A new flagship – for now…

Remember how your grandmother would call something a Cadillac, even if it had nothing to do with a car? “This microwave oven is a Cadillac, Frank. Let’s see if Penney’s has it on sale.” See, grandma wasn’t talking about GM’s previous ownership of Frigidaire, but rather that the name Cadillac stood for something – luxurious quality.

Cadillac as an automotive brand is experiencing a great resurgence thanks to CEO John de Nysschen and some highly skilled engineers and designers. Thankfully the years under “Old GM” are gone, and with it, the DTS, STS, and Deville. Nowadays, it’s the ATS, CTS, and Escalade that fill showroom floors. Quality, refinement and prestige have all been trending upward since end of the Great Recession.

But Cadillac isn’t done. For 2016, an all-new flagship has emerged. It’s the CT6 and its aimed squarely at the German’s luxury sedan offerings. The CT6, joined by the XT5 for the 2017 model year, kick off Cadillac’s new naming system while bringing an even higher level of refinement to the table.

Cadillac has positioned the CT6 in between the standard convention of German sedan classifications. It’s larger than BMW’s 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class, but not nearly as long or wide as the 7 Series or S-Class. Nevertheless, this strategy has worked for Cadillac in the past. The CTS slots between the 3 Series and 5 Series, essentially allowing it to play in both categories. Cadillac will soon debut its truest flagship, the CT9, which should compete head-on with overtly luxurious German offerings. But in the mean time, the CT6 is Caddy’s best and brightest.

I recently spent a week with the CT6 fitted with all the finest options bundled in the Platinum trim package. My tester also came equipped with Cadillac’s new 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 and AWD system. Needless to say, I was excited to grab the keys.

Continue reading for the full driven review.

  • 2016 Cadillac CT6 – Driven
  • Year:
    2016
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    V6
  • Transmission:
    Eight-Speed Automatic
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    404 @ 5700
  • MPG(Cty):
    18
  • MPG(Hwy):
    26
  • Torque @ RPM:
    400 @ 2500
  • Energy:
    Twin-turbocharged, Direct Injection
  • Displacement:
    3.0 L
  • 0-60 time:
    5.0 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    155 mph (Est.)
  • Layout:
    Front Engine, AWD
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • size:
  • Purpose:
  • body style:
  • Overall:
    8.5/10

Video Review


Exterior

2016 Cadillac CT6 – Driven High Resolution Exterior
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2016 Cadillac CT6 – Driven High Resolution Exterior
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2016 Cadillac CT6 – Driven High Resolution Exterior
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The CT6 is classy. It’s elegant. It’s poised. The CT6 is all this thanks to its sleek, angular design matched with its low-slung hood, satin chrome accents, and optional Stellar Black Metallic paint color. Any angle will give viewers the same effect: the CT6 is a strong sedan with a muscular stance parked on beautiful 20-inch wheels. The rear elicits the same feelings thanks to the angled edged, LED taillights, and quad, chrome-tipped exhaust.

The CT6 is a strong sedan with a muscular stance parked on beautiful 20-inch wheels.

Okay, so beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and ultimately that’s true, but the CT6 seems to defy conventional criticism. Everyone who saw this sedan during the test week agreed the car looks like money. Perhaps those who enjoy sublet luxury would find the Cadillac too bold. My rebuttal generally follows the idea that a premium luxury sedan should be more exciting than a mid-sized appliance.

Several key areas of design stand out. I love the hood’s low height. Somehow Cadillac engineers were able to bring the hood and front fenders down onto the wheels, giving it an angle appearance. That, matched with the LED headlights that trickle down into the fog lights, which swoop over to the center grille, gives the CT6 a very cohesive front clip. It looks as if the clay model should still be underneath.

Interior

2016 Cadillac CT6 – Driven High Resolution Interior
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2016 Cadillac CT6 – Driven High Resolution Interior
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2016 Cadillac CT6 – Driven High Resolution Interior
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Inside the CT6 is a luxurious cabin filled with the latest technology and creature comforts. Some might argue the cabin isn’t as well designed as it could be, but I had no qualms after a week of in-person interaction. In photos, the steering wheel does look a bit strange, but in practice, it feels great and is plenty practical. The same practicality carries throughout the cabin, with intuitive controls for everything from the windshield wipers to the massaging seats.

