This completes the tCE trifecta of Cadillac utility vehicle reviews. We started with the new SRX turbo, moved into the behemoth that is the Escalade Platinum Hybrid, and now we spent some time in what is the sportiest Cadillac of utilities – the CTS Sport Wagon.
Our test car had AWD and was wearing the Performance Collection trim, which means automatic transmission (Cadillac still refuses to go gunning for Audi with an all-wheel drive/manual transmission combo – though we can’t really argue with their rationale, as much as we’d want one) and sport suspension tuning while leaving such luxury items as the UltraView sunroof and heated and cooled seats on the option list (see the Premium Collection trim that is a level up the line if you want these items without adding option packages).
Speaking of options, our car also had the Performance Luxury pack that brought the interior ambient lighting, cargo shade, the heated and cooled seats we just mentioned, power adjustable steering wheel, keyless access (auto lock/unlock as well as keyless start), remote start, parking assist, wood trim (standard on Premium trim), and a cabin air filter – this list of nice-to-haves brings a $2645 price tag.
Also included on our tester is the navigation system that includes the signature power-up/down screen in the dash as well as the Bose 5.1 Surround audio with 40GB hard drive, XM satellite radio, and the XM Nav Traffic system (XM is free for the first 3 months and requires a subscription thereafter). This goodie will pinch your wallet for $2145.
Other onesie-twosie options included the rear view/backup camera for $355 and the Thunder Gray premium paint for another $995.
All in , the wagon you see here was stickered at a cool $52690.
Interestingly, Cadillac almost didn’t bring this version of the CTS to the US. It is a pretty well accepted fact that Americans avoid any form of hatch-back body style unless it also comes with fender flares and a need for a small step-ladder to put cargo in the back. This seems borne out by the fact that the new SRX is selling in droves (sales in May were up over 650% from the year before) while the CTS Sport Wagon is likely not selling as briskly (CTS sales are up, but only incrementally from the month before and you’d be sure Cadillac would be shouting from the rafters if the wagon was supplying more than a few hundred units to the total. No, the wagon is all about making the CTS a credible entry in the Euro market where utility is synonymous with ‘wagon’. Their’s is the land where SUVs have never taken off and almost every mainstream sedan has a wagon variant available for those that have some hauling to do.
Luckily, someone realized that offering the Euro-centric model here in the states would only boost Cadillac’s euro-lux credibility here – at least with a certain group of younger buyers who recognize the benefits of this package and equate legitimacy in the market with offering this body style. Few as these buyers might be.
That said, this is likely the sexiest version of the CTS currently on sale (the coupe will take that title when it hits later in the year). While Cadillac did maintain the sedan’s design all the way to the rear doors – it is what they did with the portions aft that is so impressive. The crisp lines of the sedan sweep back to a sharply raked rear window that is itself inset between towering fin-like tail-lights. The rest of the rear hatch is a masterful blend of creases and soft curves that make the sedan seem somewhat dowdy in comparison. Additionally, the roof has a graceful arc that carries the passenger compartment line all the way back to the aforementioned rear glass and is framed in brushed roof rails that seem more a decorative trim element than the functional base for roof mounted accessories that they really are.
Inside, you find the same well-executed interior we found in the 2008 sedan we tested a while back. Behind the second-row seats you’ll find the hallmark of any hatch-backed vehicle, a cargo hold that accepts bulkier cargo than you could shoe-horn into any sedan, even with fold-down seats. It is here that you begin to see some of the trade offs of a ‘sport’ wagon vs. the boxier wagons like you’d see from brands like Volvo – the steeply raked rear glass does eliminate a chunk of available space out of the cargo hold as a trade-off for a sportier profile. You also have the option for the hatch to be power-operated, like on all the other Cadillac haulers we’ve driven. Still sounding like an over-the-top luxury, after a few uses, we can’t imagine living with a hatch that can’t be opened with the press of a button. The CTS also has the same adjustable opening setting as the SRX – allowing those frequenting low-ceiling parking areas to set the hatch to only open to a safe height…a nice perk that will undoubtedly save more than a few insurance claims.
The only real issue we have with either the styling or interior package of this wagon has to do with rearward visibility. The broad ‘D’ pillar and the small rear glass (interior trim neatly slices a 3-4″ band off of the size of the rear glass as you see it from the outside) mean that the backup camera and the parking sensors should be considered mandatory for anyone for whom backing up is a common task. But, that’s the price of being this stylish, we suppose. We’d take that trade-off if it were our money.