We named the Cadillac CTS-V our car of the year for 2009, so we’re probably going to already be bias in favor of the V6 version. We are practical people at TopSpeed (sometimes), so we should be fine with trading 552 hp engine and Magnetic Ride Control for 304 hp and about $20K more cash in our pocket (starting at $39,885), right?

2009 Cadillac CTS
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The outside of the car is unmistakably Cadillac. The “Art and Science” design language has really matured on the second-generation CTS. Just like the rest of the Cadillac lineup, the entire exterior is based off of hard edges and long creases. Where the old one looked distinctive, this one looks distinctively aggressive.

The design is not a copy from the Europeans, but GM did borrow the theme: family-familiar face, minimal body chrome, and only quality pieces.

All rear ends of Cadillac cars still carry the tailfin design. No longer do Cadillacs have a tail so large it almost feels like another car is always following, but the rear lights are vertical and as tall as the trunk. This love-it-or-hate-it element is at least brought into the modern age with its bright LED light technology.

2009 Cadillac CTS
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Cadillac took its time developing the interior. Where BMW and Mercedes put ergonomics above all else, the CTS went for a different approach. While the layout is still logical, overall this was an exercise in styling. The hard edge look of the exterior is continued to inside. The center stack goes for the same tall, vertical look as the tail lamps, including the center air vents that are now mounted straight up in the middle of the stack.

We had about $10K worth of options that included nice touches like a sat nave screen, heated and cooled leather seats, LED ambient lighting, and a sunroof that runs almost the full roof of the car.

The touch screen sat nav system has one of the most logical layouts we’ve ever seen. The directional function is just as good as other cars, including pointing out gas stations, restaurants, attractions, and local traffic. But best feature is when the full screen is not in use. Three fourths of the screen will retract back into the dash, and the last quarter will still functions as logical radio controls. Cadillac has figured out what no other car company has: drivers listen to multiple forms of music. In most cars the switch from AM to FM to satellite radio requires a switch to one single format. The memory in the CTS’ radio allows for any mix of media to be set into the six presets. It’s a little thing, but it makes a huge difference on a morning commute.

2009 Cadillac CTS
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The Cadillac’s real test is how it feels on the road. The CTS is competing in a market with young buyers whose idea of luxury comes from what they know about German cars. The CTS does a good job of translating the feel of the road. The suspension is not built for as much all-out performance as the European rivals (that’s what the CTS-V is for), but that also means the ride isn’t as harsh in the large bumps. In other words, it still fell like American luxury, just spoken with a heavy German accent.

There are three performance levels with the CTS, but only two engines. Without the 6.2-liter supercharged V8 of the CTS-V, the only other unit is a 3.6-liter V6. Because ours had direct injection, we were sitting on a respectable 304 hp – that’s 4 more hp than the BMW 335i and 36 more than the Mercedes C350 (although both are a couple hundred pound trimmer.)

When get in our fleet, it’s our job to find its handling limits. While most CTS owners won’t have intentions of going for a track day with a CTS, we like to know what it can do in everyday situations. Our CTS easily pulled ahead at the stoplights, and more importantly, we had a hard time making the tire howl. Drivers who want the rear end to break loose during hard cornering and acceleration will need to do a lot of work.

2009 Cadillac CTS
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Overall the CTS was impressive. The last generation CTS was an alternative to BMW’s 3-Series and Mercedes C-Class because it offered similar power in very different packaging. This CTS still is considered an alternative to the Germans, but now because it offers similar performance with flair.

The CTS doesn’t stick to the road like gum in the same way the 3-Series does, but its touch-screen is a monumental triumph over BMW’s iDrive. The CTS doesn’t have the all the options of the Mercedes C-Class, but the Mercedes doesn’t offer all-wheel drive with the larger engine. In total, the CTS has the right alternatives to fit in the spaces for the drivers who can’t find the right fit with the Germans.

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  (504) posted on 11.10.2010

This was a 518 mi trip. The six speed trans is much more efficient than the 4 speed in
the Tahoe and Yukon.

  (676) posted on 11.3.2010

I wish GM would also focus on making their existing products better.

  (506) posted on 09.29.2010

I would love to see the 2-mode hybrid system paired with GM’s direct-injected 3.6L V6 and installed in the Acadia/Enclave/Outlook - 300hp + decent MPG for a massive family hauler. I suspect the next round of updates will be pairing the standard (non-D.I.) 3.6L V6 currently found in the Outlook and VUE XR with the 2-mode hybrid for an expanded Green Line portfolio for Saturn.

  (1211) posted on 09.21.2010

Wow, can’t wait to see one of these wagons on the road. That profile reminds me a lot of the Magnum, only this one will have a better interior and hopefully a stick.

  (745) posted on 08.18.2010

Hopefully, I can see one parking on the nearby streets. Extremely my type!

  (806) posted on 08.10.2010

You could still buy the sedan, or the impractical coupe if you don’t like wagons. Are you in the market for a CTS-class car and now going to pass because they will OFFER a wagon? Or do you just think everyone should drive what you approve of?

  (313) posted on 07.29.2010

i can’t wait to see one of these wagons on the road. That profile reminds me a lot of the Magnum.

  (1) posted on 07.9.2009

this car is very hot

  (1024) posted on 04.20.2009

39K? You can get a G37 sedan for the less money and it will perform better, look better, will last longer and probably get better mileage. Heck, one could get a 3 series for a little more.

This car would be a good bargain for 30K, not more.

BMWM6  (488) posted on 04.14.2009

that is true even though the cts-v has more power

the americans should stick to muscle cars

but the viper and the corvette are amazing

pdaix  (433) posted on 04.14.2009

The new CTS is a glimpse of hope that someday domestic cars will rise again. So far they are still playing catch up bargain. But will the American shopper ever be interested spending the same money on their car that Europeans do?

BMWM6  (488) posted on 04.14.2009

an amazing car but I still lean towards the european manufactrures

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