Inside the CT6 is a luxurious cabin filled with the latest technology and creature comforts.

Thankfully Cadillac is stepping away from the CUE touch controls in favor of buttons and toggle switches. This makes the HVAC system much simpler to operate. A single remnant of the CUE touch control remains, however. The main volume control for the radio still requires a swiping motion to operate. The driver will enjoy using the steering wheel-mounted volume buttons easier to operate.

The CUE name remains on the infotainment system, but the 10.2-inch, wide-format touch screen hosts one of the best examples of infotainment software anywhere in the industry. The user interface is very Apple-esque and operates the same way an iOS device would. Icons can be moved around by pressing, holding, and dragging. Multiple pages of icons give users the chance to customize what they see on the home screen.

2016 Cadillac CT6 – Driven High Resolution Interior
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Cadillac offers a handy 360-degree camera system that makes parking and reversing a breeze. The camera system can also be configured to record up to two minutes of video should the car get involved in an accident or if the alarm is activated.

While the CT6 can technically seat five, four occupants will be much happier. All four outboard seats offer heating, cooling, and massaging functions. Front seat comfort is spectacular thanks to nearly infinitely configurable power adjustments and is only surpassed by the rear seat comfort. Folding the center armrest down reveals power seat controls for the outboard positions. The seatbacks recline while the seat bottoms slide forward, giving passengers a near-La-Z-Boy experience. The massaging functions can be changed a number of different ways, allowing passengers to tailor their experience.

While the CT6 can technically seat five, four occupants will be much happier.

Another notable feature my Platinum model tester has is the 34-speaker Bose Panaray sound system. Cadillac says that instead of using six or eight large speakers, Bose changed things up by using 34 smaller speakers positioned throughout the cabin. The sound is amazingly clear at any volume, but does come at a high price tag. The Panaray system comes standard at the Platinum trim level, but cost $3,700 on the Premium Luxury trim level. Undoubtedly, that cost is wrapped into the Platinum’s MSRP. The CT6 Platinum also comes standard with a rear-seat entertainment package with two power-hiding screens mounted on the back of the front seats.

Other interesting technology includes Cadillac’s Enhanced Night Vision system. It’s basically a forward-looking infrared camera that recognized heat signatures, just like a fighter jet or police helicopter. The rear view mirror also has an integrated rear-facing camera. Simply flip the mirror into nighttime mode like a traditional mirror, and the glass turns into a wide-angle view devoid of headrests and window shades. It works great, but getting used to the depth of field takes a couple days. There is also a slew of safety features like adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, forward collision alert, and automatically pretensioning seatbelts. A color heads-up display and wireless phone charger round out the techie stuff.

Drivetrain

2016 Cadillac CT6 – Driven High Resolution Drivetrain
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The CT6 currently offers three powertrain choices: the base 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, the naturally aspirated 3.6-liter V-6, and the 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6. The CT6 come standard with RWD, but both V-6 engines are only available with AWD.

It’s not a V-Series Cadillac by any means, but the CT6 can certainly hustle when needed.

My tester came fitted with Cadillac’s new 3.0-liter twin-turbo. This all-aluminum engine features direct fuel injection, variable valve timing, cylinder deactivation, and an automatic start/stop system. At full tilt, it generates 404 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque. It comes mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission that sends 60 percent of power rearward and 40 percent forward during normal driving conditions. The AWD system can also be locked in a 50/50 torque split for greater all-weather traction. The driver simply changes the drive mode selector to the winter mode.

Standard on the Platinum trim is Cadillac’s Active Chassis Package. It includes the AWD, along with Active Rear Steering and Magnetic Ride Control. The rear-steer system works to keep the car balanced in turns, making the rear wheels turn opposite of the front in low-speed maneuvers and with the front wheels during moderate and high-speed lane changes. As with other GM vehicles, Magnetic Ride Control uses magneto rheological shock absorbers to control damping via sensors ever millisecond. Magnetized fluid inside the shock changes viscosity at a split second to accommodate bumps and body roll.

All this combines to give the CT6 a outstandingly comfortable ride with surprising performance. It’s not a V-Series Cadillac by any means, but the CT6 can certainly hustle when needed. The sprint to 60 mph takes just five seconds and its top speed is governed around 155 mph.

