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2013 Cadillac CTS Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2013 Cadillac CTS was new.


Performance: 8.3

While the 2013 Cadillac CTS offers a powerful V6 engine and a composed ride, test drivers note that it’s larger than many competing sport sedans in the class. As a result, some say that the CTS doesn’t feel as agile as rivals like the Infiniti G37 or BMW 3-Series. CTS-V models are full-fledged performance cars, with suspension and engine upgrades that make them worthy competitors to cars like the BMW M3 and Lexus IS-F.

  • "V6-powered CTS models don't quite reach the level of handling polish of its European and Japanese competitors." -- Consumer Guide 
  • "The CTS also drives quite well, with respectable power from the larger 3.6-liter V6 engine and confident handling. However, when you drive it back to back with its import competitors, even these admirable qualities tend to fall short of the now-current standard." -- Edmunds
  • "Through twisty two-lanes, fast freeways, urban congestion and mixed-speed suburban sprawl, we greatly appreciate the 2013 Cadillac CTS' responsive steering, world-class roadholding and powerful brakes." -- Kelley Blue Book 
  • "The sedan moves out well, and the V-6's mechanical growl sounds good in the process." -- Cars.com (2012)

Acceleration and Power

Three engines are available in the 2013 Cadillac CTS. The base engine in the sedan is a 3.0-liter V6 that makes 270 horsepower, while a 318-horsepower, 3.6-liter V6 is optional. The CTS coupe gets the 3.6-liter V6 as standard equipment. A six-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive are standard, though all-wheel drive is available on both models. The EPA reports that the V6-powered CTS sedan gets 18/27 mpg city/highway.

CTS-V sedans and coupes get a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 engine that generates 556 horsepower at 6,100 rpm and 551 pound-feet of torque at 3,800 rpm. A six-speed manual or automatic is available.

Reviewers generally recommend the larger V6 engine, noting that it makes the CTS a better performer and has a negligible effect on fuel economy. In general, most auto writers also approve of the CTS’ automatic transmission, noting its smooth operation. While high-performance CTS-V models are quicker than most cars on the street, one reviewer says that they’re still comfortable and composed on daily commutes.

  • "The transmission is generally seamless." -- Consumer Guide 
  • "Power delivery from the base 3.0-liter V6 is sluggish compared to the broad-shouldered 3.6-liter engine. Considering that both engines achieve virtually identical fuel economy, we suggest springing for the bigger V6 if your budget allows." -- Edmunds 
  • "For a serious performance car - the CTS-V Sedan can deliver blistering acceleration from zero to 60 mph of just 3.9 seconds - the driving experience is surprisingly calm and quiet." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The CTS comes standard with a 3.0-liter V-6 engine, but our test car's optional 3.6-liter V-6 and six-speed automatic transmission are a special pair among drivetrains." -- Cars.com (2012)

Handling and Braking

The 2013 CTS impresses reviewers with precise steering and a composed ride. However, one test driver says that the CTS’ large size means that it lacks the athletic handling you’ll get with some smaller cars in the segment. CTS-V models come with Cadillac’s Magnetic Ride Control suspension system, which features selectable Tour and Sport modes that adjust the CTS’ handling characteristics. One reviewer notes that while the optional sport suspension improves handling, it also has a negative effect on ride comfort.

  • "Steering feel is precise, and lean in corners is well checked." -- Consumer Guide 
  • "This Cadillac's size, while beneficial for passengers, also makes it feel less agile and maneuverable than other so-called sport sedans." -- Edmunds 
  • "Given its performance-focused engineering, one might expect a correspondingly firm ride, but we find the suspension surprisingly supple even on badly deteriorated pavement." -- Kelley Blue Book 
  • "Our test CTS had the optional performance suspension, and the car felt as firm as one of the high-performance V-Series versions that Cadillac sells, with harsh, jarring responses over bumps." -- Cars.com (2012)

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