2019 Cadillac CTS-V Expert Review

Editor's Overview

With 640 rear-wheel-drive horsepower, a paddle-shift 8-speed automatic transmission, superb suspension and powerful brakes, the Cadillac CTS-V, now in its third generation, continues to impress us as a world-class sports sedan. Yes, it’s made in the U.S., but the V has the sophistication and performance to match its much more expensive German rivals.

You'll Like The 2019 Cadillac CTS-V If...

If you’re a patriotic person who craves phenomenal straight-line acceleration but also demands taut, European-style handling manners, the CTS-V delivers. And in daily life, this Cadillac works remarkably well as a refined sedan.

You May Not Like The 2019 Cadillac CTS-V If...

The CTS-V, as impressive as it is, doesn't quite have the cachet of an M5 or an AMG E63. It's also lacking features, such as active cruise control, which are available on the standard CTS.

What's New

The CTS-V Pedestal Edition, a limited-edition model painted Bronze Sand Metallic, makes its debut for 2019. This model is distinguished by black exterior trim and wheels, along with a performance data recorder and Recaro seats covered in black semi-aniline leather with micro-suede inserts in a Light Wheat color. In other news, two new colors (Velocity Red and Wave Metallic) join the CTS-V fray, while Phantom Gray Metallic and Vector Blue Metallic are discontinued.

Interior Features

The interior of the Cadillac CTS-V is unchanged for 2019, so it continues to look like a high-end version of the 5-seat cabin you’ll see in a standard CT-S. The V’s cabin is awash in high-end materials, from the soft semi-aniline leathers and suede-like microfiber inserts to the carbon-fiber trim. The 12.3-inch instrument panel conveys information clearly, and Cadillac's CUE infotainment system responds much more quickly than it did originally. While the CTS-V’s back seat isn't the roomiest, it holds three in a pinch. Available Recaro seats, with adjustable bolsters, are ideal for aggressive drivers looking for added cornering support. Two rear USB ports are standard, as is Apple CarPlay/Android Auto.

Exterior Features

Almost every body panel is unique to the CTS-V (including its carbon-fiber hood), so this Cadillac sports sedan looks menacingly handsome from just about any angle. Especially when fitted with the optional Carbon package, the V looks particularly intimidating, thanks to its wide fenders, big tires and vented hood. Young people, in particular, seem drawn to the V’s mix of luxury and menace. If you want to save $6,250, skip the Carbon package and enjoy a stealthier CTS-V.

Driving Impressions

Although the 2019 Cadillac CTS-V comes to life with an aggressive bark, the engine quickly settles into a pleasant burble at idle. At small throttle openings, this Cadillac sports sedan feels docile, composed and relaxed, an easygoing everyday machine. But with more aggressive use of the gas pedal, such as when passing that big rig when climbing the Cajon Pass, the supercharger sings its tune and rockets the CTS-V forward like precious few other cars on the road. The paddle shifters of the 8-speed automatic transmission facilitate quick gear changes, and the big Brembo brakes scrub vehicle speed with a confident ease. Switch to Sport mode and the gauges change to black-on-white as the suspension firms accordingly. Track mode, which loosens the reins of the electronic stability control, is entertaining but best reserved for the track.

Pricing Notes

The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the 2019 Cadillac CTS-V starts at about $89,000, a price that includes a $995 destination charge and a gas-guzzler tax of $1,300. Loaded with numerous options and accessories, the 2019 CTS-V can touch $110,000. The new Pedestal Edition -- a farewell model of sorts for the 3rd-generation CTS-V – is priced at $102,590. Pricier options on this potent midsize Cadillac sedan include the Carbon-Fiber Trim Package ($6,250), the Luxury Package ($2,500) and a power sunroof ($1,450). For comparison purposes, the similarly powerful Mercedes-AMG E63 starts at over $100,000, as does the 2019 BMW M5. The Lexus GS-F costs about the same as the CTS-V, but the Caddy has sharper reflexes. Before buying, always check the KBB Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for their new Cadillac CTS-V.

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Notable Equipment

The recipe for the 2019 Cadillac CTS-V starts with the supercharged 6.2-liter V8, which drives the rear wheels through an 8-speed automatic transmission with magnesium paddle shifters. Beyond that, there’s a strengthened chassis, adaptive suspension and lightweight wheels at each corner, where you’ll also find monstrous Brembo brakes (with 6-piston front calipers, 4-piston rears). Inside, there’s an attractive mix of leather and carbon-fiber trim, along with the CUE infotainment system, dual-zone automatic climate control, and a large 12.3-inch LCD instrument display that is reconfigurable. A Bose surround-sound audio system is standard, as are front and rear parking sensors. A curb-view camera is handy, helping to prevent the CTS-V driver from scraping those expensive wheels.

Notable Options

Crystal White Tricoat paint is a $600 option. Also available: a $6,250 Carbon-Fiber Trim Package that includes a hood vent, front splitter, rear spoiler and rear diffuser all made of the lightweight material. The $2,500 Luxury Package includes tri-zone climate control, a rear camera mirror, a split-folding rear seat (with armrest), heated outboard rear seats, power rear sunshades and a 110-volt power outlet. Recaro front seats, with 16-way adjustability, are a $2,300 option. If you plan to attend track-day events with your CTS-V, a $1,600 performance data and video recorder will add to the fun.

Favorite Features

SUPERCHARGED V8
The 6.2-liter V8 engine deserves star billing. With 640 horsepower and 630 lb-ft of torque, it's the same engine that’s under the hood of the Chevrolet Corvette Z06 and Camaro ZL1. In this Cadillac application, it feels smoother and a bit more refined.

MAGNETIC RIDE CONTROL
This system is far from new, but the 3rd-generation magneto-rheological dampers of the CTS-V work like magic, now even faster at making continuous damping adjustments that give this Cadillac unreal composure and comfort. Selectable drive modes include Touring, Sport, Snow and Track.

Under the Hood

Only one engine is available in the CTS-V, and it’s a good one: a supercharged and direct-injected 6.2-liter V8 that produces 640 horsepower and 630 lb-ft of torque. It powers the rear wheels through an 8-speed automatic transmission with quick-acting paddle shifters on the steering wheel. You can shift for yourself, or let the car's computer do it for you with remarkably good timing and precision. Considering the horsepower under the hood, the CTS-V manages a decent 21 mpg on the highway, thanks in part to Active Fuel Management, which deactivates selected cylinders on the highway for improved fuel economy.

6.2-liter supercharged V8
640 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
630 lb-ft of torque @ 3,600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/21 mpg

Editors' Notes

In our last Expert Review of the Cadillac CTS-V, we likened it to an American arrow aimed right at the hearts of expensive European sports sedans such as the BMW M5 and Mercedes-AMG E63. Melodramatic? Perhaps a bit, but we still feel that way. With its 640-horsepower supercharged V8 engine, rear-wheel drive, performance-tuned suspension and agile chassis, the 2019 Cadillac CTS-V -- a true 200-mph automobile -- has the goods to compete on the global stage. All for thousands less than those hallowed Europeans.

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