Used 2016 Cadillac CTS Review
Edmunds expert review
With its sharp styling, well-trimmed cabin and engaging performance, the 2016 Cadillac CTS is a serious contender among midsize luxury sport sedans.
What's new for 2016
Cadillac has made a huge comeback in the past decade, and for the most part its sharply designed, luxuriously appointed and well-engineered vehicles have been much more competitive in their respective segments. An excellent example is Cadillac's midsize luxury sport sedan, the CTS. Blessed with world-class handling, an available turbocharged V6 and a nicely appointed interior, the 2016 Cadillac CTS could very well have what it takes to win you over.
Stylish and entertaining to drive, the 2016 CTS is a great choice for a midsize luxury sedan.
Like many of its competitors, the 2016 CTS comes standard with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine. It's not a great way to start, admittedly, as this 2.0-liter mill trails the pack in terms of both refinement and fuel economy. Better to set your sights on one of the two V6 engines that Cadillac offers for 2016. The first is a freshly designed 3.6-liter, 335-horsepower V6 that, like the four, comes paired with a new eight-speed automatic transmission. Those looking for even more performance will gravitate toward the CTS V-Sport and its thrilling 420-hp, twin-turbocharged V6.
In any trim, the CTS offers exemplary handling that few luxury sedans can match. Styling is subjective, of course, but we think the 2016 CTS shows off Cadillac's sharply chiseled design language as well as any Caddy yet. In terms of features, the CTS checks most of the expected boxes, offering niceties such as a panoramic sunroof, adaptive suspension dampers, tri-zone automatic climate control and even a self-parking system that can handle both parallel and perpendicular jobs. The CUE infotainment system is more of a mixed bag, but it gets a new, faster processor for 2016 and now offers the convenience of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.
Of course, the midsize luxury sedan segment is packed with well-known all-stars. The BMW 5 Series isn't the athlete that the CTS is (a strange-but-true turn of events), but it's got a superb range of engines, and its infotainment system is a more mature product than CUE. Much the same can be said of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, while the Audi A6 boasts sporty handling that approaches the CTS' level of sharpness. The Lexus GS 350 and its hybrid-powered GS 450h sibling also are worthy alternatives unless you're considering the seriously fast CTS V-Sport. Ultimately, the CTS easily holds its own in this group. Whether you're looking for performance, luxury or both, Cadillac has a complete package in the 2016 CTS.
Trim levels & features
The 2016 Cadillac CTS midsize sedan is offered in six trim levels: Standard, Luxury, Performance, Premium, V-Sport and V-Sport Premium. The ultrahigh-performance 2016 CTS-V is reviewed separately.
The CTS Standard comes with the four-cylinder engine, 17-inch alloy wheels, Brembo front brakes, heated exterior mirrors, automatic headlights, rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, remote ignition, keyless ignition and entry, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, dual-zone automatic climate control, a manual tilt-and-telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel with paddle shifters, eight-way power front seats (with two-way power lumbar), driver memory settings, leatherette (premium vinyl) upholstery and fixed rear seats with a trunk pass-through.
Additional technology features include OnStar telematics, 4G data connectivity with Wi-Fi capability, wireless smartphone charging, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, the base Cadillac User Experience (CUE) infotainment system (without navigation), an 8-inch touchscreen interface, voice controls and an 11-speaker surround-sound Bose audio system with three USB ports, an auxiliary audio jack and satellite and HD radio.
The standard CUE touchscreen interface has generated its share of controversy in the past, but the latest version is a very capable system.
An optional Seating package includes upgraded exterior mirrors with driver-side auto-dimming, leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, split-folding rear seatbacks, a power-adjustable heated steering wheel and additional LED interior ambient lighting.
Upgrading to the CTS Luxury adds the above Seating package plus available V6 power, adaptive xenon headlights, a panoramic sunroof, four-way power lumbar for the front passengers, a navigation system, a 13-speaker Bose audio system and the Driver Awareness package (automatic high-beam control, automatic wipers, lane keeping assist, Cadillac's vibrating safety-alert seat for the driver, forward collision alert, a blind-spot monitor, lane change alert, rear cross-traffic alert and lane departure warning).
The CTS Performance comes with the Luxury's features and options plus 18-inch wheels (optional on Luxury), adaptive magnetic suspension dampers, a self-parking system (with both parallel and perpendicular capability) and — somewhat confusingly — a Luxury package consisting of illuminated door handles and sill plates, a head-up display, a 110-volt power outlet, tri-zone automatic climate control, heated rear seats, manual rear sunshades and a power rear window sunshade.
A surround-view camera system that provides a bird's-eye view of the car is standard for Performance and higher trims, while the optional Driver Assist package adds adaptive cruise control and a collision mitigation system with automatic braking. The Performance Seat and Cluster package adds 20-way-adjustable front sport seats, alloy pedals and a high-definition 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster with upgraded graphics for 2016.
The CTS Premium starts with the Performance's features and options and adds different 18-inch wheels, extended leather upholstery and an advanced theft-deterrent package.
