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2012 Cadillac CTS Review : Road & Travel Magazine's 2012 Luxury Car Buyer's Guide

2012 Cadillac CTS Road Test Review

by Martha Hindes

2012 Luxury Car Buyer's Guide - Top 10 Picks

Audi A6

Infiniti M

BMW 5 Series

Jaguar XF

Chrysler 300

Hyundai Equus

The 2012 Cadillac CTS sports sedan is a luxury auto with an edge. First, it wears the long-established Cadillac brand name often synonymous with luxury -- as in, "This is the Cadillac of Cadillacs!" But it also has a decade of solid popularity, including some former import luxury owners who jumped ship. Its styling has been called "edgy," with bold planes and corner creases defining its shape unlike the softer, more rounded designs of some luxury level competitors. It has shelves full of "Best of" honors from "All Stars" to "10 Best" and more. And it now can add gutsier performance while being more fuel efficient to the list. In a best of all possible worlds scenario, that isn't a bad showing.

Those of us at Road & Travel have long loved and periodically tested the Cadillac CTS as it has evolved during that time. That includes trying a rear-drive CTS V performance model with a killer manual transmission that let us lap up miles of roadway with track intentions. Now we find the transition is touched with more fine tuning, ecology sensitive technology and a taste for luxurious amenities designed to pamper us in style. But still endearing to the core.

The 2012 Cadillac CTS comes in multiple versions, also as a coupe and wagon, all with manual or automatic transmission shifters. Trims range from the populist basic rear-drive entry level model to the top-line premium grade version, with Luxury and Performance spots in between. The top performer, of course, (although pricier) is the current rear-drive "V," with 556 supercharged horses stampeding out of its 6.2-liter V-8.

For 2012 the CTS sports sedan adds some welcome goodies, in addition to some engine technology upgrades. The new, lighter-weight 3.6-liter V-6 engine, with a six-speed tranny, grunts out 318 horsepower, while achieving up to 27 MPG in highway fuel economy. An updated front grille adds a fresh touch, as do three new exterior colors: Black Diamond Tricoat, Opulent Blue Metallic and a Mocha Steel Metallic that arrives a little bit later. Bluetooth phone connectivity becomes standard on all models. And one now can add the Touring Package to the Luxury or Premium Collection models.

A holdover 3.0-liter V-6, generating 270-horsepower, with a 28 highway mileage rating, can be had on the Base and Luxury Collections. For those who prefer their spirited driving with a solid dose of comfort, including soft leather seating, leather wrapped steering wheel, and keyless start, Cadillac provides Magnetic Ride Control that also lets one choose suspension firmness. Dual zone climate control is standard, while heated and vented seats can be added for comfort. And the CTS touch screen navigation system (standard on Premium) is boosted with a Bose 5.1 Cabin Surround Sound with 10 speakers that promise to soothe or energize, depending on how one dials it down. Cadillac claims the segment's first-ever installation of a dual depth front passenger air bag system in its safety column.

Among other amenities, depending on the model, are rearview camera system, remote start, heated outside mirrors, rain sensing wipers, and the UltraView power sunroof that opens to show a panoramic view of the sky.

In the "HUH?" category, the 2012 version has drawn a few nagging complaints from some enthusiasts -- the location of the dual zone HVAC (heating/AC/vent) controls by the knee. Caddy and other auto makers have listened to consumer complaints in the past so we expect this will get some attention as well.

CTS sedan pricing has an entry base of $36,790 and tops out (before options) around $49,165. A taste for add-ons (all-wheel-drive at $1,900 for example) can strong arm that some $10,000 higher if one isn't watching. But we assume the inclusion of such tasty refinements will help keep those pesky imports in Caddy's crosshairs.

Visit the Cadillac website, click here.