$9,192 - $11,562

2011 Cadillac CTS Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2011 Cadillac CTS was new.


Performance: 8.9

The Cadillac CTS holds its own against German and Asian sport sedans that past Cadillacs could only imagine taking on. With a pair of impressive V6 engines, the CTS offers plenty of power. The 3.0-liter V6 produces 270 horsepower and 223 pound-feet of torque, while the 3.6-liter V6 ups the ante with 304 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque.

But its best performance comes in the turns, where its tight chassis and available sport-tuned suspension shine. Surprisingly, for such a performance-oriented car, many say it's also a comfortable commuter.

  • "Perhaps the best part of the CTS is its ability to become Clark Kent or Superman, depending on who is behind the wheel. For those who seek classic Cadillac-brand luxury, the CTS will coddle occupants with a smooth and supple ride. The interior is quiet and subdued, and engine noise remains distant. And yet should one ask the CTS to act like a sports car, it happily obliges." -- Car and Driver
  • "The Cadillac CTS is a responsive sports sedan with excellent handling and high-speed stability yet it's smooth and quiet when cruising." -- New Car Test Drive
  • "The handling and performance of the CTS is exceptional." -- Detroit News
  • "On the track or on the road, the new CTS challenges competitors such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus without apology." -- Kansas City Star


Acceleration and Power

The base engine of the 2011 Cadillac CTS is a 3.0-liter V6 that makes 270 horsepower and 223 pound-feet of torque. Reviewers say it offers plenty of punch and highway passing power. The higher-rated 3.6-liter V6 engine produces 304 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque, and has allowed some test drivers to manage 0-to-60 times under 6.5 seconds.

Either engine is available with a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic with a manual shift mode -- although a few reviewers criticize Cadillac for not pairing that transmission with paddle shifters, opting for awkwardly placed buttons on the back of the steering wheel. The EPA estimates that, depending on the configuration, the 2011 CTS get anywhere from 16 to 18 miles per gallon in the city and 25 to 27 mpg on the highway.

  • "With automatic transmission, the 3.6-liter V6 engine has good low-speed punch and plenty of passing power." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Many sport sedans have base engines that leave drivers longing for more. That's not the case here; the entry-level V-6 moves the CTS swiftly, with plenty of low-end torque and a burly exhaust note when the pedal is down." -- Cars.com
  • "The manual isn't nearly as fluid as those from BMW." -- Car and Driver
  • "We're not sure why Cadillac opted not to go with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters for the automatic's manual mode." -- BusinessWeek
  • “The automatic is ‘a great gearbox.” -- Road and Track

Handling and Braking

American luxury sedans have always had plenty of engine power. Where the CTS  sets itself apart is on windy, country roads. Even basic models handle corners well, with a four-wheel independent suspension tightened up by a pair of stabilizer bars. But the available sport-tuned suspension (part of the "Performance Collection" option package) ups the ante considerably, though a few reviewers say it is too firm for daily commuting.

  • "Quick responses, direct and accurate steering, a solid and imperturbable structure, and lively rear-wheel-drive handling give the CTS sports-sedan credentials that were once exclusive to sedans from Germany." -- Car and Driver
  • "With optional all-wheel-drive waiting to leap in whenever you decide to go a bit too fast through the corners, as we did in central California, the car feels very, very stable and inspires the confidence you need to go faster and faster through those corners." -- New Car Test Drive
  • "Overall, this Cadillac offers an excellent ride and handling balance that gives the Europeans a run for their money, especially when equipped with the sport-tuned suspension." -- Edmunds
  • "With the standard suspension, CTS approaches, but can't quite reach, the high standards set by the BMW 3-Series and Infiniti G. Steering feel is precise, and lean in corners is well checked, though CTS doesn't feel quite as agile in quick transitions as its rivals." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The car held traction and didn't complain as we pushed it hard around corners.  We were able to easily maintain a proper line as we put the power on during our attacks, holding the car around the turns to the track-out position." -- CNET
  • "Most drivers probably won't need the high-performance suspension.  It pays dividends on the track, but on regular roads it doesn't offer much stiffness beyond the midlevel setup." -- Cars.com

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