General Motors is clearly positioning the Cadillac CTS line against the luxury sedans from Europe’s top auto makers, who have all long embraced the station wagon as the best solution to the need for extra space without getting into larger, less efficient vehicles. Ironically, in the last decade, the Europeans all had to build crossovers when the American market dictated it, but the wagons continued in their line-ups, with relatively low sales on this side of the Atlantic.
It is in this market situation that Cadillac has recently launched the CTS Sport Wagon, building on the established strengths of the well-received CTS sedan, and offering a degree of style and usefulness that even the Euro wagon lover would notice. Cadillac’s first wagon in its history is also the only wagon available today from a domestic manufacturer.
Like the Euro wagons, the CTS makes a compelling case against driving anything even close to truck-based, as it has plenty of interior space (although perhaps not a great amount for rear seat passengers), full-time all-wheel drive, and the ride and handling of a car.
Like the sedan, the wagon has the choice of a 3.0L or a 3.6L V6 under the hood, and with the former not being the most torquey such engine, the clear choice is the 3.6, which is direct injected and blessed with 304 horsepower for excellent drivability. Backing it up is a six-speed automatic (no manual available, unlike the sedan) that, like most of them today, is in a rush to get into high gear and keep the revs under 1,500. Fortunately, there is a sport mode with manual shifting capabilities.
The bigger cargo area is, one would think, the main reason anyone would choose the wagon over the sedan, and it is well appointed for actually dealing with various types of cargo. Aluminum rails built into the floor allow tie-downs to slide into whatever position is needed. The floor itself lifts in sections, and there is a useful compartment underneath with a rubber mat that can be removed and cleaned.
Our tester was the 3.6L Premium AWD model, and add the Preferred Equipment Group, one of the most expensive options packages we have ever seen at $8,720, and you have the works. The PEG has everything from Bose surround audio and all modern connectivity, to the huge Ultraview sunroof, to wood trim, to rear parking assist, to navigation, and much more. If you only want one or two of these things other than the audio/navigation, too bad, you have to get everything. Two standalone options were classy polished aluminum wheels at $830, and the crystal red tintcoat paint job, which you have to really like at $1,295. Yikes!
But in a car like this, which starts at $53,790 anyway, another $10,000 in options is palatable. It is more than competitive with the Euro wagons, and a high-style, better-performing alternative to crossover SUVs. And if you think you’d want more power, just wait for the CTS-V with 556-hp V8, coming soon.
Base price (MSRP): $53,790
Price as tested: $64,735
Type: 4-door, 5-passenger station wagon
Layout: Front engine/all-wheel drive
Engine: 3.6L DOHC V6
Transmission: 6-speed auto
Power: 304 hp
Torque: 273 lb-ft
Cargo volume (rear seat folded) – 1,642L
Fuel Economy (L/100km, city/hwy): 11.7/7.4