After the demise of the Dodge Magnum, it’s refreshing to have a wagon offering from a domestic manufacturer. It’s likely that the CTS wagon will find very few takers — if the slow-selling Magnum and the now-redesigned wagon-like first generation Cadillac SRX are any indication — but in my opinion, this CTS wagon looks great and is hard evidence that Cadillac is willing to take chances to regain its world class status.
The interior has some shortcomings, though. The nav graphics could use an update but I really like the retractable screen for its space saving benefits. To me, the flat, unsupportive seats are the biggest interior flaw. They have no side bolstering and the bottom seat cushion is hard and too short to provide much thigh support.
I thought the ability to adjust the extension of the hatch door was a bit gimmicky until I opened it all the way. Not only is the door huge because of how far forward it extends onto the roof, but it flips open farther than any other hatch I’ve ever seen. The opening it creates is also enormous, which should make it easy to load cargo. But like many sleek, modern “utility” vehicles, the CTS wagon’s sharply sloped roof will seriously limit its cargo carrying ability. Even in the front seat, the swept-back shape of the CTS wagon makes headroom tighter than you’d expect.
From behind the wheel, the CTS wagon is more luxury than sport with a supple ride and light, accurate steering. This Caddy is certainly not made for the track but it’s entertaining and looks fabulous.
Jennifer Misaros, Production Editor
What an exquisitely chiseled piece of metal, this. I prefer the chunky proportions of the wagon to the overstyled, poke-your-eye-out rear deck of the coupe. Apart from a better load angle and potentially more space with the seats folded, the CTS Sport Wagon offers zero practical benefit over the sedan.
The beautifully restrained exterior, however, belies the interior’s frustrating mess of buttons, surface textures, ergonomics, and steering wheel controls. I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out how to sync my phone with the car’s Bluetooth, although several buttons on the steering wheel were marked for such a purpose. After a futile attempt with voice commands, I gave up. The nav screen does the neat GM trick of up/down at the push of a button-useful, because the system looked and acted like it was already five years on the market, and the graphics were far from top-class.
Ride quality struck a superb balance between sportiness and comfort, and quick steering response made the CTS feel light on its feet.
If the CTS Sport Wagon succeeds, I imagine a pat on the back is due for the marketing flack who decided to heed the call of wagon lovers and auto-journalist types and make the CTS into a wagon. Not a Lexus IS300 SportCross. Or a Chevrolet Malibu Maxx. Even if the added value of the Saab-like taillights and folding rear seats doesn’t add up to more than a hatchback, it could pay off-big-for Cadillac. Bring on the CTS-V!
Jeffrey Jablansky, Assistant Editor
I have a special request for new General Motors CEO Dan Ackerson. Please sir, use your newfound power to eliminate cheap, flimsy interior door pulls from your products once and for all. At present, a quick tug on the door of this $50,000 luxury wagon emits a disconcerting creak, and the whole panel gives a bit as if to hint that it may one day come off in your hand.
So, yes, the door panels are crap. But otherwise, Cadillac has on its hands a nearly perfect car. What’s not to love about a truly sexy American station wagon that drives like a BMW 5-series? I particularly like the CTS’s performance brakes: they’re extremely powerful but unlike the binders in many sporty cars, don’t jerk you to a stop at the first tap of the pedal. Graze that brake pedal just a bit as you’re entering a turn, and the wagon will tidily track through a corner with hardly any body roll, although anything you have in the rear cargo hold will likely go flying. Yep, the summer-tire performance package is worth the money.
I haven’t yet had the opportunity to drive a wagon with the base 3.0-liter V-6, but I feel safe in saying that the 3.6-liter’s 304 hp is a necessity if you want the wagon’s 3850 pounds to hustle away from a stoplight with any authority. Even with the CTS-V wagon’s 6.2-liter supercharged V-8 now ruling the roost, I’d say there’s room in the lineup for a more powerful six-cylinder. If the rumor mill has any merit, my wish will soon be fulfilled in the form of a twin-turbo 3.0-liter.
Like Jeffrey and most other automotive journalists, I’m praying that the CTS wagon finds some commercial success. If a wagon this cool and this good can’t steal some sales from crossovers, we wagon-lovers might as well pack it up and move to Europe.
David Zenlea, Assistant Editor
Kudos to Cadillac for stepping up to the sport-wagon plate just as others are saying adios to that star-crossed body style. The long-tail design works well here, adding both eye appeal and functionality to what is already an entertaining platform. The CTS wagon is less expensive than any comparable import and well endowed with desirable technology such as direct injection and optional all-wheel drive. With more of these and fewer crossovers and SUVs plying our roads, life would definitely be better.
Don Sherman, Technical Editor
2010 Cadillac CTS Wagon Premium
Base price (with destination): $49,490
Price as tested: $52,785
3.6-liter direct-injected V-6 engine
6-speed automatic transmission
4-wheel disc brakes
Stabilitrak stability control
All-speed traction control
Tire pressure monitoring system
Dual-zone climate control
Split folding rear seat
XM satellite radio
Power front seats with memory
18-inch aluminum wheels
Heated and cooled front seats
Power tilt/telescoping steering wheel
Rear park assist
Bose 5.1 surround sound
40GB hard drive
Options on this vehicle:
Performance package — $2090
19-inch polished aluminum wheels
Summer performance tires
Sport suspension system
Steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters
Performance cooling system
Performance disc brakes
Thunder gray chromeflair — $995
Cargo tray— $110
Under hood appearance package — $100
Key options not on vehicle:
Rear seat DVD entertainment system — $1935
Luggage rack — $325
18 / 26 / 21 mpg
Size: 3.6L V-6
Horsepower: 304 hp @ 6400 rpm
Torque: 273 lb-ft @ 5200 rpm
Wheels/tires: 19-inch polished aluminum wheels
245/45R19 Continental ContiSportContact3 performance tires