., '84 Testarossa, and ??).

4. There are cars where the styling is neither good nor bad: you just don't care (e.g, most everything out of Japan). This category captures most of the vehicles on the road today, I think, as most people own vehicular appliances.

5. And there are some cars that are good looking now, but will not look good 10 years from now.

Where to classify the CTS?? In Category 1? Or maybe Category 5? — where it will be joined by the new 370Z. I guess if I bought a CTS, I could always sell it when I got tired of it and eat the depreciation.

And there's always leasing.

Albert Austria, Sr Vehicle Evaluation Engineer @ 25, 000 miles

Even More Gremlins!

February 06, 2009

Driving home yesterday afternoon was frustrating. Not only because it rained (which always puts a hurt on my 40-mile commute), but also because the CTS seems to need a software update — badly. I didn't experience the glitches Josh did, but as you can see from the above photo, there's something finky going on, because there was no chance it was 32-degrees outside.

About ten minutes later, the true weather conditions appeared.

Ah, that's more like it. It was indeed raining, but is it 57 degrees outside (upper right) or 55?. And guess what else? I wasn't in Long Beach. I was two cities away in Compton, but I wasn't able to verify my location because the navigation system decided to take a nap.

No matter how many times I pressed the "Nav" or "Dest" buttons, the map and all navigation functions were AWOL. When I got home, I shut the car off for about 10 seconds, started it back up (essentially rebooting the hard drive), but still there was no nav. It didn't return until I started the car this morning.

Great. Then I went to get a cup of Joe at the ARCO (those fancy-shmancy places aren't open at 4:30 am), and after backing out of a parking space, the right-side rear view mirror got stuck in the curb-view position. No biggie; I tilted it back up with the button, but what the heck is going on here? Anyone?

Chris Walton, Chief Road Test Editor @ 25,225 miles

There's Warmth in the Way It Drives

February 09, 2009

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

Shortcuts That Try My Patience

February 10, 2009

Although I liked hanging with the 2008 Cadillac CTS last weekend , I wasn't blind to the annoying little problems in our particular vehicle.

I didn't experience any of the recently reported nav system glitches, but just as Chris noted, the passenger-side mirror would tilt down as I backed out of a parking space and still be tilted down when I got on the freeway. This happened six times on Friday night, but then, the mirror behaved itself the rest of the weekend.

My front passenger also pointed out the issue in the above photo. This is the fabric cover that attempts to conceal the wires at the base of each of the Cadillac's front seats. It's not a very elegant solution and, as you'll see, it's not really even a solution anymore.

Velcro is supposed to secure the fabric cover, but the adhesive holding on the velcro strips is no longer doing the job.

For comparison, here's the base of the driver seat, where the velcro is still securely affixed. Note that the fabric cover tucks underneath the plastic trim piece. This is good. However, it would obviously be better if the fabric had been cut more exactly to fit over the gap — without bending and creasing.

Here's the other thing about the Cadillac CTS that bugged me all weekend. It has a hand-operated release for the parking brake. Nothing wrong with that. But, this release lever is located just above the hood release and it's not illuminated.

In daylight, you can easily differentiate between the two.

But at night, it's a completely different story.

After accidentally pulling the hood release at 2 a.m. in pouring rain, I started turning on the map light every time to make sure I got the correct lever.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 25,373 miles

Still into it

February 18, 2009

With about 26,000 miles on the clock, the Cadillac CTS is still a very good car. The front seat flaps Erin complained about are obviously a punt but it wouldn't keep me from buying the car.

So far I have just two issues with the car. 1) Once every other week or so, my iPod won't sync to the audio system. 2) I wish there was a thicker cover for the massive sunroof - I'd like the choice to totally block out the sun, as it stands there's just one thin cover. At times, it simply lets too much light into the cabin

Dynamically, the Caddy feels as tight as when it was new. The car's on board computer is now registering 22.4 mpg pretty much all the time - that seems fair for a sedan as quick and roomy as the CTS and considering it probably gets driven harder than the average CTS. Finally, I still like the exterior look, some cars with dramatic design elements can begin to look dated or unusual just a year into a redesign - not so with the CTS. What do you think, does the CTS still look good or is it already a relic?

Brian Moody, Automotive Editor @ 25,746 miles.

