A Cinderella story for Cadillac's flagship sedan
There has been a common theme for most of the Cadillac vehicles I have reviewed over the past few years. They are always so close to being up there with the best, but there is one thing or trait that knocks them down. Such examples include interior appointments that don’t match up with the price being asked, confusing infotainment systems, and engines that don’t quite match up with the image being portrayed. This was floating around in the back of my head when a 2017 Cadillac CT6 Platinum rolled up onto my driveway. This is an important model for Cadillac as it is taking on the likes of the BMW 7-Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class. The little things can make or break a sedan in the class.
Seeing the Cadillac CT6 for the first time at Detroit Auto Show a few years ago, I wasn’t too impressed. The toned-down Art & Science design made me feel that the CT6 blended in with other luxury sedans. But after spending a bit of time with this CT6, I grew to like the design. Yes, the design language has lost some edge found on other Cadillacs, but there is still some sharpness with hard angles and bold lines. The Platinum adds some touches that really bring out the CT6’s shape. A chrome grille helps give the model a more imposing front end and a set of optional 20-inch wheels finished in ‘Midnight Silver’ do an excellent job of filling in the wheel wells.
If there has been a consistent weak point to Cadillac’s recent models, it has to be interior. On first glance, it seems they have it nailed down with a modern design and quality materials. But when you sit inside and begin to take a closer look, that illusion begins to go away. A fair amount of the materials used doesn't quite match up the luxury aura being presented such as the sheet piano black trim used for touch-sensitive controls on a number of Cadillac models. But the brand is improving as we noted in our XT5 review, and the CT6 is much the same. There is a noticeable step-up in terms of materials such as fine leather, carbon fiber accents, and wood trim. This comes wrapped in a handsomely-designed dashboard. There are some areas Cadillac still needs to do some work on such as the plasticity controls for the climate control system.
The front seats are a treat to sit in thanks to the right amount of cushioning and support. The Platinum trim gets 20-way power seats for both the driver and passenger to help dial in the right position. Those sitting in the back will be pleased to find generous head and legroom. As added bonus, you can order heated and ventilated seats, power adjustments, and a rear entertainment system to make the back more luxurious. The only downside to sitting in the back is that the CT6 isn’t long enough to take full advantage of the power adjustments. I felt somewhat cramped when I had the back seat fully reclined and my legs touching the back of the front seat. A few more inches in the wheelbase would fix this issue.
Cadillac’s CUE system has undergone some changes for the CT6. Most of the touch-sensitive buttons have either been dropped or replaced with actual, physical buttons. Being able to press a button or flick a switch to change a setting is a welcome change and less frustrating than the touch-sensitive controls. It would have been nice if Cadillac swapped the touch-sensitive volume strip for an actual knob, but at least you can adjust it via the steering wheel controls. Cadillac also added a touchpad controller (think Lexus’ Remote Touch system) for CUE. It is a nice idea on paper, but the execution shows Cadillac needs to do a bit more work. The touchpad is hypersensitive and tends to overshoot from where you want the cursor. You’re better off using the touchscreen. As for CUE itself, the system comes with a faster processor, some tweaks to the interface, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. These changes make CUE less frustrating to use on a daily basis.
There are three engines on offer for the CT6. The base is a turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder, followed by a 3.6L V6. Our Platinum tester featured the big dog; a twin-turbo 3.0L V6 offering 404 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque (@ 2,500 - 5,100 rpm) Power goes to all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic. Performance for the twin-turbo six may not have same exuberance as V8s found in competitors, but it isn’t a slouch. This engine rockets the CT6 at a surprising rate of speed. Those who have timed the vehicle say it will hit 60 mph in around five seconds and we would believe it. Torque is abundant throughout rev range, meaning you should have no issue trying to merge on the freeway or make a pass. The eight-speed automatic has the right characteristics you want in a flagship sedan, smooth and unobtrusive shifts.
EPA fuel economy figures for the CT6 3.0TT stand at 18 City/26 Highway/21 Combined. Our average for the week landed around 22 mpg in mostly city driving.
Describing a sedan that measures 204 inches in overall length as ‘agile’ seems very disingenuous. But the CT6 is that. Drive it around a turn and the CT6 feels like a smaller sedan with nimble manners and well-controlled body motions. Some credit has to go Active Chassis package that comes standard on the Platinum and comes with the excellent Magnetic Ride Control system and rear-wheel steering.
But most buyers who tend to buy a sedan of this caliber don’t really care about handling. Ride quality is king here and that’s where the CT6 begins to falter. When equipped with the Magnetic Ride Control system, the ride is just a touch too firm. You will feel more bumps in this than some of the CT6’s competition. It would be nice if Cadillac could offer an air suspension for those who want comfort. On the upside, road and wind noise are kept to near silent levels.
It seems somewhat surprising to call the CT6 Platinum a great value, but it actually is. The Platinum 3.0TT begins at $87,495 and our test car with a few options (20-inch wheels, white paint, and spoiler) comes in at $91,580. Considering you have to spend a fair amount more on competitors to match the level of equipment on offer, the CT6 Platinum is quite the steal.
Most of Cadillac’s vehicles have fallen into the cliche of ‘being so close, yet so far’ due to some odd or boneheaded decision. But the CT6 is the first Cadillac that has avoided this. It feels like Cadillac is starting to feel comfortable in this new identity that it has been putting out there since the mid-2000s, a legitimate competitor to the Germans. The CT6 stands out for a number of reasons; excellent driving dynamics, impressive interior, punchy V6, and being quite the value. There are some niggling issues such as a firm ride and questionable materials, but these can and should be addressed down the road. Whether the CT6 can draw people away from the usual suspects remains to be seen.
If Cadillac can take what they have learned from the CT6 and implement them into future models, then we can say something that hasn’t been used in a long time, ‘Standard of the World’.
Disclaimer: Cadillac Provided the CT6, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
Engine: Twin-Turbo 3.0L DI DOHC with VVT V6
Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
Horsepower @ RPM: 404 @ 5,700
Torque @ RPM: 400 @ 2,500 - 5,100
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 18/26/21
Curb Weight: 4,085 lbs
Location of Manufacture: Detroit, MI
Base Price: $87,495
As Tested Price: $91,580 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)
20" Midnight Silver Wheels - $2,095.00
Crystal White Tricoat - $500.00
Spoiler Kit - $495.00
Edited by William Maley