Combining breathtaking performance, a luxurious interior and striking good looks, the all-new 2016 Cadillac CTS-V reinvents and reinvigorates one of the world’s oldest and most acclaimed automakers. Even in an elite class of high-performance luxury sedans, the supercharged and racetrack-ready CTS-V shines.
The redesigned 2016 Cadillac CTS-V is the most powerful vehicle that Cadillac has built since the company was founded in 1902. Although that concrete fact represents the 640-horsepower, supercharged 6.2-liter V8 engine, the argument could easily be made that the CTS-V’s dramatic exterior and luxurious cabin also contribute to the designation. Cadillac’s super-sedan is often referred to as a Chevrolet Corvette Z06 with four doors and with good reason; the engine, the internals of the eight-speed automatic transmission and the electronically controlled limited-slip differential are all shared with Chevrolet’s iconic sports car.
Available in a single trim level, the CTS-V is loaded with standard equipment including 20-way power-adjustable front seats, a 13-speaker Bose sound system and a head-up display. Options can be added to enhance the exterior and interior, allowing the CTS-V to be configured from the factory with race-inspired goodies like a carbon fiber hood vent, front splitter, rear spoiler and rear diffuser.
The Cadillac CTS-V is a carefully designed vehicle where every detail contributes to the sedan’s athleticism. The sharply angled and aerodynamically functional lines allow the CTS-V to slice through the air while also keeping the car firmly planted at speed.
The 2016 CTS-V wears a vented carbon fiber hood that weighs very little, but packs a heavy punch in the styling department. The front splitter, hood extractor and spoiler work in concert to reduce lift and provide attention-grabbing curb appeal.
Walking around the CTS-V reveals additional significant styling details with every step. From the 19-inch lightweight wheels, to the polished quad-tipped exhaust (and every oversized Cadillac crest, V logo and emblem) the CTS-V is full of pleasing visual surprises.
Fortunately, Cadillac’s enthusiast-oriented design is over-the-top in a refined way. Yes, the CTS-V makes a bold statement, but it doesn’t stand out in an awkward way. As a matter of fact, by keeping exterior options to a minimum many would simply excuse the fire-breathing supercharged beast as the more conservative and mainstream CTS sedan.
While the performance of the CTS-V is the sedan’s greatest achievement, the cabin certainly works diligently to keep step. The attention to detail found in the Cadillac’s interior design is almost impeccable. Cadillac brags that the CTS-V is “driver-centric” and after spending a week behind the wheel, I am in full agreement.
My test vehicle was equipped with the race-inspired Recaro 16-way power front seats, and while the bolsters were a tad aggressive for many of my passengers, I found the design to fit my 5-foot-10 frame perfectly.
The standard 20-way adjustable heated and ventilated front seats are also excellent, either way you’ll be comfortable and firmly planted for spirited driving.
Just about every surface is wrapped in leather or decked out in attractive exotic materials like matte carbon fiber. The thick-rimmed steering wheel is incredibly comfortable and the magnesium paddle shifters look great and feel cool to the touch.
An easy-to-read 12.3-inch high-definition display serves as the main instrument panel. Highly configurable, the display allows the driver to choose one of three layouts and then designate what information will be readily available at a moment’s glance. An additional head-up display keeps eyes on the road and helps drivers keep speed in check, which can be a little difficult considering the CTS-V’s incredible power and poise.
The front seats are certainly where the CTS-V shines, especially the driver’s cockpit, but rear seating is also quite comfortable, supportive and roomy enough room for three smaller adults or children. If you simply stick to the two outboard seats, the back seat is among the most spacious of any car that can whisk its passengers along at 200 mph.
The cargo space is amazing for a sports car with the performance that the CTS-V offers, but the 13.7 cubic feet is only average for a midsize sedan. However, when you consider that you will struggle to fit more than a suitcase into the Corvette Z06, Cadillac’s supercharged beauty is for all intents and purposes one of the greatest family cars ever built.
The only thing holding the CTS-V back are a few of the shared parts that you find in the far less expensive Cadillac CTS. For instance, some of the switches feel a little cheap for a car that could cost more than your first apartment. This is a minor quibble, and one that not all journalists will agree with, but I feel it is worth pointing out.
Overall, I was impressed with CTS-V’s interior, as I am with the regular CTS’ lovely cabin. However, when you compare these little details to what you’ll find in direct competitors from BMW and Mercedes-Benz, my feeling is that the CTS-V is very close, but could still use a little more refinement. Also, the CUE infotainment system is quirky, with a high-gloss touch screen that shows fingerprints so easily that you’ll wonder if you forgot to wash your hands after that hamburger you had for lunch.
As a reviewer I am in the wonderful position that I can test drive many of today’s top performing vehicles. I have driven many of the vehicles that the 2016 CTS-V takes direct aim at, and I can say without hesitation that Cadillac’s latest version of the CTS-V matches up with any of them from a performance standpoint. While that is a subjective comment, the numbers tell the same story objectively.
The 2016 CTS-V accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds and completes the quarter mile in 11.8 seconds. Finally, its top speed is a sublime 200 mph.
