It’s hard to believe that the second-generation CTS is already five years old, but like a fine wine it seems to be getting better with age. Three body styles are available — sedan, coupe, and wagon — and all can be had in regular CTS form or in ludicrous but intoxicating CTS-V trim. There are two V-6 engines available: a 3.0-liter unit in the sedan and wagon and a highly praised 3.6-liter V-6 available with all three body styles. The 3.6-liter can be found throughout GM’s vehicle lineup, and rightfully so — its power delivery is smooth and linear and it returns good fuel economy. For those who have a need for speed, look to the CTS-V. Using a modified version of the 6.2-liter supercharged V-8 in the Chevrolet Corvette ZR1, Brembo brakes, nineteen-inch forged aluminum wheels, and adjustable magnetic dampers, it is one of the best cars to come out of Detroit. The tailpipes of the CTS-V — large, chrome, and center-mounted on the V coupe — emit a guttural, growling exhaust note that will let passersby know that this is not your father’s Cadillac. In any form, the CTS is a credible player in the sport luxury market, thanks to its crisp, distinct design and a level of quality, fit, and finish rarely seen from a domestic automaker. Supple french-stitched leather, soft LED lighting, and intuitive controls live in harmony in the well-crafted cabin. The CTS may not be quite as sharp as its German competition, but the charismatic offering from Cadillac is well worth considering.

Drive: Rear-wheel, 4-wheel
Trim Levels: CTS, Luxury, Performance, Premium, CTS-V
Body Styles: Sedan, coupe, wagon, 4- or 5-passenger
Engines: 3.0L V-6, 270/265 hp, 223/220 lb-ft
3.6L V-6, 318 hp, 275 lb-ft
6.2L supercharged V-8, 556 hp, 551 lb-ft
Transmissions: 6-speed manual, 6-speed automatic
Passenger volume: 86.6-98.0 cu ft
Cargo Space: (coupe/sedan) 10.5/13.6 cu ft; (wagon, rear seats up/down) 25.0/53.4 cu ft

The big news for 2012 is a revised version of the direct-injected 3.6-liter V-6 that now makes 318 hp and weighs 20 pounds less, helping the CTS sedan and coupe achieve up to 27 mpg on the highway and the wagon reach 26 mpg. Non-V models get a new grille design with brighter vertical bars, and Bluetooth is now standard across the line. A side blind-zone alert is standard on all coupes. CTS-V models get standard automatic windshield wipers.

Standard equipment includes dual-stage front, side, and side curtain air bags; stability and traction control; Ultrasonic rear parking sensors (a backup camera is optional); OnStar telematics with automatic crash notification and emergency services; and a tire-pressure monitoring system. Blind-zone alert is standard on coupe models.

All: 14-18 mpg city/19-27 mpg highway

  • Intuitive controls
  • Handsome design
  • Powerful engines
  • Cramped rear seat
  • Poor outward visibility

One of the best American cars just got even better.

  • Audi A4/A5/S4/S5
  • BMW 3-series/M3
  • Infiniti G37
  • Mercedes-Benz E-class
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