Mother Proof's view

Photo of Kristin Varela
Former Senior Family Editor Kristin Varela blends work and family life by driving her three tween-teen girls every which way in test cars. Email Kristin Varela

While I was test driving the new 2010 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon, a friend said that this car was the most “me” of my recent test cars. He called it “sleek, luxurious yet functional, with just enough badass factor thrown in to keep things interesting.” I like that analogy and think it fits both me and the car well. Although I’m not so sure about that luxurious part, as I sit in my home office writing this review wrapped in layers of fleece that desperately needs a washing.

I’ve always been a fan of wagons; they have the drivability of a sedan with enough cargo space to accommodate a growing family and all their stuff. Equipped with the higher-end V-6 engine making 304 horsepower, the CTS wagon has enough oomph to powerfully lug around whatever you load it up with, and it sports a little driving thrill, too. The CTS wagon’s drivability points, however, get a slight ding in my book due to the super stiff “sport” suspension. I’d have preferred, and quite frankly expected from Cadillac, the option of an adjustable suspension, allowing me to choose the ride squishiness (that’s the technical term) depending upon the road condition, my mood, the lunar cycle or Mercury’s position in retrograde. I’m a woman after all, and I like options.

Optional all-wheel drive (instead of the standard rear-wheel drive) takes this sexy beast from coastal climates to the bipolar weather conditions my family experiences here in the Rocky Mountains. The wagon’s standard 18-inch all-season tires were replaced with 19-inch summer tires as a part of the $2,000 Performance Package on my test car. However, the summer tires and I didn’t get along during an early winter snowstorm.


Cadillac claims that the new CTS wagon is a “dramatic reinvention of the luxury wagon,” and I agree. The functional wagon part of the CTS’ rear end lets everyone in the carpool lane know that I’m a mom and proud of it. The long, linear nose hints at the 304-hp, 3.6-liter V-6 with direct injection and tells the world that I can be a mom and still care about my car’s performance. Care to try me from a dead stop at the stoplight?

The height-adjustable power liftgate is one of my many favorite features on this wagon. Who doesn’t want a little help with the monotonous chore of loading and unloading groceries into the family car week in and week out?

Speaking of a helping hand, the CTS wagon also has keyless access and remote start as standard features. Just imagine sitting inside at your daughter’s dance class on a cold, snowy night, pressing a button on your key fob and having the car start and warm up to your preset perfect temperature before you even step a foot inside. That’s luxury! The overall styling of the CTS wagon is a fabulous blend of form and function, something we here at are always searching for.


Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample

Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample


This is where the CTS wagon really impressed me. In the rear, the cargo space is gargantuan and ready to swallow everything you can throw at it, including the kitchen sink. Just in case that’s not enough space for you, there’s more hiding under the cargo floor. Still need more (good golly, maybe you should just buy a pickup truck)? The rear seats split and fold for even more cargo room.

The backseat features a fold-down armrest with cupholders at the perfect height for little ones constrained by seat belts or child-safety seats. There’s also a small cargo pass-through for longer items such as skis. Both outbound rear passengers have access to front seatback storage pockets, which are handy clutter containers.

The panoramic sunroof cuts down on any potential claustrophobia for backseat passengers who are bothered by the wagon’s sloping rear roofline.

My test car was equipped with a gorgeous sapele wood trim that in combination with the LED ambient interior lighting gave a decidedly upscale feel to the interior. Its beauty really stood out at night since the lighting perfectly highlighted the lines of the dash.

Up front, I had only one major problem with the CTS wagon. The front seats have a double line of stitching right down the center seam. Sure it looks cool, but for me, and I expect most women shorter than 5 feet 5 inches, this seam chafed my back right where my bra closes. This was literally to the point of total discomfort and annoyance.


Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Great

Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Good Times


I love that Cadillac didn’t overlook parents’ needs in the CTS wagon. With the Latch connectors cleverly concealed behind giant zippered openings, even the most moody child-safety seats will be an easy fit. However, once you open up that zippered compartment be prepared to have a little of the wind taken out of your sails. Shaggy edges of ugly yellow seating foam abound; it’s functional in the same way an unfinished basement is. Just hook up your seat and zip that puppy right back up. You’ll forget about that ugliness in no time.

The rear seat belts score an average on the ease-of-use-for-little-ones scale. They buckle into flimsy receptors (a pet peeve around here), but the seat space is wide enough for a booster seat to fit comfortably on the seat without creeping on top of the seat belt receptors.

Of course, you’ll enjoy all the standard safety you’d expect in a modern-day luxury car. The CTS wagon has standard front- and side-impact airbags for the driver and front passenger, side curtain airbags for both rows, stability control, traction control and antilock brakes with brake assist.

I adore the CTS wagon’s backup camera and rear parking sensors as well as the standard OnStar and tire sealant and inflator kit in lieu of a spare tire, which is a $250 option.


In Diapers: There’s enough legroom for rear-facing infant-safety seats, and the easy-to-access Latch connectors will make you swoon.

In School: Four doors and tons of cargo space make hauling and dropping off little ones easy.

Teens: Teens will love driving this sport wagon.

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