2016 Cadillac CTS Review: Updated and Enthusiast-focused

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2016 cadillac cts review

The updated third-generation 2016 Cadillac CTS delivers a driving experience that will appeal to the enthusiast. We review the 3.6L AWD model boasting 268-hp

russell-purcellReview and photos by Russell Purcell

For 2016 Cadillac has updated the third generation of its highly successful mid-size offering, the popular CTS. The CTS is the model that reinvigorated GM’s luxury brand when it was first introduced for 2003 with the hopes of establishing a new design strategy that would help attract a younger audience to the stalwart American brand.

ALSO SEE: First Drive: 2016 Cadillac CTS-V at Road America [Video]

The CTS is currently available in sedan form only, as Cadillac has placed its coupe offering in the smaller ATS basket for now. The CTS is a rear-drive automobile, but all-wheel-drive is available as an optional upgrade on all models except the top-of-the-line CTS V Sport Premium.

CTS Power

The new CTS shares its 2.0-litre turbocharged inline four-cylinder  (268-hp / 295 lb.-ft.) and available 3.6-litre V6 engines with its little sister, the recently introduced ATS, but there is also a twin-turbocharged V6 on the menu should you spring for the CTS V Sport Premium which produces 420 horsepower and 430 foot-pounds of torque. The 2.0-litre unit is the standard offering on all but the CTS V Sport Premium.

2016 cadillac cts review (5 of 24)

Under the signature inlaid hood our test vehicle was fitted with the optional 3.6-litre, double-overhead-cam V6 engine which features Variable Valve Timing (VVT) and Direct Injection (DI). This well-sorted and very refined engine produces 335-horsepower and 285 lb.-ft. of torque. Power is delivered in a very smooth and linear fashion and acceleration is brisk enough to inspire confidence when the need to pass slower moving traffic arises or you need to get up to highway speeds in short order.

The 3.6-litre engine makes good use of its torque as it is mated to a very smooth operating  8-speed automatic transmission that features paddles operation (Driver Shift Control), and when it is time to rein things in, the car is fitted with advanced high-performance disc brakes front and rear that have been engineered by the experts at Brembo. 

On the Road

After spending some time exploring some of the twistiest back roads in the Fraser Valley it became evident that the product planners at General Motors have designed the CTS so that it will deliver a driving experience that will appeal to the enthusiast, as the car’s Macpherson-type front suspension and independent rear does an excellent job of keeping the wheels in contact with the road surface, while a direct-acting stabilizer bar helps sharpen the feel of the steering.  GM offers the company’s innovative Magnetic Ride Control is an optional upgrade on lower trim levels, but this technological marvel was standard kit on our test car.

2016 cadillac cts review

Magnetic Ride Control was first utilized on the company’s legendary sports car, the Chevrolet Corvette, but now GM is featuring it on a number of products. The system utilizes magnetically controlled dampers, or shock absorbers, for a highly adaptive ride. This cutting edge suspension can react much more quickly to offset road irregularities and tackle traction issues than a traditional suspension system is able to.

The CTS handles with a level of precision usually reserved for more sport-minded offerings, and the assist offered by the power steering is light enough that the driver will always feel in control.

The CTS handles with a level of precision usually reserved for more sport-minded offerings, and the assist offered by the power steering is light enough that the driver will always feel in control.  Much of this balance and agility can be attributed to the fact that GM’s engineers have built the car on a lightweight aluminum frame and have managed to bless the car with near-perfect 50/50 front-to-rear weight distribution. In an effort to further reduce weight the material of choice for many of the front suspension components, the front shock towers, and the doors is aluminum. The car tracks straight and true, and when ordered with the optional all-wheel-drive like our test unit, the car’s stability and handling are further enhanced leaving the driver feeling secure and confident in all but the most severe driving conditions.

Inside the 2016 CTS

2016 cadillac cts review

Sliding behind the multi-function steering wheel you will find that the seat and steering column seem infinitely adjustable, and all the controls and gauges are within easy reach and view of the driver. The number of switches, buttons and dials employed throughout the tidy cabin has been keep to a minimum, as the focus needs to remain on driving.

Ingress and egress is a breeze, and the large, UltraView power sunroof lets in an abundance of natural light giving the roomy cabin an airy and open feel. I was able to find more than enough leg-, hip- and headroom for my 6’2″ frame in all but the centre position of the rear seating area.

The level of fit-and-finish displayed throughout the classy interior is on par with the latest offerings from Europe, Japan and Korea, and all the luxury trappings one expects in a premium class automobile are present and accounted for. 

Cabin Technology

2016 cadillac cts review

The CTS is equipped with the latest technology like an electroluminescent instrument panel and a heads up display. One highlight of note is the Cadillac User Experience (CUE) advanced communication and control system which utilizes a highly intuitive interface similar to that employed by the modern smart phone or computer tablet. The system is operated using a proximity-sensing touch-screen or Natural Voice Recognition technology that is initiated at the touch of a steering wheel mounted button.  Navigation is also part of the CUE suite of functions.

Audiophiles will also appreciate the Bose engineered surround sound audio system that fills the passenger cabin with studio quality music via 13 carefully matched speakers. 

Safety Features

On the safety front Cadillac has equipped the CTS with advanced HID lighting and LED signature lamps, OnStar (with full 4G LTE Wi-Fi capabilities), adaptive cruise control, automatic collision preparation with automatic braking, rear cross traffic alert, side blind spot alert, and a lane departure warning system. Add to this a full complement of airbags, and GM’s clever Surround Vision arsenal of cameras and in the case of our test vehicle, automatic park assist. 


This latest evolution of the CTS offers exceptional ride quality, competent handling, invigorating performance, and unique styling. Add to this the availability of all the latest bells and whistles and a competitive pricing structure, and it appears that the Cadillac brand is well positioned to claim a larger share of the market in the very competitive premium sedan segment of the marketplace. 

2016 Cadillac CTS 3.6 Premium AWD Specs:

Base price (MSRP): $51,455 (2.0-litre Turbo-charged Inline-4 – Standard Collection); $69,915 (3.6-litre Premium AWD)

Price as tested: $75,355 (Options: Semi-Aniline Leather Seats $1,650; 18-inch polished aluminum wheels – $830; Dark Adriatic Blue metallic paint – $575; Premium carpeted floor mats -$145; Destination and delivery – $1,950; A/C Tax – $100).

Type: Five-passenger mid-size sedan

Layout: Front-engine, rear- or all-wheel-drive.

Engine: 3.6-litre DOHC V6 with Variable Valve Timing (VVT) and Direct Injection (DI)

Horsepower:  335 @ 6,800 RPM

Torque:  285 @ 5,300 rpm

Transmission: 8-speed automatic with paddle shift

Brakes: Disc/disc

Weight: 1,763 kg

Fuel economy (L/100km): City-12.2 (23 mpg); Hwy- 8.5 (33 mpg)

Russell Purcellhttps://www.flickr.com/people/autoexposurecanada/
Russell Purcell is an award-winning automotive journalist and photographer based in Vancouver, B.C. His passion for automobiles was sparked at the tender age of six, when a family friend gave the wide-eyed first grader a ride to school in a track prepared Porsche 911 RSR. He continues to fan the flames by building an impressive library of automotive related books as well as a vast collection of interesting automobilia and motoring artefacts. Russell is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada, and is active on Twitter as RoadTestRuss.