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Well Met Cadillac, Well Met

  • Aug 15, 2010
  • by
Rating:
+3
Pros: Powerful engine; excellent handling, beautiful cockpit, cutting edge exterior design; extremely fun to drive.
Cons: Side mirrors too small; lack of storage space
The Bottom Line: 

I love my new Cadillac CTS DI in Burnt Orange; it has all the power, refinement, and awe factor I was looking and hoping for! 



It was time.  After three years of saving practically every spare dime I could lay hands on for a substantial down payment, I finally purchased a very low mileage (3,341 miles) Cadillac CTS with a 3.6L DI (Direct Inject) engine and 4 wheel-drive in eye-catching and mind-pleasing Burnt Orange, a color that enjoyed a limited 500 unit run back in 2008.  I had had my eye on this particular car for about six months, biding my time until I could purchase the car.  So far no regrets, in fact I love this car!       

The Vehicle
 
The 2008 redesign of the smallest Cadillac sedan first caught my attention in early 2007 when I read about it in all three of the car magazines I subscribe to.  I had looked at the pre-2008 Cadillac CTS before and though I enjoyed the exterior styling of the car, I hated (not too strong a word) the interior; it looks as though the parts were taken from the nearest gumball machine and felt about as functional and eye-pleasing!

But for the 2008 model year Cadillac redesigned the performance sedan inside and out, and the results are spectacular.  I was immediately taken by the clean masculine lines of the car, the aggressive stance from almost every angle that bespeaks the power that lies under the hood.  But within those hard edges are soft lines and curves that make the car at once beautiful and unmistakably American-made. 

But the real treat lies inside the 2008 Cadillac CTS wherein the cockpit has been completely rethought.  Gone are the hard plastics and cheap looking dials & knobs that so wrecked pre-2008 CTS’s; instead GM fashioned what has to be the most striking interior layout of any car I’ve seen in this class!  The cockpit is now rich, beautiful, thoughtfully laid out, and inviting, right down to the navigation screen that rises out of the dash in silent eloquence.  Yes, the exterior is what drew me in, but it’s the well-appointed, highly functional, and beautiful cockpit styling that told me that I must have this car!

Standard equipment for the Cadillac CTS is impressive, and a full complement of the latest safety technology is standard as well, such as ABS and traction control. In addition, there are a variety of luxury options, including full leather seating, a premium Bose audio system and a 40GB hard-drive-based navigation system that can store up to 9GB of digital music files. Two sport suspension packages are available as well, one of which adds 4-wheel drive to the mix.

Just the (Engine) Facts Man

The 2008 Cadillac CTS shipped with two engine choices; a base 3.0L V6 making 263Bhp (Base horsepower) and 253 pound-feet of torque, and; a 3.6L DI (Direct Inject) V6 making 304Bhp @6400 rpm and 273 pound-feet of torque.  The 3.6L DI represents the first direct-injection engine in an American-built car. The technology is designed to give the engine a boost in power without a turbo-charging unit by pumping pressurized gasoline directly into cylinders in a fine mist, resulting in a higher power output than traditional fuel injection.  And, according to GM, the resulting emissions are cleaner.

Either engine can be had with a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic transmission with manual shifting via the console-mounted shifter; no steering-wheel paddles here.  EPA mileage estimates check in at 16 to 18 miles per gallon in the city and 25 to 26 mpg on the highway; your mileage will vary of course.

Exterior Styling

Even the entry level 2008 Cadillac CTS looks bold and exciting.  The lines flow smoothly from one masculine-inspired chiseled edge to the other.  The front grill is a mixture of plastic and chrome pieces and gives the car its unmistakable look. The headlights are a busy beautiful mix of LED, Halogen, and HID lighting.  At the outer edge of each headlight assembly is a white LED-powered pipe for soft night driving.  The main (round) headlights are adaptive and turn (15 degrees outboard, 5 degrees inboard) in the direction of the car, lighting corners and curves.  The remaining headlights are two sets of fixed square high-beam and turn signal lights.  Completing the forward light assembly are two fog lights in chrome enclosures at the bottom of the fascia.    

In the rear, the car is fitted with a LED powered red light pipe that mirror the front light pipes in form and function.  Brake lights and turn signals are in the form of 27 LED’s that glow yellow or read depending on function.  The white backup lamp is also a grouping of LED’s as is the trunk-mounted center brake light.  

The base CTS rides really low on its 17” aluminum wheels fitted with all-season tires; it is intimidating to say the least.  My 2008 Cadillac CTS 3.6L DI rides on 18” painted aluminum wheels with 18” Michelin Pilot HX MXM4 all-season performance tires.  

The outside mirrors are way too small for my taste and they lack LED turn signals.  Overall, visibility in the 2008 Cadillac CTS 3.6L DI is adequate because the glass surface area is somewhat limited.  The overly large A-pillars can obscure oncoming traffic, but there is more than adequate visual space out of the front window. 

The rear windows is rather small and backing up would be nerve-racking if not for the backup warning system that uses a system of three LED lights (mounted above the rear window) that warn the drive when he is getting close to an object.  The passenger-side outside mirror can also be programed to cant downward whenever the car is put in reverse.  This is especially helpful when backing out of my garage and or parallel parking!

Interior Styling

The interior of the 2008 Cadillac CTS 3.6L DI matches the bold statement(s) of the exterior. Overall build quality is excellent, the materials are upscale and equal to the price paid, with a rich hand-stitched leather dash and side door treatments.  Sapele wood trim accents the dash, doors (front and rear) and center console.  In my particular case the interior is Ebony with Sapele wood trim on the instrument panel, center console, door trim, steering wheel, and shift knob.  The treatment is equal to or better than that found in more expensive European and Japanese makes. 

