Road & Travel Magazine

Auto Advice & Tips
Auto Buyer's Guides
Car Care Maintenance
Climate Change News
Auto Awards Archive
Insurance & Accidents
Legends & Leaders
New Car Reviews
Planet Driven
Road Humor
Road Trips
RV & Camping
Safety & Security
Teens & Tots Tips
Tire Buying Tips
Used Car Buying
Vehicle Model Guide

Travel Channel
Adventure Travel
Advice & Tips
Airline Rules
Bed & Breakfasts
Cruises & Tours
Destination Reviews
Earth Tones
Family Travel Tips
Health Trip
Hotels & Resorts
Luxury Travel
Pet Travel
RV & Camping
Safety & Security
Spa Reviews
Train Vacations
World Travel Directory

Bookmark and Share
2012 Cadillac CTS Sedan Road Test Review

2012 Cadillac CTS Sedan Road Test Review

By Bob Plunkett

We're scooting down narrow and winding Old Talking Rock Highway through the hills of Georgia while putting the pedal down on a new sports touring sedan that's well equipped for the task of tracking quickly but adeptly through so many curves.

Our vehicle -- the 2012 Cadillac CTS 3.6 Performance sedan cast with a new V6 engine pumping top-of-class power below a chiseled hood -- behaves itself superbly on this dicey road, rear wheels throwing torque muscle into each turn as the 245/45R19 Continental SportContact3 summer tires claw for traction.

Tap flanking finger paddles posted behind the suede-wrapped steering wheel to play the upshift/downshift game when slicing apexes in the curvy stuff at a swift clip.

Or put your foot into the pedal on the rare straightaway but hang on because this thing leaps to action.

At its debut in 2003 the car made history as the first rear-wheel-drive (RWD) vehicle in Cadillac's fleet since 1979 and the first to offer a manual transmission for a RWD Caddy in half a century.

In 2008 a make-over for Generation 2.0 of CTS brought fresh package styling and a wheel track two inches wider with traction in conventional RWD or on-demand all-wheel-drive (AWD) and two powertrain choices.

For 2012, a lighter and more powerful V6 applies to the top two trims of the 2012 Cadillac CTS and all editions wear a new shield-shaped front grille bearing Cadillac's Wreath & Crest emblem.

The new engine is an aluminum 3.6-liter V6 rigged with dual overhead cams, direct injection technology and VVT (variable valve timing). With direct injection, the fuel goes directly into the engine's combustion chamber and fosters a thorough burn of the mix of air and fuel.

The V6 produces 318 hp at 6800 rpm, with torque peaking to 275 lb-ft at 4900 rpm.

The standard transmission is a smooth-to-shift electronically controlled six-speed automatic, GM's Hydra-Matic 6L50, with optional paddles on the steering wheel for driver shift control.

Traction choices include standard RWD or on-demand all-wheel-drive (AWD).

Base powertrain is a 3.0-liter aluminum-block V6 also with twin cams, direct injection and VVT.

This plant generates 270 hp at 7000 rpm with the torque pushed to 223 lb-ft at 5700 rpm.

Standard transmission for the 3.0-liter plant is GM's Hydra-Matic 6L45 electronically controlled six-speed automatic.

Optional for the RWD version is a six-speed manual gearbox made by Aisin, the AY6.

The base 3.0-liter V6 also works in RWD or optional AWD traction modes.

Four-wheel disc brakes score big high-performance aluminum brake calipers and link electronically to an anti-lock brake system (ABS) and traction control system (TCS) plus GM's StabiliTrak skid controls.

All versions stock an independent short/long arm front suspension system with lightweight aluminum upper and lower control arms and knuckles. The multi-link arrangement in the rear mounts on a fully isolated subframe.

Three levels of suspension tuning include standard FE1, FE2 sport tuning for the 3.6-liter engine and a RWD-exclusive FE3 sport suspension with 19-inch summer tires, also for the 3.6-liter V6.

Package styling of the 2012 CTS sedan brings bold and sharp lines with unique forms marked by angular shapes and knife-edge sharp edges.

The aggressive face features a prominent horizontal louver panel in modern interpretation of the Cadillac classic egg-crate grille, and piercing optics with stacked round high-intensity discharge (HID) xenon lamps that swivel in concert with the vehicle's front wheels.

Flanks are sheer below edgy shoulders and interrupted only by fenders flaring around big wheelwells. The wheels stand near front and rear corners, leaving curt overhangs at the prow and tail.

The roofline remains low, canting in front in line with the windshield and canting in back in opposing lines with blacked-out center pillars to simulate a stretched trapezoidal streak of tinted window glass.

Tail treatment for CTS shows a slick slab bumper in monochrome flanked by tall vertical taillamps, a Cadillac hallmark, with round pipes in chrome protruding below the bumper.

Inside a spacious cabin with seats for five, the exterior theme of chiseled forms and angular features is expressed in a monochromatic treatment with hand-cut, hand-sewn and hand-wrapped surfaces.

Vivid analog instruments are housed in three tubular binnacles and the dashboard center stack of controls is trimmed in a high-tech satin metallic finish or genuine Sapele Pommele wood.

The 2012 CTS trim variations are 3.0 Base, 3.0 Luxury, 3.6 Performance and 3.6 Premium.

Cadillac posts 2012 MSRP points starting at $35,920 for the CTS 3.0 Base. The CTS 3.0 Luxury lists for $39,060, while a CTS 3.6 Performance tallies to $42,280 and top model CTS 3.6 Premium runs to $48,280.

For more info on the Cadillac CTS, click here.

Visit RTM's Road Test Review Archive