When it was introduced in 2003, the Cadillac CTS heralded the dawn of the company's new design direction. Sharp edges and bold headlight and grille designs set the tone for Cadillac models that would follow. Aimed at the entry-level luxury sport sedans hailing from Germany and Japan, the rear-wheel-drive CTS offered midsize room at a price point more closely aligned with compact competitors. And this was to be a driver's car -- so serious were the engineers working on the CTS that they used Germany's famed NÃ¼rburgring test track, and the result was the CTS's confident, almost tossable nature.
For 2007, the Cadillac CTS is still holding its own. The body's angular design theme is carried into the interior, where some soft-touch materials offer a feeling of luxury. Upsides for the CTS include more room for passengers than most like-priced rivals from Japan and Europe as well as sound ergonomics for all the high-tech features, such as the optional navigation system and Bose audio system. However, the Cadillac's extra size results in a less sporty personality than many of its rivals.
Although there are many compact and midsize luxury sport sedans to choose from in the $30,000-$40,000 price range, the 2007 Cadillac CTS deserves consideration. Serious drivers will be better served by BMW's 3 Series, as long as rear passenger room is not a big consideration. Pitted against midsizers such as the front-wheel-drive Acura TL, the CTS loses points in the luxury area but offers a more athletic driving experience. Overall, the main selling point of the CTS is that it manages to blend some of the sporty attributes of its smaller rivals with the comfort of the larger, less athletic premium sedans in this segment. It may not be the class leader in any one category, but by virtue of its well-rounded nature, the entry-level Cadillac sedan certainly holds its own.
The 2007 Cadillac CTS is an entry-level luxury sport sedan. There are two main trim levels based on engine size: 2.8 and 3.6. Standard equipment on the 2.8 includes 16-inch wheels, leatherette seating, an eight-way power driver seat, dual-zone automatic climate control and a CD player. Leather seating with a 10-way driver seat is optional and comes standard on the 3.6. An array of packages allow shoppers to queue up additional luxury and performance features. The Luxury package brings upgraded, heated front seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, Homelink and polished alloy wheels. A sunroof, a Bose premium audio package with satellite radio, and a navigation system are available as well. Driving enthusiasts will want to consider one of two sport-themed packages. The 17-inch Wheel Sport package includes HID headlights, a sport-tuned suspension, performance tires and a limited-slip differential. The 18-inch Wheel Performance package (available on the CTS 3.6 only) has the aforementioned features, plus stronger brakes and a tire-pressure monitoring system.
The CTS may be priced more like the compact luxury sport sedans, but its larger dimensions provide a roomier cabin that easily accommodates five adults. The front seats, especially, offer a pleasing combination of long-trip comfort, with enough support in the side bolsters to hold one in place during spirited runs along deserted twisty roads. Unlike some rivals, the CTS's audio, climate and navigation controls are easy to use right off the bat. Although functional and comfortable, the CTS's cabin can't match class standouts such as the Audi A4 when it comes to sheer elegance and ambiance.
The rear-wheel-drive CTS offers a choice of two V6 engines: a 2.8-liter version (210 horsepower and 194 pound-feet of torque) and a 3.6-liter version (255 hp and 252 lb-ft of torque). Either engine can be paired with either a six-speed manual or an optional five-speed automatic transmission.
Anyone expecting a soft, cushy ride from this Cadillac is going to be surprised. The CTS is a true sport sedan, with a tightly controlled ride and sharp steering. The six-speed manual's shifter has a solid feel through the gates and the 3.6-liter V6 gives the CTS some serious punch. Ride quality isn't quite as refined as that of some competitors, but even so, the CTS makes for a swift and entertaining ride that should appeal to entry-level buyers looking for something a little different. Those looking for hard-core performance, however, will want to check out Cadillac's high-powered CTS-V model.
Virtually all of the latest safety features come standard on the CTS, including four-wheel antilock disc brakes, traction control, front seat-mounted side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and GM's OnStar system. A stability control system is available with either the 17- or 18-inch wheel packages. In tests conducted by the NHTSA, the Cadillac CTS earned four out of five stars for driver and front-passenger protection in frontal impacts. Side-impact tests resulted in a four-star rating for front passengers and a five-star rating for rear passengers. The IIHS named the CTS a "Best Pick" after conducting its 40-mph frontal offset crash test.
The optional satellite radio (when ordered with the navigation system) now features traffic updates, and the wheel centers now feature the Cadillac wreath and crest in full color.