2005 CTS New Car Test Drive
The 2005 Cadillac CTS could be called the great American sports sedan. It certainly fits that description with its sporty handling, exhilarating acceleration and powerful braking. If you haven't been in a Cadillac in a couple of years, you'll likely be surprised and impressed by this newest generation. Their names are like alphabet soup: CTS, STS, XLR, SRX. But driving one of them confirms Cadillac now builds world-class automobiles.
It was the CTS that kicked off this renaissance. Introduced as a 2003 model, its edgy styling immediately grabbed the spotlight. Praise of its dynamic qualities quickly followed from the automotive press, which focused on its superb rear-wheel-drive chassis. Two years later the CTS is improved and more refined. It's now powered by a new generation of V6 engines designed to be smooth and quiet but more powerful, with state-of-the art features such as variable-valve timing, dual overhead cams, and four valves per cylinder. The 2005 CTS comes with a choice of these new VVT V6 engines, a new 2.8-liter V6 and a 3.6-liter V6 introduced as an optional engine last year. We've tested the latter and found it to be powerful and silky smooth, especially around town.
And for those who want a four-door Corvette, there's the CTS-V, a hot rod that looks like a CTS but sounds and accelerates like a Corvette. With its Corvette engine, sports suspension and Brembo brakes, the CTS-V offers racecar performance. And should we remind you that it's rear-wheel drive, the layout of choice for high-performance cars? You could look up 'sports sedan' in the dictionary and a picture of the CTS-V would not be out of place. Nor would it feel out of place on a race track. CTS-V is only available with a manual shifter.
For 2005, a new six-speed manual gearbox is also available for the regular CTS models. Most buyers opt for the automatic, but the new manual is remarkable for its smooth shifting and smooth, easygoing clutch. Both the 2.8-liter and 3.6-liter V6 engines are available with the six-speed manual or the more popular five-speed automatic. We'd march immediately to the responsive automatic if the manual wasn't so good. The 2005 CTS also gets a new instrument cluster and a choice of new 16-inch wheels. The interior is still austere, a complaint when the CTS was first introduced, but the quality of some of the soft-touch materials now seems better.
Equipped with the smooth 3.6-liter V6 and its smooth suspension, which was refined for 2004, the CTS is a smooth, sophisticated car that belies its sporting potential until you mash down the gas and attack the corners. The CTS builds on Cadillac's century-long tradition of technology and design innovation, and is a modern interpretation of the strikingly beautiful cars that made Cadillac famous. Built on GM's acclaimed Sigma rear-wheel-drive architecture, the CTS was rigorously tested at the famed Nurburgring racetrack in Germany.
The 2005 CTS line starts with a new entry-level model that features a new 2.8-liter V6. It's a sophisticated engine with variable valve timing rated at 210 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. Production of the 2.8-liter model begins in October 2004 and pricing wasn't available at press time.
A more powerful model comes with a 3.6-liter V6 VVT ($31,700), which develops 255 horsepower at 6200 rpm and 252 pound-feet of torque at 3200 rpm. This engine debuted as an option for the 2004 CTS. (Gone is the old 3.2-liter V6 used in the 2003-04 CTS.)
Both come with an optional five-speed automatic transmission ($1,200), but both can be ordered with the new Aisin six-speed manual transmission (which replaces the old five-speed manual).
Standard equipment includes leather-trimmed upholstery, dual-zone climate control, power driver's seat, driver information center, a seven-speaker sound system, 16-inch alloy wheels with all-season tires, and one year of the OnStar road assistance service. Also standard are traction control and anti-lock brakes (ABS) with brake proportioning, which balances the braking front and rear. Side-impact airbags and side air curtains come standard for front and rear passengers in addition to the standard dual frontal airbags.
The Sport Package ($1,875) takes the suspension tuning a step further with monotube shocks, brake pads with more anti-fade heat resistance, 17-inch alloy wheels with 255/50R17 tires, load-leveling rear suspension, speed-sensitive power steering, and StabiliTrak electronic stability control. The Luxury Package ($3,165) includes heater power front seats, memory presets for two drivers, auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass, HomeLink universal garage door transmitter, alarm system, and a wood-trimmed steering wheel and shift knob.
The new CTS-V ($49,300) comes stuffed with the 5.7-liter V8 LS6 engine from the high-performance Corvette Z06 rated at 400 horsepower and 395 pound-feet of torque. It comes mated to a Tremec six-speed manual gearbox (an automatic is not available). To put this power to the ground, CTS-V gets 18-inch wheels, grippy tires, big Brembo brakes, and other high-performance tweaks.