Here’s how you know that the Korean automakers are truly making a splash: when a brand that has been around for 114 years starts to take their concept and run with it.
The Korean twins have propelled themselves into many podium finishes when it comes to comparison tests, awards, and more crucially, sales. Arguably the key to this success, achieved within a relatively short period of time, is their focus on value. That means making certain features standard that would otherwise be optional with the competition without raising the price point much if at all. It means adding an aura quality on the base or mid trim levels of that would otherwise be reserved for top trims. And, recently, it means taking on brands that would otherwise be well outside the realm of typical competition.
For Cadillac, it has always been associated with the likes of premium German and Japanese brands. But it seems like it may be taking a page from the Koreans when it comes to competing with the rest of the established players – at least in terms of value. And it is evidenced in the all-new CT6; a model meant to be the flag bearer of the brand – at least for now.
If you want a large, executive sedan the big three come to mind: the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the BMW 7 Series, and the Audi A8. You might even consider the Lexus LS.Those are large sedans that can easily crack the $100,000 mark once you option them out.
The CT6 is a large sedan, but it starts well below the aforementioned rivals. Sure, the DTS and XTS did too, but in terms of style, drivability, and tech – they were nowhere near the levels of Cadillac’s rival brands. Cadillac says it has remedied that, all while keeping the price comparatively low with the CT6. Have they succeeded?
First things first, it should be noted that while this is the biggest sedan Cadillac currently offers, it still falls short of its rivals. It’s three inches shorter than a Mercedes-Benz S-Class and even shorter than a Jaguar XJ, BMW 7 Series, and Lexus LS. Despite that, the CT6 still conveys its mass noticeably. It is two inches wider and a sizeable nine inches longer than its little brother, the CTS.
It should be noted that while this is the biggest sedan Cadillac currently offers, it still falls short of its rivals.
Style-wise, my tester was optioned with Cadillac-esque 20-inch wheels and metallic black paint which certainly helped to garner some stares from passersby. It’s long hood with wheels pushed out to the corners and lowered stance gives it street presence. The jury is out whether the teardrop LED daytime running lights – which also double as the turn indicators – help or hinder the look. And while the rear end is handsome, I personally think they could have differentiated the look from lesser Cadillacs a bit more, but otherwise, its mission accomplished. When you’re driving a big luxury sedan with a premium badge, it should absolutely look the part.
|Wheelbase (Inches)||122.4 / 3109|
|Overall Length (Inches)||204.0|
|Overall Width (Inches)||74.0|
|Overall Height (Inches)||57.9|
|Track front/rear (Inches)||63.4/64.0|
Inside, you’ll be greeted with a decently styled cabin, even if the interior of my particular tester seemed a bit dark. The redesigned steering wheel looks fancy enough at first, but you’re left overwhelmed when you eventually see just how many buttons are on the wheel. Thankfully, GM decided to limit the amount of capacitive-touch buttons on the dash, as they still don’t often work on the first try.
The redesigned steering wheel looks fancy enough at first, but you’re left overwhelmed when you eventually see just how many buttons are on the wheel.
The large infotainment screen looks nice and offers clear and crisp images, however, it suffers the same traits as the capacitive buttons; it only responds to commands some of the time. With that being said, it should be noted that the Cadillac User Experience system is noticeably improved over the last system I’ve tried, but given I still became frustrated with it more often than not, that isn’t saying much. There is also a trackpad which can be used to operate the system, but a dial is a lot easier to use especially when in motion. When the system does eventually throw you a bone and does what you want it to, cycling through the menus is fairly logical and easy to get used to.
Interior room itself isn’t a strong a point as it probably should be in the CT6. Yes, we’ve already established that it is smaller than its rivals, however, more rear legroom can easily be found in a Volkswagen Passat; more trunk space too. The opening for the trunk is awkward. And while rear seat passengers would still likely enjoy a relaxing ride, that is really only true if you aren’t relegated to the middle seat where one of the most intrusive center tunnels I’ve seen in a while is sure to induce some unintended manspreading. But regardless of which seat your find yourself in, your audible senses will be treated to Bose’s Panaray sound system which was equipped to my tester. It features 34 speakers that will make you feel like you’re in the front row at Carnegie Hall for the Chamber Orchestra of New York.
|Headroom front/rear (Inches)||40.1/38|
|Legroom front/rear (Inches)||42.3/40.4|
|Shoulder Room front/rear (Inches)||58.3/56.1|
|Hip Room front/rear (Inches)||55.8/53.4|
Drivetrain, Chassis, And Suspension
Should you be lucky enough to be seated in the driver’s seat, you’ll likely want to make use of the different personalities available in the CT6 that can be selected via the various drive modes at the touch of a button. However, like the capacitive buttons on the center stack, you’ll be expected to repeat your command several times. Got a sudden boost of testosterone and don’t want to be left with the automotive equivalent of blue balls? Just hit the sport button. And repeat. And again. Finally, the CT6 will clue in and tighten up the suspension, throttle response and steering feel. The problem? The moment when you wanted to take advantage of a particular bend in the road or exploit a gap on the highway has passed. The CT6’s constant hesitation to switch between drive modes when you want it to is quite the buzzkill.
