American Luxury Strikes Back | 2018 Cadillac CT6
We're big fans of full-size luxury cars, considering we've owned one of the best ever made for the past few years. We honestly never thought we'd be driving around in a Cadillac though, as it was one of the brands we admitted we'd never bother with, yet here we are! Not only was the 2018 Cadillac CT6 3.0L Twin Turbo Platinum (huge mouth full, I know) a great looking full-size luxury sedan, but we think it's one of the best values available today, offering plenty of features to customers at a significantly better price than the base model 7 Series.
Our test model came fully loaded, with the range-topping 3.0L V6 Twin Turbo engine producing 404 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque, matted to an 8-speed automatic transmission with flappy paddles. This was also the Platinum trim, offering all the features and luxuries one could hope for, so bear with us as we list as many of them throughout this review as possible.
First off we need to talk about this design. I've gone through my own love/hate (mostly hate) phase with Cadillac's early 2000s designs with their sharp edges and harsh lines. The CT6 is both new and existing design elements blended into one gorgeous car. The front end features those signature cascading headlights with vertical LED DRLs and lower LED corning lamps. No fog lights adorn the new breed of Cadillac, but GM is using what they call Indirect Fire LED in their headlight technology, which is just a fancy way of saying they work great at night.
The front also hides the forward 360º camera, forward radar shield for adaptive cruise control and autonomous braking, and a night vision camera hidden in the grille. Cadillac was the first auto manufacturer to incorporate infrared technology for night vision in their 2000 Cadillac Deville but discontinued in 2004. This is the first GM product to sport night vision since then.
I find that the Cadillac XTS is a bulkier vehicle, despite being smaller in every way than the CT6. This car rides low to the ground, has a wider stance, and ultimately feels like it has a more elongated profile than the other vehicles in GM's line up, and it should. Unlike their other models, the CT6 shares it's platform with no other vehicle on earth, this was an all-new platform designed specifically for the new CT6.
The door handles all feature embedded LED lights and puddle lights are located in the mirrors. All 4 doors also feature smart key access, so you can unlock the car from any door.
The back end continues with that older styling found on previous models, which you can see better with the CT6 parked next to the 2005ish CTS. The tail lights are still large blocks of red that curve up along the side of the trunk. There are parking sensors located along the back and sides of the bumpers, and the quad exhaust helps to give this car a sportier appearance. The rear trunk is fully powered, and sports the dual camera system which powers the 360º cameras and rearview camera.
We drove the G12 BMW 750Li xDrive a couple years ago, and recently as of a few weeks prior to this article, so we have a good idea as to what the competition is doing with their interiors. We found the CT6 to have an excellent interior design and layout, although we do acknowledge that some will find it to be too chaotic. There's 4 different materials used on the dashboard, including soft leather, perforated leather, wood, and carbon fibre. We like it, others might not.
The large 10.2" touch screen is one of the largest we've used in a car to date, and offers Android Auto and Apple CarPlay without a subscription. The navigation software works well, it wasn't our favourite but it is better than some of the other systems that we've used. The audio in this car is truly out of this world though, using Bose's first Panaray home theatre technology in a car, delivering a personalized surround sound experience for all passengers through the 34 speakers found throughout the car, including those in the pop-up deck, front headrests, and rear centre heat console. This is one of the first Bose systems we've truly liked over the competition.
We also managed to get apps like Netflix and YouTube to work by connecting a Roku device to the rear entertainment system. We discuss it in further detail in our PRN_tech article. The rear 10 inch screens worked very well also, featuring BluRay support, along with HDMI and USB inputs. Two wireless chargers and a remote control come with the rear entertainment system, so kids can watch movies in the back without interrupting your conversation or music up front.
The driver's gauge cluster has plenty of detail and customization, one of the best we've used. You can see the full media information for what you're listening to, including station, song, and artist name. Turbo spooling and night vision can also be accessed through the cluster computer.
