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.

Cadillac 3.0L vs BMW 3.0L: Sports Luxury Engine Comparison

BMW has established its brand personae by edging toward the performance end of the luxury versus performance scale.  Mercedes traditionally leans toward the luxury end of the same spectrum.  Both BMW and Mercedes have released cars which pressed the boundaries of their traditional inclinations of course.  Cadillac has also released luxury performance models across the spectrum, from the speed demon super car sedan CTS-V to the sporty but efficient SRX SUV.

The mainstream Cadillac base engine in the CTS Family and 2010 SRX is the new 3.0 L VVT direct injection V6, the LF1.  The latest BMW 3.0L is not the normally aspirated 3L used in the BMW 3-series, but rather a related engine called N52B30 used in the X3 and X5 SUV’s making 260hp, and in the 2009 BMW Z4 sDrive30i subcompact convertible making 255 hp.

Let’s compare how the Cadillac engine stacks up with the Sporty BMW power plant.  I think everyone agrees that BMW knows how to make engines — the engine, along with the steering quality, get the most comments / compliments from the automotive press in BMW reviews.  So the question is, how well does the Cadillac LF1 Engine compare?


The 6-cylinder normally aspirated engine: powerful and light thanks to magnesium.

Offering spontaneous power and performance, excellent motoring refinement and outstanding efficiency, the 6-cylinder naturally-aspirated engine … offers the very best in its segment. Weighing just 355 lb thanks to its composite magnesium/aluminum crankcase, cylinder head cover made of a special synthetic material and lightweight camshafts with aluminum VANOS control unit, is exceptionally light.

While BMW’s VALVETRONIC engine management controls valve stroke on the intake valves, double-VANOS varies the angle of the intake and outlet valves in an infinite process. This allows particularly efficient use of fuel, providing a “beefy” torque curve and giving the engine instant response.

The engine in the BMW Z4 sDrive30i develops maximum output of 255 hp from 3.0 liters capacity at an engine speed of 6,600 rpm. Maximum torque of 220 lb-ft, in turn, comes at just 2,600 rpm.

The Cadillac LF1 3.0L: 2010 GM 3.0L V-6 VVT DI (LF1)

The 3.0L V-6 VVT DI LF1 is part of GM’s growing global family of V-6 engines. They were jointly developed for applications around the world, drawing on the best practices and creative expertise of GM technical centers in Australia, Germany, North America, and Sweden.

These engines apply the most advanced automotive engine technology available, from state-of-the-art casting processes to full four-cam phasing to ultra-fast data processing and torque-based engine management. Each delivers a market-leading balance of good specific output, high torque over a broad rpm band, fuel economy, low emissions and first-rate noise, vibration and harshness control, with exclusive durability enhancing features and very low maintenance.

Features of this engine include:

– Direct Injection Technology

– Aluminum engine block and cylinder heads

– Dual overhead cams with four valves per cylinder and silent chain cam drive

– Composite upper intake manifolds

– Integrated exhaust manifolds

– Optimized exhaust manifolds

– Fully isolated composite camshaft covers with added acoustic treatment

Engine Dyno for the Cadillac LF1 V6:

Comparative Stats:

Engine HP RPM Torque RPM
Cadillac LF1 (CTS) 270 7000 223 5700
BMW N52S30 (x3) 260 6600 225 2750


These two engines appear to have very similar performance.  The Cadillac puts out a bit more power, but the BMW is tuned for slightly more low-end torque.  Another factor to consider is that the BMW apparently requires premium fuel, while the Cadillac makes similar power using regular unleaded fuel.

3L DI DOHC VVT V6 a go go

GM Inside News is reporting that the expected 3L variant of the high feature 3.6L V6 is on the way for the new Buick Lacrosse crossover, and in that application makes 250 hp.

We are still hoping to see a 270hp variant for the CTS and the new Alpha Sedan, as we discussed here.

This would be an engine that may add a few mpg for the CTS but still give about the same hp as the current non-DI 3.6L, so win-win.