2011 Cadillac CTS

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Key Specs
Our Take
Road Test
Photos
Reviews
Safety & Recalls
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Key Specs

of the 2011 Cadillac CTS. Base trim shown.

  • Body Type:
  • Combined MPG:
    21-22 Combined MPG
  • Engine:
    270-hp, 3.0-liter V-6 (regular gas)
  • Drivetrain:
    Rear-wheel Drive
  • Transmission:
    6-speed manual w/OD
  • View more specs

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Cohesive styling
  • Rich interior
  • Handling
  • Acceleration with 3.6-liter V-6
  • Runs on regular gasoline
  • 556-hp supercharged V-8 (V-Series)

The Bad

  • Front-seat comfort
  • Few standard features for a luxury car
  • Backseat headroom
  • Poorly executed panoramic moonroof
  • Confusing trim level, body style combinations

Notable Features of the 2011 Cadillac CTS

  • New coupe joins sedan and wagon
  • New fender vent design
  • Backup camera with or without navigation system
  • Manual or automatic transmission
  • Optional AWD
  • Brembo brakes (V-Series)

2011 Cadillac CTS Road Test

Joe Wiesenfelder

The CTS-V is one of the most exciting performance vehicles on the market, and a new wagon version makes it even more attractive to an admittedly small subset of buyers.

In its second year, the Sport Wagon now comes with the V-Series treatment offered on the sedan and new coupe. Nothing of significance has changed from 2010 to 2011 in the regular CTS wagon (see the two compared), so I'll refer you to my 2010 review and concentrate here on the CTS-V Sport Wagon.

Two Out of Three Ain't Bad
In last year's review, I cited three problems with the regular CTS wagon that gave me pause. The CTS-V version I tested has eliminated two of them.

To wit, I deemed the regular CTS' driver's seat a deal-breaker. The seat is close to the floor, which I found awkward, but the main problem was backrest comfort — or lack thereof: The center panel was as hard as a plank. I heard from one buyer who was so dissatisfied with it he took advantage of GM's 60-day money-back guarantee and unloaded his CTS sedan. The CTS-V, however, offers optional leather Recaro sport seats. These aren't the most comfortable sport seats I've experienced, but they're so much better than the CTS' standard seats that I considered the game back on.

Second, last year's test car had an automatic transmission, and its hesitancy disappointed me gravely. In the 2011 CTS-V coupe reviewed by Mike Hanley, the higher engine output mitigated but didn't eliminate the probl...

The CTS-V is one of the most exciting performance vehicles on the market, and a new wagon version makes it even more attractive to an admittedly small subset of buyers.

In its second year, the Sport Wagon now comes with the V-Series treatment offered on the sedan and new coupe. Nothing of significance has changed from 2010 to 2011 in the regular CTS wagon (see the two compared), so I'll refer you to my 2010 review and concentrate here on the CTS-V Sport Wagon.

Two Out of Three Ain't Bad
In last year's review, I cited three problems with the regular CTS wagon that gave me pause. The CTS-V version I tested has eliminated two of them.

To wit, I deemed the regular CTS' driver's seat a deal-breaker. The seat is close to the floor, which I found awkward, but the main problem was backrest comfort — or lack thereof: The center panel was as hard as a plank. I heard from one buyer who was so dissatisfied with it he took advantage of GM's 60-day money-back guarantee and unloaded his CTS sedan. The CTS-V, however, offers optional leather Recaro sport seats. These aren't the most comfortable sport seats I've experienced, but they're so much better than the CTS' standard seats that I considered the game back on.

Second, last year's test car had an automatic transmission, and its hesitancy disappointed me gravely. In the 2011 CTS-V coupe reviewed by Mike Hanley, the higher engine output mitigated but didn't eliminate the problem. There's no excuse for this kind of performance these days, though it's reaching epidemic proportions across the market. My CTS-V sport wagon, however, had a six-speed manual that turned this car into a star.

I always prefer a stick, but they aren't all well executed. This one is as satisfying as the automatic is unsatisfying. Wrapped in faux suede, the shifter has short throws and feels connected to the car. By today's standards, the clutch pedal is rather heavy. After a congested commute, one of our editors said he felt like he'd been on a one-legged StairMaster, but I loved it. It provides some feedback and requires more skill than the average clutch.

The Ocean of Heresy
I'll dip my toe in the ocean of heresy by comparing this characteristic with the BMW M3. The M3 is a phenomenal car, as I detailed in my 2010 M3 review. But it's not perfect, and two of my issues with it are a rubbery, disconnected shifter and a nonlinear spring-back to the clutch pedal. I prefer the CTS-V's.

