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Cadillac CTS-V, Cadillac CTS, Sedan
#1331 of 2880 My 2008 CTS Test drive (long..part 1)
Sep 13, 2007 (1:13 pm)
Well, my dealership finally got product in the last several days and it was time to bring my SRX in for service anyway. I was very interested in this car...many of you regulars remember me owning a 2003 CTS LuxSport before trading it for the 2005 SRX when my wife and I had kids. Well a third kid is on the way which means the SRX's days are numbered (it just wasn't designed for constant use of the third row seat). But the CTS is all new and I couldn't pass up a chance to try it at my dealer.
As many of you also know, my username here is nearly my height...I'm actually 6'11". The old CTS and SRX cabins fit me snuggly but comfortably....all things considered (no car truly has a perfect seating position for me and my 40" inseam legs). I've noticed in the last decade that fewer cars fit me well with the advent of sweeping cockpit style cabins. Those curvy lines and my knees generally don't mix. So I was more than worried about this with the new CTS interior.
Well I'm here to tell you that the CTS's legroom is BETTER than the old car...significantly. I don't know if anyone at Cadillac was paying attention to me...maybe it was Bob Lutz since he's tall too. But the 2008 CTS's seating position is better for me than the outgoing vehicle. My knees still bow but at a better angle than before. I have enough room with my right knee to negotiate the pedals and keep away from the steering wheel. It's still not enough to manage a clutch on a regular basis for a stick shift, but it would be easier to handle than the previous car by far.
There are two reasons for the improvement. First, the seat just goes back farther than the old seat...probably because the new thinner seats give them some more leeway. Of course, that only leaves room for small women or children sitting behind me, but hey, I DON'T CARE! The second reason is that a tilt AND telescoping steering column is standard now. Even the entry model tilts and telescopes manually...bravo Cadillac for getting this right for people who don't get the electric one in the Luxury package.
#1332 of 2880 My 2008 CTS Test drive (long..part 2)
Sep 13, 2007 (1:21 pm)
However, I can't praise the seating without one big gripe. First a small gripe...the seat is a little short but not enough to be annoying (I can make up for it in the tilt function). My biggest beef with the seats in the headrest. The old CTS (and SRX) headrests are smaller designs than the 2008 CTS, more cylindrical that adjust up/down AND fore/aft. It allowed for easy manipulation for a good fit, but I doubt the front/back adjustment was good in crash tests. The new design doesn't fore/aft adjustment and that would be fine...except the shape of the headrest is maddening. The new headrest is thicker at the bottom and tapers to the top, like a 3-D trapezoid. The thickness of the bottom means that it slightly thicker than seat back underneath it. For a normal sized driver, that thicker part is supposed to fit under the base of the head for proper support.
But since I'm taller than most drivers, my torso meets this headrest right between my shoulders. And it's impossible to raise it up enough so that it meets the base of my skull as designed...I could use about another 1 1/2 inches of travel. At first, I thought this was a complete deal killer since I couldn't find a position comfortable that didn't shove the headrest between my shoulders and piss me off to no end. But after a lot of trying (aided by the lower headroom of the sunroof option), I finally found a position that worked. I but the seat back as far as I could, lowered it as much as I could, tilted it back as far as I could and adjusted the seat rake until my head fit underneath the headliner. That allowed the headrest to pointback and away from me enough that it wasn't touching my torso anymore, but was still within about an inch or so of my head in case of a rear end collision.
Cadillac engineers: hear me out. Please go find any late model Volvo and study the headrest design carefully. Steal that design. You will make me (and a lot of us tall folk) very happy. If that's not possible, add another notch or two to the travel of the current headrest.
The rest of the interior design generally makes me very happy. After looking at the same "PC Tower" design in my last two Cadillacs, I'm happy to see improvement across the board with the new design. My wife sat in the car later and really liked it too. Is the design completely original? Nope! But to me, if you had to steal from someone (and they did), Acura wasn't a bad place to do it. Most of the reviews of this interior have been favorable although I've seen some complaints of it looking cheap (I don't agree) and too much French stitching (again, I don't agree...nobody complained about that on the Audi TT).
