2008 Cadillac CTS: A Nice Ride
May 27, 2008
I spent this past Memorial Day weekend in our 2008 Cadillac CTS. I hadn't spent much time in the CTS since I attended the launch of the car in Germany about 10 months ago, where I drove a 6-speed manual equipped FE3 on the Nurburgring.
My wife and I didn't take it anywhere near as spectacular, as we stayed in-town this weekend--too many races to watch on the Tivo and whatnot. But even on the freeway cruise to Griffith Park Observatory and on the roads around my neighborhood, the new CTS was still impressive.
Ride and Handling: Our FE2 provides a good balance of ride and control--not too stiff over LA freeway joints and aged asphalt, yet no hint of float or excessive body roll. The damping sits right in the sweet spot. The steering is well-weighted and precise and the Caddy has a good sense of straight-ahead. This is definitiely not your grandfather's Cadillac. Because I like a bit more sporty edge in my own cars, I'd still probably go with the FE3. But there is nothing sub-par about the FE2.
Powertrain: Decent power from the 3.6-liter DI engine. People still look a little downcast when you say "V6," but this is old-school thinking in this case. Direct-injection gives the CTS over 300 horsepower, a figure that ought to be more than enough for most folks. I certainly had no regrets. If only the 6-speed automatic transmission had steering paddles like the, ahem, Aura.
Interior: I like the sweep of the dash and center stack--it looks quite nice. Most of the interior materials and detailing are good. But for me the interior chrome accents are a bit much. I could deal with the number of them if they looked more like metal than so many chrome parts from an Aurora plastic model kit. And I wish I could ditch that analog clock.
Seats: My wife thought the seats were very comfortable, a rare event for her. And that wasn't merely because they had mutli-stage seat heaters, either. No, they genuinely fit her 5'4" frame quite well. I wasn't as in love with them myself, as it feels like my upper back and shoulders don't touch the seats at all. Nevertheless, I felt just fine after an hour or so behind the wheel.
Styling: With the track increase came flared fenders and a wider stance. The rounded flares make it look tougher yet much less slab-sided than before, and the edgy design theme now looks less overpowering. I don't know if I'll ever make peace with the grille, but it is growing on me.
Headlights: The adaptive headlights provide great illumination in turns and the high beams really toss out the lumens. The "light-tubes" in the front and rear make for interesting-looking parking lamps.
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