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2013 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon review

Caddy's gotta-have-it wagon

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating

By

2013 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon

2013 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon

Photo © General Motors

First Glance: Out of touch

Most automotive journalists love station wagons, just like we love manual transmissions and diesel engines. We're out of step with the mainstream, which is why you should take everything we say with a grain of salt. Especially when we say "This car rides very comfortably," or "Of course I'm good for the money," or "Honestly, my relationship with your wife is purely platonic."

While all of that applies to me (except for the last bit; I swear, my relationship with your wife really is platonic), I'm going to ask that you trust me when I say that my opinion of the CTS Sport Wagon has nothing to do with my wagon fixation. No, I think people should buy this car for the same reason I think they should buy the CTS Coupe -- because it's absolutely gorgeous. The regular CTS is a great car, but why wheel around in an ordinary sedan when you can be seen in one of these?

Not that the Caddy doesn't appeal to the wagon-y parts of my brain. 25.4 cubic feet of space is a lot for a pack-rat like me, and the CTS even gets GM's nifty adjustable-height power tailgate -- you can set it to open all the way or just 3/4ths, good for low garages or short drivers like yours truly.

Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon dashboard

Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon dashboard

Photo © Aaron Gold

In the Driver's Seat: Still lovely after all these years

Inside, the CTS is no BMW and for that I am glad. Caddy hasn't changed the CTS much since its 2008 introduction (matter of fact, the interior photos you see here are lifted from my 2010 review), and while a few elements look dated -- that giant LED readout that shows what gear you are in has got to go -- for the most part, the cabin still looks fresh and modern. I love the "his and hers" buttons and displays for the dual-zone climate control system, and the pop-up nav screen, which serves as a stereo display in half-mast mode, remains one of my favorite luxury-car details.

My test car had the $2,810 CTS Touring package, which includes the optional Recaro seats found on the CTS-V. I hate these seats with a burning passion -- they have so much lumbar dialed in that I felt as if someone accidentally dropped a tree stump into the seatback and upholstered right over it. Shame, because that package also comes with the faux-suede steering wheel, which felt really nice under my fingers.

On the Road: Well sorted

Driving the CTS Sport Wagon gave me a new appreciation for the 3.6 liter V6 engine. I tend to take the three-six for granted, since it appears in virtually every car General Motors makes, but it's a great choice for the CTS: Its 318 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque are a nice match for the wagon's hefty two-ton weight, and its EPA fuel economy figures (18 MPG city/27 MPG highway for the rear-drive version I drove, 18/26 with optional all-wheel-drive) are identical to those of the base engine, a 270 hp 3-liter V6. (I averaged 22.6 MPG.) And with so many luxury cars demanding premium fuel, it was nice to be able to tank up the Caddy with cheap 87 octane gas. Thank you, direct fuel injection.

My tester had a $2,090 Summer Tire Performance Package with 19" wheels, Goodyear Eagle RS-A2 rubber, and a sport-tuned suspension. Tooling around Detroit, I didn't have much opportunity to take advantage of the handling, but the ride remained quiet, comfortable and serene, a pretty good trick with those giant wheels -- which looked, to use my kids' vernacular, friggin' awesome.

Journey's End: Nothing quite like it

Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon cargo bay

With 25.4 cubic feet of space, CTS Wagon is as useful as it is attractive

Photo © Aaron Gold

Pricing for the CTS Sport Wagon starts around $41k; my tester, a top-of-the-line Premium Collection model with the aforementioned packages and extra-cost paint (a bad habit Cadillac has picked up from European marques) listed for $56,540, which is a bit rich for my blood. I fiddled with Caddy's online configurator and found that I could build the CTS Sport Wagon of my dreams -- a Performance model with the 19" summer tire package, giant dual-pane sunroof, Bose stereo, and extra-cost paint (the car looks best in red and dark gray, so what can you do?) -- for $50,970. Not cheap, but for something this unique, I could justify the cost.

Competition? Acura's TSX Sport Wagon comes closest. It's a very good car that undercuts the CTS on price, but it trails behind on acceleration and ride quality. Audi's new allroad is lovely to drive, but lacks the Caddy's back-seat space and value-for-money. Both are cars you'd buy for their utility, whereas the Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon is a car you really could buy on style alone -- and that's why I think it's the pick of this bunch. Trust me on this -- after all, I'm an automotive journalist. -- Aaron Gold

What I liked about the Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon:

  • Gorgeous looks
  • Lots of useful space
  • Lovely to drive

What I didn't like:

  • High price
  • A few dated details on the dash

Details:

  • Wagon version of the CTS is largely unchanged since its 2010 introduction
  • Price range: $40,100 - $57,875
  • Powertrain: 3.0 liter V6/270 hp or 3.6 liter V6/318 hp, 6-speed automatic, rear- or all-wheel-drive
  • EPA fuel economy estimates: 18 MPG city/27 MPG highway (RWD), 18/26 (AWD)
  • Best rivals: Acura TSX Sport Wagon, Audi allroad, Cadillac SRX
Disclosure: The vehicle for this test drive was provided by General Motors. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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