One interior gripe unique to me...the climate controls are no longer in one place but are split for the front seat passengers. There is a little OLED display for the temp, fan speed and seat heating/cooling on each side of the dash near your knee. That's fine for most people, but my bowing knees blocks the display (and the buttons for the controls). Well, my knees usually block something in almost all cars. Again, its a gripe.
There are a lot of buttons about the CTS center console, but most seem to be intentially beveled and shaped to be different from one another...a nice touch. There is a rotating knob in the middle that doesn't do as much as some designs...and that's probably a good thing to keep it simple. I tried both the regular and Nav equipped models. The Nav system is a nice idea....I have seen other "pop-up"
models that weren't as well executed. The UI seems to be well thought out...not Apple iPod friendly but better than most of its competitors. I don't know if it supports voice commands or not....Acura leads the pack in this.
Bluetooth being dealer installed is inexcusable....this should get fixed at some point...hopefully it won't take all model year. I heard one of the dealer reps say that maybe GM was reluctant since they make money on OnStar phone minutes. If so, that's a very weak excuse. On a positive note, the Tivo-like radio functionality is a long time in coming for cars. The 40-gig hard drive helps here, but I'm wary putting hard drives in automotive applications. A flash drive will be better...in two years I suspect costs will be down to the point that this will be the norm. Hard drives fail...period.
Now let's talk about the sunroof. There's been a lot of talk and griping about this design. Personally as an SRX owner, I see many design elements in this car. The most obvious (and controversial) is the sunroof screen. This non-rigid shade design is straight out of the SRX, so I'm used to it. The big difference is that they perforated the screen to allow some sun to continue to come inside. I'm not sure how much I like that since there may be some occasions where you don't want any light coming in through the roof. But I usually just kept the shade open in my last CTS and I suspect it will be the same for this car.
#1333 of 2880 My 2008 CTS Test drive (long..part 3)
Sep 13, 2007 (1:23 pm)
So what's the driving like? Well, I've recently driven the Acura RL and Infiniti M35. Both were wonderful drives and this CTS certainly rides with this crowd. I test drove the 3.6 DI engine with the sport package. The extra two inches of track makes the car well planted and stable. Although the car has more weight than the outgoing car, the new engine makes up for it...bottom line is that the car didn't seem as heavy as it really was. I'm sure the slower non-DI engine will bring me back to earth somewhat. Steering is on the light side...far lighter than the previous CTS and especially lighter than the 2003 LuxSport with its variable steering gear. It takes a little bit getting used to if you are a previous owner, but it's closer to the steering feel of the aformentioned competitors.
The course we took didn't get me the twisties I would have liked but I did get a chance to do a couple of curves, one that due to cobblestones ended up being reigned in by Stabilitrack. The steering wheel is a tad smaller than the old one...a good design decision. The gauges were professional and easy to read. The parking brake is still on the floor though...is this a Sigma chassis issue or did Ed Wellburn not want to mess up his pretty dash with a handheld parking brake? Bottom line is that my limited experience driving was a pleasing one...check out the FE2 suspension if you have a chance.
Speaking of Ed Wellburn, the styling of the new car is one of his better design efforts. The grill is in your face but textured and stylish...and they looked at every part of the front clip down to the pavement. The chrome engine vents on the side fenders look best in person. Also, there is a design element that I really like with these vents....there is a creased depression from the A-pillar leading to the vent. That same style creased depressed follows the rear windows and goes up the C-pillars....it's something I completely missed in the photography of this car but it gives the CTS more texture without the obvious creases of the slab sides of the outgoing car. This is the design the old STS should have been. Instead, that car is completely boring to look at. The CTS teases you with little details like this without being garish...there's a fine like between styling and garish...just check out the Pontiac Aztek concept vehicle versus the POS they put in production. Other details? The trademark tail lights flare rearward from the car a bit from the trunk lid, again giving texture to what would normally be a slab design. The fenders wheel openings flare gently (but powerfully) as opposed to the industrial curves of the older car. And the door handles are the electronic switch type of the STS versus the mechanical level of the old CTS and SRX (they look like the older style door handles but don't be fooled). And its almost impossible to talk about the new "light piping" in the daylight, so I won't.
Truthfully I was going into my dealership not wanting to get my hopes up...thinking I was going to end up getting something else (like the aformentioned competitors). Now I'm all excited about this car again.
Thank you Cadillac. This is a well done vehicle and it shows, inside and out.
