2005 Cadillac CTS-V Reviews and Ratings

Sedan 4D V-Series 6 Speed

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2005 Cadillac CTS-V
Mitch McCullough

Introduction
The 2005 Cadillac CTS could be called the great American sports sedan. It certainly fits that description with its sporty handling, exhilarating acceleration and powerful braking. If you haven't been in a Cadillac in a couple of years, you'll likely be surprised and impressed by this newest generation. Their names are like alphabet soup: CTS, STS, XLR, SRX. But driving one of them confirms Cadillac now builds world-class automobiles.

It was the CTS that kicked off this renaissance. Introduced as a 2003 model, its edgy styling immediately grabbed the spotlight. Praise of its dynamic qualities quickly followed from the automotive press, which focused on its superb rear-wheel-drive chassis. Two years later the CTS is improved and more refined. It's now powered by a new generation of V6 engines designed to be smooth and quiet but more powerful, with state-of-the art features such as variable-valve timing, dual overhead cams, and four valves per cylinder. The 2005 CTS comes with a choice of these new VVT V6 engines, a new 2.8-liter V6 and a 3.6-liter V6 introduced as an optional engine last year. We've tested the latter and found it to be powerful and silky smooth, especially around town.

And for those who want a four-door Corvette, there's the CTS-V, a hot rod that looks like a CTS but sounds and accelerates like a Corvette. With its Corvette engine, sports suspension and Brembo brakes, the CTS-V offers racecar performance. And should we remind you that it's rear-wheel drive, the layout of choice for high-performance cars? You could look up "sports sedan" in the dictionary and a picture of the CTS-V would not be out of place. Nor would it feel out of place on a race track. CTS-V is only available with a manual shifter.

For 2005, a new six-speed manual gearbox is also available for the regular CTS models. Most buyers opt for the automatic, but the new manual is remarkable for its smooth shifting and smooth, easygoing clutch. Both the 2.8-liter and 3.6-liter V6 engines are available with the six-speed manual or the more popular five-speed automatic. We'd march immediately to the responsive automatic if the manual wasn't so good. The 2005 CTS also gets a new instrument cluster and a choice of new 16-inch wheels. The interior is still austere, a complaint when the CTS was first introduced, but the quality of some of the soft-touch materials now seems better.

Equipped with the smooth 3.6-liter V6 and its smooth suspension, which was refined for 2004, the CTS is a smooth, sophisticated car that belies its sporting potential until you mash down the gas and attack the corners. The CTS builds on Cadillac's century-long tradition of technology and design innovation, and is a modern interpretation of the strikingly beautiful cars that made Cadillac famous. Built on GM's acclaimed Sigma rear-wheel-drive architecture, the CTS was rigorously tested at the famed Nurburgring racetrack in Germany. Model Lineup
The 2005 CTS line starts with a new entry-level model that features a new 2.8-liter V6. It's a sophisticated engine with variable valve timing rated at 210 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. Production of the 2.8-liter model begins in October 2004 and pricing wasn't available at press time.

A more powerful model comes with a 3.6-liter V6 VVT ($31,700), which develops 255 horsepower at 6200 rpm and 252 pound-feet of torque at 3200 rpm. This engine debuted as an option for the 2004 CTS. (Gone is the old 3.2-liter V6 used in the 2003-04 CTS.)

Both come with an optional five-speed automatic transmission ($1,200), but both can be ordered with the new Aisin six-speed manual transmission (which replaces the old five-speed manual).

Standard equipment includes leather-trimmed upholstery, dual-zone climate control, power driver's seat, driver information center, a seven-speaker sound system, 16-inch alloy wheels with all-season tires, and one year of the OnStar road assistance service. Also standard are traction control and anti-lock brakes (ABS) with brake proportioning, which balances the braking front and rear. Side-impact airbags and side air curtains come standard for front and rear passengers in addition to the standard dual frontal airbags.

The Sport Package ($1,875) takes the suspension tuning a step further with monotube shocks, brake pads with more anti-fade heat resistance, 17-inch alloy wheels with 255/50R17 tires, load-leveling rear suspension, speed-sensitive power steering, and StabiliTrak electronic stability control. The Luxury Package ($3,165) includes heater power front seats, memory presets for two drivers, auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass, HomeLink universal garage door transmitter, alarm system, and a wood-trimmed steering wheel and shift knob.

The new CTS-V ($49,300) comes stuffed with the 5.7-liter V8 LS6 engine from the high-performance Corvette Z06 rated at 400 horsepower and 395 pound-feet of torque. It comes mated to a Tremec six-speed manual gearbox (an automatic is not available). To put this power to the ground, CTS-V gets 18-inch wheels, grippy tires, big Brembo brakes, and other high-performance tweaks. Walkaround
The CTS was the first production car using Cadillac's new Art & Science design vocabulary first shown on the Evoq concept car. The design is a festival of wedges, sharp junctions and chiseled angles that can be seen throughout the latest generation of Cadillacs. The edgy design is distinctive. There's no confusing a Cadillac with anything else.

