Test Drive: 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon

Super-powered luxury wagon joins other V-Series models, providing stunning performance that's unfamiliar to most Cadillac owners

by James M. Flammang

2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport
Wagon (photo ©GM Corp.)

Cadillac owners seem to fall into two camps these days: the tradition-minded, who favors the luxury attributes that marked the brand for decades; and the sport-minded, who believe luxury can–and should–be accompanied by all-out performance.

To please the latter group, Cadillac has been issuing V-Series editions of several of its models for some years now. Latest to join that elite club is the CTS-V Sport Wagon, which went on sale as a 2011 model. Cadillac already had a CTS-V sedan and coupe on the market, and the Sport Wagon–initially in regular form–first arrived for 2010.

The CTS-V Sport Wagon is an "uncompromising performance car to enthusiasts who want the extra room of a wagon," according to Don Butler, vice-president for Cadillac marketing. Specifically, that means 25.4 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats, and 58 cubic feet when those seats are folded down.

Like its sedan and coupe cousins, the CTS-V Wagon is powered by a supercharged 6.2-liter V-8, which delivers 556 horsepower and 551 pound-feet of torque. The intercooled Eaton Twin Vortices Series supercharger employs twin four-lobe rotors, twisted 160 degrees. (Typical superchargers feature three lobes twisted 60 degrees.)

Called the most powerful engine in Cadillac's history, the big V-8 drives either a Tremec TR6060 six-speed manual transmission with a dual-disc clutch, or a 6L90 Hydra-Matic six-speed automatic with steering wheel-mounted shift controls. Performance Algorithm Shifting gives the automatic transmission a performance-oriented shift pattern during sustained, high-demand driving. Complementing the supercharged powertrain are Magnetic Ride Control, Brembo brakes, and Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 performance tires on 19-inch forged aluminum wheels. The CTS Sport Wagon–like the CTS Sport Sedan–may be equipped with all-wheel drive as an alternative to the standard rear-wheel drive.

In line with other CTS V-Series models, the Sport Wagon holds a unique grille that doubles front-end airflow to heighten its high-performance capabilities. A raised center section in the aluminum hood provides clearance for the supercharger.

For 2011, all CTS wagons got a new front fender vent design with black inner fin detailing. A rear-vision camera system is available, with a display located in the inside rearview mirror or–if so equipped–in the navigation system's screen. A heated steering wheel is now available.

Every CTS wagon has a "signature" vee-shaped deck and tailgate motif, plus large vertical taillamps that use light-pipe technology. The power-opening liftgate works via the key fob or an in-vehicle button. An integrated roof load management system can be fitted with cross bars for a seamless appearance, while Cadillac's cargo management system has adjustable in-floor containment. Available features include a panoramic UltraView sunroof.

No doubt about it, the V-Series wagon does everything that's promised, and then some. Only the most addled super-performance nut–er, rather, gentleperson–could even dream of asking for more power. For the vast majority of drivers, the CTS-V--regardless of body style–delivers all the energy that could ever be sought, even for the most demanding road conditions. With the manual gearbox, in particular, all that strength feels right at hand, and the transmission shifts with relative ease.

Unlike some high-performance larger cars, you don't lose too much in ride comfort, either, while benefiting from a taut road feel and confident control. Naturally, this comes with all the bonuses brought to you by Cadillac in terms of comforts and conveniences.

All this performance and luxury comes at a price, of course, and it tops $62,000. That's not quite twice the price of the least expensive Cadillac CTS model; but it's not so far short of that figure, either.

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