Though all-wheel-drive, the CT6 is rear-biased, which gives it a solid advantage.
It’s a pretty good decade for the Cadillac brand. With the ATS sport sedan (and the hot ATS-V) right at the top of its segment, the General is well on its way to slashing the stereotype that the Cadillac is the grandfather clock of luxury cars. After the demise of the DTS a few years ago, Caddy sent us the XTS, a quasi-luxury sedan based on the front-drive Impala and not exactly offering what real premium sedan buyers wanted. Customers were assured that a proper luxury flagship was on its way, and the car is finally here. Our editor already tested the Platinum model (reviewed here), but I decided to spend a week with a 2017 Cadillac CT6 3.0TT Luxury with the twin-turbocharged V6 engine.
This is the perfect time for the CT6 to make its debut, too – the 2017 model year also means the debut for the all-new Genesis G90 (reviewed here) and the Lincoln Continental, both of which will be undisputed rivals to the Cadillac. Where the CT6 has an advantage though is in its sheer style – nothing else looks like it. The Lincoln and Genesis both offer conservative design languages that fit well with their respective brands, whereas Cadillac uses the latest implementation of their Art & Science philosophy.
At first glance, it looks like a slightly larger version of the CTS, and this isn’t a bad thing, because the CTS is gorgeous in appearance. The LED accent lighting sets the car off nicely, and stunning 20” wheels finish off the proportions. I happen to think this design fits the CT6 far better than the XTS, which looks frumpy and disproportionate in comparison. The CT6 also uses the same grille as the new XT5 crossover (reviewed here), with the large Cadillac shield in the center and a long, defined hood.
The base model of the CT6 is actually powered by a 2.0L turbo four-cylinder – that model will not exactly be quick. Mid-range models pack a 3.6L naturally aspirated V6, but our CT6 Luxury tester was equipped with the twin-turbocharged 3.0L V6, a motor GM calls their “High Feature V6”. Direct-injected and intercooled, this new engine pushes 404 horsepower at 5.700RPM and 400 lb-ft of torque, which peaks between 2,500 and 5,100RPM. This motor is the flagship powertrain for the CT6; Cadillac has gone the same way as Lincoln and will not be offering a V8 motor. Power delivery is slick, and when boost kicks in, the CT6 authoritatively surges forward.
Though all-wheel-drive, the CT6 is rear-biased, which gives it a solid advantage over the front-based Lincoln Continental. Power is sent to all four wheels through GM’s in-house eight-speed automatic, codenamed 8L90. This transmission feels almost as good as the benchmark, which is ZF’s 8HP eight-speed. Shifts are crisp, seamless, and the sport mode gives some driver engagement. Just like a traditional Cadillac, the CT6 feels planted to the road and the wide tires contribute to overall grip. Handling gets interesting thanks to the active rear wheel steering, which is a system causing the rear wheels to turn in the opposite direction as the fronts to improve cornering. This is especially noticeable when parking in tight spaces.
Ride quality is actually very good, something we have come to expect from Cadillac. GM does adaptive dampers beautifully through their Magnetic Ride Control system, and I didn’t find myself looking for an air suspension setup at any point. The CT6’s suspension does a fabulous job at devouring imperfections and potholes; though even in st comfortable setting, the ride is on the firmer side and not as buttery smooth as a Lexus or even the BMW 7-series (reviewed here). Handling is as expected for a large luxury sedan – the electric power steering does its job at minimizing effort, and takes away all feel and feedback in the process. Long story short – buyers will be pleased, though enthusiasts won’t be. Thankfully, this car isn’t targeted at the purist.
The CT6 with the 3.0TT is rated at 13.0L/100km city, and 9.0L/100km highway for a combined rating of 11.2L/100km overall. My time with the car involved plenty of stop and go driving, including bumper-to-bumper traffic in rush hour. This when factoring in cold winter conditions and winter tires, netted a test average of 11.9L/100km on premium 91-octane fuel. Fuel saving features on this car include GM’s cylinder deactivation when cruising at steady speeds, and a start/stop system that’s surprisingly smooth. Fuel tank capacity is a generous 73L, and premium is required thanks to the twin-turbocharging and nature of the engine.
Something our entire editorial team was remarkably impressed by was the interior quality of the CT6 – everything looks and feels like a proper luxury car with added modern touches that we wouldn’t expect from Cadillac. The dashboard uses soft-touch materials, and the Opus leather seats (heated and ventilated) have a striking design and are easily adjusted to attain a great driving position. The power seat controls are up on the door like on a Mercedes-Benz, making for quick access and no fumbling. Rear seat legroom is plentiful, with optional power-adjustable power seats and optional massage for all outboard seats (not equipped on this Luxury-trim tester).
Technology is seriously important on any luxury car built in this decade, and Cadillac dropped the ball a few years ago with initial offerings of their CUE interface. It’s vastly improved here (remember the 2002 implementation of BMW’s iDrive?) and is controlled through a 10.2” touchscreen. This system offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth, and everything else one would expect. Previous versions of CUE offered controls only through the screen, but now there is a responsive touchpad located beside the shifter. The instrument cluster can also be equipped with a 12″ full-digital display as seen on the Platinum model, though our test vehicle was not equipped with this.
Worth noting is the 34-speaker Bose Panaray audio system that’s all the talk right now. Thirty four speakers may sound like a lot, and it is, but the CT6 actually offers a pretty good sound stage for the system. It doesn’t feel like too much, and sounds pretty adequate, but we found it wasn’t able to replicate certain tones and notes with as much clarity as some other systems on the market. Volvo’s Bowers & Wilkins system (reviewed here) is a benchmark for us, and honourable mention goes to the setup in the Lincoln Continental as well.
The base sticker for the CT6 in 2.0T and RWD form is $61,695. The entry-level model comes equipped for the price, but to get things like a heated steering wheel or power rear seats, you must step up to higher models. The entry point for the all-wheel-drive CT6 is $64,020, and also comes with the V6. Our Luxury tester sits below the $99,670 Platinum, and is almost fully loaded for just over $85,000. It includes the panoramic sunroof, new engine, all-wheel-drive, navigation, LED lighting, and almost everything else. The Luxury is likely to be the most popular twin-turbo model in Canada, and it’s easy to see why.
GM has positioned the CT6 between the midsize and full-sized luxury sedans, with an overall size closer to that of short-wheelbase full-sizers like the BMW 750i (reviewed here) but at a more aggressive and appealing price. The 2017 Cadillac CT6 3.0TT Luxury is a seriously attractive choice, and arguably may be the best in the segment if polarizing styling is your priority. This isn’t a car that will be pushed into limousine fleet sales, and will slowly start sneaking into the personal garages of business executives and empty-nesters. If a full-size luxury car is what you’re after, and you don’t want to break the bank while maintaining most of the features offered by the Germans, give the Cadillac a second glance.