I like wagons, but the CTS is one car that I didn’t think needed a long-roof variant. For marginal volume, it seems a strange place for GM to be spending money these days, even if it is a relatively minor investment.
After driving the CTS wagon, my tune has changed. Somewhat.
The 304-hp V-6 is a fantastic engine that’s always ready to drop the hammer, even at highway speeds. Steering is also great. Together, those two characteristics make this a fairly entertaining drive. The wagon-back is justified with a seriously spacious rear cargo area. The interior is also nicely finished, although I do wish the driver’s seat would go lower to afford tall people more knee room. In all, it’s a very well-rounded package.
There are issues though. Shifts are rather slow, and when you’re really on the gas, they tend to send your head swinging forward as cogs are swapped. Even with the sport suspension, the ride is largely capable of handling rough pavement, but there were some undesirable jolts over the minor buckling in the road. I was also surprised to see that the navigation interface doesn’t use the sleek skin from the new SRX crossover. The hard buttons and controls are all there, so why would GM stick with the older, less attractive design?
After driving the CTS wagon, I appreciate its capabilities and appeal much more, but I think Cadillac has plenty of work to do in convincing Americans to consider a wagon, especially versus the new SRX.
Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor
Station wagons typically have to settle for a sort of understated, sophisticated appeal. Think of a cute librarian. The CTS Sport Wagon, on the other hand, is more like a Laker girl. It looks so damn good that I found myself stealing glances at it as I walked away in a parking lot. I don’t think the CTS sedan, well proportioned though it may be, ever exuded such magnetic charm.
The wagon’s beauty is more than skin deep. The 3.6-liter, direct-injected V-6 feels as potent as ever, and it’s accompanied by excellent handling and some of the best brakes I’ve experienced in a long time. Ride quality is also perfect – firm but never harsh. Steering is Audi-like in its precision, but it could afford to be a bit less Audi-like in its lack of weight and effort.
My one gripe is with the interior. It’s certainly gorgeous, comfortable, and well equipped as one would expect of a $55,000 vehicle, but there are a few areas in which fit and finish were not up to spec, including a wiggly door pull, a faintly creaking sunroof, and a bit of loose leather on the steering wheel. Not huge issues, particularly for a well-loved press car, but still not fitting with the car’s price tag.
It’s true that sporty station wagons have never made much headway in this country, but then, there’s never been one this pretty. Let’s hope a few compact crossover intenders take notice.
David Zenlea, Assistant Editor
I seem to be one of the few automotive journalists who didn’t consider the CTS sedan that arrived in fall 2007 as a 2008 model to be the second coming of Cadillac. A noble and respectable effort, I thought, but not one that would knock the Germans from their pedestals. After spending a weekend with the new CTS Sport Wagon, however, I am changing my tune. I really, really like this car. It looks absolutely fantastic, and it’s unlike anything else on the road. As others have noted, the strong powertrain performance, the crisp chassis reflexes, and the communicative steering are all very noteworthy; anyone whose previous experiences with Cadillacs is from the pre-2000 era will be shocked.
I was also impressed by the CTS Sport Wagon’s composure during some of the first snow of the 2009-2010 winter here in Ann Arbor. Ably assisted by Bridgestone Blizzak snow tires, the CTS climbed my rather steep driveway without blinking. You have to see my driveway to understand that this is no simple feat.
It is true that Cadillac and General Motors have limited resources, but the game plan for the CTS that has resulted in the Sport Wagon is an appropriate one: Cadillac needs to vary its core model lines in the same way that German competitors do. Specifically, BMW and Audi both offer sedan, coupe/convertible, and wagon versions of their 3-series and A4/A5 lines, respectively, so Cadillac is going to do so as well. It makes sense.
Joe DeMatio, Executive Editor
I had a fairly high regard for the CTS sedan already, but I share Joe’s opinion that the new CTS Sport Wagon has a synergistic effect on the CTS lineup. Simply put, this wagon is incredibly cool, and Ed Welburn’s design team did a great job shaping the angular CTS into a wagon.
But the wagon is good for more than just attracting admiring glances–the cargo area is quite useful and versatile. I particularly like the accordion folding floor section that works well as a light-duty divider: I was easily able to separate my daughter’s birthday cupcakes from my bulky white-elephant gift for the office holiday party. The tie-down points in the cargo area feel very substantial, too, but I didn’t need them.
That feeling of quality extends all the way to the front of the Caddy wagon’s cabin, which a huge sunroof helps brighten. Unlike Eric, I wasn’t bothered by the navigation system, and I was happy to recall how much I like its vertically rising touch screen.
Also unlike Eric, I thought that the automatic transmission shifted pretty nicely, but I was chauffeuring around my one-year-old daughter most of the time, not trying to break any lap records. But the gearbox’s shift paddles are too close to the steering-column stalks. That does little to undermine the CTS Sport Wagon’s enjoyable overall driving experience, however.
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor
2010 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon Premium
Base price (with destination): $52,545
Price as tested: $55,630
3.6L V-6 engine with direct injection
6-speed automatic transmission
4-wheel disc brakes with ABS
Navigation system with Bose 5.1 surround sound:
-40gb hard drive
Dual zone climate control
Split folding rear seat
Heated and cooled seats
Options on this vehicle:
19-inch wheel package — $2090
19-inch polished aluminum wheels
Sport suspension system
Steering wheel mounted shift controls
Performance cooling system
Performance disc brakes
Crystal Red Tintcoat — $995
Key options not on vehicle:
Rear seats DVD entertainment system — $1935
18 / 26 / 22 mpg
Size: 3.6L V-6
Horsepower: 304 hp @ 6400 rpm
Torque: 273 lb-ft @ 5200 rpm
Weight: 4212 lb
19 x 8.5-inch polished aluminum wheels
245/45R19 98V Bridgestone Blizzak LM-25V winter tires