$30,097 - $71,511

2017 Cadillac CTS Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2017 Cadillac CTS was new.


Performance: 9.2

You'll likely want to pass over the 2017 Cadillac CTS' base four-cylinder engine in favor of one of the more powerful available V6s. The base engine is a bit underwhelming, and it doesn't even stand out with regard to fuel economy. True speed freaks will want to opt for the performance-oriented CTS-V and its mega-powerful supercharged V8.

No matter which engine you choose, the CTS provides a relaxing ride. Rough pavement poses no problems, and winding roads are yours for the taking thanks to the precise steering and agile handling. Overall, the CTS is arguably the most athletic car in the class.

  • "From a set of powerful engine options to its Nurburgring-proven performance, the CTS outshines cars like the Audi A6 and Lexus GS, and pulls within spitting distance of the BMW 5 Series, including the legendary M5." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Most buyers will opt for the turbo four-cylinder or the regular V6 engine. The four-cylinder lacks the refinement and seamless power delivery of its BMW and Audi rivals but still packs a good punch in the middle of the powerband. It's not as quick or smooth off the line, but it's plenty fast for the interstate." -- Edmunds
  • “If you went just by those numbers alone, the coming CTS-V outshines the competitors in almost every category. If you go by all the parameters that make a car a success, the CTS-V might win there, too." -- AutoWeek (2016)

Acceleration and Power

The base engine in the CTS is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 268 horsepower. It's not the smoothest engine in the lineup, and it doesn't even offer the kind of delicious fuel economy rating that you might expect from a four-cylinder. It earns an estimated 22 mpg in the city and 30 on the highway, which are worse ratings than you'll get from other four-cylinder engines in the class.

Two larger engines are available: a 3.6-liter V6 engine that makes 335 horsepower, and a 420-horsepower, twin-turbocharged 3.6-liter V6. Because of their added power and strong acceleration, both of these engines provide a better driving experience than the base engine. If you opt for the 335-horsepower V6, fuel economy doesn't drop off that much – it earns an estimated 20 mpg in the city and 30 on the highway.

To see what real power is, you'll need to check out the high-performance CTS-V. It features a 640-horsepower, supercharged 6.2-liter V8 engine that will blow the doors off most other cars on the road. The acceleration might best be described as overwhelming, and you can reach speeds well north of 100 mph without breaking a sweat. Be aware that this power comes at a price: The CTS-V costs around $40,000 more than the base CTS.

All CTS models, including the CTS-V, feature an eight-speed automatic transmission and an engine start-stop feature designed to conserve fuel. The transmission isn't terrible, but it does fall short of delivering the seamless, timely shifts that you'll get from some competitors' gearboxes.

  • "Under the hood, the 3.6-liter V6 is both robust and economical, but don't discount what the 2.0-liter turbo is offering up, delivering excellent performance and slightly better fuel economy. Power fiends who can't afford the CTS-V will be very pleased with the 420-horsepower twin-turbo V6 in the CTS V-Sport." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Like many of its competitors, the 2016 CTS comes standard with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine. It's not a great way to start, admittedly, as this 2.0-liter mill trails the pack in terms of both refinement and fuel economy. Better to set your sights on one of the two V6 engines that Cadillac offers for 2016." -- Edmunds (2016)
  • "Yow! This car has 640 hp all right, and it felt like we were putting every single one of them down to the pavement right then and there. The rear end wandered around a little with all that power, almost scarily, as we briefly contemplated being known forever as, ‘Oh yeah, that idiot who wiped out the first CTS-V.’ But a little counter steering -- without lifting -- and some barely noticeable assist from the active traction control kept it in line and off we whooshed, down the onramp at what felt like about Warp Factor 6. This is no ordinary domestic performance sedan." -- AutoWeek (2016)

Handling and Braking

Luxury sedans are expected to have smooth rides, and the CTS doesn't disappoint, absorbing almost every road imperfection with ease. Don't let the cushioned ride fool you, though; the rear-wheel drive CTS can move. It has sharp steering, and there's not much body lean when cornering. It's not a stretch to say the CTS is one of the most athletic luxury midsize cars on the market, and the high-performance CTS-V is even more agile. The CTS is available with all-wheel drive if you want even better road grip.

You can further improve the CTS' ride and/or handling with the available adaptive suspension, which has three modes: Tour, Sport, and Track. Pick your favorite so the CTS is more in tune with your driving style, and then just sit back and enjoy your drive.

  • "The ride is extremely comfortable even on rather rough roads, and the exhaust that rip-roars when the car is in Track mode goes mostly silent when in Tour. But then a turn approaches and the CTS-V reacts like an extension of your arms through the steering wheel, and you snap back to the realization that you're piloting something special." -- Cars.com (2016)
  • "The steering was as precise as a sedan this big will likely get, and the body roll control was likewise solid." -- AutoWeek (2016)
  • "Through turns, the CTS provides uncommon levels of composure and tactility. If you ever find yourself driving one on a racetrack, don't be afraid to toss it into a corner -- it'll shrink around you like all great sport sedans, and you'll enjoy arguably the best steering feel and body control in this segment. Yes, this Caddy is sharp, yet it still maintains its composure over bumps, especially when fitted with the adaptive suspension. The CTS is also ideal for highway cruising, thanks to its smooth ride and fairly quiet cabin." -- Edmunds (2016)

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