• Feb 3, 2011
Single-handedly Changing America's Perception About Station Wagons

2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon - Click above for high-res image gallery

If you've spent any time on German roads, one thing you'll notice – right after the speed limit signs with a slash mark through them – is that station wagons are popular.

Nearly every manufacturer builds multiple models ranging from sub-compacts to near full-size behemoths. Mercedes-Benz E-Class and C-Class wagons are everywhere. Ditto for BMW 3 and 5 Series Tourings. Volkswagen, Fiat, Citroen, Seat, Skoda and Peugeot all sell lots of wagons. Perhaps it's a legacy of the Lamborghini Espada or the undeniable fact that the current M-B E63 AMG wagon is seriously cool, Europeans like wagons.

Americans, on the other hand, don't. Our country's collective notion of station wagons is stuck in Clark W. Griswold-land. Too bad. Most Americans have no idea what they're missing.

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2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon

Photos copyright ©2011 Steven J. Ewing / AOL

You know the Cadillac V-Series well, and what we think of the 2011 CTS-V Coupe. The V Wagon is simply the coupe with better visibility and room for water skis, snowboards, mountain bikes and more (thanks to the roof rack). Could performance come in a more practical package? (Subaru WRX hatchback drivers... you understand.)

Plus, the V Wagon is a sleeper in comparison to the V Coupe. The unexpected nature of a supercharged 556-horsepower 6.2-liter V8 wagon with the top speed of a Porsche 911 is stupendously brilliant. The irony of the four-second 0-60 mph time ain't bad, either.

From the A-pillar forward, all three V-Series body styles are visually identical – a good thing because the V's face has serious street presence. Unfortunately, the mesh grille is American pomposity in wire form – vaguely cliché in a JC Whitney kind of way. And Cadillac dealers installing look-a-like aftermarket grilles on non-V CTSs hasn't helped matters.

2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon side view2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon front view2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon rear view

The balance of the wagon's styling makes up for the grille. The dramatic profile is like nothing else on the road. Few vehicles honestly enjoy that exclusivity. Taken in whole, the CTS is an exuberant American design. No European or Asian manufacturer would dare make a car that looks like this.

V-exclusive features over the standard CTS Sport Wagon include three-inch cannon exhaust tips, V-Series badging and handsome 19-inch rims (nine-inches wide in front, 9.5-inches rear). The standard rubber-band profile tires are summer-compound Michelin Pilot Sport PS2s measuring 255/40ZR19 (front) and 265/35ZR19 (rear). Due to our January-in-Michigan test schedule, Cadillac wisely fitted our test vehicle with M+S rated Pirellis of the same size.

The airy design of the wheels made for easy viewing of the massive 15-inch front rotors from Brembo. A serious engine requires equally serious brakes and the rear rotors are no slouches either at 14.7-inches.

2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon headlight2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon side vent2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon wheel2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon taillight

Inside, the look also mimics the V Coupe. Even more appropriately than on the standard CTS models, the repeated V motif makes sense in this car. The look is bold. One could imagine a Bentley Supersports owner having the V Wagon as his daily driver and not feeling like he was slumming. If you can afford a V, pop for the $3,400 Recaro seats. No V-Series should be without them.

Practically speaking, the rear seats of the CTS Sport Wagon aren't huge. They haven't grown any in the V-Series, so rear-seat space is more akin more to the BMW 3 Series than 5 Series. Two average-size adults can get comfortable behind average-height front occupants, but fitting a third in the rear-center spot isn't a thing a friend would recommend.

On the practical side, the wagon boasts a maximum cargo capacity of 53.4 cubic feet, 25 of which are behind the folding second-row seats. The space is huge compared to a conventional sedan but doesn't seriously challenge mid-size SUVs and CUVs. Some compromises are worth making.

2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon interior2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon front seats2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon rear seats2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon rear cargo area

Once in motion, the CTS-V Sport Wagon proves that it is every bit as capable as the Coupe and Sedan V-Series. Blessedly, our loaner was fitted with three pedals and a Tremec TR-6060 manual gearbox. This powertrain combination makes the car even more unexpected and ironic.

A station wagon with a manual? It'll makes sense to about three U.S. buyers – journalists not included.

The magic is that from behind the wheel you never think that you're driving a station wagon. Especially when you're catapulting yourself toward the horizon in search of the feeling that only 551 pound-feet of torque can reliably deliver.

2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon engine

While some cars are fine when equipped with an automatic, this one is so much better with the manual. Throttle response is more direct, linear and easier to control.

Given that we did not have a high-speed track available for our entertainment, we're not sure how fast the CTS-V Sport Wagon will ultimately go. What we can verify is that it's acceleration remains brutal at go-directly-to-jail speeds.

Delphi's effective Magnetic Ride Controls takes care of the V's handling, and the difference between Sport and Touring means something. Cornering is flat. Grip is predictable. The softer setting proved acceptable for day-to-day use around Detroit (Beirut's roads are likely smoother.)

