2015 Cadillac CTS

Starting MSRP: $45,345 - $69,340

Estimated MPG: 20 city / 30 hwy

2015 Cadillac CTS Review

The 2015 Cadillac CTS makes a strong case for itself with a distinctive design, a solid engine lineup and handling characteristics that could make many competitors blush.

By William Maley
Last Updated 05/03/2016

The luxury midsize car segment is a perfect example of the school of hard knocks. Anyone who decides to launch a new model in this category will be judged to a severe degree since it is already filled with a number of strong entries. Look at the Cadillac CTS, for example. The past two generations of the CTS were considered decent, but not quite ready to take on competitors like the Audi A6 and BMW 5 Series. But Cadillac wasn't willing to give up. When the automaker introduced the third-generation CTS as a 2014 model it put everyone on notice that a new challenger had arrived.

For 2015, the Cadillac CTS is offered with three different powertrain configurations and the choice of rear- or all-wheel drive. Six trims are offered: Standard, Luxury, Performance, Premium, Vsport and Vsport Premium.

Exterior

Exterior
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Cadillac uses a toned-down version of its Art and Science design language on the latest version of the CTS. You'll still find a number of sharp lines and angles, but the overall design is a bit more fluid. The front end boasts a large grille with a wreathless Cadillac emblem and a set of large headlights that stretch back into the front fenders. The side profile reveals a low roofline that is paired with a tall beltline. Wheels range from 17-inches on the base CTS to a set of optional 19-inch wheels. The back end features a set of dual exhaust ports and a rear bumper that comes to a center point.

Interior

Interior
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The previous CTS' interior was considered a step forward for Cadillac with a modern design, but some questionable material choices were a bit of a letdown. The luxury automaker addressed this with the new CTS by bringing in more premium materials, including real wood and aluminum trim, as well as stitched leather.

Sitting inside the CTS is an intimate experience, with front-seat passengers somewhat enveloped by the flowing dash and door panels.

The seats provide the right amount of comfort and support for the sporting intentions of the CTS. The rear seat is slightly smaller than what you'll find in many competitors when you look at the measurements, but it's a different story when you sit back there. Even for 6-footers, the CTS' back seat provides enough head- and legroom. The trunk is small for the class, with 13.7 cubic feet of cargo space. At least you'll be able to fold the rear seats to increase cargo carrying capacity.

The base CTS comes standard with dual-zone automatic climate control, power-adjustable front seats and leatherette upholstery. A heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, tri-zone automatic climate control and leather upholstery are available.

Performance

Performance
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There are three different engines on offer for the 2015 Cadillac CTS. The base is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 272 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard, and paired with the choice of rear- or all-wheel drive. Next is a 3.6-liter V6 with 321 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque. Rear-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic come standard with this engine, while an all-wheel drive variant comes with a six-speed automatic transmission. The top engine is found in Vsport models, which feature a twin-turbo 3.6-liter V6 with 420 horsepower and 430 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive are standard on the CTS Vsport.

The base CTS gets an EPA estimated 20/30 mpg city/highway. V6 models get up to 18/29 mpg and the CTS Vsport gets 16/24 mpg. Our test CTS Vsport saw a fuel economy average of 20.1 mpg during our week of mainly city driving.

We drove a CTS Vsport with the twin-turbo V6, which is quite a shocking in terms of acceleration. Power comes on immediately, and there's plenty in reserve if you need to pass or merging onto an expressway. The engine sounds more like a muted V8 than a turbocharged V6, and the eight-speed automatic always seems to be in the right gear regardless of the driving situation.

Along with the twin-turbo V6, Cadillac has made a number of changes to the CTS Vsport to make it a driver's dream. The Vsport gets an adaptive sport-tuned suspension with magnetic dampers, an electronic limited-slip differential, a heavy-duty cooling system and summer tires. This makes the CTS Vsport one of the best-handling sedans in its class. The CTS hunkers down and the suspension keeps body motions in check when cornering, and the steering provides excellent feel when attacking a backroad. When you take CTS on the expressway or into the city, the suspension makes bumps almost non-existent. Road and wind noise are kept to levels that are almost silent.

Technology

Technology
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The 2015 Cadillac CTS comes standard with proximity key with push-button start, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, satellite radio, HD Radio and the Cadillac User Experience (CUE) infotainment system. CUE is comprised of an 8-inch touch screen and touch-sensitive buttons. This system controls a number of vehicle functions including audio, climate and navigation.

Unfortunately, using CUE is an exercise in frustration, as it relies heavily on the touch screen to control various aspects of the system. This would be OK if CUE easily recognized inputs, but the system is hit-and-miss.

The same is true when you try to use touch-sensitive buttons, as there is a 50 percent chance of them responding to your input. CUE also shows signs of sluggishness, with slow response times to simple tasks such as changing the station. Fortunately, there's a workaround, as CUE reacts to voice commands better than most competing systems on the market.

The CTS also comes with General Motors' OnStar 4G LTE telematics system with a built-in Wi-Fi hot spot. This new version of OnStar allows you and your passengers to connect a smartphone, tablet or laptop to the Internet using OnStar's data connection.

Safety

Safety
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The CTS earned a top five-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for its overall performance in crash tests. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the CTS top scores of Good in roof strength tests, side crash tests and moderate overlap front crash tests. When equipped with a forward collision warning system, the CTS also earned a Superior rating from the IIHS for front crash prevention.

Standard safety equipment on the CTS includes a full suite of air bags, rear parking sensors, stability control, traction control and the OnStar telematics system. 

Models above the base CTS get automatic high beams, a rearview camera, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert and lane-departure warning. Adaptive cruise control and forward collision warning are optional on the Performance trim and standard on Premium and Vsport Premium models.

Cost-Effectiveness

Cost-Effectiveness
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The 2015 Cadillac CTS starts at $45,345 for the base model and climbs all the way to $70,335 for the top Vsport Premium. This puts it right in line with many competitors in the class. Our CTS Vsport was priced at $60,435. That's less than a similarly equipped Audi A6 or BMW 5-Series, which both bundle features like ventilated seats, a premium audio system and adaptive cruise control into separate option packages.

Overall

Overall
9

Cadillac has cracked the code of the midsize luxury sedan with the third-generation CTS. Thanks to a number of improvements in design, equipment levels and overall performance, the CTS has become a viable alternative to the usual suspects within the luxury segment. While the Cadillac brand still has issues in terms of overall brand perception, the CTS shows that the brand is on the right track. The 2015 CTS is a worthy alternative to the standards of the class.