2016 Cadillac CT6

PHOENIX, Ariz. — Cadillac’s highly anticipated CT6 large flagship luxury sedan is just now beginning to show up in dealer showrooms. The CT6 is about the same size as a BMW 7 series and is intended to reassert itself as a worthy alternative with large, super-luxury sedans like the 7 series, Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Lexus at a lower price point.

In the very long rebirth of Cadillac dating to the days of GM’s bankruptcy, the brand, more than most, has struggled to find buyers with unsold inventory piling up on dealer lots.

In mid 2014, GM hired former Audi and Nissan/Infiniti executive Johan de Nysschen to lead global Cadillac sales and he immediately ruffled feathers by announcing he will move Cadillac headquarters from Detroit to New York City. The CT6 tested and reviewed here is the first product from those changes.

In all fairness the CT6 was well along in development when de Nysschen arrived but he’s been upbeat and a huge supporter of the vehicle saying the vehicle is “prestige luxury reimagined.”

When I first eyed the CT6 a year ago I confess I was a bit smitten by its stylish good looks that cut an elegant and expensive-looking stage presence. Not in the same way as the Cadillac Elmiraj concept vehicle but the same DNA was definitely there — the gorgeous vertical jeweled LED light bars in the headlamps and taillamps, the sculptured accent across the rear deck lid and the low, wide stance of an exotic and beautiful Felidae ready to pounce. To be sure, the look won’t be mistaken for anything from Germany, however the overall design language a solid triple if not a home run. I like it.

But open the door and slip behind the wheel and pity about the styling. The interior is one hot mess of bafflement and isn’t within a 3-iron of “attractive.” A cynic would take one look at the mixed textured materials that included leather, perforated fabric, carbon fiber elements, chrome accents and the glossy-gleaming wood trim panels and think China. Switchgear is a time capsule that dates back to the Lutz era of General Motors.

Still, there is plenty to like about the CT6 starting with a choice of three engines. In addition to the standard 2.0-liter four cylinder engine, Cadillac offers a 3.6-liter 335-hp, V-6 and a 3.0-liter, 400-hp, twin-turbo V-6 with all-wheel drive. Each comes with an eight-speed automatic transmission. At least for now a V-8 engine is not offered and it’s rumored a plug-in hybrid model is on the way.

We tested the mid trim level Premium Luxury model with all-wheel drive and the 3.6-liter V-6. On the road our CT6 felt athletic and nimble with sharp steering. Power shows up when you need it and the optional Magnetic Ride Control suspension was excellent in Touring mode and dictated performance sedan like handling and ride when selecting Sport mode. It also includes active rear steering and 20-inch wheels. Simply stated, the best thing about the CT6 is how it drives and handles.

Other things we liked about the CT6 was the spectacular Bose Panary sound system, a $3,700 option that includes 34 speakers, the industry first rearview mirror that can switch from conventional reflection to a camera view that expands the field by 300%, enough to view up to seven lanes of freeway with the ultra wide view.

Overall the new CT6 is a huge improvement over the previous Cadillac XTS flagship and is easily the most advanced Cadillac ever built. And, it does have a price advantage over competitors; however, it still lacks the cachet, size, technology features and opulence to compete with the full-sized premium luxury sedans like Lexus and the German brands.

Vital Stats

Base Price: $54,490 - $65,390
Price as Tested: $77,340
Seating: 5
Engine: 3.6-liter V-6
Horsepower: 335
Fuel Economy: 18-mpg City – 27-mpg Highway

Fab Features:

Attractive exterior styling
Engaging driving experience
Value pricing
Generous interior room

— Jim Prueter