Given the luxury cachet and performance standards set by European and Japanese models, it's not easy to stand out in this class. But with world-class handling, an available turbocharged V6, and a top-shelf interior, the 2017 Cadillac CTS has all it needs to compete against the world's best.
Like many of its competitors, the CTS comes standard with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine. It does the job, but it's not the best first impression, lacking the refinement and fuel efficiency of its competitors. Better to seek out the one of the CTS' two V6 engines: One delivers 335 horsepower, and the other is rated to produce up to 420 horses.
In any trim, the CTS offers exemplary handling that few luxury sedans can match. And though styling is subjective, we tend to think the Caddy's chiseled lines are elegant and will age well. The CTS also checks most of the boxes when it comes to features in this class: panoramic sunroof, adaptive suspension, sophisticated multimedia and smartphone integration, even a self-parking system.
New for the 2017 CTS is the rear camera mirror, which displays a streaming, high-resolution image that Cadillac says improves field of vision four times greater than a standard rearview mirror. Cadillac's Teen Driver system also arrives on the new CTS, allowing parents to set limits and receive feedback on the driving habits of their teens.
The midrange sport-luxury sedan segment is packed with well-known stars such as the BMW 5 Series and Audi A6. The BMW isn't quite as athletic as the CTS, but it offers a range of engines and exceptional comfort. The same could be said of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, the standard bearer for elegance in this group. The Audi, meanwhile, rivals the Caddy's sporty reflexes and manages a cool, modernist interior and refinement as well. The Lexus GS 350 and its hybrid-powered GS 450h sibling are also worthy considerations.
Standard safety features for the 2017 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). A 360-degree bird's-eye camera view is standard on the Premium Luxury and V-Sport models.
New for 2017 are the rear camera mirror and Teen Driver. The latter is standard on all trims, while the mirror comes standard on Premium Luxury trims (regular and V-Sport) and is optional on Luxury trims. Additional safety equipment is bundled into the Driver Awareness and Driver Assist packages.
In government crash tests, the CTS received the top rating of five stars overall, including five stars for total frontal-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 frontal-offset 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.
trim levels & features
The 2017 Cadillac CTS midsize sedan is offered in five trim levels: CTS (base trim), Luxury, Premium Luxury, V-Sport and V-Sport Luxury. The high-performance 2017 CTS-V is reviewed separately.
The CTS comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, Brembo front brakes, heated exterior mirrors, automatic headlights, rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, remote/keyless ignition and entry, cruise control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, dual-zone automatic climate control, a manual, leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with paddle shifters, eight-way power front seats, driver seat/mirror memory settings, faux-leather 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, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a Bose 11-speaker surround-sound audio system with three USB ports, an auxiliary audio jack, and satellite and HD radio.
Options include a sunroof, navigation system and an upgraded Bose audio system. There's also a Seating Package that adds leather upholstery, auto-dimming driver-side mirror, heated and ventilated front seats, split-folding rear seatbacks, a power-adjustable, heated steering wheel, and LED interior ambient lighting.
Stepping up to the Luxury grade adds adaptive xenon headlights, a panoramic sunroof, a navigation system, the Bose sound system and the Driver Awareness package. The latter includes a number of driver and safety aids including automatic high beams, rain-sensing wipers, lane keeping assist, forward collision alert, a blind-spot monitor, lane-change alert, rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning, and Cadillac's Safety Alert seat, which vibrates to warn the driver of a possible collision with vehicles around the car.
Some options on Luxury trims include 18-inch wheels, the Rear Vision Camera, the Carbon Black package (bundles 18-inch alloy wheels, sport front seats, a black chrome grille, and a rear spoiler) and the V-Sport package (bundles 18-inch machined-alloy finish wheels, high-performance brakes and tires, and a sport-tuned suspension with adaptive shocks).