The CTS refines the Cadillac tradition of vertical headlamps and taillamps that dates back to 1965. Viewed from the front, the CTS is imposing, with its large louvered grille framed by sharp, vertical headlamps. The front air dam is all business, with simple rectangular foglights and a long narrow intake near the skirt. The CTS has a short, high deck with tall, vertical taillamps. The view from the rear is broken up by the indentation cut widely around the license plate in a contrasting color. The CTS-V looks a bit better here by using body colored plastic. Interior
The angular theme continues inside, although it was softened for 2004. The CTS is sold in Europe and the interior reflects that. It projects an idea that driving is serious business. Visually, it's an austere cabin, lacking the warmness of the new Cadillac STS. You'll find no wood in the CTS. The interior is a mix of high-tech textures, some of it dimpled like a golf ball. Many of the materials are soft and interesting to the touch. The instrument cluster has been improved for 2005, and the gauges remain clear, straightforward and easy to read.

The leather seats are excellent, comfortable for all-day driving with good bolstering to hold your torso in place in sharp corners. There's good support for the driver's right leg, and where the right shin touches it feels soft. There's a good support for the left leg as well, with a good dead pedal for the left foot.

The three-spoke steering wheel contains buttons for the sound system and cruise control, and is deliciously padded in leather for all but the part of the rim between about 10 o'clock and 2 o'clock, which is trimmed in wood.

Changing the temperature, adjusting the stereo, and operating the navigation system are easy and convenient in the CTS. The center stack juts out from the rest of the dash, with the elaborate GPS navigation system at the top center location. Climate controls are at the bottom, controlled by amber-lighted pictograms.

The stereo works well, allowing quick and easy switching from a news channel on XM Satellite Radio to music on FM to traffic on AM to a CD. The small triangular speakers for the optional Bose system are mounted on the A pillar, and look cool. OnStar is provided, allowing drivers to make hands-free, voice-activated calls. OnStar operators will call out the emergency crews if the airbags go off and you don't respond, they can unlock the doors for you, or direct you to the nearest gas station, ATM or Italian restaurant.

The CTS offers more interior room than some of its European competition. A tall driver or passenger will be comfortable in front and only slightly cramped in the rear. The rear seats are comfortable for two or three passengers, offering good leg room, though lacking in thigh support. There is a convenient pass-thru tunnel between the rear seats, to the trunk, if the split folding rear seats are ordered. Driving Impressions
The CTS drives wonderfully around town. It cruises comfortably on the freeway and feels at home on winding roads.

The new 3.6-liter V6 is silky smooth when cruising, less so at full throttle. And it responds quickly whenever you step on the gas, a benefit of its broad torque curve. It's a thoroughly modern engine with a 60-degree aluminum block, double overhead cams, variable-valve timing, electronic throttle control, six coils and a structural oil pan. The 2.8-liter V6 VVT is a modified version of the 3.6-liter V6 with VVT. The 2.8 and 3.6-liter V6 earn the same EPA-estimated mileage of 18/27 mpg City/Highway and run on regular 87 octane. Choosing between them is a matter of power versus cost. Speed costs money.

We can highly recommend both the automatic and manual transmissions, so choosing between them is a matter of preference and whether stop-and-go driving is part of your daily commute. The five-speed automatic transmission is superb. In normal mode, it seems to shift a lot, especially at a casual pace. Selecting the Sport mode changes the transmission's attitude, giving it sharp and decisive response. The automatic is an excellent choice for the CTS. It even gets better gas mileage around town than the manual.

The manual gearbox is surprisingly smooth and pleasant, however, and if you like sports sedans you may prefer it. You can shift it so smoothly that your passengers wouldn't know it was a manual if they couldn't see you shifting. For some reason we expected it to be balky, but the opposite is the case. It's a model of smoothness. It's easy to match clutch take-up and throttle for smooth driving, especially at low speeds. The shifter is very smooth with short, precise throws. You can shift smoothly up through fourth gear at low speeds without lugging the engine. The smoothness of shifting and the low-speed tractability of the engine makes driving around town very pleasant.

Ride and handling are impeccable, smooth, steady, predictable. The CTS feels solid, but not heavy. Steering is precise, with just the right amount of resistance from the speed-sensitive power steering. Cadillac tuned the suspension at Germany's legendary Nurburgring circuit, because that's where German sports sedans are developed, and Cadillac was eager to challenge them on their terms. It shows. The suspension is nicely damped so the ride is very comfortable, erasing the bumps. Still, the suspension is there when you need it in the rippling twisty curves. In short, the CTS is fun to drive. Braking and suspension capabilities of the 2.8-liter model are the same as those of the 3.6-liter model.

