You are here: Home / Car Reviews / Cadillac / CTS / 2008 Cadillac CTS Mid-Size Luxury Performance Sedan

2008 Cadillac CTS Mid-Size Luxury Performance Sedan

The current CTS gives way to clean, softer lines, an extended grille, angular headlights, and traditional Cadillac taillights. After pushing the luxury brand in a new direction with the release of the Cadillac CTS in 2003, the CTS has been reissued this year, in its second generation, with big - and better - improvements. Although the first generation CTS renewed consumer interest in Cadillac as a luxury brand worthy of consideration, it is with this second generation version that this model is able to realistically compete with other luxury brands such as Lexus, Audi, and Infiniti. The 2008 Cadillac CTS showcases much better exterior styling; we've never cared for Cadillac's aggressive, militaristic, Hummer-inspired styling as it was too harsh for a luxury product. So we're glad to see that it's been toned down this time. The current CTS gives way to clean, softer lines, an extended grille, angular headlights, and traditional Cadillac taillights. For this test, we drove a rear-wheel drive Cadillac CTS with a six-speed, shiftable automatic transmission, a rear-wheel drive system, and a 304-horsepower, 3.6-liter V6 engine with Direct Fuel Injection (DI). Our test car (which had an base MSRP of $34,545) came with Thunder Gray Chromaflair premium paint (cost $995), a Light Titanium interior, an 18-inch All Season Tire Performance Package (worth $1,740), and a compact spare tire (cost $250). We also had the Premium Luxury Collection (worth $8,165), which provided leather upholstery, a power passenger seat, a navigation system (with a 40GB hard drive) with real-time traffic data, and a power-adjustable, tilt and telescoping steering wheel. This package also comes with, a Bose audio system (with surround-sound), six-CD changer, a large sunroof, rain-sensing wipers, LED interior lighting, rear parking assist, keyless ignition, additional wood trim, and ventilated and heated seats. With the delivery charge of $745, our test car had a total MSRP of $46,440. This mid-size sedan is assembled in Lansing, Michigan; eighty percent of its parts/materials are from the United States or Canada. Mileage is at par with those of its class (City MPG/17, 14 - 20 expected range, Highway MPG/26, 21 - 31 expected range) - not particularly impressive, although the CTS uses regular fuel and not premium gas, which is an advantage. 2008 Cadillac CTS Sedan Exterior The second-generation CTS features a toned-down exterior that is less aggressive and militaristic than in previous years. Although it still has weird, edgy lines, with a very large grill and hood, and a short rear deck, it does have the appearance of having been re-sculpted. Despite marked improvement, Cadillac designers are still missing the mark on refinement as the CTS looks like every mid-priced Japanese sedan, rather than having the elegance and panache of products from Mercedes and BMW, which it is actually designed to compete with. While the 2003 version debuted with an "art and science" design theme targeted to attract a more youthful audience, Cadillac has been unable to shake its association with retirees. They have also been unable to make progress attracting upwardly-mobile youth, and the new styling did not connect with Cadillac enthusiasts either. The 2008 version is closer to that "sharply tailored exterior" the manufacturer was aiming for, but it still hasn't hit the mark entirely. 2008 Cadillac CTS Sedan Interior The Cadillac CTS' seats now are much better designed, and the quality has been vastly improved. Inside, the 2008 CTS is where the Cadillac has made the biggest styling improvements. The car looks less weird and has more attractive angles. There are fewer gaps to catch dust and dirt, and it has a smooth and tighter finish. Tasteful metallic accents complement the overall design without being overdone. The CTS' interior is more luxurious and refined, translating to a good balance between design and functionality. It is more in line with what we would expect a luxury car to be on the inside, boasting high-quality materials, slimmer front seats, and more legroom for back-seat passengers. A touch-screen display for audio and climate systems and entertainment and navigation system controls all come together in a convenient, not-too-busy package. The Cadillac CTS' seats now are much better designed, and the quality has been vastly improved. Until recently, Cadillac seats looked and felt more like Barcaloungers than the seats of a sports sedan that let you feel connected to the road. Even the leather seating surfaces seemed to be better quality than in the past. Among the other attractive new interior features are ambient lighting that gives the CTS a subtle, relaxing environment on night drives. We also enjoyed the enormous ultra-view sunroof, part of the Premium Collection package, which opened up the car and gave it a very spacious feeling especially at night. That is a fantastic, must-have feature. The 2008 Cadillac CTS entertainment system include in the Premium Collection, has full iPod integration. There is a jack to connect an iPod to the entertainment system and control the device's playlists directly. All the information is thus displayed on the dash-mounted monitor. The iPod is kept charged while you drive. And, the system has a 40-gig hard drive on which thousand of songs and other shows can be saved. 