Review – 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Wagon: Is It Perfect? Does It Even Matter?



I’ve had quite a few press cars over the past year, but never have I gotten chills by merely backing into my garage. This was different. Here is is a car that many prayed would see production before General Motors even announced its existence.

So aside from the fact that for many auto enthusiasts, the CTS-V Wagon is nothing short of a dream, is the finished product everything we hoped it would be? Is it perfect? I spent a week with the CTS-V Wagon seeking answers to all my questions. I also tried to find the meaning of life. Lets see what I learned.

When looking at the CTS-V Wagon head-on, you can’t tell whether it is the coupe, sedan, or wagon variant. That’s because from the A-pillars forward, each wears the same sheet metal. From the bulging hood and mesh grille, to the air ducts next to the fog lights, it is all the same no matter your flavor.

I love the darkened headlight lenses contrasting with the amber turn signals. When you have the lights on, the amber turn signals feature three LED lights. On the opposite side of the headlight you have a nice light pipe that runs the length of the headlight. The CTS-V Wagon features adaptive HID headlights as standard equipment, while the fog lights are halogens that are housed in projector lenses for a cleaner light pattern.

The side and rear profile isn’t changed from the standard model Sportwagon. Aside from a V badge one the front doors and the tailgate, the only other real indicator that this isn’t a normal Sportwagon are the wheels and exhaust pipes.

My tester featured 10-spoke 19-inch painted aluminum wheels and snow tires. You can see the massive Brembo brakes peeking through the wheels. Up front you have 15-inch rotors, which are clamped down by six-piston calipers. Out back, it has 14.7-inch rotors with four-piston calipers. These are massive and definitely haul you back to legal speeds, or a stop, in quite a hurry.

The exterior of the CTS-V Wagon is definitely a sleeper. Sure, up front it looks pretty mean, but from the side or rear no one will know that it is more than a regular station wagon. Attention seekers will need to move along, nothing to see here.

The inside is…..well a dressed up CTS. Instead of silver plastic everywhere, there is piano black plastic with optional Midnight Sapele wood. Most of the center stack is dominated by the piano black trim. The Midnight Sapele is used more as an accent trim.

While I don’t mind the piano black, it was already somewhat scratched up from its hard life as a press car. There’s no question that it scratches easily, and if not taken care of properly it it probably won’t age well.

The dash is wrapped in leather while the door panels feature suede inserts. My tester featured the optional suede steering wheel and shifter. They felt fantastic, and while I would highly recommend this $300 option, the normal leather steering wheel and shift knob would do just fine.

I must take a moment to specifically mention the optional Recaro seats. At $3,400 they are a very pricey option. You must get these seats if you purchase any variant of the CTS-V. They are very adjustable (14-way power) and are downright comfortable. The side bolsters that hold you in place are aggressive, but not to the point of being uncomfortable for everyday driving. They will do fine for both weekends at the track and picking the kids up from school.

Being a wagon automatically makes this the most versatile variant of the CTS-V. With 25.4 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats up and 58 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats folded down, hauling *** and groceries has never been so easy.

The heart of this beast is the same 6.2-liter supercharged LSA V-8 engine as the other CTS-V variants. Good for 556 horsepower and 551 pound feet all sent to the rear wheels, you are looking at approximately 4 seconds 0-60 while you are taking the kids to that slumber party.

Being a wagon you would normally expect no choice when it come to transmission. You sitting down? You can get the CTS-V Wagon with not two, but three pedals. Yes, a short-throw six-speed Tremec manual transmission is a no cost option. If you are buying this car, get the six-speed manual. It is a fantastic transmission. Do you really want an automatic in a car like this when it is actually offered with a manual transmission?

At first the steering feels much lighter than you would expect. Another surprise was how much body roll there seemed to be going around a corner. I quickly pushed the button with a shock on it and the dual-mode magnetic ride control put the suspension into sport mode. This immediately stiffened the ride and as you pushed the car harder the steering seemed to get heavier. Going around a clover leaf at a nice clip, you could feel the soft snow tires give up long before the cars abilities were even close to maxed out.

Anytime you have your foot on the gas you can clearly hear the distinct sound of the supercharger. The sound of the engine and exhaust is never overbearing in the cabin, but this is no Lexus LS 460. When cruising on the highway you can easily hold a conversation and hear the music. Then again, you should probably turn off the radio, tell your passengers to shut up, and hit the gas. That’s just what my mechanic told me though – what does he know?

The EPA rates the CTS-V Wagon at 14/19, which for this kind of power is not terrible at all. On my first tank of gasoline (yes I clearly went through more than one) I averaged 12.3 mpg in mixed driving. I did see a low of 8.9 mpg at one point, though I was admittedly hooning the CTS-V Wagon pretty hard when that mpg figure was seen. On my second tank of gas in mixed driving I saw an average of 14.3 mpg. This seems to be a realistic number. I have no doubts that if you keep your foot out of it, you can definitely see 20 mpg on a highway trip.

Let’s get real for a second; the CTS-V Wagon will not be lighting the sales charts on fire. Heck, if Cadillac sells 300-400 of these a year then they are doing quite well. But from talks that I have had with Cadillac executives, it seems they knew this when building the CTS-V Wagon. That, my friends, is all that matters. As long as expectations are set correctly from the get go, then things are ok. If they had approved this vehicle with expectations of selling more than 1,000 units a year, we would have had a problem.

After spending a week with the CTS-V Wagon all my questions were answered. No, it is not perfect, but no car is. Even with its flaws, this car is close to everything I personally want in a vehicle. It looks fantastic, it’s a sleeper, it’ll be super rare due to the low sales volume, and the reality is, it’s practical. My tester’s sticker price was $68,590 after the mandatory gas guzzler tax and options. You most likely won’t find a CTS-V Wagon on your local Cadillac dealers lot, as it is being built-to-order. If you are one of those few hundred red blooded Americans who fall into Cadillacs target demographic, I leave you with the famous words of Ferris Bueller: “It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.”

Full Disclosure – The review vehicle was provided by General Motors

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7 Responses to “Review – 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Wagon: Is It Perfect? Does It Even Matter?”

  1. timmy t-rex #

    as always a good read… thank to the man Jfed!!

    05/10/2011 at 3:39 pm Reply
  2. Omar #

    I wish they made an AWD version. How do you think this can handle the Northeast winters?

    08/03/2011 at 12:24 pm Reply
    • Omar, if you put snows on it and keep your foot out of it, you’ll be fine. I hear traction control kills the fun though. If you didn’t put snows on it, I’m sure it would be a mess.

      08/03/2011 at 4:05 pm Reply
    • Styll #

      They do make an all wheel drive…

      10/10/2011 at 12:20 am Reply
      • Not in CTS-V form. Only the non-V versions of the CTS come with all-wheel drive as an option.

        10/10/2011 at 5:03 am Reply


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