2012 Cadillac CTS

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$4,189–$31,577 Inventory Prices
Key Specs
Our Take
Road Test
Photos
Reviews
Safety & Recalls
Warranty & CPO
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Key Specs

of the 2012 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

  • Unique exterior styling
  • Interior materials quality
  • 3.6-liter V-6 power
  • Responsive automatic transmission
  • Crash-test ratings
  • Runs on regular gas (except V-Series)

The Bad

  • Optional suspension's ride quality
  • Limited steering feedback
  • Backrest contour of Recaro bucket seats
  • Sedan's backseat room
  • Driver's-side B-pillar restricts visibility
2012 Cadillac CTS exterior side view

Notable Features of the 2012 Cadillac CTS

  • Choice of V-6 engines
  • Rear- or all-wheel drive
  • Coupe, sedan or wagon body styles
  • High-performance supercharged V-8 in V-Series
  • Newly standard Bluetooth cellphone connectivity

2012 Cadillac CTS Road Test

Mike Hanley

The 2012 Cadillac CTS sedan offers shoppers an attractive blend of design, luxury and performance.

Now in its fifth model year, the CTS is the luxury sedan that began Cadillac's design-led transformation when the car debuted as a 2003 model, and the second-generation car that launched for 2008 furthered the brand's push into the sport-sedan market.

The CTS sedan starts at $36,810 (all prices include an $895 destination charge), but our test car was a high-end Premium model with a starting price of $49,185. With options, the as-tested price was $52,345. To see how the car's specs compare with models from Infiniti, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, click here.

Styling
The first-generation CTS set Cadillac on its current styling direction with its creased, angular shape, but the design philosophy really hit its stride with this second-generation car. Sharp edges create a look that's uniquely Cadillac, but the design isn't forced like it was in some places on the first-gen car.

You also can get the CTS in coupe and wagon body styles, but the design looks best to my eye on the sedan. Its rear styling is the most cohesive with the front end, which doesn't differ much among body styles.

The 2012 CTS gets new grille styling, but the changes are subtle and the overall shield shape that's become a familiar Cadillac design cue remains.

Ride & Handling
Our test CTS had the optional performance suspension, and the car felt as firm as one of the high-performance V...

The 2012 Cadillac CTS sedan offers shoppers an attractive blend of design, luxury and performance.

Now in its fifth model year, the CTS is the luxury sedan that began Cadillac's design-led transformation when the car debuted as a 2003 model, and the second-generation car that launched for 2008 furthered the brand's push into the sport-sedan market.

The CTS sedan starts at $36,810 (all prices include an $895 destination charge), but our test car was a high-end Premium model with a starting price of $49,185. With options, the as-tested price was $52,345. To see how the car's specs compare with models from Infiniti, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, click here.

Styling
The first-generation CTS set Cadillac on its current styling direction with its creased, angular shape, but the design philosophy really hit its stride with this second-generation car. Sharp edges create a look that's uniquely Cadillac, but the design isn't forced like it was in some places on the first-gen car.

You also can get the CTS in coupe and wagon body styles, but the design looks best to my eye on the sedan. Its rear styling is the most cohesive with the front end, which doesn't differ much among body styles.

The 2012 CTS gets new grille styling, but the changes are subtle and the overall shield shape that's become a familiar Cadillac design cue remains.

Ride & Handling
Our test CTS had the optional performance suspension, and the car felt as firm as one of the high-performance V-Series versions that Cadillac sells, with harsh, jarring responses over bumps. It's not far removed from the suspension tuning on Mercedes' AMG models, like the C63 AMG, which is a firm-riding sport sedan.

The payback, however, is minimal body roll, which is welcome when the road bends. The performance suspension includes thicker front and rear stabilizer bars — as well as a limited-slip differential if you opt for summer tires — but the steering prevents the car from being as engaging as it might otherwise be; steering effort is light and steering feedback expectations remain unmet.

Tires play a significant part in the ride and handling equation, which is why it was unfortunate that our rear-wheel-drive CTS arrived with Bridgestone Blizzak winter tires on its 19-inch wheels. With temperatures in the 50s, spring was well under way when we drove the car. The summer tires that are normally part of the optional Performance Package would have been a better match for the conditions.

Engine & Transmission
The CTS comes standard with a 3.0-liter V-6 engine, but our test car's optional 3.6-liter V-6 and six-speed automatic transmission are a special pair among drivetrains. The transmission's shifts are unobtrusive, and it's always in the right gear for the driving situation. The automatic is also incredibly responsive; press down on the gas pedal and it downshifts immediately. A lot of automatics make you wait before kicking down, which makes it refreshing to drive one that's so attentive to the driver's wishes.