#1334 of 2880 Re: My 2008 CTS Test drive (long..part 3) [sevenfeet0]
Sep 13, 2007 (3:21 pm)
Do you work for Cadillac? Just kidding. You give me real hope that the driver seat will be comfortable for a looong drive, and that my head won't touch the roof.
#1335 of 2880 Wallpaper from Cadillac.
Sep 13, 2007 (3:24 pm)
Nice pics on the site too!
Sep 13, 2007 (3:27 pm)
Here are the other two:
#1337 of 2880 Re: My 2008 CTS Test drive (long..part 3) [sevenfeet0]
Sep 13, 2007 (4:02 pm)
Thanks for the review, Richard.
I've bloviated (at length) about never owning another American sports sedan after my abysmal experience with my Lincoln LS -- not the car, the company, especially the (mis)management.
The extremely positive reports on the new CTS keep coming in, so I may need to reconsider. Yours carries considerably more weight, given your long history. Thanks again.
Hope you're able to indulge in one of these if you're that way inclined. We'll look forward to future reviews and/or comments.
#1339 of 2880 Re: My 2008 CTS Test drive (long..part 3) [150mphclub]
Sep 13, 2007 (7:42 pm)
No, I don't work for Cadillac but I do admit to having a fascination for the marque since I was a kid. The first Caddys I remember were my grandparents...my grandfather had a '74 Coupe Deville and then he bought my grandmother a '76 Fleetwood...that promptly broke it's rear axel leaving the parking lot of the dealership (true story!). She ended up taking a silver Sedan Deville off the same lot and this was the car she drove until she couldn't drive anymore. My mother's first Caddy was a '79 Seville (the Nova-mobile). Actually, that was a good car...I took that car to the prom.
My first Caddy was my second car...a '80 Coupe Deville I got used and drove for a few years in college (shared with my brother). For the sake of trivia, my first car was an '80 Chevy Citation....now THAT was a POS car! Anyway, next car after the Deville was a '90 Mazda 626...that ended up throwing a timing belt and destroying the engine (dealer repair shop fault). After that I bought my mother's used '91 Sedan Deville that lasted until 2000 when it met an early end having tangled with a city bus (the Deville lost...no surprise there).
With no car (but a new wife), I drove her car (a '94 Ford Escort) for two years not replacing the Deville (I traveled for a living anyway) but after a while, it got embarassing driving "Zippy the Wondercar". True story...my wife and I were celebrating our wedding anniversary and we drove to a nice restaurant in Buckhead (Atlanta) near where we lived then. Watching the valet watch me unfold out of the car was priceless...and embarassing. I mean, I should be rolling in something better than Zippy! Well after dinner we come out to the valet line and we were faced with 10 couples getting their vehicles. The valets return with BMWs, Mercedes, Land Rover...and then Zippy. I turn to my wife and say "Run for it!". Shortly thereafter, we buy the 2003 CTS LuxSport. After all, I got to roll in something better.
Ironically, these days my wife drives the SRX and I drive a '94 Toyota Camry that I bought from a friend for the princely sum of $5. With the SRX soon to be sacrificed for a minivan, I might get an opportunity for a 2008 CTS sometime in the next year....we'll see.
#1340 of 2880 Re: My 2008 CTS Test drive (long..part 3) [cdnpinhead]
Sep 13, 2007 (7:53 pm)
I appreciate that you think my word on this issue has some merit, but in truth I'm probably not much different than the rest of you. I like Cadillac and its history but I try not to be as much as a fanboy these days since they have to earn my dollars like anyone else. I'm happy that with this car that GM seems to have largely addressed all the issues with the previous vehicle...and some of its sister cars along the way. The tranformation of Cadillac continues and it hasn't been a instant process...or successful on all fronts. The 2nd and 2rd gen Escalades do well but the STS and XLR come up short. Both cars show Cadillac is trying but were still hampered by preventable mistakes.
I feel your pain with Lincoln. Ford really screwed the proverbial pooch with the brand having created goodwill with customers and the automotive press with the original LS and the Navigator. Then they squandered it by not improving their other products and letting the LS languish. No effort was made to upgrade Lincon dealers, most of which were (and still are) carrying Mercury as a subbrand. Ford has been trying to rectify some of that recently but where we they in the last 8 years? Unbelievable.