2017 Cadillac CTS-V: The V is for velocity.
Price: $103,360 as tested. The V starts at $85,595; we added $2,075 for the Luxury Package; $1,600 for Performance Data Recorder; $1,450 for Ultraview Sunroof; $595 for Red Brembo Brake Calipers; more options discussed throughout.
Marketer’s pitch: General Motors seems to not be offering much in the way of taglines these days.
Conventional wisdom: But these quotes come from the Cadillac website: “On the road, the fastest Cadillac you can buy is hushed and calm, with instant warp power and a smooth, level ride.” — Top Gear. “Brutal speed, extreme track day competency, and a uniquely American brashness make it a first-sedan sport sedan or coupé.” — Jalopnik.
Reality: Yeah. It’s like that.
What it is: The fastest Cadillac you ever dreamed of. No, wait, faster.
The CTS-V is in its third generation of hot-rodding the CTS sedan (or coupé), having been on the market since 2009.
Up to speed: There are 640 horses under this hood, thanks to the supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 à la the Chevrolet Corvette. Zero to 60 is an unfathomable 3.6 seconds, according to Car and Driver. Necks were, in fact, snapped in the making of this review.
On the road: But Cadillac didn’t just take a hot-rod engine and jam it into some 1985 Fleetwood. The suspension has received plenty of tuning above some of its rather nice-to-drive current offerings, so curves are just a dream. The CTS-V will take you on country roads far faster than one should really be going, and give the passengers not just butterflies, but hummingbirds or even baby pterodactyls.
In the slow lane: Pull off at a Wawa or a Sheetz, and you’ll find yourself the center of attention. The test model came in the usual Cadillac Crystal White Tricoat ($500), not a blazing color by any stretch, but many necks were craning at the Corvette sound rumbling from the Cadillac body.
Fuel economy: This will happen at a Wawa or a Sheetz pretty regularly, as the test vehicle averaged between 14 and 18 mpg, depending on the trip. I did eke out 21 mpg on a final voyage to Newark. But, still. Plus you still have to pay $1,000 up front for the Gas Guzzler Tax.
Shifty: The 8-speed automatic transmission comes with a manual mode, and the paddle shifters worked well for changing gears. In either mode, the transmission just quietly did its job, as a good transmission should.
Best of all …: You don’t have to shoehorn yourself into a Corvette, or leave any of the kids behind — well, provided you’re not a crazy person with 4.0 kids like the Lovely Mrs. Passenger Seat and myself. But they’re mostly grown and long gone anyway.
And the Cadillac amenities are nice. The carbon-fiber dashboard plate stood out, and the rest was silver and black. But the amenities come at Cadillac prices. The Carbon Fiber Package cost $6,950, and also added special wheels and exterior treatments.
Wet weather: And the CTS-V handles in the rain far better than some dumb, old Corvette. Even with just rear-wheel drive and none of the four-wheel steering of the CT6, a soggy New Jersey Turnpike trip didn’t come with the usual slips and slides of other merely mortal cars.
Friends and stuff: Still, the CTS-V is not as Cadillac-spread-’em-out-pardner roomy as one might think. Rear foot room, in particular, is dear, especially when getting in and out of the tight back doors. And yet those doors wing out far enough that they can be trouble for your own hip bone or for fellow travelers’ adjacent cars.
Middle-seat passengers will weep and moan; the hump is large and the center seat tall.
Cargo space is 13.7 cubic feet, a little on the small side.
Play some tunes: I remain one of the few reviewers who admires the CUE infotainment system. The touchscreen works fairly well, and the slider bars are not bad.
When all else fails, the voice-recognition system works like a charm.
Sound from the 13-speaker Bose Surround system is excellent.
Staying warm and cool: The $103,000 car featured Recaro High Performance Seats for $2,300. These were cool, but they also deleted the ventilated front seats. Don’t buy these. Ventilated seats are cooler.
Night shift: The interior lights offered a warm and wonderful glow. The headlights were middling; some nights they didn’t bother me, but others they seemed aimed low.
Where it’s built: Lansing, Mich.
How it’s built: Consumer Reports predicts the reliability to be 3 out of 5, about the same as the CTS.
In the end: The CTS-V was a whole bunch of fun, but I think I’d prefer a CT6 if I were to spend a chunk of money on a Cadillac. Really, unless you’re at the track a lot, 404 horses is plenty, it has oodles of room for everyone, and 22 mpg to boot.