Premium Luxury comes with 18-inch wheels, adaptive suspension, a self-parking system (can autonomously park both parallel and perpendicular), three-zone automatic climate control, heated rear seats, rear camera mirror, a head-up display, a 360-degree bird's-eye view backup camera, a power rear sunshade (rear side-window shades are manual), and illuminated door handles and front doorsill plates.
There's an optional Driver Assist package for the Premium Luxury trim, which adds adaptive cruise control and a collision mitigation system with automatic braking. Other options include 20-way-adjustable front sport seats, alloy pedals and a 12.3-inch, high-definition digital gauge cluster (bundled in the Performance Seat and Cluster package).
The CTS V-Sport comes with a turbocharged six-cylinder engine and 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, a driver-selectable Track mode for high-performance driving, an electronic limited-slip rear differential and an upgraded cooling system.
The CTS V-Sport Luxury adds the sunroof plus the regular Premium Luxury's features that aren't already standard on the base V-Sport.
A 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine is the base engine for all CTS trims except the V-Sport. Rated at 268 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, the four-cylinder pairs with an eight-speed automatic transmission that delivers power to the rear wheels. All-wheel drive is optional.
Drivers craving more power can upgrade to a 3.6-liter V6 rated at 335 hp and 285 lb-ft of torque, also hooked to an eight-speed transmission and a choice of rear- or all-wheel drive.
Topping the lineup is the V-Sport's turbocharged V6, cranking out 420 hp and 430 lb-ft of torque, paired with an eight-speed automatic. The V-Sport is only available in rear-wheel drive.
The four-cylinder engine returns an EPA-estimated 25 mpg combined (22 city/30 highway) in rear-wheel-drive configuration. With all-wheel drive, those numbers are 24 mpg combined (21 city/29 highway).
The regular V6 is nearly as fuel-efficient as the four-cylinder, returning 24 mpg combined (20 city/30 highway) in rear-wheel drive and 22 mpg combined (19 city/27 highway) in all-wheel drive. The V-Sport's turbo six-cylinder returns 18 mpg combined (16 city/24 highway).
In our testing, a CTS V-Sport accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds, a quick number for a high-performance midsize sedan.
Acceleration in the 2017 Cadillac CTS V-Sport is impressive, reeling out loads of low-end power whenever you squeeze on the gas. It's enough to put Cadillac up against any of its European rivals with upgraded engines.
Most buyers will opt for the turbo four-cylinder or the regular V6 engine. The four-cylinder lacks the refinement and seamless power delivery of its BMW and Audi rivals but still packs a good punch in the middle of the powerband. It's not as quick or smooth off the line, but it's plenty fast for the interstate.
Through turns and curves, the CTS is uncommonly composed and tactile. Cadillac touts the time its engineers have spent refining the CTS suspension, and it shows in the car's daily manners. This Caddy is sharp but still keeps its composure over bumps and rough patches, especially when equipped with the optional adaptive suspension.
A smooth ride and quiet cabin also make the CTS an ideal highway cruiser. Its only flaw on the highway is the adaptive cruise control system, which is unusually conservative in its following distance and abrupt in its automatic braking. It works fine on high-speed highways but struggles in stop-and-go traffic.
The CTS interior is sophisticated and luxurious and displays high-level craftsmanship, materials quality and technology integration throughout. Front passengers enjoy ample personal space, yet the enveloping dashboard and door panels form an intimate cockpit that reinforces the car's sporting mission.
There's decent rear passenger room, but it's tight compared with other midsize sedans. The trunk is also on the small side at 13.7 cubic feet. Most other sedans in the class offer 15 cubic feet of space or more.
The Cadillac User Experience (CUE) infotainment system pairs a graphically rich 8-inch touchscreen with touch-panel inputs. Outfitted with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, CUE is more capable than ever when it comes to smartphone integration. The constant poking and swiping at the touch panel, especially for routine functions like adjusting fan speed or stereo volume, gets tiresome, however (although you can also control volume on the steering wheel). It's one of the few drawbacks to an otherwise advanced and impressive interface.
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.