Give Cadillac credit for taking on the European premium marques in a segment that they’ve pretty much owned up ’til now — the luxury wagon. In fact, it would have been easy for Cadillac to forgo this body style altogether, given that the SRX crossover checks many of the same boxes as the wagon, on paper at least.
Our Cadillac CTS Premium comes with a 318-hp 3.6-liter V-6 (the base CTS wagon comes with a 270-hp 3.0-liter V-6). The engine has plenty of muscle, which is a good thing because this is a heavy car, coming in at just over two tons. This is no softly sprung Cadillac like you might remember from when you were a kid; the CTS handles with an agility that belies its heft. In addition to its sporting character, however, it also has the advantage of a cargo area that measures 25.0 cubic feet (more than double that with the rear seats folded), so you can actually use this wagon to transport bulky items when it’s time to make a run to the big-box store.
Once inside, it’s clear that this is a luxury car. The steering wheel is wrapped in plush suede, the seats are heated and ventilated, and most of the bells and whistles (navigation, rearview camera, remote start, panoramic sunroof, heated steering wheel) are included. Cadillac has clearly put a priority on interior finishes in the past couple of years, and they’ve been mostly successful in the CTS. My main complaint is with the seats. Despite the fact that they’re multi-adjustable, I could never find a setting that was comfortable. That’s too bad, because that’s one area that would take it off my list if I were in the market for a luxury wagon.
Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor
This is one sweet ride even without the monster V-spec engine, which would’ve been mostly overkill during a Michigan winter anyway. Pirelli Sottozero winter tires make this CTS more than capable and confidence-inspiring on snowy highways, but heroic parking-lot drifts are just a touch of a traction-control button away.
Every CTS I’ve driven in the past few years has greatly impressed me with its feeling of down-the-road solidity, and this wagon is no exception. To me, the body style pleasantly ratchets up the car’s cool factor by several notches. Moreover, the floor in the cargo area can accordion up to lock into several different positions, helping secure and separate luggage in a single, quick step, so kitty litter won’t smash eggs during sporty driving maneuvers.
Unlike Amy Skogstrom, I found the highly adjustable optional Recaro seats to be very comfortable during long stints in the saddle. My primary annoyance is with the seatbelt buckle, which is bulky, unsightly, and a pain to unbuckle, particularly when you’re wearing gloves.
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor
In sedan form, the CTS is an excellent car that offers equal parts style and substance. Stretch its sheetmetal and affix a hatch door to its hindquarters and you’ll find both style and substance factors are increased exponentially. Cadillac’s sharply creased design language looks particularly striking on the wagon’s long form, while the rear hatch’s huge opening and low load floor make it practical and infinitely more user-friendly than any crossover or SUV. And as Rusty Blackwell mentioned, the adjustable accordion floor makes it even more utilitarian. Did I mention that I find the CTS wagon absolutely irresistible?
The cabin has seen some improvements since the last time I drove a CTS, but the busy central console’s has not been addressed. Its remains a mess of small, tightly clustered buttons that are a challenge to use while driving. The Recaro sport seats are extremely comfortable but the oversized bolsters make this already cozy cabin feel a bit crowded.
On the road, the CTS wagon is a bit less tossable than its sedan counterpart, yet it still feels extremely planted and solid. My chief complaint is that the engine isn’t vocal enough, especially at low rpm.
Jennifer Misaros, Managing Editor, Digital Platforms
A new-generation Cadillac CTS sedan will be in dealers before the end of the year, but the wagon will stay on a while longer. That’s fine, since the Sport Wagon hardly faces much competition. As others have noted, the CTS has aged quite well. The styling still looks aggressive and cool, especially in this body style. The dynamics are pretty much spot on. The steering is light yet communicative, the brakes are easy to modulate, and the 318-hp V-6 sounds as refined as ever. Driving over a fresh coat of snow on the road, I was able to kick the wagon’s tail out at will, something I suspect you’ll never see someone doing in an old Buick Roadmaster. The only part of the car that feels dated is the dash. The touchscreen is pretty basic for a $55,000 car, and the materials, though a huge step forward for GM at the time, are now a class below what’s in the ATS and XTS.
I had a chance to chat with a Cadillac product planner at the Chicago show, who said the wagon’s been “doing fine from a business perspective.” He admits the real value though, is all the attention and adoration it’s won from folks like us. No commitment on a wagon for the next generation, only something that “plays the same role.”
David Zenlea, Assistant Editor
2013 Cadillac CTS Premium sport wagon
MSRP (with destination): $50,645
PRICE AS TESTED: $56,540
3.6-liter DOHC V-6
Horsepower (hp): 318 @ 6800rpm
Torque (lb-ft): 275 @ 4900rpm
WHEELS AND TIRES:
19-inch aluminum wheels
245/45R-19 102V Pirelli Sottozero Winter Serie II tires
FUEL ECONOMY (city/highway/combined):
Cargo (rear seats upright/folded): 25.0/53.4cu ft
Legroom (front/rear): 42.4/35.9 in
Headroom (front/rear): 38.8/37.1 in
Thunder Gray Chromaflair/Ebony
18-inch aluminum wheels
Heated and ventilated front seats
60/40-split folding rear seats
Bose surround sound audio system
SiriusXM satellite radio and traffic w/3-month trial subscription
Heated steering wheel
Automatic dual-zone climate control
Auto-dimming rearview mirror
Power tilt-and-telescopic steering column
Rain-sensing windshield wipers
Rear parking assist
Keyless entry and ignition
OPTIONS ON THIS VEHICLE:
CTS Touring package- $2810
Chrome door handles
Leather-trimmed seats w/suede-like inserts
Suede steering wheel (not heated) and shifter
19-inch summer tire performance package- $2090
19-inch aluminum wheels w/performance tires
Manual shift control
Performance suspension, braking, and cooling
Limited slip rear differential
Thunder Gray Chromaflair paint- $995
KEY OPTIONS NOT ON THIS VEHICLE:
There’s a revised grille on the sport wagon for 2013. An all-wheel-drive CTS sport wagon would weigh 212 lb more than this rear-wheel-drive example.