Cadillac has made a huge comeback in the past decade, and for the most part its sharply designed, luxuriously appointed and well-engineered vehicles have been much more competitive in their respective segments. An excellent example is Cadillac’s midsize luxury sport sedan, the CTS. Blessed with world-class handling, an available turbocharged V6 and a nicely appointed interior, the 2021 Cadillac CTS could very well have what it takes to win you over.
Like many of its competitors, the 2021 CTS comes standard with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine. It’s not a great way to start, admittedly, as this 2.0-liter mill trails the pack in terms of both refinement and fuel economy. Better to set your sights on one of the two V6 engines that Cadillac offers for 2021. The first is a freshly designed 3.6-liter, 335-horsepower V6 that, like the four, comes paired with a new eight-speed automatic transmission. Those looking for even more performance will gravitate toward the CTS Vsport and its thrilling 420-hp, twin-turbocharged V6.
In any trim, the CTS offers exemplary handling that few luxury sedans can match. Styling is subjective, of course, but we think the 2021 CTS shows off Cadillac’s sharply chiseled design language as well as any Caddy yet. In terms of features, the CTS checks most of the expected boxes, offering niceties like a panoramic sunroof, adaptive suspension dampers, tri-zone automatic climate control and even a self-parking system that can handle both parallel and perpendicular jobs. The CUE infotainment system is more of a mixed bag, but it gets a new, faster processor for 2021 and now offers the convenience of Apple CarPlay, with Android Auto compatibility due before the end of the year.
The 2021 Cadillac CTS midsize sedan is offered in six trim levels: Standard, Luxury, Performance, Premium, Vsport and Vsport Premium. The ultrahigh-performance 2018 CTS-V is reviewed separately.
The CTS Standard comes with the four-cylinder engine, 17-inch alloy wheels, Brembo front brakes, heated exterior mirrors, automatic headlights, rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, remote ignition, keyless ignition and entry, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, dual-zone automatic climate control, a manual tilt-and-telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel with paddle shifters, eight-way power front seats (with two-way power lumbar), driver memory settings, leatherette (premium vinyl) upholstery and fixed rear seats with a trunk pass-through.
Additional technology features include OnStar telematics, 4G data connectivity with WiFi capability, wireless smartphone charging, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, the base Cadillac User Experience (CUE) infotainment system (without navigation), an 8-inch touchscreen interface, voice controls and an 11-speaker surround-sound Bose audio system with three USB ports, an auxiliary audio jack and satellite and HD radio.
An optional Seating package includes upgraded exterior mirrors with driver-side auto-dimming, leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, split-folding rear seatbacks, a power-adjustable heated steering wheel and additional LED interior ambient lighting.
Upgrading to the CTS Luxury adds the above Seating package plus available V6 power, adaptive xenon headlights, a panoramic sunroof, four-way power lumbar for the front passengers, a navigation system, a 13-speaker Bose audio system and the Driver Awareness package (automatic high beam control, automatic wipers, lane-keeping assist, Cadillac’s vibrating “Safety Alert Seat” for the driver, forward collision alert, a blind-spot monitor, lane-change alert, rear cross-traffic alert and lane-departure warning).
The CTS Performance comes with the Luxury’s features and options plus 18-inch wheels (optional on Luxury), adaptive magnetic suspension dampers, a self-parking system (with both parallel and perpendicular capability) and — somewhat confusingly — a Luxury package consisting of illuminated door handles and sill plates, a head-up display, a 110-volt power outlet, tri-zone automatic climate control, heated rear seats, manual rear sunshades and a power rear window sunshade.
A surround-view camera system that provides a bird’s-eye view of the car is standard for Performance and higher trims, while the optional Driver Assist package adds adaptive cruise control and a collision mitigation system with automatic braking. The Performance Seat and Cluster package adds 20-way front sport seats, alloy pedals and a high-definition 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster with upgraded graphics for 2021.
The CTS Premium starts with the Performance’s features and options and adds different 18-inch wheels, extended leather upholstery and an advanced theft-deterrent package.