However, on the odd occasion it reacts when you originally wanted it to, there is plenty to like. After all, being the flagship, there isn’t a shortage of power no matter which trim level you opt for. You can get a 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo which is good enough for 265 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. There’s also a 3.6-liter, naturally aspirated V-6, which produces 335 horsepower and 284 pound-feet of torque. And lastly, there’s the top engine, which was fitted to my tester, the 3.0-liter, twin-turbo V-6. It will net you a sizeable 404 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque.
I have yet to experience the other two engines, but it’s a safe bet to say that this is the one you want. Not only is this engine an animal, but there is truly no lag from the turbos, and the sound is enough to make you want to turn off your front seat experience at Carnegie Hall. Mash your right foot down, and you are propelled forward with gusto.
The eight-speed automatic handles all the fury with ease. The curious part is how it handles normal, more restrained driving. In this instance, the transmission feels clumsy and, when cold, jerky. Add in an engine start/stop system that wants more attention to its presence than Kanye West, and the CT6 shows off a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde kind of personality.
While the ride can be a tad on the stiff side, you won’t care one wit once you throw the CT6 into a corner. I mentioned before that it is shorter than its rivals and this is where its lesser size truly pays off. I can’t remember the last time I felt so confident taking a corner at high speeds in a vehicle of this size. It’s remarkably surefooted, planted and nonchalant about the whole affair. Blasting out of the corner in a CT6 is surely a short-term remedy for depression. The feel of relative precision supported by the musical orchestra of the exhaust note makes for a truly invigorating – and addictive – feeling.
But no matter how many times I took advantage of the CT6’s great handling and throttle combo, it didn’t seem to make a terrible dent in fuel consumption. Rated at 18 mpg city and 26 mpg highway, I was able to return 21.5 mpg in real world driving that mostly took place in the city. Not too bad.
But after considering what you get in the CT6 in terms of performance, the real story here is value. The Germans can offer the same or arguably better performance in their iterations of full-size flagship sedans. The CT6 will likely leave few disappointed but will cost you tens of thousands less in the process. Sure, it’s a tad shorter, but that only makes for better performance credentials. And let’s be clear, this isn’t a small sedan by any means anyway. It also has the brand panache to go along with it. That’s something that the Koreans don’t have and they’ve still made a success out of the value proposition. That should theoretically make the CT6 a bit of a home run.
|Engine||2.0-liter Turbo direct-injected DOHC with VVT||3.6-liter V-6 direct-injected DOHC with VVT||Twin-Turbo 3.0-liter V-6 direct-injected DOHC with VVT|
|Horsepower||265 HP @ 5,500 RPM||335 / 250 HP @ 6,800 RPM||404 HP @ 5,700 RPM|
|Torque||295 LB-FT @ 3,000-4,500 RPM||284 LB-FT @ 5,300 RPM||400 / 542 LB-FT @ 2,500-5,100 RPM|
|Transmission||Hydra-Matic 8L45 paddle-shift eight-speed||Hydra-Matic 8L45 paddle-shift eight-speed||Hydra-Matic 8L90 paddle-shift eight-speed|
|Curb Weight (Lbs)||3,657||3,926||4,085|
There’s something missing from the CT6 that is hard to put your finger on. It could be the fact there are bits and pieces found in more pedestrian GM vehicles (the turn signal stalk is taken from the Malibu, for example) or the fact that the CT6 seems to blend in a little too much within the rest of Cadillac’s lineup. Or maybe it’s the annoying little faults that shouldn’t be present in any modern-day vehicle, let alone one at this price point. Only time will tell if the CT6 is the flagship success the brand desperately needs. Those are the sorts of things the Germans sorted out long ago.
So then, getting back to the Koreans. It may be fairer to designate them as the CT6’s main competition, especially if GM is going to take a page from their book. The Genesis G90 is nearly identical in size as the CT6. It is also a brand-new model and is also expected to take the reigns as the flagship.
One thing is certain; the CT6 has all the right makings of a fun-to-drive luxury yacht. If GM can hone in on the more annoying faults, then the CT6 is worthy of a spot on your shopping list.