RWD vs. AWD Differences Revealed

March 02, 2009

Right out of the gate, the first respondent spotted the difference between our two 2008 Cadillac CTSeses, despite a self-admitted alcohol impairment at the time (at least we're assuming it was alcohol.)

The brake calipers on the RWD CTS (the red one) are located behind the front axle centerline, while those on the AWD/black CTS are situated ahead of the front axle centerline. But no one grasped the significance of this difference.

With respect to the front axle centerline, brake calipers are located opposite the steering arm and tie rods. This means the RWD CTS has a forward-mounted steering rack, while the AWD CTS has an aft-mounted one.

A forward-mounted steering rack is far superior when it comes to steering precision, so most serious RWD machines use this placement. Having the control point (the tie rod ball joints) ahead of the tire contact patch means that forces at the contact patch create smaller unwanted toe-changes. Positive control is also helped by having smaller angles in the steering shaft u-joints (a straighter shot from the rack to the steering wheel, if you will). The RWD CTS features a new ground-up front suspension design and GM incorporated the forward rack placement from the start.

But the AWD CTS uses a carry-over front drive sub-assembly from the AWD Cadillac STS, and that car has a rear-mounted steering rack. I drove this particular AWD CTS, a US-spec car, in Germany at a GM-sponsored event (yes, the photo was taken at the Nurburgring). Despite having the same all-season tires and FE2 level suspension as our red CTS, the AWD car's steering clearly felt less immediate and a bit more vague. There was more steering kickback, too.

Front wheel drive machines with a lateral engine and transmission layout have to use aft rack placement because there's no other choice. And some high performance machines with longitudinal engine and transmission placement (most notably our Nissan GT-R) use the less-favorable rear rack placement if the underhood packaging is particularly crowded.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing

Squeak Squeak Squeak Senora

March 05, 2009

The Cadillac CTS has a visually arresting interior with excellent materials. It had a stitched dashtop long before the new $82,000 BMW 7 Series did. I'm not sure if I'm completely sold on the electronics lay-out, but I could certainly live with it. In other words, the CTS should be a perfect place to spend hours on the road.

Except that it squeaks more than a flock of mice that wandered into a River Dance rehearsal. It drives me nuts. Watch the video.

The second squeak is my left leg moving left and right. The first CTS short-term car' we had would squeak when going aggressively around corners. Now after 26,000 miles, our CTS does it all the freakin' time.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 26,028 miles

Yes We Can

March 09, 2009

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,

Nice View Through the Roof

March 23, 2009

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


March 29, 2009

"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,

And Another Thing...

April 13, 2009

Why is the Cadillac CTS's key only half intelligent? I like that the key can remain in the linty depths of my pocket to gain entry to the car (I only need to pull the door handle). But why must I press the lock button on the key to lock the car? There's no mechanism, sensor, or exterior button on the handle I can touch/brush to lock the car with the key in my pocket. Lame.

Chris Walton, Chief Road Test Editor @ 27,563 miles

Audio Slave

April 13, 2009

I quickly scanned all 86 (!) entries on the CTS (currently tied with the Smart for most blogged — though our former Fit Sport holds the record with 96), and found not one praising the CTS for the nifty pop-up touch screen. I love that its top edge is useful even when the screen is mostly retracted into the dash. Presets and audio controls are still accessed simply by touching the mini-screen. Cool. The problem is that the audio system gremlins persist.

Here's what one might expect the settings to reflect for normal listening. As both Josh and Dan noted in previous entries, the front/rear fade settings (and now the tone adjustments)seem to have a mind of their own. Here's how I had to set them for a tolerable (though still not optimal) listening experience...

Anything less than MAX treble sounded flat and anything less than nearly-MAX rear fade sounded like only the front speakers were working. I tried to "re-boot" the system, but the issues persisted all weekend.

Oh, and the turn signal issue has yet to be resolved, a year later.

Chris Walton, Chief Road Test Editor @ 27,563 miles

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

Date with the Dealer

April 24, 2009

First things first: Our CTS's on-board computer was calling for an oil change. It's one of those cars with the handy count down meter and unlike some cars I can think of (bmw) the CTS shows the time remaining in big numbers, not a flash across the screen for 3 seconds on start-up. Unlike the first service, this one was going to cost us. It was going to cost us $105.95 to be more specific. That pays for an all-synthetic oil change, fluid top off and check all external lights. So basically, it's an oil change where the six quarts of Castrol synthetic cost $47.70, the filter is $10.95 and then there's another $29.95 for labor. Then add $1.12 for hazardous waste disposal and $5.43 in taxes. While not a great price, add this up and the final cost was $95.15, about 10 bucks less than what we were quoted.

