A superb Total Car Score for the 2012 Cadillac CTS shows just how appealing this American entry luxury car is. Another telling illustration is when reviewers compare it favorably to European rivals, who used to have this segment sewn up.
The CTS is a little bigger than most entry level premium sedans, and even the basic version comes well stocked with features that are often expensive options in the competition. Critics also said it has one of the most stylish cabins in the class.
However, those seeking the kind of soft ride normally associated with American cars in general -- and Cadillacs in particular -- will be surprised by how taut the standard suspension is in the CTS, let alone the optional sport-tuned version.
The bigger of the two V6 engines available is now lighter than before and enjoys a hike of 12 horsepower for 2012. It's the preferred choice anyway, especially since it gets the same fuel efficiency ratings. Bluetooth is standard across the range, while automatic wipers and a heated steering wheel join the options list. The grille has also had a minor re-design.
The 2012 Cadillac CTS is in its second generation (launched four years ago). A new version is slated to debut in the next year or so, at which point the coupe and wagon variants may be discontinued.
The 2012 Cadillac CTS comes as a sedan, coupe or wagon. The base engine is a 3.0-liter V6 making 265 horsepower and 220 pound-feet of torque. The optional Touring package brings output to 270 hp and 223 lb-ft. A 3.6-liter V6 delivers 318 hp and 275 lb-ft to higher trim levels (there are also 556-hp V8-powered versions of the coupe and sedan -- named CTS-V -- covered separately).
Rear-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive available. Smaller-engined versions have a six-speed manual transmission as standard, but the six-speed automatic -- optional with the 3.0 RWD, standard in the rest of the range -- is the better bet.
Standard equipment begins with dual-zone climate control, keyless entry, heated mirrors, a Bose audio system and 17-inch alloy wheels. Going up from base to Luxury brings a reversing camera, wood-trimmed steering wheel, heated front seats and leather.
Performance trim sees the bigger V6 kick in, along with 18-inch wheels. Premium models have a panoramic sunroof, heated steering wheel and navigation.
Options include a sports suspension, 19-inch wheels and a limited-slip differential. Many features of the upper trims are optional in lower versions.
Safety-wise, standard-issue traction and stability controls, active front head restraints and side curtain airbags help the CTS score a maximum of five stars in government crash tests. The OnStar communications system also ships in each version.
The EPA rates 3.0-liter models of the 2012 Cadillac CTS at 18 mpg city, 27 highway and 22 combined (with the rear-drive and auto trans). A manual version returns 16/26/19. All-wheel drive/auto versions get 18/16/21. Models with the 3.6-liter engine achieve 18/27/22 mpg with two- or all-wheel drive.
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