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While the exterior styling of the new CTS has garnered its fair share of praise, it's not until you step inside and realize that Cadillac's design renaissance is not an aberration. Swathed in acres of high-quality material, the textures, colors and layout is provocative enough to get your attention, but subdued in a way that doesn't distract from the task at hand.

Click here to read Part 1 on exterior styling and driving impressions.

Beginning with the center console, the styling ethos that dictates the sheet metal outside carries forward into the cabin, with smooth creases and flowing lines that cleanly integrate one element with the next. The center-mounted analog clock is framed by the volume and tuning controls; while underneath, a mass of high-grade plastic buttons walk the line between straightforward selection and overwhelming chaos. It's a bit much at first, but it's quickly learned and easily adapted.

Turn the ignition to the "On" position, and those who've opted for the Bose 5.1 audio system, 40-gig hard-drive and navigation system ($3,145) are in for a show. The infotainment touch screen rises from the dash within a few seconds, simultaneously displaying an animation of the wreath and shield logo. After the pomp and circumstance concludes, you're greeted with a host of options ranging from sat-nav to music selection.

While being able to hook up your iPod is quickly becoming par for the course, Cadillac allows users to choose between a standard 1/8-inch audio jack or a USB connection. The latter allows the driver and passenger to navigate playlists via the touch screen or steering wheel controls.

The 40-gig hard drive is nothing we haven't seen before, giving users the ability to rip their own tunes for access on the road, but one particular function proved to be a complete revelation and is far-and-away Caddy's killer app. The hard drive has the ability to record 60 minutes of live radio or XM transmissions, which can then be paused, rewinded or stored for later consumption. It's TiVo for the car radio! We're so impressed with this particular feature that we're going to dedicate a post to it later in the week.

Once you've navigated the navigation, fooled around with the XM and marveled in the iPod integration, you're finally able to take in some of the more subtle, sophisticated elements employed in the CTS. While we'll concede that there are a few too many materials spread throughout the cabin, thankfully, each one lacks the err air of GM's former bean-counter dictatorship. Paramount among them is the new "cut-and-sew" material process, which covers everything from the instrument panel, dash, center console and door trim, all of which has been sewn and applied by hand. Wood trim was an optional extra which we could take or leave, but for our money the two-tone charcoal and "titanium" gray color combo was the most handsome in the group.

The air vents flanking both sides of the center console sit atop the dual-zone climate controls, and proved to be our only real complaint with the interior arrangement. The cambered angle of the console and the placement of the controls proved a little off-putting and seemed like a design afterthought.

After spending over two-hours in the car on Monday, followed by another two hours of track time, we're happy to report that we never experienced any kind of driver fatigue. The seats, while thinner than on the outgoing model, are well bolstered and offer a nice amount of cushioning. Back seat passengers should be happy if they're required to spend time aft of the driver, with an acceptable amount of legroom and more space for shoulders and hips, thanks to the new CTS's widened track and redesigned interior. Our only qualm with the front seats: a metal chevron placed right between the shoulder blades will prove to be a shock for female passengers wearing a backless outfit in the summer months.

It's a rare occasion that we find a vehicle that looks as good at night as it does during the day, but the CTS proves to be the exception to the rule. Like we mentioned in our previous post, the crisp lines combined with the LED and light tubes make it a handsome after-hours cruiser. On the inside, it's more of the same, with ambient lighting piped throughout the dash and underneath the door handles. It's a somewhat dramatic setting that we look forward to seeing more of in Cadillac's future offerings.

It's clear that Cadillac, and GM, are on the upswing in the product department, and the new CTS is proof positive that after two decades of neglect, the General's executive and design teams are beginning to work together to produce compelling vehicles. We came away impressed, and may we be the first to say: it's about damn time.

Click here to read Part 1 on exterior styling and driving impressions.

All Photos ©2007 Damon Lavrinc / Weblogs, Inc.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Years Ago
      is everyone doing that same center design...hundai and toyota?
        • 8 Years Ago
        Is it just me or does this thing look amazing? That whole nav screen popping up when you turn the ignition on sounds so cool
      • 8 Years Ago
      Wow thats a Caddy interior? About time!
      • 8 Years Ago
      Boy! You import guys just can`t stand to see a great American car. At least you reluctantly gave it a welcome nod. I don`t have the kind of income that allows me to drive a machine liks this, if I did I would look no further than Cadillac. Good job GM!
      • 8 Years Ago
      just test drove 2 different units. The base model comes with vinyl interior. THAT's plastic for $35K? Are they joking? $2200 extra to get leather with lumbar support and heated seats!! What a rip off. It's was a pleasure to get back to my 1989 mint condition Brougham after driving that car. I also have a 1998 Deville with only 20K miles which I also think is better than this small overpriced, but still nice car.
        • 8 Years Ago
        Just to clarify, when I said vinyl, I was referring to the seats. The standard ones look and smell like plastic. And this comment is not because I can't afford it. I am a 50 year old millionaire and can by whatever I want. I just like to open the car door and smell leather, not plastic. I think the ride is excellent for a small car. It reminds me of the 1986-1989 Seville when it was downsized. The handling is better, but the ride is similar on straight roads. Solid, stable, but smooth. This car is not earth shatteringly better than many other Cadillacs, although it's much improved over the old CTS and much more expensive. I still think the STS and DTS are more substantial and a 2007 can be had now for about the same price as a CTS with leather.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I agree with the comments about the gauges -- that 3 pod design is just trying to be trendy and click into the latest fashion. I don't particularly like it and it is a poor design ergonomically -- it reduces the side visibility being that the gauges are deep down inside a tube.

