Deviating from my usual Suburban/Yukon XL preference on my last trip back to SoCal, I had a rental ’18 Cadillac CTS Premium Luxury AWD with the 3.6L V6 this time. Having had the car for a little over 3 weeks, I put 6,471 miles on it and thought I’d share my experiences. The car was built in Lansing, MI in August ’17, and had a little north of 700 miles on it when I got it.Exterior
I quite like the “art and science” mantra Cadillac adopted for this car’s design. The fit and finish on the exterior is excellent. Gaps are all even between body panels, and everything blends in perfectly. The doors shut just like a vault, which I very much liked, and everything has a nice, quality feel to it. I was quite impressed with the quality of the paintjob. The illuminating LEDs on the door handles is a nice touch at night, as is all the “Cadillac” script in the taillights and headlights. Interior
In short, I loved the interior. The fit and finish is excellent and everything blends together very nicely – except…the center armrest and the power seat control housing trim on the sides of the front seats. To get the bad out the way, in a typical GM fashion, the center armrest/storage bin cover and the seat trim panels just do not belong there. The quality of the plastic is inferior to the rest of the interior and feels like a last-minute arrangement. What a way to spoil a perfectly designed, quality interior.
With that out the way, the 20-way adjustable heated and cooled seats were fantastic. They are extremely comfortable, wide and perfect for long drives. Although I’m only 5’ 6”, the roof did feel a bit short, however, and I did have to watch it getting in and out of the car. When driving, the interior is extremely quiet, unless you decide to floor it, at which point, you hear a beautifully roaring 335 hp V6.
The heated steering wheel is a nice touch, and I’m sure will come in handy in winter…just not in Southern California.
The heads-up display (HUD) is awesome. The last car I drove that had this feature was a Corvette. You can select a range of information to be displayed along with vehicle speed, including speed limit, engine speed, compass, your proximity to the vehicle ahead of you and whatever music happens to be playing. Which brings me to CUE.Cadillac User Experience (CUE)
Although you can hook up your smart phone through Bluetooth for calls and music, if you’re looking to utilize any of the other features, you need to connect it to CUE though the available USB ports in the center storage bin. I had my Samsung Galaxy S8+ connected the whole time, running apps like Waze and Google Music. The system is pretty straight forward and simple to use, although it may lag for a moment or two sometimes. I was able to use Google Assistant with a touch of a button on the steering wheel when needed, whether to set a destination on Waze, search for something online or turn on/off phone features such as Bluetooth or hotspot.
The auto parking
feature does come in very handy in tight spots, and you can override it at any time. If you choose to park the car yourself, be it parallel or perpendicular, the Driver Awareness Package with front and rear sensors and cameras come in quite handy. If you do get too close, the system not only visually and audibly alerts you, but the driver’s seat vibrates five times. The same thing happens if you get too close to the vehicle ahead of you. The bird’s eye view of the vehicle also helps immensely if you’re trying to get into a very tight spot. I personally found this particularly useful in San Francisco.
The rear camera mirror comes in very handy. Flip it up, and you basically get a 180-degree view of the rear, and I found myself using the door mirrors less for lane changes. Not a good habit to get accustomed to perhaps, but it certainly made things easier. Flip the mirror back down, and you get your standard auto dim rearview mirror.
The Driver Assist Package, which comes with features like adaptive cruise control and automatic braking, is also a nice touch. Lane Keep Assist makes sure you stay in your lane, automatically steering the vehicle back in if required.
The navigation system is nicely put together and incorporates features like speed limits, depending on where you are. This can also be displayed on the HUD. Although I have to admit, I’ve used Waze a lot more than Cadillac’s navigation system simply because it does a better job at monitoring traffic conditions.
Climate control is easy to setup, either through the touchscreen of the touch buttons directly located underneath the display. Depending on ambient temperature and how you’ve arranged your personal settings, the seats can be set to cool automatically upon starting the engine. The system did a perfect job of maintaining a set temperature of 68 F on all my long trips.
The sound system was fantastic. As someone who often goes wild with aftermarket sound systems in my POVs, making adjustments and getting the perfect sound wasn’t all that hard with the Bose 13-speaker setup they got in there with active noise cancelation. The Drive
The 3.6L is mated to an 8L45 8-speed automatic with manual mode using paddle shifters on the steering wheel. Plenty of power when you need it, and good fuel economy for an engine this size. My average fuel economy was 39.8 MPG with a bit of a heavy right foot and Shell V-Power 93. The transmission shifts super smooth, and firm enough when needed.
Your floaty Cadillacs of yesteryear is now certainly a thing of the past, which I have some mixed feelings about. Although not as comfortable as something like a ’80 Fleetwood Brougham, the ride was plenty comfortable and handling was fantastic, thanks to Magnetic Ride Suspension. Minimal body roll, excellent cornering (even if you decide to go stupid). The 18” wheels come with Pirelli P Zero Nero rubber in 245/40R18 93V flavor (UTQG rating is 400 AA A). Road noise was little to none, the tires had great traction, even under wet conditions.
Although I’m not exactly sure what size discs and what type of calipers were on the car, I loved the brakes. Certainly reminded me of VWs I used to drive when I lived in the UK. They were firm, grabby and I experienced zero fade even under tough braking conditions.
No issues with oil consumption. I’m pretty sure I was running it on factory fill. The OLM was at 87% when I got the car and 6,471 miles later it was at 48%. I was told the car was going in for service anyway at the time of drop off.
Although not something commonly talked about, the HID headlights certainly brightened up your path beautifully and I could almost see 500 feet ahead! Driving on the PCH at Big Sur at midnight with little to no lighting was a breeze.Final Word
The only downside in my book was the interior trim I referenced earlier. It certainly spoils the rest of the interior that really nicely put together, but in a nutshell, this is one rental I wish I could have kept. I think I know what my next rental will be when I go back in March, and perhaps my next car…except you can probably add a V after the S for that one. The car is beautifully designed and put together. The 3.6L is smooth yet powerful, the transmission shifts like a dream, the car handles corners like it’s on rails albeit extremely comfortably, and the tech package IMO is great. Thanks for reading.