Then there's the CTS-V's engine, a 556-horsepower, supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 that launches the wagon with absolute fury. With the manual transmission, this car is transformed. One after another of our editors came back from their time in the CTS-V practically bubbling over. We aren't all the power freaks you might expect, and the output alone wouldn't impress us if the car weren't equipped to manage it as well as it does: The dynamics are great, the brakes are solid and the sound is intoxicating. If anything, we'd like to hear more of it, including the hushed supercharger.

What's so special about the CTS-V's drivetrain? The prodigious torque is there from the moment you let the clutch out. It goes from zero to 60 in less than 4 seconds. Now, 551 pounds-feet of torque is a lot, but it's not just about the amount; it's the immediacy, especially at a time in automotive history when peak torque is creeping its way up the rev range. Even V-8s need to be wound out like never before if you want to tap into the grunt.

I know I'm now diving into the sea of heresy, but the M3 is a good example. As I pointed out in the 2010 review, it needs to rev before you get to the good stuff. Make no mistake: 414 hp and 295 pounds-feet from a normally aspirated 4.0-liter is nowhere near what the CTS-V generates. However, the M3 is nearly 700 pounds lighter, and beyond that, it's not simply about how much output is there — it's about where you find it.

The CTS-V achieves peak torque at 3,800 rpm, which seems close to the M3's 3,900 rpm, but the M3 redlines at 8,400 rpm while the V tops out at 6,200 rpm, so the Caddy's peak seems to come mighty quickly on a relatively flat torque curve. The M3's curve is a gentle rise.

In the real world, this makes the CTS-V more fun to drive under normal conditions. I suspect the M3 would clean up on a racetrack — especially versus a wagon — but its excellent manners, high-rev torque and toggle-switch shifter make it less engaging on the street. There it is. I said it.

Safety
Standard safety features include antilock brakes, side-impact airbags for the front seats, side curtain airbags and an electronic stability system. For a full list of safety features, check out the Standard Equipment & Specs page. To see how the CTS-V accommodates child-safety seats, check out the MotherProof Car Seat Check.

CTS-V Sport Wagon in the Market
American consumers' aversion to wagons is a disadvantage for this version of the CTS-V, but it's also an advantage, mainly because this car is the only game in town for performance fiends who want more practicality than a sedan can deliver. There's no M3 wagon, and Audi no longer imports an Avant wagon version of the S4. The Infiniti EX35, something of a tall wagon, is a hoot to drive, but its power is bush league compared with Cadillac's slugger.

That leaves the third drawback I cited for the regular CTS wagon: reliability, which Consumer Reports rated "much worse than average" last year. This year it has improved to "worse than average." (Baby steps ....) For what it's worth, this rating doesn't include the low-volume V-Series, but performance fans and slaves to style have always exhibited a higher tolerance for reliability shortfalls than have average drivers. The low-rated cars of today are as good as the highly rated ones of yesteryear. I can see the subset of drivers who want a relatively low-profile performance wagon being thrilled with this car despite the potential repair issues.

Send Joe an email  



2011 CTS Video

Cars.com's Mike Hanley takes a look at the 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe. It competes with the BMW M3 and the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG.

Latest 2011 CTS Stories

Consumer Reviews

Exterior Styling
(4.8)
Performance
(4.5)
Interior Design
(4.7)
Comfort
(4.4)
Reliability
(4.7)
Value For The Money
(4.4)

What Drivers Are Saying

(5.0)

Sporty Sedan

by Grumpy Old Phart from Arlington Texady on September 29, 2018

Sporty lil bugger for a V6 sedan. Great features, but needs to have more interior storage and a softer ride when not in sporty mode. Read full review

(5.0)

Has been a very reliable car!

by Chuyjosiem from City, Tx on August 27, 2018

I traded my 2005 xxx, for our CTS, and had no regrets. CTS has proven to be a car that is stylish and dependable. Would like to see the xxx, make a comeback. Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2011 Cadillac CTS currently has 2 recalls

IIHS Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2011 Cadillac CTS Base

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
good
Overall Rear
good
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
good

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Left Leg/Foot
good
Overall Front
good
Restraints
good
Right Leg/Foot
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Other

Roof Strength
good

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
good
Driver Torso
good
Overall Side
good
Rear Passenger Head Protection
good
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
good
Rear Passenger Torso
good
Structure/safety cage
good
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

Manufacturer Warranties

Backed by Cadillac
New Car Program Benefits
  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    48 months / 50,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    60 months / 100,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    60 months / 100,000 miles

Certified Pre-Owned Program Benefits
  • Maximum Age/Mileage

    Less than 75,000 miles

  • Basic Warranty Terms

    12 months/12,000-mile bumper-to-bumper (2012-2017 models)

  • Powertrain warranty

    6 years/100,000 miles (2012-2017 models)

  • Dealer Certification Required

    172-point inspection

  • Roadside Assistance

    Yes

  • View All Program Details

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The CTS received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker