Signaling the start of Cadillac's next generation is the 2008 CTS, unveiled in January 2007 at Detroit's North American International Auto Show. Scheduled for sale in summer 2007, it's easily recognized by familiar but evolved styling that takes inspiration from Cadillac's recent award-winning Sixteen concept sedan.
Overall length is little changed, but wheelbase grows about an inch to 113.4. This combines with a two-inch gain in overall width for a more assertive "wide track" stance. Interior design is also cleaner and more coherent. Cadillac proudly notes that upper dashboard and door-panel surfaces are cut and assembled by hand, custom craftsmanship recalling the 1930s.
Like big-brother STS, the 2008 CTS offers all-wheel drive as an alternative to rear drive. Returning as base power is GM's 3.6-liter "high feature" twincam 24-valve V-6 with variable valve timing and now a few more horses: 255, up three. New for '08 is an up-power version with direct fuel injection, which squirts gas right into the combustion chambers rather than through the cylinder ports. Running an ultra-high 11.4:1 compression ratio, this optional 3.6 produces some 300 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque.
The 2.8 V-6 is now reserved for export models -- Cadillac still craves a global presence -- but is largely unchanged otherwise. A six-speed manual gearbox remains standard, but a new six-speed automatic replaces the previous five-speed option. Suspension, steering and brakes are unchanged in concept, but components have been redesigned and/or upgraded where needed.
Other new features of the '08 CTS include an optional "Easy Key" hands-free locking/engine-start system and a "Smart Remote Start" that not only fires the engine from a keyfob button but activates heating/air conditioning and front-seat heating/cooling according to exterior and interior temperatures. Steering-linked xenon headlamps are another first-time CTS option.
The available navigation system replaces a fixed dashboard screen with a larger, eight-inch-diagonal display that rises from the dash when needed. Like the SRX crossover, CTS buyers can specify an expansive "Ultraview" glass roof, in this case a two-piece affair with power-sliding front portion.
That's the Cadillac story so far, but it's far from over, notwithstanding all the dire news of recent years. A potent new CTS-V is due around 2009, and a CTS coupe is strongly rumored for the same timeframe. Other near-term prospects include a rear-drive replacement for the full-size DTS and an even grander Cadillac -- perhaps with V-12 power -- for the surprisingly robust $100,000-$150,000 ultraluxury market.
Meanwhile, Cadillac can take pride in its dramatic early-century comeback, confounding critics who had written its obituary so many times in the 1980s and '90s. Confirming the turnaround, calendar-year sales improved from 199,800 (including trucks) in 2002 to over 235,000 in '05.
But today's brutally competitive global auto market allows no manufacturer to sit still for long, and Cadillac knows this better than most. Though it may never be the luxury power it was in GM's glory days, Cadillac seems likely to keep moving forward with confidence and courage.
For more information on Cadillac, see:
- Cadillac: Learn the history of America's premier luxury car, from 1930s classics to today's newest Cadillac models.
- Consumer Guide New Car Reviews and Prices: Road test results, photos, specifications, and prices for 2007 Cadillacs and hundreds of other new cars, trucks, minivans, and SUVs.
- 1990-1999 Cadillac: Import competition and a stale image rock once-proud Cadillac. Here's the low-down on Cadillac's come-down.