It's difficult to find a way to describe the Cadillac CTS-V sedan in a way that would appeal to a parent's priorities when shopping for a car. Things like, "This was the most fun car I've ever driven!" and "I felt like a total badass in it!" probably aren't statements that will put the CTS-V on responsible parents' radar. But all of the above statements are absolutely true.
If you're in the rare position to use your car as both a family taxi and a toy, you'll hit the jackpot with this high-performance 2012 Cadillac CTS-V sedan.
Cadillac's CTS-V can be a family car if you want it to be. The four-door sedan is capable of transporting a family and the cargo area will hold your stroller or suitcases, but you'll be paying an awful lot to not use its best feature: a supercharged 6.2-liter V-8. This is coming from a mom who usually cares about paint colors and cupholders rather than the numbers and decimal points on the window sticker.
I was blown away by the driving experience in the CTS-V. In addition to the staggering amount of male attention I received on the road, the CTS-V was constantly tempting me to take corners faster, accelerate from red lights quicker and engage in otherwise inappropriate behavior for someone with a convertible child-safety seat installed in the backseat. It's powerful, it's fast, it handles incredibly, it looks sharp and it's an absolute thrill to drive.
The CTS-V comes in just as high on pricing as it does with the thrills. With a starting price of $64,110, including an $895 destination charge, it may be out of a family's reach for reasons more than its raciness. I tested an upgraded model with sport details like 19-inch polished aluminum wheels, Recaro-brand sport seats and a faux-suede-wrapped steering wheel and gearshift that bumped my test car's price to $71,485.
The 2012 CTS-V is refined and dignified but menacing at the same time. It's such a classic, handsome sedan that at first glance you wouldn't suspect there's one of the fastest engines in production under the hood. The tell-tale sign that separates the CTS-V from a regular CTS sedan is the tricolored-checkered V badge on the side. It's got a much more impressive-looking front grille, too.
Its exterior styling only caused two minor inconveniences for me. The angular rear door openings seemed small when I leaned in to strap my daughter into her child-safety seat, and the CTS-V's high sidewalls and small windows made for slightly compromised visibility. Its average step-in height won't cause problems for most, but the car has heavy doors that children may need assistance with.
The CTS-V's trunk is average sized; it can hold grocery bags and a single stroller at the same time. While I found the trunk to be spacious enough for my things, I question its ability to fit a double-stroller because of the shallow trunk opening.
The CTS-V has a supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 engine that makes 556 horsepower. With those kinds of specs, I especially enjoyed that my test car had a six-speed manual transmission. The part that wasn't so enjoyable was seeing the low fuel-economy numbers the trip computer would spit at me. The manual-transmission CTS-V I drove gets an EPA-estimated 14/19 mpg city/highway; the automatic-transmission CTS-V averages 12/18 mpg. With my almost exclusive stop-and-go city driving during my weeklong test drive, my fuel-economy average was in the single digits. To add salt to that particular wound, the supercharged engine requires premium gasoline.
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): More than Fair/Less than Great
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Groove-On
The CTS-V's interior is luxurious but a bit dated, especially when looking at the displays and multimedia interface.
Looks aside, all the amenities are there — keyless start and entry, dual climate control, heated front seats, Bluetooth connectivity, LED interior ambient lighting and a screen that pops up from the dash to display maps. My upgraded test car came with optional ventilated front seats, which is the ultimate in luxury in my opinion. No one wants to sweat inside a classy car like the CTS-V.
Cabin space is a little tight inside the five-seater, but not prohibitive. Being a midsize sedan, I was expecting it to feel larger inside. Taller adults sitting in the second row might find themselves wanting more legroom.
Storage space is on the lighter side in the CTS-V, as well. There are four cupholders and an average-sized center console and glove box. The front door pockets are almost useless because they're so small. There are seatback pockets, but they're better suited for magazines than the thick board books my toddler enjoys taking along in the car.
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): More than Fair/Less than Ample
The 2012 Cadillac CTS-V sedan earned an overall safety score of five stars out of five from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It received five stars in front- and side-impact crash tests and four stars in the rollover crash test. It also has been named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, earning the top score of Good in front, side, rear and roof-strength crash tests.
One of my favorite things about the CTS-V (and all GM vehicles in general) is OnStar comes standard, but only for a limited time and then a subscription is required. OnStar is great to have not only in case of emergencies, but it also keeps temptations and distractions at a minimum when you're on the road and trying to use the navigation system. Instead of hurrying to type a street name at a red light into the nav system, you can use OnStar to get directions that are automatically downloaded to the car. Less fiddling with tech in the car while driving equals a much safer ride.
The CTS-V also has standard rear-wheel drive, four-wheel-disc antilock brakes with brake assist, an electronic stability system with traction control, active front head restraints, rear parking sensors, a backup camera and six airbags, including side curtains for both rows.
I found car seat installation to be relatively painless in the CTS-V, though access to the two sets of Latch anchors was a bit tough due to stiff seat cushions and deeply inset anchors. Since my daughter is now in a forward-facing convertible, my husband still had a reasonable amount of legroom in the front passenger seat, but if she was in a rear-facing safety seat, his legroom would most likely be severely compromised. See how the 2012 CTS performed in Cars.com's Car Seat Check.
Get more safety information on the 2012 Cadillac CTS-V here.