The CTS V-Sport comes only with the turbocharged V6 engine. It starts with the Luxury trim level's standard features (minus the sunroof, which is not available) and adds the self-parking system, 18-inch wheels with summer tires, upgraded brakes, a sport-tuned suspension, a sport-tuned steering system (with a quicker ratio), a driver-selectable Track mode for spirited driving, an electronic limited-slip rear differential and a heavy-duty cooling system.
The CTS V-Sport Premium adds the sunroof plus the regular Premium trim's features that aren't already standard on the base V-Sport.
A V-Sport package for the Luxury and non-V-Sport Performance and Premium trims adds some of the V-Sport's features to these lesser models, including 18-inch wheels with summer tires, the upgraded brakes and sport-tuned suspension (plus the adaptive magnetic dampers for the Luxury trim) and a V-Sport steering wheel.
Stand-alone options include 19-inch wheels, a rear spoiler, an engine-block heater and carbon-fiber interior trim.
Performance & mpg
A 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder making 268 hp and 295 pound-feet of torque is the base engine for all but the V-Sport. Available with either rear-wheel drive (RWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD), the four-cylinder is hooked up to an eight-speed automatic transmission with steering-wheel paddle shifters. An added feature for 2016 is a fuel-saving automatic engine stop-start system, which shuts the engine down at full stops and instantaneously restarts it when you lift off the brake or apply pressure to the accelerator pedal.
Optional on the Luxury, Performance and Premium trims is a 3.6-liter V6 good for 335 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque. It gets the same stop-start technology and eight-speed automatic as the four-cylinder engine, again with a choice of RWD and AWD.
Topping the line is the V-Sport's turbocharged 3.6-liter V6, which cranks out 420 hp and 430 lb-ft of torque. Rear-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic are mandatory.
Freeway on-ramps can be great fun with a lead foot and a 2016 Cadillac CTS.
As far as fuel economy, the four-cylinder CTS gets an EPA-estimated 25 mpg combined (21 city/31 highway) with RWD and 22 mpg combined (19 city/28 highway) with AWD. That's nothing to write home about these days; the four-cylinder Audi A6, for example, gets up to 28 mpg combined.
The RWD-only V-Sport drops to 19 mpg combined (16 city/24 highway).
In Edmunds testing of a CTS V-Sport, we recorded a 4.9-second sprint to 60 mph, which is a competitive time for a high-performance midsize sport sedan.
Standard safety features for the 2016 Cadillac CTS include antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, active front head restraints, a rearview camera, front and rear side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. Also standard are rear parking sensors and OnStar telematics (which includes automatic crash notification, on-demand roadside assistance, an emergency button, stolen vehicle locator and active intervention, and remote door unlock). Standard on the Performance and higher trims is a surround-view camera system.
Additional safety equipment is bundled into the Driver Awareness and Driver Assist packages, which are discussed above.
In government crash tests, the CTS received the top rating of five stars overall, including five stars for total front-impact safety and five stars for total side-impact safety. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has given the present-generation CTS its highest rating of Good in the moderate-overlap front-impact and side-impact crash tests, and the CTS also earned the top Superior rating for frontal crash prevention when equipped with the Driver Awareness and Driver Assist packages.
Acceleration in the 2016 Cadillac CTS V-Sport is impressive, with gobs of torque available whenever you squeeze on the gas. It's not quite enough to make us forget about the separately reviewed 2016 CTS-V's supercharged V8, but it certainly puts Cadillac on the same plane as its European rivals with upgraded engines. Of course, most CTS models will have either the turbo-four or the regular V6 engine. The former lacks the eerie refinement and linearity of rival fours from Germany, though it compensates with a healthy midrange punch. We haven't tested the new 335-hp V6, but while its output is robust, its lack of turbo- or supercharging may put it at a disadvantage in low-rpm situations compared to the Audi A6 3.0T or BMW 535i.
Balanced and responsive on the road, the 2016 CTS is a driver's car like the BMW 5 Series used to be.
Through turns, the CTS provides uncommon levels of composure and tactility. If you ever find yourself driving one on a racetrack, don't be afraid to toss it into a corner — it'll shrink around you like all great sport sedans, and you'll enjoy arguably the best steering feel and body control in this segment. Yes, this Caddy is sharp, yet it still maintains its composure over bumps, especially when fitted with the adaptive suspension. The CTS is also ideal for highway cruising, thanks to its smooth ride and fairly quiet cabin.
The interior of the 2016 Cadillac CTS is sophisticated, luxurious and rendered in rich materials, with a high level of craftsmanship and thorough technology integration. Front passengers in the 2016 CTS enjoy ample personal space, yet the enveloping dashboard and door panels make for an intimate cockpit that meshes nicely with the car's sporting mission. Rear passengers will be less pleased, however, as there's only modest space back there by midsize standards.
Cadillac's interior quality and design have found new heights in the current CTS lineup.
The Cadillac User Experience (CUE) infotainment system pairs a graphically rich 8-inch touchscreen with peripheral touch-panel inputs. Now outfitted with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, CUE is more capable than ever when it comes to smartphone integration. We've found the system to be frustrating in the past, especially when you need to execute a quick command while driving, but Cadillac has implemented a quicker processor and additional tweaks for 2016. That's something to keep in mind if you're comparing this year's model to those from 2015 and before.
At 13.7 cubic feet, the CTS sedan's trunk is small for this class.
Edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.