But that was the easy part. Next up were the tricky bits, listed in ascending order of trickiness:

1) The bum turn signal. "Internal contact resistance" was causing the problem and the turn signal switch had to be replaced. It wasn't in stock and took about four days to come in and then just a few hours to install.

2) Faulty glue on seats. Dan Edmunds experienced this back in May of '08, we just re-glued it ourselves. Then, Erin noted this on the passenger seat of the CTS, and by the time we'd brought it in for service the driver seat was doing the same thing. They re-glued the Velcro to the seat plastic and called it a day. Our fingers are crossed.

3) There's a small plastic trim panel between the rear-view mirror and the windshield that covers the bundle of wires coming out the multi-function unit. (It's auto-dimming and has onstar built in.) Well, there's supposed to be a trim panel there. It fell off the day before going in for service. Turns out the mirror itself was loose and the cover would not re-attach. The mirror was removed and reinstalled along with the trim panel.

4) Glitchy Nav / Audio system. Josh Jacquot wrote of it: "

The front left and right speakers (all four of them — two on the dash and two in the doors) simply weren't working — a problem even the untrained ear (mine) can recognize. The affirmation came when I manually dialed all the power to the left front speakers (see red circle on photo), at which point there was no sound at all. Punch it back a few clicks and the rear speakers and front center channel came back on line. Hmmm...

And again, just like Dan's experience, turning the car off and back on (rebooting?) cured the problem. Bill Gates wrote this solution and for it he deserves a swift kick in the nuts. This seems to me to be the worst kind of problem that can exist — one that's electronic and intermittent. Good luck demonstrating that one to the service writer.

"No, really, I swear..."

And then Chris Walton posted, "No matter how many times I pressed the "Nav" or "Dest" buttons, the map and all navigation functions were AWOL. When I got home, I shut the car off for about 10 seconds, started it back up (essentially rebooting the hard drive), but still there was no nav. It didn't return until I started the car this morning."

And then Chris Walton had it happen to him again, so far the only person to experience the issue twice.

The dealer could not replicate the issue (surprise!) and all of our software is up to date. Short of driving it directly to the nearest dealer next time this happens — not out of the question — we're going to have to live with this one until GM can figure it out on some other cars and issue a TSB.

Total Cost: 95.15

Days out of Service: 2

Issues fixed: 3/4

Mike Magrath, Vehicle Testing Assistant @ 27,268 miles

Understands My Plight

April 26, 2009

Driving home at rush hour in L.A. is always an adventure. It's like driving an obstacle course. Cars dart from lane to lane trying get home an inch sooner.

I was on my usual freeway route so I didn't bother with the nav system and didn't even have the map up on the screen. I was listening to rather loud music on my iPod and wanted the audio screen displayed. Then all of a sudden the music lowered and a soft, slightly melancholy voice said, "May I have your attention, in 1.8 miles, traffic jam."

Wow, thanks. That would be really helpful if I weren't already at a dead stop on the 405. But at least she sounded sympathetic.

I always find it disarming when features are working in the background when you didn't bother turning them on. I've had this voice talk to me even when I've had the screen closed.

Now, this traffic report isn't the CTS's fault. I've yet to find a real-time traffic feature that can actually give you traffic in real time. Some day.

Our time with the CTS will soon be coming to an end. I'm going to miss it, as will other members of our staff.

So, we're giving this car one last shot as Car of the Week.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor


April 27, 2009

View from the cockpit

You posed some questions in the comments of the previous post:

Steering wheel: Yes, it is rather large but it has power-adjustable controls and doesn't feel too oversized when driving. And the feature buttons are a nice thumb-size so there's no fumbling about when advancing tracks or changing volume.

CTS Wagon vs. SRX: Yes, the wagon will come here and the SRX is getting smaller. So, it will be a matter of preference. How high do you like to sit?

The plastic thingy near the shifter: Dan answered this is a previous post:
2008 Cadillac CTS: What Does This Thing Do?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

Open Thread

April 28, 2009

OK, time to get all riled up.

Have you driven a CTS? Write your own review in the comments.

