Caraganza First Drive Review 2018 Cadillac CTS-V: Take that Europe



When I used to think of the Cadillac I conjured up images of the big luxurious sedans that took up an entire lane, drank gas like an alcoholic set loose in a liquor store, and were owned only by those privileged few who could afford them meaning retired bankers, or Elvis.

My how the times change.

The Cadillacs of today are still large and luxurious, but they’ve completed a 12-step program and are affordable to more people than ever before.

But I still have a hard time wrapping my hard head around the fact that there is a Caddy that has a supercharger under the hood and “Track” settings on the dash; yet there is such a thing.  And I am glad for it.

I learned of the CTS-V back in 2016 when I was sent one for a week; the goodness of a 640-horsepower supercharged V8 rear-wheel drive sedan cannot be overstated.  The 3rd generation of this American high-performance luxury sedan makes you want to wave flags and eat a bunch of apple pie. Take that you AMGs, M5s and S4s.

So then when Cadillac sent me a 2018 CTS-V for a recent week, I knew it would be a good one.

And I was so right.

After all the only thing that’s been changed for 2018 is an updated infotainment system interface and two USB charge ports for the rear passengers.

Beyond that, the high-performance version of the regular CTS sedan remains true to the awesomeness I discovered two years ago.

Being a Cadillac, the CTS-V has only one trim level and just a few options.  Unlike its European brethren, you don’t need to option in a bunch of what you might need as the CTS-V comes loaded with standard equipment that is really too long to list, but among the highlights of the standard equipment are Brembo brakes, adaptive magnetic suspension dampers, an electronically controlled rear differential, xenon headlights, and automatic high-beam headlight control.  I had the optional Recaro bucket seats, heated, and covered in leather and suede microfiber with more adjustments than you’ll possibly ever need (16 to be exact).

The electronic, high-definition dash is configurable and has a heads-up display. There is also a rearview camera and a front curb-view camera that provides a nice low-level view that helps avoid those annoying sounding scrapes, along with lane keeping assist and blind spot monitoring.  Of course, standard is remote engine start, OnStar an upgraded Cadillac User Experience (CUE) infotainment system with navigation accessed via an 8-inch touch screen and a 13-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system with satellite and HD radio.

My tester for the week had one of the few options available: The Luxury package which gives you three-zone climate control, heated and folding rear seats, a rear window power sunshade, manual rear side window sunshades and a 110-volt household-style power outlet. I also had the optional performance data and camera data recorder that will record and play back the fun you can have on a racetrack.

The look of the CTS-V can be enhanced with an optional Carbon Fiber package meant to generate increased downforce and which adds a hood vent, rear spoiler, front air splitter and rear air diffuser all made of carbon-fiber weave. I had this option and it made the mean-looking sedan look a bit meaner.  It has a sort of sculpted futuristic look like a modern-day interpretation of a Buck Rogers look.

On the road the CTS-V has been characterized as a four-door Corvette and for good reason. The 6.2-liter V8 engine is the same as found in the Z06 and on paper is only slightly less powerful (640 hp and 630 pound-feet of torque, while the Corvette’s numbers are 650 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque).  The CTS-V is of course a bit heavier (4145 lbs curb weight opposed to the 3524 lbs of the Z06) so on the road the CTS-V doesn’t rival its Corvette cousin but that doesn’t mean the CTS-V is a wimp; far from it.



On the road, the CTS-V has more power than you will ever need for everyday driving.  There are four driving modes (Touring, Sport, Track that includes five sub-modes, and Snow/Ice).  Unlike some of the other high-performance sedans I’ve tested the power in the CTS-V seems a bit more restrained, as if holding back. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; too much power in the wrong hands can be a dangerous thing. The restraint of the CTS-V for everyday driving will allow most drivers the control that will allow the rest of us a bit less nervousness when around them on the road.  That power can be unleashed in the Sport and Track mode however. I, sadly, didn’t get any track time during my week, but an open stretch of deserted road allowed a few blissful miles in both Sport and Track mode and gave me a sense of just what this great machine is capable of when fully unleashed.

For everyday use, which is what most of us will use the CTS-V for, this beautiful beast remains at the top of my high-performance luxury sedan list.  I’ve tested most of the others, the AMGs, the Audis, BMW M5 and M6. The CTS-V has more power than both the Mercedes and the M series, and key in my opinion, a great deal more interior room.

A supercharged rocket ship that looks good, drives great and delivers it all in luxury? Yes please. No doubt Elvis would be thrilled…

2018 Cadillac CTS-V
MSRP: $86,495
MSRP (as tested): $103,235
Engine: 6.2L supercharged V8 640 hp @ 6400 rpm, 630 ft-lb torque @ 3600 rpm
Transmission: 8-Speed Automatic w/Manual Mode
Fuel Mileage (EPA): 14 city, 21 highway, 17 combined
Fuel Mileage (as tested, mixed conditions):  19 mpg
Base Curb Weight (lbs) 4141

Interior Dimensions
Second Shoulder Room (in) 54.8
Passenger Volume (ft³) 97
Second Head Room (in) 37.5
Front Shoulder Room (in) 56.9
Second Hip Room (in) 53.3
Front Head Room (in) 40.4
Second Leg Room (in) 35.4
Passenger Capacity 5
Front Hip Room (in) 53.8
Front Leg Room (in) 45.7

Exterior Dimensions
Length, Overall (in) 197.6
Min Ground Clearance (in)
Track Width, Front (in) 62.1
Width, Max w/o mirrors (in) 72.2
Wheelbase (in) 114.6
Track Width, Rear (in) 61.2
Height, Overall (in) 57.2
Cargo Area Dimensions
Trunk Volume (ft³) 13.7

Basic Miles/km 50,000
Basic Years 4
Corrosion Miles/km Unlimited
Corrosion Years 6
Drivetrain Miles/km 70,000
Drivetrain Years 6
Maintenance Miles/km 36,000
Maintenance Years 3
Roadside Assistance Miles/km 70,000
Roadside Assistance Years 6


Greg Engle