Cadillac CTS Sedan — What do you get for the money?

There are a variety of options and features that can be ordered on the Cadillac CTS.  However, there are the main branches for 2010 models for the CTS Sedan:

  • 3.0L CTS Sedan

    • Base RWD $35K or AWD $38K
    • Luxury RWD $38K or AWD $41K
    • Performance RWD $40K or AWD $42K
  • 3.6L CTS Sedan

    • Performance RWD $42K or AWD $43K
    • Premium RWD $47K or AWD $49K

Gone are the heady days of 2003-2004 when one could buy the base model CTS for under $30K! So what do you get for the money today?

For simplicity the numbers to follow focus only on the rear wheel drive models:

3.0L CTS Sedan $35K:

  • 270 hp 3.0L V6 VVT engine
  • StabiliTrak electronic stability control system
  • Premium steering
  • Bose Sound System
  • Luxury Model at $38K adds:
    • Wood trim
    • Bluetooth for phone interface
    • Interior Ambient Lighting
  • Performance Model at $40K adds:
    • 18″ aluminum wheels with premium multi-coat painted finish
    • Sport performance suspension system
    • Adaptive Forward Lighting

3.6L Performance Model for $42K includes:

  • 304 hp 3.6L V6 VVT engine
  • 18″ aluminum wheels with premium multi-coat painted finish
  • Sport performance suspension system
  • Adaptive Forward Lighting

3.6L Premium Model for $47K includes:

  • 304 hp 3.6L V6 VVT engine
  • Pop-up Navigation
  • UltraView Sunroof
  • Keyless Access/Smart Remote Start

Fuel Economy – Constant

The base 3.0L V6 and the 3.6L V6 both are rated for the same fuel economy: 18 mpg city and 27 mpg highway.  So there is no advantage other than cost savings to selecting the 3L over the 3.6L V6.

I want the sport suspension but…

I could not see getting the Sport Suspension and Performance option without also getting the 3.6L engine.  However, selecting the 3.6L Performance package is a sharp $7K option above the base price for the 3L V6.  This seems a large price of entry for a performance oriented CTS.
Interesting to note that the sportiest CTS Sedan suspension offered is now the FE2.  Previously CTS offered FE1, FE2 on the lux, and FE3 on the Sport model.   There was some feeling from reviewers that FE2 was nearly as good as FE3 on the track and much better on the street, so perhaps Cadillac made a smart selection here.

If price is no object

Is there a compelling case for the Premium CTS 3.6L over the Performance CTS 3.6L?  The Performance Model costs $42K, and the Premium model $47K.

For the extra $5K one would get standard on the Premium CTS Sedan (highlights):

  • Interior ambient mood lighting
  • Wood Trim
  • Audio system with Navigation
  • Ultrasonic rear parking
  • Heated, Ventilated seats
  • Ultraview Sunroof
  • Keyless Access / Smart remote start

The Performance model gets summer tires; the Premium model gets all-season tires.  The All-season tires give up a bit of dry grip but handle weather better.

All of these seem worthwhile for a fully optioned CTS, so if I were going $42K for the CTS Performance I would probably look for a way to move up to the $47K CTS Premium.

You have to pay to play…

The base 3L CTS at $35K includes Automatic Transmission, Stabilitrak and Bose sound, which the base Generation 1 CTS back in 2003/2004 did not.  The 3L engine at 270 hp is slightly more powerful than the non-Di 3.6L engine of 2004-2007, which put out 255 hp.
With these premium features the price has increased.  The range of price across the CTS range goes up quickly however, from the base $32K to the high-flying $47K premium package.    Maximum full featured price on a CTS can break $52K with selection of a few options.
Is the CTS even with Premium option and extra selections a good value at $52K?

Making room for the ATS

Cadillac needs pricing room below the CTS for the upcoming smaller-than-a-CTS model, the ATS.  With the arrival of the ATS, I would certainly make the CTS Sedan DI 3.6L only, and let the ATS have exclusive domain over the 3L V6.  I would price the ATS at $25-35K, and the CTS V6 at $35K-$40K.  i would introduce a CTS V8 with a 6.2L LS3 engine and 425 hp starting at $45K.  Finally, I would price the CTS-V at $60K even (currently $62K).

So my unsolicited recommendations for a CTS Sedan refresh for 2011 are:

  • 3.0L CTS Sedan – I would eliminate the 3.0L in the 2011 CTS

  • 3.6L 304 hp CTS V6 Sedan:

    • Performance RWD $35K
    • Premium RWD $40K
  • 6.2L 425 hp CTS V8 Sedan

    • Performance RWD $45K
  • Supercharged 6.2L 556 hp CTS-V

    • Performance RWD $60K

This would put the CTS in the right value ranges so that any CTS one buys is a terrific value for the money.

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