This car is coming near the end of its long-term test. Anything you'd like us to cover that we haven't already?

Anyone want to arm wrestle over which is better, the CTS or anything German?

Let the games begin.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

Navigation Screen Deployment

April 28, 2009

2008 Cadillac CTS navigation screen deployment.

Dan Edmunds, DIrector of Vehicle Testing @ 28,200 miles

Suspension Walkaround

April 29, 2009

By now you might be able to recognize what you're seeing without me going on at length. After all, there are only so many ways to lay out a suspension.

Our 2008 Cadillac CTS has a double-wishbone setup with a high-mount upper arm, and it uses a lot of aluminum bits and pieces.

The difference between the double wishbone and double control arm designation amounts to a technicality, but I'm going with double wishbone here because the one-piece aluminum lower control arm (blue) is generally A-shaped, not L-shaped.

An earlier post of mine mentioned that our CTS has forward-mounted steering (yellow), as opposed to the CTS AWD, which does not. Our RWD CTS steers quite precisely, so it paid off.

And our CTS has very functional front brake ducts (black) that shoot air gathered from front grille openings onto the front rotors.

In this view you can see the coil over shock absorber (green). The upper end of the stabilizer link (yellow) attaches directly to the aluminum hub carrier (aka knuckle or upright) for a 1:1 motion ratio. A 1:1 ratio means they can call this a direct-acting stabilizer bar, and since the bar can give everything it's got, it can be smaller (and lighter) and still get the job done.

Here's the upper arm, with a decent amount of anti-dive geometry (yellow). The cool part is the one-piece aluminum upper mounting bracket, which also carries the upper mount for the coil-over.

That aluminum upper suspension mounting bracket bolts to the shock towers of the unibody with these four bolts (yellow). An extruded aluminum "stress bar" bolts to two of them to help make the upper end more rigid by combating the tendency of the towers to flex inward under load.


The CTS has 2-piston sliding calipers and ventilated front rotors. Calipers are almost always the product of an outside supplier, and the green circle indicates that these are made by Mando, a Hyundai-family supplier that has a big US presence and a US plant.

Here's a quick run-through on how a sliding caliper works. Sliding calipers have their pistons on one side. This one has two of them (green). When you press on the brake pedal, the pistons move in the green direction, pressing the pad against the rotor. A sliding caliper floats on pins (yellow) and the equal-and-opposite reaction means the caliper itself will slide in the yellow direction. But the caliper wraps around the other side of the rotor, where another brake pad sits (purple). The motion of the caliper in the yellow direction pulls the purple pad against the rotor. Bottom line: pistons on one side provide clamping force to pads on both sides.

Sliding caliper brake pads are really easy to service if your rotors are in good shape. All you need to do is remove one small bolt (black) and pivot the whole affair up on it's opposite partner. Here I'd remove the upper one and pivot it on the lower one, owing to the brake hose routing.

In an unrelated matter, the white arrow shows the upper stabilizer bar attachment point more clearly. The bolt has a long hex nose so you can hold it in one place with a second wrench while you tighten the main nut. Without it, the ball joint will just spin and spin and you'll never get it tight.

The CTS uses multilink suspension on the rear end. It has a one-piece y-shaped aluminum upper arm and three links. The green and purple links approximate a lower arm, though they attach to the knuckle at seperate points. The final link (white) is a toe-control link.

Here's another angle of that toe control link (yellow), and you can see that it's easily adjustable, with left and right hand threads on opposite ends so you can simply loosen the jamb nut and twist is as much as necessary.

You can see one of the four rubber rear subframe mounts and the forward-pointing trailing link (green) that we saw before.

The shock absorber mounts directly to the knuckle (white) for a 1:1 motion ratio. And, like the stabilizer bar we saw earlier, a direct-mounted shock can be smaller and still get the job done as well as a larger one that isn't direct-mounted.

Here's the rear stabilizer bar (green). It isn't direct mounted, but it's close (yellow). The motion ratio looks to be about 0.9:1 or thereabouts.

There's another subframe bushing (purple) and the parking brake cable (white). This has a drum parking brake packaged within the "hat" of the rotor. What do they call that? A drum-in-hat parking brake, of course.