The CTS-V, in standard trim, can come to a full stop from 70 mph in 149 feet. That’s impressive for a two-seat sports car, and these numbers are amazing for a premium sports sedan.
The CTS-V is powered by a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 engine with 640 horsepower and 630 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard. Power is immediate and shifts are prompt, resulting in absolutely incredible acceleration. Thanks to Cadillac’s Magnetic Ride Control system that adjusts to road conditions 1,000 times per second (a damping response that is 40 percent faster than the previous CTS-V), variable ratio rack-mounted ZF electronic steering and an electronic limited-slip differential, the CTS-V is essentially a track-ready race car that you can use for carpooling and runs to the grocery store.
Fuel economy is rated at 14/21 mpg city/highway, which is quite decent considering the power and utility of the sedan. My week with the CTS-V kept me well within that range, though the CTS-V begs to be driven and pushing any midsize sedan with a 6.2-liter engine can result in pretty dismal gas mileage. The argument can be made that very few people will purchase the CTS-V for fuel savings, but all things considered the $1,000 gas guzzler tax on my review vehicle’s window sticker seems quite fair.
I was able to spend some time with chassis-development engineer Drew Cattell discussing the creation of the CTS-V. What really struck me was the almost uninhibited freedom that Cadillac gave the highly experienced, enthusiast-focused team to design and build a machine that can be proudly heralded as “the pinnacle of Cadillac performance.” I can assure you that General Motors has the right people working to guide the brand to the top and the 2016 CTS-V is the result of tireless effort and attention to detail.
The 2016 Cadillac CTS-V showcases the brand’s most powerful technology features in a way that complements the performance of the sedan. An 8-inch color information display showcases Cadillac’s CUE information and media control system with embedded navigation. The system features three USB ports, an auxiliary input jack, Bluetooth connectivity, voice recognition and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration.
The standard 13-speaker Bose audio system features active noise cancellation, SiriusXM and HD Radio.
The CTS-V also features GM’s OnStar telematics system, which provides the voice of an actual human being at the touch of a button to provide directions, vehicle diagnostics, travel advisement and more. The OnStar system also includes a 4G LTE Internet connection and a built-in Wi-Fi hot spot.
Remote keyless entry and push-button start, a universal home remote and wireless smartphone charging are also standard.
Available options include tri-zone automatic climate control, heated rear seats, a power sunshade for the rear window and an advanced theft deterrent system.
The advanced technology available as standard equipment in the CTS-V rivals what any comparably priced sports sedan on the market offers. My only quibble with Cadillac is the high learning curve and lack of tactile buttons and knobs on the CUE infotainment system. CUE has certainly improved over previous versions, but the hard-to-control virtual sliders and buttons can prove dodgy, often requiring a few tries to complete a simple task like turning up the radio. The high-gloss finish of the touchpads and screen only makes the situation worse. As stated earlier, the nature of the design makes fingerprints a constant issue.
While not tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the 2016 Cadillac CTS-V’s unusually comprehensive list of standard safety features warrant a top score. A comprehensive battery of air bags is paired with seat belts that automatically tighten to keep occupants safe in a collision.
Forward collision alert, lane keeping assist, lane departure warning, rear cross traffic alert, blind spot monitoring and a rearview camera are standard.
Cadillac also includes some invisible safety features that help keep the CTS-V from falling into harm’s way. Traction and stability control systems work to help the driver stay in control in adverse driving conditions. Powerful brakes also help slow the CTS-V in panic stops.
The nicely equipped and one trim only 2016 CTS-V starts at $83,995. My review vehicle included Recaro high performance seats ($2,300), a performance data recorder ($1,300) and a Luxury package that includes a split-folding rear seat, tri-zone climate control, heated outboard rear seats and a 110-volt power outlet. My CTS-V also included a $1,000 gas guzzler tax and a $995 destination charge for a grand total of $91,190.
At first glance the CTS-V’s pricing seems a little steep, especially when you consider that the base 2015 CTS-V started at $69,900.
However, the new generation is greatly improved in every way, offering far more horsepower and torque, advanced technologies, more luxury and better fuel economy. Additionally, competitors like the 2016 BMW M5 and Mercedes-AMG E63 have higher starting prices at $95,095 and $102,625, respectively. Perhaps the all-new 2016 Lexus GS F might have styling that you like. The GS F’s $85,380 base price is almost identical to the CTS-V’s, but unfortunately the performance levels are not.
In my opinion, spending time looking at the specs and pricing each of the CTS-V’s primary competitors only adds the attractiveness of Cadillac’s beautiful new supercharged sports sedan.
The all-new 2016 Cadillac CTS-V continues the V-Series tradition by once again reinvigorating the brand. Very few sedans provide a fraction of the dynamic driving capabilities offered by Cadillac’s flagship, even if they are two-seat sports cars. While I may have nitpicked the CTS-V’s interior and CUE infotainment system,
I am a true fan of the vehicle and can comfortably recommend ownership to anyone who is lucky enough to have the means to put one in their garage.
With a meaningful financial savings over the European competition, the CTS-V is arguably one of the greatest domestically built sports sedans of all time. That exclusivity alone is worth a trip to the dealer to check it out in person.