2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon shifter

There's also an aural component to the V's performance. Nailing the throttle brings a booming from the exhaust and a quiet but audible whine from the supercharger. The pitch of the whine rises with engine rpm, and the effect is so entertaining and involving that we found ourselves hitting the throttle just to hear this explosive custom mix. For those thinking that the exhaust is boy-racer loud, it's not.

When Cadillac VP and marketing manager Don Butler spoke to us about the CTS-V line at the recent Detroit Auto Show he said that, "The CTS-V Coupe is our most popular V-Series model. It sells at nearly a 2:1 margin over the CTS-V Sedan. It's too early to tell how popular the V-Series wagon might be, but right now, we're building them to order."

That says a lot.

It will be rare, especially when fitted with the manual. Consider this the official Autoblog Collector Car Alert.

2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon rear 3/4 view

If you're as smitten with the V Wagon as we are and have the reasonable dough required to obtain one, don't expect to find a V Sport Wagon on the showroom floor of your local dealer. Consider yourself fortunate and consider it an opportunity to order a bespoke unit assembled to your specifications. Come with liquid assets of $69,585 and you should be fine.

Choosing the long-roofed V will likely confuse your friends, family and co-workers. And that's fine. Let them be confused. Don't try to clear things up by explaining how the American view of station wagons would have been different if Clark Griswold drove a V instead of his Family Truckster. Certainly, Christy Brinkley would have been surprised if Clark uncorked the supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 and left her Ferrari 308 GTS in the dust.


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Photos copyright ©2011 Steven J. Ewing / AOL


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 105 Comments
      • 3 Years Ago
      -> I love this wagon period.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Just bought one and took delivery a week ago. Absolutely the best car, period, I have ever bought (at least so far). Power is awesome. Ride and handling are amazing. Room for two big dogs and tons of stuff. Very comfortable. And very stealth. Best part is blowing by Mustangs, BMW's, Infiniti's and others and seeing the look on someone's face as they try to absorb the fact that a big silver wagon just smoked em like they were going backwards and they can't seem to catch up no matter what they do. Some things are just priceless! Only downside is trying to afford the premium gas when you can't seem to keep your foot out of the throttle.
      • 3 Years Ago
      IMO this is the best looking vehicle GM has come out with in a long time, and it's the first wagon I actually lust over...

      If I had the cash, I'd have GM pull an LS9 from the ZR-1 line and slide it in this thing...
      WANT!
      tony
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'm not a GM fan and I'm not trying to bad mouth their products but every time I look at this I don't see a wagon I see a hearse. In particular when viewing the side and rear photos.
      • 3 Years Ago
      It will probably tank like the Dodge Magnum. America doesn't like wagons!
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'd rather have a Holden VE Sportwagon or a HSV [WP enhanced] Clubsport Touring -
      • 3 Years Ago
      Definitely do want.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Too bad Pontiac is just memory now... I think CTS & CTS wagon would make a great Bonneville for those would prefer a less expensive but still sporty option.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I love the whole idea of a CTS wagon, especially in V-series form. Aesthetically, I just with there was a bit more glass in the back, the D pillar is a bit wide to me. But it's a minor quibble I could more than easily live with, lol.

      I made one last year with an arching roofline, very off the reservation for Caddy's angular Art & Science, but I think it works on another level anyway. And a carbon fiber rear hatch would save some weight from the added glass:
      http://artandcolour.blogspot.com/2010/02/elegance-comes-to-cts-wagon.html
        • 3 Years Ago
        I agree, I'm not sure why Cadillac went with such a fat D-pillar on this particular car. Other than that, I'm glad to see someone out there isn't afraid to release a bonafide wagon in the American market. Even Volvo is waving the white flag in North America because they aren't selling as much as those accursed crossover cars seem to be.

        Wagons are great because they tend to extend an already good idea. Crossovers just seem to exist because people want to pretend like they're not driving a people carrier.

        The day you catch me in a vehicle with less than 5 doors will be a day I'm renting.
      • 3 Years Ago
      You know you messed up as a designer when the wagon looks better than the coupe.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Dear Autoblog: I don't want to "like" this article on Facebook. I just want to share it. It's 2011, please add more social media sharing options. Thanks.
      • 3 Years Ago
      i like this car, but it cost way to much. Acuras new tsx wagon only has a 4 cylinder but, cost half as much and will last for years and years.
        • 3 Years Ago
        From all indications, this will also last for years and years.
        • 3 Years Ago
        The Acura will never look as gorgeous as the Caddy though.
        • 3 Years Ago
        There's a non-V version of this wagon that's much cheaper. It will still kick the crap out of the TSX wagon.
        • 3 Years Ago
        But is FWD and AUTOMATIC only.

        I'd rather pay more, have more fun driving, and have to fix it every 6 months than to drive a slow, wrong wheel drive beak-ed Honda.
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