Here's the rear brake caliper. It's a single-pistion (green) sliding caliper, a very common and effective design. Fixed-piston calipers may look great through the wheels, and they certainly have benefits for track use, but sliding calipers can certainly get the job done. Here GM put their money where it can do the most good: nice, deep ventilated rear rotors.

Here's a trick that racers have used for a long time, yet you hardly every see it on passenger cars. The wheel studs are elongated, the first few threads have been machined away and the ends are tapered. This makes it easy to start the lugs quickly without cross-threading them. The lug nuts themselves have to be longer in order to hide it all, something racers don't worry about.

For the record, the wheel and tire assemblies weighed 52 pounds. The rims are 18 x 8.5 inches with a 48 mm offset.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 28,255 miles

Fuel Economy Update

April 30, 2009

We haven't updated our Cadillac CTS' fuel economy in a looooooong time — updating the fuel log just took me 30 minutes. But here's the damage.

Overall Average: 19.2 mpg
EPA Combined: 20 mpg

Best: 32.5 mpg (Bravo, Scott Oldham)
Worst: 9.9 mpg (Double bravo, Mike Magrath)
Longest Distance on One Tank: 401.2 miles (25.6 mpg by Dan Pund)
Most Fuel in One Tank: 20.598 gallons

(Update: As a sharp reader noted, the CTS only has an 18-gallon gas tank. Not really sure how the 20.598 happened. Maybe someone filled up their lawnmower on the company tab.)

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 28,313 miles

It's OK to Lose to BMW

April 30, 2009

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

A Review of the Backseat

May 01, 2009

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.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 28,325 miles

MPG, Squeaks and the Importance of Demographics

May 26, 2009

When I got into the 2008 Cadillac CTS two weeks ago the average fuel economy on the dash was 17 mpg (our records show the lifetime average at 19 mpg). I zeroed it out and began my highway commute of 62 miles per day and now it's a pretty respectable 23.6 mpg.

It's my job to sell the long term cars when we are done testing them. I often get an earful from other staff members along the lines of, "Who would want to buy that piece of junk? Can you believe how many rattles it's got?" This makes it harder for me to sell the car since I have to believe in its value. And there is value in every car for someone.

Case in point.

I drove to Santa Barbara to attend my son's senior music recital and I had to pick up a family friend in the Cadillac. She is in her 80s. As she approached the car she said, "Ooo, a Cadillac!" The whole time she was in the car she was praising what she perceived as the luxury and comfort of our Caddy.

So, GM pretty much nailed that demographic. But then, I guess you knew that. And, no, she doesn't have blue hair.

But here's an area where the designers really dropped the ball. You can't get even one set of golf clubs lengthwise in the trunk! I was going to play golf with two friends and we had three bags and three guys — not an unrealistic demand. We had to fold down the back seat and still the clubs weren't easy to get in. And when you pulled the bags out the clubs dumped all over the place and — Well, it was a pain. My 2007 Honda Fit handles golf clubs better than the Cadillac.

As for the rattles and squeaks, maybe I'm losing my hearing. Or maybe a lot of the squeaks were the creaking of the leather. But I do agree with Erin Riches that the fabric covering over the wiring under the front seats which has pulled loose is very annoying.

By the way, the asking price for the Cadillac is over $30,000. Any takers?

Finding a Buyer — It Only Takes One

July 01, 2009

Early in the selling process for the 2008 Cadillac CTS we wrote about how a woman emailed us with an offer for $20,000.

She wrote: I could/would go 20k on the cad. off the mark I know, but what the hell.

Some of the people who commented agreed with this woman saying that our Caddy wasn't worth anything close to the $28,500 we were asking.

Well, I'm here to seek vindication for TMV and for the "Cad." We just closed a deal for it at $27,500.

Here are the details.

The Cadillac was a perfect storm of options and all those bells and whistles that cost so much when it was new (we bought it for $42,272) had largely lost their value in the 18 months that we owned it. As a friend of mine has observed, used cars are helped most by "the big three" options: leather, sun roof and CD changer. Our red Cadillac was also helped by having the 3.6-liter direct-injection V6 and 18-inch wheels.

So while TMV with all options was still around $30,000, we decided that with the current incentives on a new CTS driving the price down, we would offer ours for $28,500. We advertised the Caddy in Craigslist and on Autotrader and waited for the phone to ring.

And waited.

