Cadillac CTS (2008-2014) review

Cadillac’s characterful CTS is ready to take on the BMW 5-Series and Jaguar XF.

Overall Auto Express Rating

1.0 out of 5

In the past, American cars have struggled to make an impact on this side of the Atlantic. However, Cadillac’s characterful CTS is ready to take on the BMW 5-Series and Jaguar XF.


There’s no denying the Cadillac’s head-turning looks. With its sharp creases, gaping grille and flared wheel arches the American has real presence. It certainly stands out from the crowd, meaning buyers will have to get used to stares from other road users. At present the CTS is only available as four-door saloon and in Sport Luxury trim.


Climb aboard the Caddy and you’ll find the spacious cabin is as eye-catching as the exterior. In front of the driver are three sporty looking dials, while the sweeping centre console features logically laid out heating and audio controls. Fit and finish is surprisingly good, as is the quality of the materials – a particular highlight being the stitched leather dash covering. There’s plenty of kit too, with sat-nav, TV, xenon headlamps and 40GB BOSE surround stereo all standard. Open the tailgate and there’s a class competitive 562-litres of carrying capacity.


Take a look at a Cadillac brochure and you’ll notice a glaring omission – there’s no diesel-engine option! Company bosses claim an oil-burner will arrive in 2009, but until then there’s only 2.8 and 3.6-litre V6 petrol powerplants to choose from. The larger unit isn’t lacking in performance and will scorch from standstill to 60mph in just 6.5 seconds, although it’ll only manage 25.4mpg at the pumps. The only gearbox option is a slightly slow-witted six-speed automatic unit.

Driving experience

Head out on the road and it’s immediately clear the Cadillac has been developed with Europe in mind. There’s little of the softness and imprecision that normally marks out American cars. Grip is strong, body control is good and the steering is direct, although it lacks feel. Unfortunately, the downside of the CTS’s poise in corners is a hard ride that fails to filter out even small bumps and detracts from the car’s otherwise quiet and comfortable long distance cruising ability.


When it comes to value for money, there’s little touch the Caddy. For the price of an entry-level BMW 523i, the CTS 3.6-litre Sport Luxury serves up bags more performance and a tally of standard equipment that would have you ticking most of the boxes on the German firm’s expensive options list. You’ll need to make the savings for the high fuel and tax bills though. The 2.9-litre model can only manage 25.7mpg and emits 263g/km of CO2 – a measly saving of 0.3mpg and 1g/km over the much faster 3.6-litre.


With poor fuel consumption and high CO2 emissions the CTS is unlikely appeal to eco-friendly motorists. In fact, until the cleaner running, more efficient diesel arrives next year, the Cadillac is likely to remain a rare sight on UK roads. At least it does a better job of protecting its occupants than it does the environment. Six airbags and ESP are standard, as are adaptive bi-xenon headlamps, parking sensors and a tyre pressure monitoring system.

Engines, performance and drive


MPG, CO2 and Running Costs


Interior, design and technology


Practicality, comfort and boot space


Reliability and Safety


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