tCE 2008 CTS Review – interior and storage

Part 1 – Overall impressions
Part 2 – Interior and Storage
Part 3 – Electronics and Entertainment
Part 3 – Electronics and Entertainment – Part 2
Part 4 – Ride and Drive
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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.

“Oh, yeah”

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.

tCE CTS French SeamThe 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.

tCE CTS center stackNight 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.

DSCF3091tCE CTS Review

DSCF3092tCE CTS Review

tCE CTS front cubbie

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.

tCE CTS Trunk Pass-through

But, if you wanted a load-carrier, maybe an SRX (or the upcoming CTS wagon) would be more your speed.

Next up…electronics and entertainment.

  • Loveldos

    Thanks for the informative and well-written review! I’m glad to hear praises for the styling of the car–as I was concerned about the dilution of the ‘edginess’ of the CTS (a la STS), and I have not seen too many of these 2008 CTS’s on the roads yet.

  • I agree – this was the one thing that worried me the most. I was afraid that the ‘purity’ of the Cadillac Art & Science look was going to be lost in favor of some anonymous luxury car look.

    I didn’t get a chance to park side-by-side with an original CTS to see how they compared, but I have this feeling that a lot of the original styling cues can be found on the new car – just executed more cleanly.

    I should be working on my electronics review today for post on Tuesday (November 27)…with a review of ride/handling to come after that later this week.

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  • Duane Waddington

    I agree storage is smaller than my 2006 CTS. Seat back pockets are two small for the maps I use, door pockets are two small for my ice scrapper, 2006 had hold downs for the cargo net that allowed the trunk to divide in two, the 2008 has strange hooks on the trunk lip that I have yet to find a use for. Enough about storage , the wood accent steering wheel should come with the sight and sound package, my 2003 and my 2006 CTS both had the wooden wheel which at one time was delivered with most of the CTS’s. All wheel drive is a good thing as is direct injection and the full sized sun roof.

  • Bruce

    Please comment on the quality and attractiveness of the Thunder Gray Chromaflair paint. Does it take on varying hues in different lighting conditions? I’m on the verge of purchasing a loaded CTS and am unsure between Thunder Gray, Black Raven and Light Platinum.
    Thank you.

  • I was pretty fond of this color. I don’t know if I’d say the color-shifting was very intense or noticeable but it did have gray tones sometimes shifting to blue and green.

    Having not seen the new CTS in either the Black Raven or Platinum – I can’t speak to my preference (though I am pretty fond of the Black Raven on the previous generation CTS – as long as you have the time to keep it clean).

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