The Cadillac You’ve Allegedly Been Waiting For
By the time the Cadillac CT6 formally goes on sale in March 2016, it’ll have been almost three full years since the final 20 DTS (16) and STS (4) holdovers were offloaded (presumably at hefty discounts) on customers. Of course, the writing had been on the wall for a long time already. The 2011 model year was it for the DTS and STS, but it was known even in the bad, old, pre-bankruptcy days that Caddy’s contemporary land-yacht tag team would eventually cease and desist and yield to a single new sedan.
That most anticipated single new sedan was not the competent but forgettable XTS, which had marched into showrooms many months before those 20 DTS and STS cars left the lot. No sir, we’ve been waiting for the CT6. And if Cadillac enthusiasts from the Interwebs are to be believed, they’ve been thirsty for the CT6. It’s rear-wheel drive (with the entry-level four-cylinder engine). It’s long, low, wide, and fabulous to look at. It has the technology you’d expect and the innovation you’d watch trickle down to the “lesser” GM brands. It’ll be the Saturday night cruising, roomy, and floaty Caddy that’s envisioned as the ideal four-door foil to the fantastic-to-drive-hard ATS and CTS.
Or is it?
“It feels like a Town Car,” associate editor Christian Seabaugh says of our Platinum-trimmed CT6 3.0TT AWD test vehicle. “In the nicest way possible.” We’re off to a good start then, particularly if you’re a Panther platform proponent. Having laid down a 0-60 time of 5.0 seconds and quarter mile of 13.4 seconds at 105 mph (169 km/h), the CT6’s new LGW 3.0-liter, twin-turbo V-6 with an SAE-certified 404 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque and eight-speed automatic pairing will certainly shame the Ford Crown Victoria/Mercury Grand Marquis/Lincoln Town Car set away from the stoplight or while on airport curbside pickup duty. EPA fuel economy numbers assert the modern, all-wheel-driven Cadillac will be thriftier with fuel consumption, too, at 18/26/21 mpg (13.1/9/11.2 L/100km) city/highway/combined to the rear-drive Panther trio’s 16/24/19 mpg (14.7/9.8/12.4 L/100km). Our CT6’s Real MPG test netted 17.8/24.5/20.3 mpg (13.2/9.6/11.6 L/100km).
The 3.0-liter’s smallish-for-a-V-6 engine displacement and two turbochargers mean the CT6 can’t manufacture the brief spurts of effortless, short-duration-throttle-tip-in thrust favored by luxury V-8 shoppers, but the LGW is more than close enough. There’s plenty of motivation to be found when digging into the gas pedal. The brake pedal works very well, too, helping generate a superb 106-foot 60-0 stopping distance.
Devoid of stunts such as motion-gesture controls or a cabin perfume system, Cadillac focused on core brand abilities (handling, especially) it thinks are important. A hybrid steel and aluminum Omega platform helps our loaded CT6 weigh in at 4,350 pounds (1,973 kg), a trifling amount for a large and quiet luxury car. The Active Chassis package equipment standard at the Platinum level—magnetorheological shock absorbers with driver-adjustable damping, active rear steering, quicker steering, and 20-inch wheels—lends the CT6 a rather sporty demeanor. With the CT6 coupled with a $500 USD Pirelli P Zero summer tire option, testing director Kim Reynolds found it “amazingly driftable” after completing the figure eight in 25.4 seconds with a composite average of 0.75 g.
Maybe it’s not the foil to the on-boil ATS and CTS, as some Caddy fans would like. During the CT6’s figure-eight testing, body roll is present and noticeable, but it isn’t distracting or detracting from the experience. The steering is clear with its intentions, and the throttle is responsive to driver input. The programmed-in confidence in the throttle mapping allowed the CT6 team to retain the same pedal progression in the Normal and Sport driving settings. The eight-speed transmission that’s basically invisible during normal operating conditions can get hung up on the upshift if the engine is near its 6,000-rpm redline. Shifting up earlier at the corner exit helps maintain momentum. It’s “amazingly driftable” when trail-braking into a corner. Trail-braking induces a rotation that is much appreciated because once the car settles into the turn where it’ll average 0.88 lateral g, there isn’t a whole lot of cornering attitude adjustment to be found in the gas pedal. This is an all-wheel-drive car without a Drift mode, after all.
The CT6 is a fine prestige car to build brand status, and success would apparently hinge on consumer expectation of what qualities should constitute a big Cadillac. Reynolds’ first comment of the test day on the drift-mobile—”I thought it’d be bigger”—highlights one area of mental evaluation. It’s a full-size sedan, but will it be big enough? It rides well (and even better with the conventional shocks and smaller wheels) and is easy and relaxing to drive, but we couldn’t call the CT6 floaty. Some people want floaty Cadillacs, though. The doors don’t slam shut as solidly as the pricier German alternatives. (The doors are still closed.) Certain individuals might demand a more reassuring door-closing sound signature. Or more feature gimmickry in general.
Perhaps the most reassuring aspect of the CT6 is a refreshing awareness that Cadillac can put together a compelling sedan with a posh, functional interior and abundant content without being fixated on buffing its Nrburgring credentials or bragging about how much faster it is than its competitors. If a large, comfortable, and high-dollar sedan with front and rear massaging seats is on your horizon—or your STS is on its last legs—Cadillac will be waiting for you.
|2016 Cadillac CT6 3.0TT AWD|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$88,960|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan|
|ENGINE||3.0L/404-hp/400-lb-ft twin-turbo DOHC 24-valve V-6*|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||4,350 lb (53/47%)|
|LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT||204.1 x 74.0 x 57.9 in|
|0-60 MPH||5.0 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||13.4 sec @ 105.0 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||106 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.88 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||25.4 sec @ 0.75 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||18/26/21 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||187/130 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.93 lb/mile|