2008 Cadillac CTS Sedan Performance The Cadillac CTS has two available engine options. The Cadillac CTS has two available engine options. It comes standard with a 3.6-liter Dual Overhead Cam (DOHC), 24 valve, V6 engine that generates 263 horsepower and 253 lb.-ft. of torque with Variable Valve Timing (VVT). Our test vehicle had the optional 3.6-liter, DOHC, V6 engine that generates 304 horsepower and 273 lb.-ft. of torque. It also has, 24 valves, VVT and Direct High Pressure Fuel Injection (DHPFI). VVT improves engine response across the Revolutions Per Minute (RPM) range, and the DHPFI feeds the fuel in under higher pressure for larger explosions resulting in more horsepower. There are two transmissions available. The standard transmission is a fully synchronized 6-speed manual transmission with single overdrive. Our test CTS was equipped with the 6-speed electronically-controlled automatic transmission with overdrive and a torque converter clutch. The Cadillac CTS doesn't accelerate like the BMW 3-Series with a manual transmission that it is designed to compete with. We found it a little heavy for the V6 engine it had, which compromises acceleration and handling. It is easy enough to manage when going through curves and the six-speed automatic transmission is very smooth, though. 2008 Cadillac CTS Sedan Ride and Handling This year's CTS has more precise steering. We saw the most significant improvements in the CTS to be in the ride and handling. This year's CTS has more precise steering. It feels more stable on the road and is less jiggly. However, while we could say that its ride quality is comparable to that of a Lexus GS or V6 Infiniti M, and close to that of an Audi, we disagree that it is as good as a Mercedes or BMW. For a U.S. car, though, it is a tremendous improvement. In fact, it might just be the best American performance sedan since the heyday of the muscle car. We certainly find it better than the Charger 300 M or anything from Lincoln. While definitely not yet a Mercedes or a BMW, we have to say that Cadillac is getting closer. It's also admittedly one of the best Cadillac's in decades; unfortunately, though, it's not competing with itself, but rather other luxury cars. If you want a real performance sedan, we recommend getting the CTS-V version. It provides real European sports sedan performance and handling, but at a much higher price. 2008 Cadillac CTS Sedan Safety It is fitted with standard safety and security features such as a four-wheel Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS), emergency braking assist along with traction and stability control. The Cadillac CTS has front and rear ventilated disc brakes for greatly improved stopping power. Children's safety features include child-seat anchors, and rear door child safety locks. CTS has all the airbags including front and rear head, and dual, front side-mounted ones. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) crash tests also reflected that the current Cadillac CTS received four stars out of five (driver) and five stars out of five (passenger) in frontal crash tests; five stars out of five in side crash tests; and four stars out of five in rollover tests. 2008 Cadillac CTS Sedan Conclusion It still has several paces to go before it can compete with a BMW or a Mercedes-Benz. Our test car had the "Premium Luxury Collection" on it, adding over $8,000 to the cost. The added features - leather upholstery, power passenger seat, ultra-view sunroof (one of the best features in the car), and the navigation system - made it quite luxurious. The styling has evolved considerably, and it has that fun-to-drive factor - and the extra legroom is much appreciated. While definitely slated in the entry-level class of luxury cars, it still has several paces to go before it can compete with a BMW or a Mercedes-Benz. Pros: Low cost of entry for a luxury sedan, and it's built in the U.S. The enormous sunroof is also great, if you buy that option. Cons: It is still a little goofy-looking, angular, big and heavy, for our tastes. To get all the luxury features you have to spend $8,000 more, making the MSRP balloon to over $46,000. Still doesn't have BMW performance for the money. Cadillacs traditionally have a lower resale value than BMWs, Audis, and Mercedes-Benz. Ratings: Style: 7 Performance: 7 Price: 7 Handling: 7 Ride: 8 Comfort: 8 Quality: 7 Overall: 7.3