2009 Cadillac CTS Expert Review

You'll Like The 2009 Cadillac CTS If...

If you want your performance sport sedan fast and fun, yet quiet, smooth and refined, the 2009 Cadillac CTS-V is easily the best value out there. It's affordably priced and can run with, or outrun, just about anyone.

You May Not Like The 2009 Cadillac CTS If...

You may be happier with a more expensive prestige import-brand ultra-performance sedan. Or, if you don't need all that performance, today's more fuel-efficient V6 sport sedans, domestic and import, perform very well for a lot less money.

What's New

The highly refined new 2009 CTS-V begins with a major advantage over its predecessor: it's based on the vastly improved 2008 CTS, which is at least the equal of anything in its class. Into this sophisticated new platform, Cadillac has inserted a new 556-horsepower 6.2-liter supercharged V8, a somewhat tamer sibling of the mighty, hand-built 638-horsepower "LS9" V8 that powers the new Corvette ZR1.

Interior Features

Inside the CTS-V, hand-stitched premium leather adorns the instrument panel, doors and center console, while the decorative trim is a new Obsidian material. A special microfiber material on the seats, steering wheel and shifter give the look and feel of suede without suede's drawbacks. State-of-the-art infotainment features include standard Bose digital surround-sound audio with a 40-gigabyte hard drive and hands-free Bluetooth capability and available advanced navigation with a pop-up screen. Optional super-supportive Recaro performance seats 14-way adjustments include pneumatic bolster adjustments for both cushions and backrests.

Exterior Features

The 2009 Cadillac CTS-V's exterior builds on the standard CTS' already assertive stance with beefy Michelin Pilot Sport 2 Z-rated "summer" performance tires on 19-inch (19 x 9 inch front, 19-9.5 inch rear) forged aluminum wheels. A raised hood accommodates the supercharged engine, and both fascias are specific to the CTS-V. The larger, mesh-covered grille and lower air intakes in front provide additional cooling for engine and brakes, while large chrome exhausts protrude from a deep lower valence in back.

Driving Impressions

We spent quality time with manual and automatic 2009 Cadillac CTS-Vs on public roads and on a private "country club" race course and came away mightily impressed. The most powerful Cadillac ever and GM's (and America's) first high-performance sedan that's competitive in every way with the best European ultra-performance entries, it is literally a quiet, comfortable, highly civilized four-door Corvette in the best sense of that comparison. Step on it hard, and it goes like a rocket. Zero to 60 mph comes up (in first gear) in 3.9 seconds with none of the previous model's rear-axle antics, and it hits the quarter mile in 12 seconds at 118 mph with little effort. Thanks to Magnetic Ride Control, hard-accelerating, hard-cornering and hard-braking track laps are equally composed, the steering is precise and responsive, and no matter how hard or long you beat them, the race-bred Michelins and big red Brembos never tire or fade.

Pricing Notes

Compared to its prestige import competition, Cadillac's new 556-horsepower CTS-V is an ultra-performance mid-size sport-sedan bargain at its MSRP (Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price) of just over $60K, which includes destination and a federal gas guzzler tax. Be sure to check Fair Purchase Prices to see what buyers in your area are actually paying for their CTS-V. As for the competition, Audi's 435-horsepower all-wheel-drive V10 S6 and BMW's 500-horsepower V10 M5 list for about $80K and 90K, respectively, while Mercedes' 507-horse V8 E63 AMG starts just under $90K. However, the CTS-V is slightly smaller with less rear-seat room. Down the road, the CTS-V will retain residual values that are above those of the E63, on par with the M5, and just slightly below those of the S6. The more affordable (mid-high $50K range) V8-powered BMW M3, Mercedes C63 AMG and Lexus new IS-F are one size class down.

Notable Equipment

Beyond the seriously stunning performance from its 556-horsepower supercharged V8 and standard Tremec six-speed manual transmission, the 2009 CTS-V comes well equipped with all the usual luxury sedan features plus GM's Magnetic Ride Control (MRC) suspension, Michelin Pilot Sport 2 "summer" performance tires, heavy duty Brembo brakes, hand-stitched leather-lined interior and Bose digital surround-sound audio with a 40-gigabite hard drive and hands-free Bluetooth capability.

Notable Options

The 2009 Cadillac CTS-V's small selection of options includes a six-speed automatic transmission (at no charge), Recaro performance seat package, an advanced navigation system and an UltraView "double" sunroof.

Favorite Features

Magnetic Ride Control (MRC)
Billed as "the world's fastest-reacting suspension technology" with selectable Tour and Sport modes, it uses shocks controlled by electro-magnets instead of mechanical valves to instantaneously adjust damping to surface and dynamic conditions.

Six-speed Automatic Transmission
The CTS-V's new Hydra-Matic 6L90 electronically controlled, twin-plate clutch six-speed automatic is as quick and smooth as any we've driven. It has tap up/tap down gear control with steering-wheel paddles, selectable modes and Performance Algorithm Shifting to provide a performance-oriented shift pattern during sustained aggressive driving.

Under the Hood

The 2009 Cadillac CTS-V's surprisingly smooth new 6.2-liter supercharged "LSA" V-8 pumps out a road-ripping 556 horsepower and 551 pound-feet of torque. A somewhat tamer sibling of the hand-built "LS9" supercharged V8 that generates an incredible 638 horsepower and 604 pounds-feet in the new Corvette ZR1, it is a Corvette-based pushrod (cam-in-block) V8, not a multivalve, double-overhead-cam design like Cadillac's Northstar V8 and most other modern engines. Its integral intercooler controls intake air temperature to optimize output, and its performance-enhancing supercharger's new four-lobe rotor is surprisingly quiet.

6.2-liter V8
556 horsepower @ 6100 rpm
551 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: N/A

Editors' Notes

Cadillac shocked the auto world in 2002 with the angular "Art and Science" look of its all-new CTS sport sedan. Then, it added the marque's first true high-performance variant in many years, the 2004 CTS-V. Two more performance models joined the line for 2006 – the larger STS-V Sedan and the Corvette-based XLR-V Roadster – both powered by a supercharged Cadillac Northstar V8. That first CTS-V, an entry-luxury mid-size sedan with a potent Corvette engine underhood, was best described as quick but crude. But this 2009 iteration is as smooth as it is fast and athletically agile.

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Owner Reviews

4.26

38 Reviews

42% 42% 16% 2 star 0% 1 star 0%

Owner reviews are verified by our team and cannot be altered or removed.

Cadillac CTS -- the stylish performer with the driver in mind.

I love the styling of my Cadillac CTS. Even though it's going on 10 years old, it still looks brand new. That's probably because I keep it well-maintained and garaged when not in use, but also due to the quality styling. It is a luxury car that is also high performance, even though it's not the high-end performance version model. I'd probably go for another vehicle from Cadillac, if the price and incentives are right.

- Suzanne S

Style and elegance with dependability.

My car is gorgeous! Very comfortable. The interior is beautifully designed as well as comfortable. I feel safe because its heavy and sturdy. You can tell how sturdily it is built simply by closing the door. The cockpit is beautifully designed with subtle lighting which is concealed and produces a faint glow. The moonroof is an added feature that I enjoy when weather permits.

- Lisa B

It is luxurious and looks great.

It is very comfortable and accelerates well. No problems besides unsatisfactory gas mileage. It is very comfortable and accelerates well. No problems besides unsatisfactory gas mileage. It is very comfortable and accelerates well. No problems besides unsatisfactory gas mileage. It is very comfortable and accelerates well. No problems besides unsatisfactory gas mileage.

- Benjamin C