Open the door with a tug on the handle (the keyless entry has unlocked things for you) and slide across the smooth leather into the nicely bolstered driver’s seat. Now take a wiff…that’s the smell of Cadillac’s leather – at once distinctive without being overpowering.
Fob still in your pocket, put your foot on the brake and push in and turn the ‘nub’ right where you’d expect the ignition key to be. Gauges light up with needles spinning to their max values before settling down to their proper values.
The new CTS is roomier than you remember from the first gen car, both in real numbers but also due to the center stack not being quite so ‘in your face’ as in the previous car.
The dash is covered in fine grain material, ‘french seamed’ in contrasting thread. The center stack is covered in silver, metallic plastic and presents a much easier to grasp interface to all the car’s systems than all the joystick-esque iDrive abominations that other makers have gone to.
At the top of the stack is a thin color LCD display (showing you a Cadillac wreath and crest and outside temperature display unless one of the many entertainment or navigation functions are enabled). Push the nav screen button and the display rises slowly to reveal that the narrow display was, in fact, the top strip of the overall navigation screen.
But, we’ll get to all the electronic doo-dads in a later post…let’s talk about the interior and the storage nooks.
As I have mentioned before, the interior is much richer than the CTS of old. Previously the luxury of the interior rested only on some wood, good leather, and fabric covered A, B, and C pillars.
Now, all the rest of the places your eye or hand touch is up to the same standard. Comfortable, expensive feeling, and well crafted.
Night brings white, crisp lighting of the major controls and, in cars with the ambient accent lighting a soft band of white light across the passenger dash (mirroring the arc of the wood trim).
Does all of this mean there are no faults inside? Not exactly.
While the front seats of first-class with 10-way power (on even the passenger seat with the options of our test car) – the back seats are not quite as inviting.
With the front seat adjusted for my 5′ 10″ frame, I could easily sit behind myself – but the knee room (enhanced by a 1″ scoop-out in the front seat back) was only an inch or two – and only if I kept my knees together to make them match up with the space allowed for them.
Head room out back is also an issue (though it is significant to say that the CTS I drove had the sunroof that stole some headroom throughout) – with perhaps an inch of air above my head.
And, if I were looking to pick nits – I’d mention that storage is a bit on short supply.
There is no dedicated place for sunglasses (a major issue in sunny Colorado), the front door map pockets are a bit on the tight side, and the center arm rest (which is divided into a shallow upper compartment just below the arm rest that could hold a CD case or two – and a lower compartment that can hold your iPod and a few other small nicknacks). The only other two compartments are where you’d have expected an ashtray back in ‘the day’ and are at most 3″ deep, a couple inches tall and 2-3 inches wide. It would have helped to have a few more cubbies for stuff you’d have with you on the road.
Oh, and if pushed I’d also say the cup holders up front are a bit small (fine for no more than a pair of 20 oz soft drink cups) and a passenger grab handle above the side window to match the ones for the rear seat would be nice.
All-in-all, though. The new CTS does have one of the nicest interiors I’ve experienced and, with just a couple tweaks in a mid-cycle refresh, would be truly 100% there.
So, how about storage in that big compartment out back…you might call it ‘the trunk’?
Pop the trunk lid with either the key fob or by reaching under the lip above the license plate (there’s an electronic switch there) to release the trunk lid – which pops up about an inch. Suspended on struts, the lid only needs a slight nudge to get it to swing all the way open. Closing is as simple with a handle built into the inside of the lid – pull down until you feel you need to let go and pull your hand out – and the lid will continue down and latch…all without the complexity of the motorized closing systems of Cadillacs past.
Inside, you will find a deep/wide trunk – and with the optional split/folding rear seat – enough length for lots of cargo carrying. The only down-side to the pass-through is it’s odd shape. Only about 22″ wide at the load-floor, it limits the shape of long objects that you can carry.
But, if you wanted a load-carrier, maybe an SRX (or the upcoming CTS wagon) would be more your speed.