      The second thing is that the dash above the gauges looks like it was bolted onto the dash -- what an ugly seam. The dash covering the gauge cluster should be one piece and part of the overall dash.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Wait a minute - just looking at this thing more. Where's the friggin' stereo? I see a random pack of buttons near the stick, with some buttons I guess for the stereo, then above that with no rhyme or reason, a hazard button, then above that a clock and more stereo knobs yet also a touch screen for more stereo control too. This must be a bad Photoshop job. Doesn't make sense in the pics from this article - Track/seek forward/back buttons above/below each other instead of next to each other - huh??? You really need separate controls for tune, seek and fwd/reverse? Why not go the extra mile and make the knobs square or something? Hmmm... Operating a PC in DOS would be easier than figuring out what looks like the air conditioner. And I love the "well, there's no other place it'll fit" placement of the clock. Love it even more considering there's a screen right above it that could've done the same thing even better. Like a bad bin parts nightmare gone wrong. I must say, if I was rich, I'd be tempted to buy one of these just to destroy it. Can't say a single good thing about it other than the seats are probably comfortable. And the steering wheel is round - which I like.
      • 8 Years Ago
      This is absolutely beautiful! I had the opportunity to get extremely up close to this car back in February at the Scottsdale Barett Jackson, and I can honestly say that pictures do not do it justice! What appears to be a hodgepodge of materials and surfaces in pictures really comes together and seems very fluid in person.

      I wouldn't say this car is any better than a 3 or 5-series, but it is every bit as good....at least visually and with the use of high quality materials. I cannot attest to the handling, but from what they said it is no slouch. I am looking forward to the V version.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Wow, except for the tacky wood, I like it. Thats coming from a 20 something adult male. Not a Florida snowbird.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I really don't see this competing with the 3er, which is much smaller. I think the direct competition is the G35, GS330 and A6. the TL and even 528 are also better comparisons.

      While the BMWs and G35 will still sell well this year, I bet the TL, A6, GS330 and even E350 will have trouble now that Caddy is getting its mojo back.
        • 8 Years Ago
        Front drive or no, I don't think the TL can keep up with this on style. Same with the Infiniti G35. Don't get me wrong, I like the G35, and it's a lot cheaper from what I can tell. But this interior blows the G35 interior (from the early spray-painted ones to the present) away.
        • 8 Years Ago
        This car pisses all over the front-drivers that you listed. Anybody else agree with me?
      • 8 Years Ago
      Looks like a cheap toy robot from Mattel. That is so unappealing as an automobile interior that it borders on comedic. If that was my car, I'd dread to have to navigate that mismosh of buttons - I'd probably not even bother with most of the buttons, which means no air conditioning, no stereo - almost would be better to tear the it out and get an after-market stereo, either leave out the AC or put in normal controls. I guess you could tear the clock out and put a gauge in, if it'd fit. I would also hope to the gods that you can get the thing without the HD. And is that seriously the steering wheel? Didn't the 1980s end 17 years ago? To quote Jason; "There is WAY to much going on inside. You have a ton of squares, rectangles, circles, and triangles, making the dash look busy and shot up."
      • 8 Years Ago
      Well, I agree with a few here that Audi has some of the nicest "looking" interiors going today, usability I'll reserve judgement on until I get some quality time behind the wheel of one,.... but,...

      This car is looking REALLLLY good. I'm probably a bit younger than the target market for this car, but I could definitely see myself spending time behind the wheel of this thing.

      I'll say it again, Way to Go GM! keep it up and you'll be there before you know it. You are already there in many ways.

      It's nice to see an American car company with some focus in design and paying attention to the details for a change. Like the design or not, it's cohesive.

      Now,.. Lincoln,....... please?
      • 8 Years Ago
      That is a good looking interior. It does nothing "new" and looks more "me too" than innovative, daring or out of the box. But it is still a very nice looking cockpit.

      Thanks to the guy who gave the pricing info. I was curious what they would be asking for it. I think that is a hefty sticker. If it starts at $35k, it goes against some tough competition.
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