2010 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon

This is by far the best-looking Cadillac in the showroom today.

This is by far the best-looking Cadillac in the showroom today. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that this is the best-looking vehicle that General Motors has on the road today.

The second-generation CTS sedan is an improvement on its predecessor. Rather than being sleek and smooth, it is more creased and faceted like one of those radar-evading aircraft that don’t appear as though they could even fly, yet are paradigm changing. As is the CTS, which took the Cadillac form language from being that of a seeming lack of clear definition (as though it was some sort of polyglot language, trying to appeal to everyone and consequently no one) to one where the rules are clear: This is not a car that is a German or Japanese wannabe, this is Something Else.

And while the CTS is well designed, the reason why it is the wagon and not the sedan that I think is far superior is predicated on the rear of the vehicle. If you look at the CTS sedan from the side you’ll see that the rear decklid is comparatively high vis-à-vis the hood line. That gives it sort of a big bustle back there. But for the CTS wagon, by going all the way up to the roof, there is a better payoff to the overall side view of the vehicle, and it does provide some supplemental utility, as well.

 

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What is puzzling to me is that there are really so few CTS Sport Wagons out there. That is, for the 2010 model year through the end of April 2009, the GM Lansing Grand River Plant, where the CTS, STS, and CTS Sport Wagon are produced, there have been a mere 1,093 Sport Wagons manufactured. They’ve built 19,148 sedans.

Is this a situation that there have been so few built because so few have been built and consequently there aren’t a whole lot out there for people to see and consequently desire? Is it that wagons seem to be snake-bitten in the U.S. market because Baby Boomers associate them with faux wood panels on the sides and a nausea-inducing rear-facing third row? Whatever the case is, this isn’t that car.

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Not only is the exterior design well done, but by looking at the shapes and forms and materials on the interior, it is clear that there was a direction being taken (forward), that this is something that was executed holistically, not in a piecemeal basis, as has so often been the case with cars from the domestics, despite years of proclaiming that they think the interior is important. Gee, what a surprise that is.

 

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Under the long hood they’ve placed a 3.6-liter direct injection V6 (this is the optional engine, with the standard being a 3.0-liter) bolted to a Hydra-Matic 6l50 six-speed automatic. And, it should be noted because we’re talking about a premium class of vehicle, the car doesn’t require premium fuel, as many in its class now do. A goal of things like direct injection and six-speeds is to get improved fuel efficiency out of the powertrain, and things are calibrated such that it gets to the highest possible gear in the shortest amount of time and it tries to stay there for purposes of efficiency.. And the car is rated at 18/26 mpg, which is really respectable for a vehicle that tips the scales at 3,872 lb.

However (yes, the other shoe now drops) I found that for a vehicle with the adjective “sport” appended to it, getting on the accelerator hard when the car was already at speed resulted in a way too long lag and one of those “C’mon, c’mon, c’mon!” experiences. (The car as Driven is rear-wheel drive. There is an AWD option.)

Less troubling but no less disappointing is the quality of some of the interior bits, with a case in point being the chromed plastic door release handle. It is nicely designed with the Cadillac chevron shape being echoed, but (1) it is recessed into the door panel in such a way that it might be a bit vexing for someone with big hands and/or long fingernails and (2) the mass of the material is far less than it ought to be, feeling nearly flimsy.

 

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And while they’ve done a great engineering job in making the vehicle quiet, this has the unfortunate consequence of making the sound of the turn signal all-too audible: It seems as though is something that might have been left over in the Oldsmobile parts bin.

Still, the car just looks great and there are some things you just need to get over.

Selected specs

Engine: 3.6-liter V6 w/variable valve timing & direct injection

Valves per cylinder: Four

Materials: Sand-cast aluminum block with cast-in liners/cast aluminum heads

Horsepower: 304 @ 6,400 rpm

Torque: 273 lb-ft @ 5,300 rpm

Wheelbase: 113.4 in.

Overall length: 191.3 in.

Overall width: 72.6 in.

Overall height: 59.1 in.

EPA passenger volume (cubic ft): 98

EPA cargo volume (cubic ft): 58 rear seat down; 25 behind rear seat

Curb weight: 3,872 lb.

EPA fuel economy: 18 mpg city/26 mpg highway