The CT6 is has a quad-zone automatic climate control system, that allows the 4 outboard occupants the comfort of adjusting the temperature to their liking, however the system is limited in comparison to systems found on BMW or Mercedes. The front two zones share the same fan speed in direction, as do the two rear, whereas a true quad-zone system found on the 7 Series or S-Class allow each passenger their own fan speed, direction, and temperature independent of the other zones.
You do get an additional set of roof vents for the rear passengers which can be adjusted along with the vents in the centre console. This is ideal for business professionals being driven around, Uber passengers, or children. Having more airflow is always a great plus.
In terms of seating and comfort, this is easily one of the most relaxing vehicles we've driven to date. All 4 outboard seats offer the same level of comfort and relaxation, with multiple heat settings, ventilation, and many massaging profiles. The front seats can be adjusted further with specific seat controls that can be viewed on the front infotainment screen. The rear seats have a reclining mode so that passengers can lay back or sit upright, and that can be disabled from the front window lockout button.
Rear seating space wasn't bad, we haven't driven the short wheelbase 7 Series, however it does feel closer to the SWB despite having a slightly longer length. It's comfortable for two adults or children to sit in the back seats, but if you ultimately need that extra legroom you will need to look elsewhere, as a longer version of the CT6 might not come to fruition anymore.
Performance & Handling
Many still firmly believe that a V8 is a must in order for a vehicle to be considered part of the full-size luxury segment, and unfortunately the CT6 does not include one. A 3.6L V6 can be optioned, but this model comes with the smaller, more powerful 3 litre twin turbo. We found ample power when needed, allowing us to breeze past slower traffic when merging onto the highways. The engine was also relatively fuel efficient for the size of the CT6, averaging under 10L/100km during our week with it.
The only downside to the engine performance is the 8-speed automatic transmission, we found sometimes the wrong gear would be selected and the car would take a few seconds when putting the pedal to the floor. This can be rectified by using the flappy paddles or putting the car into Sport mode which will increase throttle response and hold gears longer. Alternatively, the Snow mode decreases everything and makes winter driving much easier with the AWD system. We found snow mode paired with excellent winter tires gave us absolute control during snow storms.
That control was also aided with GM's magnetic ride suspension. We mentioned in our TestDrive Spotlight episode on this car, along with the Cadillac Escalade we filmed earlier, that it's difficult to really feel the difference between a traditional suspension setup and the magnetic one, since we didn't have two vehicles with either setup available to test back to back. We did find that the magnetic system kept the car very level during cornering, something that's a real must for a full-size luxury flagship such as this CT6.
Probably one of the most interesting features of the CT6 is the Super Cruise Control function, which uses the electronic steering, lane keep system, and adaptive cruise control radar to drive for you on the highways. Once the steering wheel icon turns on on your cluster, you can push the button and take your hands off the wheel. Sensors along the top of the steering wheel make sure you're still paying attention to the road, but you are able to let the car take over if you want.
The system is still limited, it doesn't automatically change lanes for you, so you do need to take control of the wheel and make your own lane changes manually, but if you let the blue light flash long enough it will resume it's autonomous driving after a few seconds. We enjoyed using the system whenever we could, as it seems the navigation software determines what roads are allowed, and the camera and sensors up front whether or not it can read the lanes.
We were tempted to take over in certain situations, but overall the car did everything properly when driving for us. We do wonder who ends up being responsible in the event the car hits a pothole, at this time the technology does not maneuver around obstacles like that, but we imagine since the system is dependent on the driver paying attention, the driver will still be liable for damaged rims.
We really loved driving this car, and think that it really puts Cadillac back on the map when it comes to full-size American luxury. They have a long way to catch up to the Mercedes-Benz and BMW if they want to add over-the-top amenities and luxuries to their vehicles, but this is in no way Luxury on a Compromise. We found this car to have all the features we expected, a fantastic interior and exterior design, and a price tag significantly more affordable than the competition.
Some are still going to pass on the Cadillac due to it's country of origin, but we feel this car has serious potential. We really hope to drive this vehicle more, and if we could afford to spend $100,745.00 CAD on a vehicle, this would likely be the one we'd take.
You can watch our full episode of TestDrive Spotlight on the 2018 Cadillac CT6 3.0L Twin Turbo Platinum below: