DRIVEN: First Drive: 2010 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon

By Don Sherman - August 17, 2009
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To commemorate the birth of the New GM, Cadillac is launching 2010 products steeped in fresh thinking and extra attention to customer needs. The most interesting addition to the wreath and crest family is the CTS Sport Wagon, a first for Cadillac, at least in the US. While this GM division has sold BLS wagons in Europe and supported conversion companies that have morphed a few sedans into wagons, never before in its 106-year history has Cadillac offered Americans a factory-built wagon.
DRAMA QUEEN EXTERIOR
While some wagons are dedicated to cargo and/or family transport, the CTS 5-door is all about style. With a roof 1.25-inches higher and 200 lbs. added to the curb weight but no increase in overall length, this wagon is the fashion equivalent of wearing a baseball cap with the bill swung rakishly back. Taking full advantage of the opportunity, Cadillac stylists stretched the tail lamps to a full 3-feet in length and configured the roof rails as nicely integrated chrome upper-body accents.
The result is a two-box sport machine that men can drive with pride and women can use to scratch their innate shopping itches.
EXTENDED INTERIOR GOODNESS
The CTS was one of GM's first attempts to prove that a modest investment in materials and finish inside the vehicle can reap major gains in customer satisfaction. The majestically rising navigation screen, the cut and stitched leather trim, the real tree wood accents, and the highly detailed instrument panel carry over into the Sport Wagon with a few improvements. The only niggle we have is that the wrap-around corners of the instrument panel and the well gusseted door apertures constrict entry and exit. In addition, the view of the road in the inside mirror is partially blocked by headrests, the rear wiper, and the substantial D-pillars. In back, the seat-back releases can easily be reached from both the passenger compartment and through an open lift gate. Folding the split backrests flat more than doubles the cargo volume from 25 to 58 cubic feet. A folding cargo floor can be propped up in two different locations to contain bags of groceries. Small basement and sub-basement compartments are hidden under the floor panel along with a readily removed rubber mat that helps contain spills.
Two robust tie-down rails are provided to secure cargo and each has a pair of sliding D-rings.
The power-operated lift gate can be programmed to halt its opening movement short of the wide-open position to clear low garage doors and to provide ventilation for pets stashed in back.
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GIDDY FOR GADGETS
The infotainment load parallels CTS standard and optional equipment. Two Bose entertainment systems play through eight or ten speakers. There's a 6-disc CD changer in the dash, a hard drive for audio material, plus compatibility with ipod, MP3, and Bluetooth mobile phones. AM, FM, and XM channels all play here.
The pop-up navigation screen stops in two positions to provide route guidance and entertainment system information.
POWER TO BURN
Cadillac offers this Sport Wagon with rear- or four-wheel drive and a choice of two 24-valve, DOHC, direct-injected V-6 engines. The 3.0-liter version cranks out 270 hp and 223 lb-ft of torque while the 3.6-liter edition delivers 304 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. The one and only transmission is a 6-speed Hydramatic with steering spoke switches to control up- and down-shifts in manual mode. This transmission is calibrated to hold gears at the redline and to downshift to the appropriate gear while slowing for turns.
To support four distinct trim levels, there are three chassis packages coded FE1, FE2, and FE3. Seventeen, 18, and 19-inch tires are available and each step up the FE ladder delivers additional braking capacity.
DYNAMICALLY ENTERTAINING
The 3.6-liter V-6, FE3 CTS Sport Wagon we drove for a weekend exceeded high expectations. The tautest-available suspension system keeps roll in check and provides supple wheel movement at some sacrifice of ride plushness. This is the preferred combination for those who take the Sport label seriously. The ContiSport Contact 3 summer radials stick supremely while providing ample feedback when their adhesion limit approaches. The steering is astutely calibrated for both road feel and effort. In fact, this Cadillac beats both Corvette and Camaro in steering satisfaction.
A TRUE CADILLAC COUP
Whether by luck, by intent, or by accident, Cadillac has augmented its family with two high-function products at a time when practicality is the order of the day. The new-for-2010 SRX is aimed at women who believe they need an elevated seating position to bolster their driving confidence. The CTS Sport Wagon is more male oriented. It offers about the same cargo hauling capacity with a more tasteful appearance and a more aggressive (read entertaining) driving personality.
We've suggested to Cadillac that the ideal Neiman Marcus holiday season package might be a matched set of his/hers haulers-one SRX 2.8T and one CTS Sport Wagon in coordinated colors and special trim, each with a red bow on the roof. At the very least it would keep the peace in wealthy households while providing just the right Cadillac for every occasion.
0-60mph acceleration 7.2 sec
1/4-mile acceleration 15.4 sec @ 94 mph
30-70mph passing acceleration 8.3 sec
70-0mph braking...154 ft
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CADILLAC CTS SPORT WAGON
Base Price: $40,435
As-tested: $54,635
Powertrain
Engine: 3.6-liter DOHC 24-valve V-6
Horsepower: 304
Torque: 273
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Drive: Rear-wheel
Measurements
L x W x H
Legroom F/R: 42.4/35.9 in
Headroom F/R: 38.8/37.2 in
Cargo capacity (seats up/down): 25.0/58.0 cu ft
Curb weight: 4100 lbs
EPA Rating (estimated city/highway): 17/25 mpg
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