The elegant CT6 replaced the XTS as Cadillac’s full-size flagship in 2016 model year with an attempt to provide competition to the S-Class, 7-Series, and A8. It very nearly succeeds and shows that Cadillac is having success in building big sedans that younger folks may be willing to buy. That’s a tall order though considering everyone and their aunt wants an SUV these days, with offerings across all sizes. It also could use more power and Cadillac has listened, now offering the 4.2L Blackwing Twin Turbo V8 with 550 hp. I haven’t driven that one yet but I really can’t wait.
Cadillac offers 3 engine choices, all with the new 10-speed automatic transmissions. The base model now gets the 3.6-liter V-6 with 335 hp, a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 that produces 404 hp @ 5,700 rpm and 400 lb-ft @ 2,500 rpm, and the aforementioned V8, all with all-wheel drive. My tester was a twin turbo Sport Platinum model with a Crystal White Tricoat exterior and a whole load of goodies inside. I’ve always liked this engine, especially in the ATS-V, it’s something of a masterpiece, so linear for a turbocharged engine. The downside is the CT6 weighs 400 lbs more and has a 60 hp deficit. Don’t get me wrong the twin-turbo V6 is smooth and powerful but it never pins you to the seat like I expect the twin turbo V8 will, nevertheless it has sufficient power for most needs.
The most surprising thing about the CT6 is not how big it is, because it is quite big, but how small it seems when hustled along a mountain road. As is usual we took it up into the mountains East of San Diego to test its mettle. The CT6 is very composed in the turns and you have to enter a corner pretty fast to have a small amount of under steer become apparent, but it’s small thanks to the Active Rear Steering system which works by turning the rear wheels in the same direction as the front wheels, mitigating the under steer. The system works well, the car turns in neatly and safely, foot down and onto the next corner.
The CT6 rides pretty stiff, more so in Sport Mode, which I used for 50% of the time. Tour Mode is preferable around town where it will soak up all but the worst of San Diego’s potholes. My tester did not have the adaptive Magnetic Ride Control suspension that’s available on the Premium trim but it still corners confidently with minimal lean. On takeoff the car just goes, no wheel spin and no turbo lag either, just fast and smooth progress and when stopping is required we were impressed with how they brought us down to safe speeds in a very short space of time, thanks to large rotors up front and sticky 245/45R19 Goodyear Eagle Touring tires.
Steering is very good as we found on the ATS-V , and provides good feedback and not too much assistance. In fact I reckon it’s one of the best systems available. Steering is lighter in Tour mode and gets heavier in Sport, though there’s a little bit of play to the wheel on center. Brakes as we mentioned earlier provide excellent stoppage from high speeds, have good pedal feel and were fade free throughout or testing. It’s remarkably surefooted, and planted for such a big car with such a long wheelbase. Add to that it’s cool looking, we got more than one long stare from passersby.
Strapping on our test gear we launched from 0-60 in a very respectable 4.7 seconds and to 100 mph in under 12 seconds
Super Cruise is Cadillac’s semi autonomous driving system which is about as close to autonomous driving as anyone can get today. Only available on the CT6, and the upcoming 2020 CT5. most people have no idea it exists. It’s a clever system since it allows the driver to let go of the wheel for as long as the system deems safe. Other rival systems require hands on the wheel every now and then.
It uses cameras, radar, and LIDAR mapping data of most US Freeways, combined with a driver monitoring system, to make sure the driver is paying attention at all times. When engaged, you can take your feet off the pedals and hands off the steering wheel, and the car does the rest, it’s great. A driver-facing camera mounted on the steering column monitors drivers’ eye movements to ensure their attention stays on the road. If you start chatting to passengers in the back, the system will show a blue light on the wheel, if you ignore that the seat vibrates and if you ignore that the car is brought to a halt and the hazard lights come on. The only downside is Super Cruise can’t make lane changes, you have to take control, change lane and the system resumes.
Sitting in the driver’s seat, which has more options than a Denny’s menu, you get an adjustable head-up display that shows your speed, helpfully the speed limit and other information in the dash. Both front seats have heat, cool and multi way power and are very comfortable, providing good bolstering during high speed cornering. Back seat occupants get acres of room and heated bottoms and our tester came with the optional Bose Panaray sound system, which sounds very good.
Our tester’s dash was fairly subdued, mostly black and pleasantly free of bling. For the most part quality is very good but some pieces seem like they came from the GM parts bin, particularly the stalks. I tested Bluetooth set up, Apple CarPlay and navigation and all are simple to use. The CUE system works well but touch control sometimes required a second stab to access a menu item. One of favorite things is the rear camera mirror, which gives such a superior field of vision I’m surprised other manufacturers don’t offer it.
Loved this car for the week I had it. My tester’s base price was $66,595 with options taking that to $83,215, mainly due to the $6,000 Super Cruise system. Add to that the Comfort and Technology package (2,000) and things add up fast.
If Cadillac wants to compete against the big three Germans, they are doing the right thing in adding the Blackwing twin turbo V8 to this line up, the twin turbo V6 is great but the V8 will be sensational.
2018 CADILLAC CT6 SPORT AWD NUMBERS
BASE PRICE: $66,595
AS TESTED PRICE: $83,215
VEHICLE TYPE: Front-engine, rear- or all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan
ENGINE: Twin-turbocharged and inter-cooled 3.0-liter V-6
POWER 404 hp @ 5,700 rpm
TORQUE 400 lb-ft @ 2,500 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 8-speed automatic with manual shifting mode
CURB WEIGHT: 4,165 lbs
Zero to 60 mph: 4.7 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 11.8 sec
Braking, 70-0 mph: 157 ft
Top speed (governor limited): 150 mph
EPA combined/city/highway: 21/18/26 mpg
OUR OBSERVED FUEL ECONOMY: 17.4 mpg
PROS: Super Cruise is phenomenal, Handles like a much smaller car, packed with goodies
CONS: It’s not a CT6 V (Yet)