2008 Cadillac CTS: Two tons of award-winning, luxurious performance
By Mike Blake, Carlisle Events
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
The old adage from the 1950s, “…homerun hitters drive Cadillacs,” embodied America’s opinion of the Caddy in the mid-1900s. It was the epitome of American luxury, high-tech quality and gadgetry. It was a status symbol. Elvis Presley had one and gave some away as gifts. Sugar Ray Robinson drove one. So did Ike (that’s President Eisenhower, not Ike Turner).
By the 1980s, Cadillac had fallen out of favor with some of its audience and its quality and lavishness were eyed in less-than stellar terms by many.
Well, the Caddy is back big time, garnering awards and praise; and it is back also, as a celebrity car, as it was featured in the film, “The Matrix Reloaded”, while such personalities as Anna Kournikova, Snoop Dogg, David Beckham and others drive various forms of America’s premier luxury vehicle.
In terms of awards, the editors at Motor Trend chose the Cadillac CTS as the 2008 Motor Trend Car of the Year -- Cadillac was the first automaker ever to win the trophy, in 1949. Additionally, the ’08 CTS received a "Top Safety Pick" award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety for high crash test ratings in front, side and rear crash tests.
So it was with great anticipation that I got behind the wheel of my test CTS during cold, snowy winter days in central Pennsylvania and northwestern Maryland.
The CTS, an initialese descendent of the Catera, was first introduced for the 2003 model year and it has been among the major reasons that Caddy has soared back into popularity with young and older American car buyers.
Young drivers love its firm, agile ride and luxury canvas that can be upgraded with sound, lights, gadgets and power. Older owners like the CTS for its stability, solidness, sophistication and nostalgic feel for halcyon days.
My test CTS was outfitted with a powerful and efficient 3.6-liter V-6 VVT direct injection engine that smoothly and quietly whispered out 304 horses and provided 370 lbs./ft. of torque. Mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission, this luxury ride is EPA rated at 17 mpg in city driving and 26 mpg on the highway. My weeklong jaunts around the Keystone State the Free State garnered an average of 21.6 mpg.
During my test runs on the track, along highways, down country roads and in small boroughs, my Crystal Red Premium CTS, complemented by its Ebony interior, evoked admiring nods from the public as it deftly eased around corners, accelerated quickly when called upon and confidently maneuvered up hills, down declines and around obstacles.
The all-wheel-drive luxury sedan weighs in at a substantial 4050 lbs. I experienced some mild understeer, but responsive steering and road-smoothing suspension made for an enjoyable time in the cabin. When pressed for speed, the CTS system responded with a track time of 6 seconds flat for a 0-to-60 mph run, on my way to a quarter-mile trip in 14.9 seconds.
The CTS measures 191.6 inches in length, is 58 inches high and a roomy 72.5 inches wide. Its design cues were inspired by Cadillac’s Sixteen concept car. The front is all Cadillac, with a bold look begun by its signature chrome, dual-textured, vertical grille and enhanced by vertically stacked headlamps with bright bezels. Side air extractors located forward of the front doors are a modern homage to Cadillac’s grand heritage. To the rear, three-inch chromed exhaust outlets, vertical taillamps and a coupelike roofline and rear backlight are classy and classic.
New for 2008 are a wider stance – 2 inches wider than the previous version – sculpted hood and new interior design theme.
Inside the lavish, yet sporty cabin are a double sunroof, metallic finishes, chrome accents and Sapele Pommele wood. The instrument controls are user-friendly, functional and attractive. The luxury-level seats are both heated and/or cooled at the touch of a button.
The safety award didn’t come lightly, as the CTS is imbued with such protective items as a high-strength steel-reinforced body structure, dual-stage driver’s front air bag, dual-depth front passenger air bag, driver and front passenger side seat-mounted pelvic/thorax side air bags, roof-rail side curtain air bags that cover front and rear seating rows, tire pressure monitoring system and Cadillac’s StabiliTrak electronic chassis control system with four-channel ABS and full-function traction control. You also get hydraulic brake assist, engine drag control systems and a factory-installed, fully integrated GPS navigation system from OnStar that allows drivers to talk to a live advisor who can send complete step-by-step directions to the vehicles through their OnStar system.
American luxury in CTS form is base priced at $34,545. My test ride, with lavish upgrades stickered out at $48,735. Among my add-ons were all-wheel drive, premium paint, ABS brake system and performance disc brakes, and an $8165 premium luxury package that includes Integrated iPod/MP3 capability, 40-gigabyte hard drive audio system, Bose 300-watt, 10-speaker sound system, a pop-up” navigation screen for the navigation system and XM radio, keyless access, remote start, heated washer system, rear ultrasonic park assist and 18- by- 8.5-inch wheels covered by Michelin Pilot Sport 2 tires.
The Caddy is back … Ike would be proud.
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