Car Reviews: 2008 Cadillac CTS
After three exhilarating laps around a closed track in a brand new Cadillac CTS-V recently, I couldn’t quit smiling. My face was frozen into a joyous expression for hours.
Tightly-wound, well-balanced and extremely capable, Cadillac’s “V” car was one of the best driving experiences I’ve ever enjoyed in this country or any other. Kudos to the engineering team at Cadillac U.S. technology and expertise is definitely world-class.
For 2008, Cadillac has completely revised the CTS, already a successful and well-executed platform. The bad news: There won’t be a “V” edition for another year. Thankfully there’s good news: the ’08 CTS improves on the many positives of the previous generation, producing an excellent all-round driving experience.
One of the first things you’ll notice is the surging response of a new high-output V-6, optional on the CTS and well worth the investment. The optional six-cylinder uses direct injection (the same technology used in diesel engines) to burn fuel more efficiently and more productively. The result is excellent horsepower (304 in the direct-injected six), great amounts of torque over a wide range of rpm’s, and identical fuel economy to the lesser, non-direct-injected six. In automotive terms, this is called having your cake and eating it too, Cadillac-style. There’s no reason to opt for the smaller-output engine unless you’re a very mild driver or you’re looking for the bargain version of this fine car.
Despite being the smallest Cadillac passenger vehicle in the line-up, the CTS is quite comfortable for mature American adults, even in the back seat. If you typically ride as two couples for a golf match or a dinner engagement, all four adults will not only fit well, they’ll greatly enjoy the ride. That can’t always be said in a car of this size.
As a 6’5″ driver, I never fit well in Cadillac’s long-ago Seville, let alone the Cimarron. Cadillac has come a long way, baby the driving position in the 2008 CTS is very comfortable for tall drivers, and I not only survived riding in the back seat later, I actually enjoyed the ride and had plenty of knee, hip, and foot room.
The new CTS is a complete redesign but doesn’t immediately strike you as different from the previous generation. The most notable change is a bolder front grille, improving the looks of the car from that angle but also incorporating a functional air-induction system. Cadillac also ports air out functional side vents, a la Buicks of old. (Recent Buicks have decorative ports on the side, but these are for appearance only.)
Taut, well-composed and serene at triple-digit speeds (please don’t ask how I know) the new 2008 CTS is one of the best American cars currently in production. Next year when the “V” edition releases, the best will get even better. Once upon a time, owning a Cadillac meant you were old, and presumably wealthy. The new CTS shatters both stereotypes: its drivers skew younger in age, and its entry price doesn’t require Bill-Gates-level wealth. Drive and enjoy! – David Frisbie