Paul Borden review: Cadillac CT6 follows best of the Cadillac tradition

By Paul Borden

(October 7, 2016) When you wade through all the SUVs, crossovers, and performance coupes and sedans — i.e., the “V” series — and get down to basics, the new 2016 CT6 really represents what Cadillac has been all about for well over a century.

That is, a full-size luxury car that coddles customers with lots of room — especially in the backseat where up to over 40 inches of space for your legs is offered — and creature comforts like ventilated front seats power adjustable 20 ways, four-way climate control, and lots of cushy leather surfaces plus standard technological features like navigation, surround-vision camera system, lane departure warning and satellite radio on high-end trims.

That’s on the inside.

On the outside, though not a radical departure in design from its stablemates ATS and CTS, the CT6 has a sleeker profile than Cadillac’s other sedans with a new grille and lighting elements and, thanks to generous use of aluminum throughout the body, is lighter than its competitors, making for an agile performance more appropriate to a midsize car.

Cadillac marketers note that the CT6 has the dimensions of a a short-wheel based BMW 7-Series but is lighter than the BMW 5-Series and 6-Series and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, resulting in — in the words of Cadillac president Johan de Nysschen — “the exhilaration of a true driver’s car.”

Of course, publicists are known for hyperbole, but there’s no mistaking that while this may serve as Cadillac’s new flagship sedan, it doesn’t drive or handle like its predecessors, even when the gearshift is put in normal or “Touring” mode and especially with the 3.0-liter, twin-turbo V6 (404 horsepower, 400 pound-feet of torque) under the hood.

The website clocked it at a flat 5.0 seconds, a little over a second quicker than the 2.0-liter turbo (265 hp, 295 lb.-ft.) that serves as the base engine.

Put it in “Sport” mode and the throttle response is even quicker, though I did hear a complaint that the resulting stiffer suspension created a slightly “bumpier” ride.

Go figure.

Frankly, even in “Touring” mode, the ride is not as soft as what was once found on high-end Cadillac models, but I did not find that necessarily a distraction.

All three engines — also available is a 3.6-liter naturally aspirated V6 (335/284) — are mated with an eight-speed automatic transmission with manual gear selection via steering wheel-pounded paddle shifters.

Fuel figures with the twin-turbo V6 are 18 miles-per-gallon city, 26 highway, which are decent numbers considering the power and performance you get. With the four-banger, they are 22/31and with the naturally aspirated V6 18/27. Premium fuel is recommended but not required. Rear-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is available.

Pricing for the CT6 covers a wide expanse.

The base model with the four-cylinder engine starts at $54,490, which makes it very competitive in the segment. But the Platinum edition with AWD and the turbo-V6 comes with an MSRP of $88,460, including the $995 destination and delivery charge. That’s getting up there, but that includes all the equipment listed above.

What I liked about the 2016 Cadillac CT6: This is a full-size sedan that doesn’t handle like a full-size sedan. It’s much more nimble, and the four-wheel steering system (which Cadillac dubs Active Rear Steer) enhances accounts for some of that.

I don’t know about the four-banger, but the twin-turbo V6 packs plenty of punch as well without gulping fuel at an alarming rate.

When it comes to amenities, the screen for the navigation system is a nice, large 10.2 inches, and the Bose sound system (standard on the Platinum model) is top-notch. You can adjust some functions by using a pad on the console similar to the way you do on a standard laptop computer.

What I didn’t like about the 2016 Cadillac CT6: Cadillac has refined its “CUE” — it’s an acronym for Cadillac User Experience — system for all that technology and it is much less annoying to operate than the original. It no longer jumps to one function or another if your fingers happen to get near the screen like it did earlier.

There are no knobs to clutter up the center stack, but this means some adjustments get tricky to make. The driver can adjust the audio volume, for example, with the buttons on the steering wheel, but the passenger has to run a finger on a horizontal bar to raise or lower it.

That was the way you had to make adjustments for about every function on the earlier CUE system, so cutting back on the number of those is a major improvement. The system overall is much simpler than ones you find on luxury cars from German manufacturers, but it still needs a little more “dumbing down.”

It certainly is not a deal-breaker as I found on some of the systems of its competitors.

Would I buy this car? Yes. Cadillac has a sedan that is truly competitive in its class. You may lean toward imports for the panache they bring, but Cadillac is getting back to vehicles that made the company the luxury leader when I was growing up. You may be pleasantly pleased by what you might find in the showroom.