2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport WagonPosted on March 24th, 2011
Interior versatility meets sports car performance
By Nina RussinAmericans need to get over their collective dislike of station wagons. Times have changed since Ozzie and Harriet Nelson ferried little Ricky around in their ‘56 Pontiac Nomad. The mom-and-pop cars of yesteryear have given way to a new generation of sport wagons, which are as powerful and fun-to-drive as they are versatile.
Meet the Cadillac CTS-V sport wagon: a 556-horsepower supercharged bundle of joy. The only thing I don’t like about this car is that I can’t afford its $63,000 sticker, although I might consider selling my house to raise the money. Most of what I really care about would fit into the cargo area.
Buyers can choose between a six-speed automatic or six-speed manual gearbox. The test car comes with the Tremec manual. Magnetic ride control, a real-time damping system, comes standard with all models. So do 19-inch wheels, high-performance Michelin tires and Brembo brakes.
Base sticker price is $62,165, not including the $825 destination charge and $1300 gas guzzler tax. Options on the test car include Recaro seats ($3400), wood trim ($500), a sueded steering wheel and shifter ($300), bringing the price as tested to $68,590.
Brutal accelerationIn case readers are wondering why the steering wheel is covered with suede rather than smooth leather, it’s because suede is easier to hang on to. Pop the clutch on the CTS-V, and I’ll guarantee that you’ll be hanging on for dear life.
The 6.2-liter cast aluminum block uses direct injection, which delivers gasoline directly into the engine cylinders. Direct injection reduces the amount of parasitic waste from unburned fuel, which comes out the exhaust in the form of carbon monoxide. It also enhances throttle response.
An Eaton supercharger with twin, four-lobe rotors forces air into the engine. Belt-driven superchargers boost performance by improving engine efficiency over naturally-aspirated blocks. The blower works in tandem with the car’s dual stainless steel exhaust pipes to maximize airflow.
The manual transmission features a durable dual-disc clutch. A limited-slip rear differential keeps the car tracking straight, despite its brutal torque.
The 19-inch wheels and summer tires maintain large contact patches with the ground to enhance cornering. Since summer tires are compounded to work best in warm temperatures, I would recommend any buyers in four-season areas purchase a separate set of rims and winter tires for the snow.
Test drive in Phoenix, Arizona
I drove the CTS-V on the surface streets and highways around Phoenix before heading east towards the Bush Highway in the Tonto National Forest. Since my test drive was limited to public roads, I wasn’t able to push the CTS-V wagon as hard as I would have liked. Doing so would most likely have resulted in points on my driver’s license.
On the other hand, part of the car’s appeal is its ability to function as a daily driver. Since the clutch is on the stiff side, buyers who are planning to commute might be happier with the automatic transmission. Aside from that, the CTS-V doubles as a well-mannered street car.
A standard navigation system includes a rearview camera, which enhances visibility behind the car when the driver shifts into reverse. Since the wagon’s thick rear pillars create some rather large blind spots, the camera makes it much easier to back out of a parking space in a crowded lot. Adaptive headlamps swivel according to steering input, to light dark corners in dark suburban areas.
Standard XM satellite radio includes XM traffic updates, which alert the driver about congestion along the way. Standard OnStar can deliver turn-by-turn directions if the driver gets lost. OnStar also alerts the police and emergency medical personnel if the car’s airbags deploy.
Magnetic ride control remains one of the most impressive suspensions on the market. Real-time damping provides a compliant ride on rough surfaces, while keeping the chassis absolutely flat and in control at speed.
Steering system performance is equally impressive. The power rack-and-pinion system produces some of the best on-center response I’ve experienced.
If this sounds too good to be true, simply forget what I said up front and imagine I’m writing about a Z06 Corvette. It’s like that.
But not quite, for the simple reason that Corvettes don’t hold squat. I should know, having schlepped luggage and cameras around in them for magazine stories.
The CTS-V holds stuff: the kind of stuff people living in the real world need to carry. Can it hold as much as a sport-utility vehicle or crossover? No, but it’s more fun to drive than anything else on the market which holds more than two passengers and a dachshund.
Styling inside the CTS-V wagon is similar to the sedan. The optional Recaro seats up front have large bolsters to hold the driver and passenger in place during aggressive cornering. Rear bucket seats keep passengers in the second row comfortable.
A large display screen pops up from the top of the center stack when the driver starts the engine. The location of the display is toward the bottom of the driver’ sight-line: low enough not to be distracting, but easy to refer to in dense traffic.
Graphics for information displays and the navigation system are large and easy to read. The steering wheel has redundant audio, Bluetooth and cruise control buttons. The power tilt-and-telescoping function enables smaller drivers to maintain a safe distance from the front airbag.
All models come with the types of convenience features luxury car buyers expect: a 5.1 surround-sound Bose audio system, automatic climate control, remote keyless entry and start, power liftgate, heated front seats and rear park assist.
While the suede and leather seats aren’t the most practical option for buyers with active lifestyles, they’re stylish and comfortable.
The seat design in the second row is intended for two passengers rather than three. A large floor tunnel eliminates any legroom in the center position.
Vents behind the center console keep second-row passengers comfortable on warm days. Both rows of passengers have access to 12-volt power points and cupholders, located in the center console and a fold-down rear armrest.
With the rear seats in place, the cargo area can hold the weekly groceries or a weekend’s worth of luggage. A small under-floor storage area conceals valuables. Tracks with tie-down hooks on the cargo floor make it easier to secure large items. With the second-row seats folded flat, the cargo area is large enough to hold a road bike with the front wheel removed.
All models come with front, side and side curtain airbags, active front head restraints, daytime running lamps, OnStar, antilock brakes, traction and stability control.
Cadillac builds the CTS-V wagon at its Lansing Grand River assembly plant in Lansing, Michigan.
Likes: A vehicle which combines true sports car performance with four-passenger seating and a versatile cargo area.
Model: CTS-V Sport Wagon
Base price: $62,165
As tested: $68,590
Horsepower: 556 Hp @ 6100 rpm
Torque: 551 lbs.-ft. @ 3800 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Fuel economy: 14/19 mpg city/highway
Comments: The 6.2-liter engine requires premium unleaded fuel.
3 responses to “2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon”
Ah, Nina…For 1956 Chevorlet offered the Nomad, Pontiac had the Safari. Are you really old enough to legally drive? Really?
Actually Phil, that data came from several articles on the television series, and I was born in 1956. Are you old enough to drive, really?
Very good write-up. I definitely love your site. Stick with it!
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