Except for the woman who offered $20K, we also had a local guy sniffing around for $28,000. Finally, we got another offer from an insurance broker from the Bay Area for $27,000. With these two offers in hand, I did a quick email negotiation and closed at $27,500. A day later, I picked up our buyer (who bought it based on pictures and good faith) at the airport. He gave us a cashier's check and drove off an hour later heading north.

A few days later I got this email from the new owner: "I think Cadillac had me in mind when they built the CTS. It was a sweet ride home and only took 4 hours. I loved every minute of it! I thought of going all the way to Sacramento just to keep driving, but I got hungry."

As a footnote I should add that the buyer told me he had been looking for this trim/color for a long time and had even hired a broker to get him one at auction. But then he saw our ad and jumped on it. We're glad he did because they weren't exactly beating the door down to buy it. But then, as they say about buyers, "It only takes one."

Parting Shots

July 06, 2009

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, 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


July 10, 2009

Why We Bought It
Performance and Fuel Economy
Retained Value
Summing Up

"There was a time when people used to say 'the Cadillac of Watches' when they were describing a Rolex, or 'the Cadillac of Boats' when describing a Chris Craft. It's great to be reminded of those times."

Inside Line Road Test Editor Chris Walton hit the nail on the head in his full test of the all-new 2008 Cadillac CTS V6. Like watching a beloved family member slip slowly into senility, it's been difficult to watch the decline of Cadillac's worldwide reputation over the past few decades, even as it revived itself commercially with the first Cadillac STS and then subsequent models like the Escalade. And then, virtually out of the blue, came the revised second-generation CTS with a high-tech direct-injection V6, turning back the clock like a super cocktail of stem cells and Viagra.

Cadillac got a new lease on life and a sharp new suit; we wanted a piece of the action. As soon as the new CTS hit showroom floors, we sought one out for a long-term road test.

Why We Got It
The first-generation CTS had been a stylish sedan aimed at the Acura TL, BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class. With the exception of the CTS-V that debuted in 2004, the CTS didn't really break any new ground. It represented an overdue American entry in this segment of sporting-size premium luxury sedans, but missteps by Cadillac in terms of refinement and quality kept it out of the inner circle.

For 2008, Cadillac reimagined the CTS from the ground up, honing its Arts and Science exterior theme and letting some creative types go wild on the interior. The result proved to be an overwhelming critical success; Cadillac was, once again, without peer in the field of design, execution and innovation. But 2008 brought more than just a visual refresh; GM, still solvent, OK'd the expense report from Cadillac's ride and handling department for a trip to Germany, where the CTS would be tuned on the world's most famous racetrack-turned-proving ground — the Nürburgring Nordschleife.

Beauty, brains and balance — the 2008 CTS brought everything to the table a Cadillac should. Our hopes were high.

Our driving impressions of the new 2008 Cadillac CTS begin with logbook entries about the car's new engine, a 300-horsepower, direct-injection 3.6-liter V6. Cadillac itself has received some initial customer complaints regarding engine noise when the windows are open, or from outside the vehicle, but this was never a complaint during our stint behind the wheel. It's not that we didn't notice the clicking from the V6, it's just that this is what direct-injection (DI) motors do. Turbochargers whistle, superchargers whine and DI systems click. It's a function of the high-pressure (somewhere around 1,800 psi) fuel delivery system. And it's probably a sound we won't even notice in five years.

Inside the plush cabin, however, there was no discordance. Brian Moody summed it up after only a month in the fleet: "Cadillac's excellent 3.6-liter direct-injection V6 is all the reason I need to recommend the car. The engine is smooth, responsive and has plenty of punch when you need it.... Plus, am I imagining things, or is there a bit of an exhaust note, too? I'd gladly drive this car every day." GM's DI V6 not only proved pleasant, but reliable to boot. In 26,000 miles the CTS required only two oil changes — the first one was complimentary; the second, performed at Martin Cadillac cost $95.15 but included a litany of other routine service checks that we'll get into later.

The combination of a world-class engine, interior refinement and national pride prompted Dan Pund, Senior Editor in Detroit, to kidnap the CTS and drive it 2,800 miles to his home in Michigan. During his sojourn with the 2008 Cadillac CTS, Dan was confused by homophones, pimped our key fob and gave the all-season tires their only real workout. Unfortunately, the eventual homecoming in Detroit was not all roses. The CTS blew a fairly difficult-to-find fuse and struggled with intermittent window operation.