Driving Impressions

2016 Cadillac CT6 – Driven High Resolution Interior
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Behind the wheel, the CT6 feels agile, despite its dimensions. The electronic steering is solid and doesn’t transmit road feedback. That might not be desirable in a sports car, but in a luxury sedan, the isolation is appreciated. Change the drive mode from Normal to Sport, and the steering livens up, taking a bit more effort to turn. Throttle and braking throws are linear and easy to operate. Body roll is present, but is well controlled, especially in Sport mode. Outward visibility is great thanks to large side mirrors, a tall greenhouse, and the rear-facing camera.

The CT6 isn’t perfect, however. The eight-speed automatic is clunky when coming to a stop. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t come to a stop without the car jerking slightly as the transmission went into first gear. I tried the same maneuver with the transmission in neutral, and the clunkiness went away. The V-6 also suffers from a mild case of turbo lag. It doesn’t have that instant torque feeling, but rather requires a half-second of patience when waiting for boost to fully kick in. It’s not a major problem, but simply a typical characteristic of turbocharged engines that Cadillac buyers will have to grow accustomed to.

All told, I’d be more than happy to road trip the CT6 across country thanks to its immensely comfortable interior and good driving dynamics.

Pricing

2016 Cadillac CT6 – Driven High Resolution Exterior
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2016 Cadillac CT6 – Driven High Resolution Exterior
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2016 Cadillac CT6 – Driven High Resolution Exterior
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The CT6 can be had for $54,490 if you’re looking for a four-cylinder model in the base trim with no options. Choosing the 3.6-liter V-6 pushes the price to $56,490, while the new 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 requires $65,390 to buy. Three trim levels are available: Luxury, Premium Luxury, and Platinum.

The Platinum trim includes just about every option available on the lower trims, so there are only a handful of options left to choose from besides exterior and interior colors. My tester came with no other options selected, so its price came to $88,460. That does include Cadillac’s $995 destination fee as well.

Competition

BMW 7 Series

2016 BMW 7 Series Exterior High Resolution
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The 7 Series has long been BMW’s bread-n-butter luxury liner. Only the Mercedes E-Class has given the car a run for its money, but still the Bimmer holds its own. Completely redesigned for the 2016 model year, the 7 Series offers a luxurious cabin with high-tech features like gesture control mixes with spirited driving characteristics typical of BMW.

BMW offers a couple engine choices here. The base mill is a 320-horsepower 3.0-liter turbocharged inline six-cylinder. Optionally customers can choose the 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 with 445 horsepower. Rear drive comes standard and AWD can be ordered with the V-8. Power hungry customers can choose the Alpina B7 version with its 600-horsepower V-8.

Prices for the 7 Series start at $81,700, but can crest well into the $150,000 range.

Read more about the BMW 7 Series here.

Mercedes-Benz E-Class

2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class
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Mercedes has given the E-Class a thorough work-over for the 2017 model year, including a swanky new interior modeled after the S-Class. The fully digital dashboard offers features like night vision, a massive view of the maps screen, and a limited self-driving feature. Currently, the E-Class is only available in the E300 trim, meaning it’s powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder making 241 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. That’s not a lot in this class of luxury, but Mercedes will definitely be releasing more powerful version of the E-Class in the coming years.

Pricing for the E-Class starts at $55,575, but can quickly be optioned above $80,000.

Find out more about the Mercedes-Benz E-Class here.

Conclusion

2016 Cadillac CT6 – Driven High Resolution Exterior
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The Cadillac CT6 is a fantastic step forward for GM’s most prestigious brand. It seems like de Nysschen knows what he’s doing. Cadillac might not be where Mercedes or BMW currently are, but it doesn’t seem like it will take long before the American brand is holding its own in the sales ring. Sadly, Cadillac’s current sales are a fraction of its German rivals – even here in America – but with products like the CT6 and the XT5 crossover, the brand cache can only improve.

The CT6 proved itself worthy of the Cadillac name at the same time the Cadillac name proves itself worthy of the CT6. This mutually beneficial relationship will push the brand further than it’s been in recent decades, elevating the brand to its fullest potential.

  • Leave it
    • * Small amounts of turbo lag
    • * Driveline shudder when slowing to a stop
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