A Wagon For The 21st Century: Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon
Americans love their wagons. Actually, that’s not true in the slightest. Americans hate wagons for some odd reason. Instead, they love crossovers that are about as fun to drive as a horse and buggy. Nonetheless, Cadillac thought it would give the wagon thing a go, hoping that they could succeed where BMW and Mercedes failed. For those anoraks out there, this is the first time in the company’s 106-year history that they have built a wagon, or estate as some call it.
While some estates offer maximum cargo space, the Cadillac went for a more stylistic approach. It’s only 1.25-inches taller and about 200 pounds heavier. It’s like wearing flip flops in the winter, simply a fashion thing and not practical in any way. The look is deceiving though, as Cadillac has stretched the taillights to a total of three feet. They’ve also added roof racks and, of course, no Cadillac would be complete without chrome.
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The result of all of this straight edge 1950s styling is a car that men can drive and feel good in, but it’s also a car for women to go to the shops with. The CTS Sport Wagon is nearly the best of both worlds.
The interior of the CTS was GM’s first attempt to show the world that they could indeed make an interior that wasn’t awful. It was Cadillac’s attempt to create an interior where the buttons didn’t come off or fade and that wasn’t covered in cheap plastic. Did it work? In a way, yes it did. There are still some touches of cheapness here and there, but the overall look and feel is quite good.
The CTS Sport Wagon still gets the center stack that seems to rise out of the center console like an oak tree, while the leather is soft and plush and the clock is oh so elegant. As majestic as it all might sound, there are some issues that need to be addressed. The wrap-around corners of the instrument panel tend to restrict entry and exit into the vehicle. The view in the rear-view mirror is blocked with the headrests, the rear wiper, and the D-pillars. They might as well just covered it up all together because you aren’t going to get much use out of it.
Around back, the split folding seat levels can easily be reached and you’re going to be using them often, as they will increase cargo volume from 25 to 58 cubic feet. There is a folding cargo floor in two different locations and little hidden compartments for those things you don’t want found. There are also two tie-down rails to secure any cargo.
In a smart engineering move, Cadillac has given you the option to program how far the automatic lift gate opens, just in case the roof clearance is a tad low. As neat as that is, we would rather open the gate ourselves and have the rear visibility fixed.
In the toys department, you won’t find tons of stuff as you would on a German machine, but it’s not exactly barren. There are two Bose entertainment systems that can play tunes through eight or ten speakers. There is a six-disc CD changer, a hard drive for music, iPod and MP3 compatibility, and XM radio. Not to mention the pop-up navigation system.
Cadillac offers the Sport Wagon with rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive and two different engine choices. The first is a 3.0-liter 24-valve DOHC direct-injection V6 with 270 horsepower and 223 pound-feet of torque. The second motor choice is a 3.6-liter with 304 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. There is only one transmission choice, which is a real shame because a manual would be fantastic. The gearbox is a six-speed with paddle shifters. This transmission is calibrated to hold gears at the redline and downshift to the appropriate gear while slowing for turns. All that is fun and neat, but we would rather have an old fashioned manual.
There are many different trim levels, four in total, and three different chassis codes. They are the FE1, FE2, and – you guessed it – FE3. Three different wheel sizes are available; 17, 18, and 19-inch.
During our time with the CTS Sport Wagon we had fun out on the roads. The suspension keeps body roll in check, but the ride is a bit harder than in most Cadillac products. Frankly, we like that about this machine, so it’s not really a complaint. The tires stick to the road and it provides decent feedback through the wheel. Actually, we would rather drive this around a track than anything the Corvette could offer. It’s not as good as the BMW 5-Series Touring, but it’s sure a lot of fun.
We would like to give Cadillac an award for this product because it was a ton better than we thought it would be. As much as we like the SRX, we don’t really see a reason for it after driving this. The driving dynamics are brilliant and the cargo area is pretty good as well. If you’re in the market for a wagon, go take a look at this offering from Caddy.