Its rear-wheel drive, crisp handling and prodigious horsepower work together when charging out of corners. Go into a corner too quick and StabiliTrak is there to reduce the chance of a skid, applying just the right amount of brake and throttle correction to keep the CTS on the road. The anti-lock brakes with brake proportioning work very well with powerful, predictable braking. Slam on the brakes at 70 miles an hour and there's no drama: no squealing, no swerving.

The CTS-V has some of the characteristics of the CTS, but is a bit of a different animal, sacrificing pleasantries to achieve increased performance. For starters, CTS-V comes exclusively with the high-performance Tremec T56 six-speed, and it's a relatively stiff shifter. It also takes more pressure to push in the clutch pedal, and clutch take-up is fairly abrupt, making smooth launches a challenge. And the modified suspension causes the car to bob on undulating pavement. Not to mention the engine is always raring to go. Like the Corvette, the CTS-V forces the shifter from first to fourth gear when driven leisurely, which helps lower its EPA fuel economy rating. All of this makes it harder to motor around town with the smoothness of a first-class chauffeur. The CTS is more pleasant as a daily commuter. Standing on the gas, however, reveals the reason for the V.

To create the CTS-V, GM pulled the high-performance LS6 V8 from the limited-production Corvette Z06. It generates only fractionally less power than that of the Z06: 395 pound-feet of torque at 4800 rpm and 400 horsepower at 6000 rpm. Those are big numbers. Slam the throttle to the floor and the acceleration is absolutely exhilarating. And that sound! It sounds like a Corvette.

The CTS-V's firm suspension and quick steering make for fast traffic on a winding road. Though firm on rough neighborhood streets, it rides well on the highway. The tires generate good grip in corners and lots of power can be put through the rear wheels. Accelerating out of corners is exhilarating. This responsiveness makes the CTS-V a lot of fun to drive. You'll be wishing for a race track. In short, the CTS-V is a great car for someone who wants a five-passenger Corvette. Summary
The rear-wheel-drive Cadillac CTS offers performance, comfort and overall engineering in the same sports sedan league as BMW, Audi, Mercedes and Infiniti. Its styling is distinctive and its image fresh and reborn.

A new generation of engines improves on the CTS for 2005. A new six-speed manual transmission is available that makes it a true sports sedan. If that isn't enough, the CTS-V sounds and runs like a Corvette.

Model as tested
Cadillac CTS ($31,700)
Basic Warranty
4 years/50,000 miles
Assembled in
Lansing, Michigan
Destination charge
695
Gas guzzler tax
N/A
Base Price
30365
Price as tested
37215
Options as tested
DVD Navigation System ($1,850) includes XM Satellite Radio, AM/FM with in-dash 6-disc CD changer, DVD based navigation, RDS, digital signal processing, 8 Bose speakers; Sport Package ($1,875) includes Sport suspension, StabiliTrak electronic stability control, load-leveling, speed-sensitive power steering, P225/50R17 tires, 17-inch aluminum wheels, performance brake linings; HID headlamps ($645); split folding rear seats ($450)

Model Line Overview
Model lineup
Cadillac CTS 2.8 (TBA); CTS 3.6 ($31,700); CTS-V ($49,300)
Safety equipment (standard)
dual airbags, side air bags, and roof air bags standard; ABS, traction control, yaw control
Safety equipment (optional)
N/A
Engines
3.6-liter dohc 24v V6
Transmissions
6-speed manual

Specifications as Tested
air conditioning; sport front bucket seats with leather seating surfaces; power mirrors; power windows; power locks; tinted glass; passive anti-theft system; tilt wheel; cruise control; remote keyless entry; ABS; traction control; electric rear window defroster; fog lamps; one year OnStar

Engine & Transmission
Engine
3.6-liter dohc 24v V6
Drivetrain type
rear-wheel drive
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)
255 @ 6200
Transmission
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy
17/27
Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm)
N/A

Suspension
Brakes, front/rear
disc/disc with ABS, EBD
Suspension, front
independent
Tires
225/50VR17
Suspension, rear
independent

Accomodations
Seating capacity
5
Head/hip/leg room, middle
N/A
Head/hip/leg room, front
38.5/53.3/42.4
Head/hip/leg room, rear
36.9/53.5/37.0

Measurements
Fuel capacity
N/A
Trunk volume
12.8
Wheelbase
113.4
Length/width/height
190.1/70.6/56.7
Turning circle
35.5
Payload
N/A
Towing capacity
1000
Track, front/rear
60.0/60.0
Ground clearance
N/A
Curb weight
3694


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