With the new 2013 Cadillac XTS and ATS joining the fold this year, the 2013 Cadillac CTS may no longer stand as Cadillac's primary entry into the true world-class luxury sedan, wagon, and coupe ranks. Despite these newcomers, and though it's essentially unchanged from the 2012 model year, the 2013 CTS remains the heart of Cadillac's sales and reputation.
Having evolved greatly, but along carefully laid lines, from its first-generation form, the current Cadillac CTS wears a dramatic, sharp-edged exterior. Classy and confident, the evolution of Art & Science design presents itself in blade-like fenders, upswept headlamps, and tapering, V-shaped ends. Available in coupe, sedan, and wagon styles, the CTS is uniformly attractive and modern-looking, with each model cutting its own swath.
Inside, the look is perhaps less cohesive, with some button clutter on the center control stack and more chrome--more attitude--than you'd find in a comparable German car. The materials, finishes, and fit are all very good, however, and the overall look is distinctly American: just slightly brash, but still refined.
Two engines are available through the range. The point of entry is a 3.0-liter V-6 engine rated at 270 horsepower and 223 pound-feet of torque. It's paired with either a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic. Rear-wheel drive is standard, with available all-wheel drive, though all-wheel drive models are only available in combination with the automatic. The more power 3.6-liter V-6 engine in higher-trim models is rated at 318 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque, paired with the same transmissions as the 3.0-liter, and also available in rear- or all-wheel drive. The Coupe is only available with the 3.6-liter engine, skipping the less potent 3.0-liter.
On the road, the 2013 Cadillac CTS exhibits a solid, stable feel, peppy acceleration, and very comfortable ride quality. The Sedan and Sport Wagon in particular handle broken pavement well, while the Coupe feels more taut. Handling and steering are almost perfectly on point for the segment, offering enjoyment without any discomfort.
Like other cars in the segment, however, the CTS could use a touch more elbow room. The cabin is comfortable, particularly the front seats, but on the whole, the feel is snug. The rear seats are somewhat tight in the sedan, and more difficult to access the low-roofed Coupe. The Sport Wagon alleviates some of this with longer rear doors. In all three, the sport seats are inferior in comfort the base seats, with a ridge of padding running down the middle of the back. Despite these minor quibbles with space and comfort, the overall look, feel, and accommodations are very nice. Base models come with a "leatherette" upholstery, but most models found on dealer lots will offer a supple and fine leather.
Even base-model CTSs are loaded, with standard Bluetooth connectivity; power accessories; automatic dual-zone climate control; power driver seat; automatic headlmaps; and more. The Sport Wagon adds a standard power liftgate. And if the base spec isn't enough, there are the available upgrades, including: a panormaic sunroof; an easy-to-use, high-tech entertainment system with hard-drive storage; navigation with real-time traffic data; ventilated seats; and even a pet cover for the wagon's cargo area. Other options include 18- or 19-inch wheels, suspension packages, and a range of interior and exterior appearance tweaks.