Ambient lighting under the door and dash Sapele trim glows a faint blue at night (thanks to LED’s), while pin lights illuminate the underside of the door handle well and the center console from above.  I can tell you the effect is seriously cool and comforting and lends an air of luxury to the car.  My 2008 Cadillac CTS 3.6L DI came equipped with a center console pop-up 8” navigation screen with voice and text guidance; a must for me.  I can tell you that so far the system has worked well, and doubles as a personal address book where one can place hands-free calls. 

Speaking of hands-free, I opted to activate OnStar, which offers hands-free calling if you purchase minutes.  The system works well and calls can be placed via steering wheel mounted controls or from the Navigation system address book.  Additionally, Bluetooth is available and hands-free calls can be made from a mated cellphone device.  

XM NavTraffic (real-time traffic and weather) is available for $10.00 a month, and XM satellite radio is also available.  Since I do not travel out of state on a regular basis I opted not to get the service.            

Headroom in the 2008 Cadillac CTS 3.6L DI is more than adequate for me at 5’8 inches.  Backseat passengers may not sign the same tune because the roof line is pretty low back there.  The eight-way adjustable (driver and passenger) leather seats in the 2008 Cadillac CTS 3.6L DI are comfortable, and have adequate lumbar support though it took some time to find a good driving position.  And should room is more than adequate for me and I have pretty wide shoulders.

The center console is truly a work of art and of all the cars I test-drive before deciding on the CTS, it represents the best amalgam of form, function, and aesthetics I came across.  The controls for the sound system, CD, navigation controls, heating & air conditioning are well laid out and easy to reach.  And the feel of the controls is solid and befitting a vehicle at this price-point.  The steering wheel controls mirror the center consoles well laid out functionality.       

The 10-speaker Bose 5.1 Cabin Surround sound system with 40GB hard drive and USB connectivity that ships with the 2008 Cadillac CTS 3.6L DI is suburb.  The sound system controls are tightly integrated with those of the navigation system and the result is a seamless and easy-to-learn scheme.  Music can be had from a number of sources including FM/AM radio, XM, HHD, CD, iPod (via audio jack), or USB device.  Live radio can be paused and recorded as can CD’s and MP3’s from an attached USB storage device.   

Sound quality is outstanding and there are separate controls for bass, mid-range, and treble, but no separate equalizer controls.  The sound system has advanced features such as automatic volume control that adjusts the volume upward, or downward, according to vehicle speed, and or ambient noise levels and a mute button.

Another must with my 2008 Cadillac CTS 3.6L DI: the UltraView power sunroof with tilt-sliding, express-opening and power sunshade.  Needed?  Of course not, but it is seriously cool too look at!  

Performance

The 2008 Cadillac CTS 3.6L DI is flat out fun to drive and he handles like a stallion, answering instantaneously to a push on the accelerator pedal, or tap of the steering wheel.  As I stated above The 2008 Cadillac CTS 3.6L DI feature a 304-horsepower 3.6L Direct Inject V6 engine rated at 273 pound foot of torque at 6400RPM.  Acceleration is quick and smooth even at highway speeds, and there was a surprising amount of low end torque from a standstill; after all the 2008 Cadillac CTS 3.6L DI can do 0-60 in 6.5 seconds!  The engine is a little loud when cold, but once it warms up it is very quiet; hardly any engine noise is transmitted into the cabin. 

The manual/automatic transmission is rather smooth, and switching through the gears was noticeably free of jerks, and constant searching.  304hp takes a little getting used to after driving a cross-over for the last five years, and the car can easily get away from me unless I pay attention to my foot; acceleration is that smooth and seamless.  

The Manual Mode of the six-speed transmission is great for seat-of-your pants (spirited) driving when instant torque is needed for faster than normal acceleration.  I have to admit that it took a little while to master, but I managed; shifting down or up through the available 6-speeds without benefit of clutch is a blast.  A readout on the instrument panel tells the drive which gear he is in, and switching between manual and automatic modes is easy.  Some reviews have complained about the lack of paddle switching on the steering wheel in Manual Mode, but for anyone who had driven a true manual, on the shifter is where the control belongs!    

The 18” Michelin Pilot HX MXM4 tires are surprisingly quiet even at advanced road speeds, and the ride is smooth and enjoyable, said tires gripping the road tightly even on rough pavement and corners.  Speaking of corners, the steering wheel responds well to the touch and the car takes corners at high speed with aplomb.  
 
Final Thoughts
 
So far it’s a love affair between my burnt orange 2008 Cadillac CTS 3.6L DI and me.  There are a few quibbles, like lack of center console storage spaced, but overall Cadillac and GM have delivered a world-class luxury automobile that is both a blast to drive, and to admire at inside and out.

When I decided that I wanted a luxury automobile I looked at and test drive an Acura TL, BMW 328i, and Mercedes C300, but none of the cars could touch the 2008 Cadillac CTS 3.6L DI in terms of overall styling, performance, luxury appointments, and value.  Cadillac is back and once again serious about designing world-class autos.  I am proud to drive this quintessentially American-made, very masculine bit of sophisticated sheet-medal.    
Amount Paid (US$): 25,250
Condition: Used
Model Year: 2008
Model and Options: CTS 3.6L DI

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About the reviewer
Vincent Martin ()
I am an IT Professional and have worked in the industry for over 20 years. I may be a computer geek, but I also like reading, writing, cooking, music, current events and regretfully, politics.
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