The 3.6-liter V-6 has power in reserve for accelerating around other cars on the highway, and the transmission responsiveness remains. The sedan moves out well, and the V-6's mechanical growl sounds good in the process. This V-6 makes more power for 2012 — 318 horsepower, an increase of 14 hp — and is also 20 pounds lighter than its predecessor. The engine received a number of changes, including new cylinder heads with integrated exhaust manifolds, a composite intake manifold and lighter, stronger connecting rods.

With the automatic transmission, the 3.6-liter V-6 is rated at an EPA-estimated 18/27 mpg city/highway. That's slightly better than the 2012 Infiniti M37's estimate of 18/26 mpg, but it trails the ratings for the 2012 BMW 535i (21/31 mpg) and the 2012 Mercedes-Benz E350 (20/30 mpg). However, unlike those three models, the CTS can run on regular gas as opposed to more expensive premium fuel. Only the supercharged CTS-V requires premium.

Interior Quality & Comfort
The CTS' cabin quality has held up well since this generation first hit the road as a 2008 model, and it's still competitive against newer entrants like the 535i and M37. Among the highlights are consistently applied premium materials including stitching on the dashboard and door trim, and smartly integrated features like an available navigation touch-screen that can rise from the dash or, when lowered, display a list of radio presets. The location of the air-conditioning controls at knee-level seemed a little curious, but it didn't take long to understand the logic of the setup; your hand falls right to the controls, so you barely need to move it to adjust the temperature.

While the cabin is high on premium materials and luxury features, what it doesn't have in abundance is space. The front of the cabin is comfortable but snug, and the optional Recaro-brand sport seats — similar to those available in the CTS-V — contribute to the sensation with adjustable side bolsters that keep you locked down in corners.

The Recaro bucket seats have adjustable lumbar support, but even with it backed off completely, you can still feel the curve of the backrest pushing against your lower back. It wasn't painful, but if you're sensitive to this kind of thing, it definitely warrants extra attention if you take the CTS for a test drive.

The CTS sedan's bigger problem is backseat space. Despite being significantly larger on the outside than the redesigned BMW 3 Series sedan, the CTS' backseat feels smaller. I'm 6 feet 1 inch tall and didn't have enough legroom or headroom. It's not nearly as comfortable as a midsize four-door needs to be.

Safety
The CTS sedan performed well in crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It received the IIHS' 2012 Top Safety Pick designation, which is awarded to cars that receive Good scores in each of its four tests, as well NHTSA's five-star rating, the highest possible.

Standard safety features include antilock brakes and an electronic stability system, which are required on cars beginning with 2012 models. Also standard are side-impact airbags for the front seats, side curtain airbags for both rows and active front head restraints. GM's emergency communications system, OnStar, includes one year of complimentary service that has features like automatic crash notification, stolen car assistance and the ability to remotely unlock the doors.

A backup camera and rear parking sensors are optional. For a list of safety features, check out the Features & Specs page, or see how well child-safety seats fit in the CTS Car Seat Check.

CTS in the Market
It's hard to overstate what the CTS has meant to Cadillac from a design and performance perspective. It's been the cornerstone of the brand's reinvention over the past decade and has come to represent the modern Cadillac image.

The CTS checks most of the boxes it needs to in the luxury sport sedan segment with its distinctive design, upscale interior and refined 3.6-liter V-6 drivetrain. That said, discerning handling enthusiasts will get more enjoyment from the more expensive BMW 5 Series.

Send Mike an email  



Latest 2012 CTS Stories

What Drivers Are Saying

Exterior Styling
(4.9)
Performance
(4.6)
Interior Design
(4.7)
Comfort
(4.7)
Reliability
(4.8)
Value For The Money
(4.6)

Latest Reviews

(5.0)

Most valuable cadi in the recent years

by Tyrion from Iowa City, IA on June 11, 2018

Very reliable and good driving experience. Very stable on the highway. Huge power and the six speed manual is awesome. Safe, and the tech inside the car is just the perfect balancing point, not too ... Read full review

(5.0)

Best Car Ever

by Andre_C25 from Erie, PA on June 10, 2018

The car has superior handling, excellent acceleration, and a design quality that is better than most cars in it's class, at least in my opinion. Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2012 Cadillac CTS currently has 2 recalls

IIHS Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2012 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 Warranty

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    48 months / 50,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    60 months / 100,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    60 months / 100,000 miles

CPO Program & Warranty

Certified Pre-Owned by Cadillac

Program Benefits

24-hour roadside assistance, trip-interruption services, 24-hour consumer relations center hot line, Free OnStar service for six months and Vehicle history report

  • Limited Warranty

    6 years / 100,000 miles

    Every certified Pre-Owned Cadillac comes with a 6 year or 100,000 mile Certified limited warranty coverage
  • Eligibility

    Under 5 years / 60,000 miles

    Vehicles receive a 172 point inspection and reconditioning.

    See inspection 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