The two problems Pund experienced were but a fraction of the issues that cropped up over the term of this test. Senior Road Test Editor Josh Jacquot was the first to notice the malfunction in the nav system, which persisted throughout the life of the car. No solution was found, no upgrade was available and the dealer never broke a sweat trying to satisfy us. A turn signal failure required us to order special parts. And an overwhelming number of rattles and creaks caused one editor to nickname our 2008 Cadillac CTS "Rattlesaurus." Some of these issues were cleared at the CTS's last dealer visit, but we left the dealer with some problems still unresolved.

These issues might seem minor, but as automobiles in general improve in sophistication and quality, it's the little things that separate the good from the great.

Total Body Repair Costs: $325
Total Routine Maintenance Costs (over [16] months): $95.15
Additional Maintenance Costs: None
Warranty Repairs: 2
Non-Warranty Repairs: None
Scheduled Dealer Visits: 2
Unscheduled Dealer Visits: 1
Days Out of Service: 1
Breakdowns Stranding Driver: None

Performance and Fuel Economy
When you take a look at the federal government's online component of the EPA, it rates the DI CTS with an automatic transmission at 17 mpg city/26 mpg highway and a combined rating of 20 mpg. We didn't quite average that over our 30,355 miles, but we came close with an overall average of 19.3 mpg. This is, of course, considering our best tank of 32.5 mpg (must've been boring) and our worst tank of a meager 9.9 mpg (must've been fun).

And speaking of fun, we had one last burst of it just before we said good-bye, giving the 2008 Cadillac CTS a thorough wrap-up test. At the test track, our CTS recorded a 0-60-mph time of 6.6 seconds (6.3 seconds with 1 foot of rollout like on a drag strip) and a quarter-mile pass of 14.7 seconds at 95.9 mph. This is virtually identical to the results from our first test. Braking, too, was virtually identical, although our test driver complained about what felt like warped rotors. Handling numbers (surprise!) were comparable to the first test.

None of these track numbers are anything to write home about, but not once did we complain that the CTS didn't have enough grunt — though we certainly pined for the supercharged 556-hp LS9 V8 resting in the 2009 Cadillac CTS-V.

Best Fuel Economy: 32.5 mpg
Worst Fuel Economy: 9.9 mpg
Average Fuel Economy: 19.3 mpg

Retained Value
Our 2008 Cadillac CTS V6 DI with all of the goodies, including the glitchy-yet-impressive infotainment system, bore the burden of a $46,690 window sticker. The depreciation began before we got it off the dealer lot. Even though the car was brand-new, our local dealer gave us more than $4 grand off the MSRP, bringing the sticker down to $42,272. Now, some 16 months after that initial transaction, our CTS carries a value as appraised by the True Market Value (TMV®) Calculator of $28,985. Compared with the price we paid, this is a 31 percent depreciation. Compared with the sticker price, this is a 37 percent depreciation. Our long-term Mercedes-Benz C300 showed only 34 percent depreciation, so clearly the perception of Mercedes-Benz and Cadillac does not truly reflect the state of affairs today, as both cars had similar quality and similar problems.

It took a few weeks, but we finally found a buyer who was looking for an FE2 suspension, red exterior and the navigation package. Thrilled as he was, he was only willing to pay $27,500 — about $1,400 off TMV. We called it a deal and walked away happy. The actual sale price represents a 41 percent drop from the original MSRP.

True Market Value at service end: $28,985
What it sold for: $27,550
Depreciation: $19,140 or 41% of original paid price
Final Odometer Reading: 30,355

What It All Means
At the end of the CTS's tour of duty, our editors were split in their opinions about this car. Nearly half felt disappointment and a tinge of anger about the small squeaks, rattles and glitches that plagued our Caddy. The other half were still taken by the striking design, excellent motor and controlled ride. The little things, they said, were a small price to pay for everything good that comes with the CTS. As one editor said, "Supporting the home team isn't always easy, and this car is like a 14-2 season. Is complaining really worth it?"

That impassioned football analogy didn't sway anyone, though it illustrates an important point. There are certain cars that stir the soul in a way no spreadsheet can quantify, and the 2008 Cadillac CTS is one of those cars. It's not perfect, but it's honest and true to American driving habits.

It's not a 3 Series or a C-Class, but after 16 months, we're glad it isn't.

Edmunds purchased this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.