Some twenty years ago Cadillac set out to regain its former glory and compete with the world’s finest luxury cars on the planet. You have to give them credit because they tenaciously stuck with it and kept improving. Today Cadillac can hold it’s head high among the world’s elite while undercutting them on price and offering similar or better features than the competition. Certainly some groundbreaking ones as well. With both the CTS and the ATS garnering praise from the motoring press in both normal and V-Series trim, Cadillac introduced the CT6. Designed to replace the XTS as Cadillac’s flagship, it was meant to communicate the values that are important to Cadillac and it’s customers: style, comfort, technology, and performance. Essentially exhibiting the essence of their mantra of “Art and Science”, it succeeds beautifully.
A squared shape with flowing lines characterize the CT6. There’s a boldness to the design, an underlying sense of strength through engineering, and graceful and intentional motion. The sharp creases in the body hint at the cut of an expensive business suit. The car looks the business and it’s as capable as a boardroom raider. The lines are simple, spare, inspired – and yet, wonderfully complex all at once. The devil is in the details, as they say, and the CT6’s designers spared no details.
Inside, luxury abounds. There are no options available on the CT6 Platinum AWD because none are needed. The car comes fully loaded with equal amenities for both front and back seat passengers. All seats are heated and air-conditioned. All seats are electrically adjustable to fit any size person. All seats have 16-way massagers built into them. All seats have access to video screens on which media can be played; in the back seats, the screens rise up out of the seat backs then align vertically. In the back fold-down armrest, there are also two sets of Cadillac-branded headphones and a remote for the video system. Sunscreens rise up to cover the rear windows. The seats are decently bolstered and firm but comfortable. The materials are all high-quality. Real wood and carbon fiber are used throughout the interior. Fit and finish are superb. The ride is quiet, with very little wind or tire noise. It’s probably the most luxurious interior this side of the S-Class but without it’s price.
The car is powered by a 3.0L V6 twin-turbo engine that makes 404 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque. It provides adequate power for the 4,400 lb car, allowing it to overtake and pass other cars with ease. It never feels underpowered, but neither does it feel overpowered either. The power is routed through an 8-speed automatic transmission and distributed to all four wheels. It always feels sure-footed and confident. The turbo engine provides excellent acceleration, though you can encounter some lag when diving through a corner. Remembering that and getting on the throttle a bit earlier helps eliminate the lag, but in an otherwise flawless drivetrain, it stands out as a glaring flaw. Of course, you have to be really pushing the car to notice it and the CT6’s demeanor encourages more mellow and relaxed driving.
However, should you want to make the CT6 dance, I assure you it knows some moves. Utilizing the most updated version of the utterly brilliant magnetic ride control system, that can read the inputs coming from all four corners of the suspension and adjust the ride over 1,000 times per second, the CT6 can tackle the twistiest, most demanding roads you know. It will not only merely handle it, but it will amaze you. Country two-lane roads with dips and rises, and off-camber curves and tight corners failed to fluster the CT6. It simply did what we asked of it and shrugged like it was no big deal. I could have had two kids in the back watching movies and I doubt they would have noticed that I was trying to achieve pole position on some tricky back country roads. Cadillac’s magnetic ride control technology is nothing short of astounding, and they use it to excellent effect.
The brakes, hiding behind the stylish 20” wheels, are large and ventilated and do an excellent job of stopping the large car, no matter how fast it’s traveling. They have excellent feel, giving good feedback and not grabbing suddenly.
As good as it drives, it’s so loaded with technology that it’s easy to overlook it’s performance. We’ve been over the seating luxuries already, but the CT6 Platinum AWD has a few other trick pieces of technology that will impress you. The first is called SuperCruise. Lane-keeping programs that operate in tandem with the cruise control function aren’t new. They’ve been on the market for a few years. They steer the car down the road when cruise control is engaged as long as the driver touches the steering wheel every 10 seconds to let the car know he’s paying attention. Cadillac has taken that technology and added a new key feature – a video camera on the dash that watches the driver’s face to see if he’s paying attention. As long as the algorithms determine that the driver is paying attention, SuperCruiser will happily steer the CT6 down any major freeway in the US, breaking for slowdowns and speeding back up when the road clears, eliminating driver involvement. You know it’s working if the bar along the top of the steering wheel is lit green. If the algorithms sense the driver isn’t paying attention, say he’s looking down at his phone, reading a book, or climbing into the back seat to watch a movie on the pop-up screens, it warns that it knows you’re not paying attention by lighting up the steering wheel bar blue. If that doesn’t get the driver to pay attention, it lights up red and begins flashing. If the driver begins paying attention again, the bar goes back to solid green and SuperCruise keeps handing the driving. If the driver is now pouring himself a bowl of cereal in the back and could care less about the flashing red bar, SuperCruise begins braking the car and pulling off the side of the road. Very slick technology. There are more advanced systems out there on the market, but not with the trustworthiness of Cadillac’s system nor at the same price point.
The second technological feature that got our attention was one that Cadillac first introduced a number of years ago. The Platinum CT6 now comes standard with an infrared thermal imaging night vision system. When activated, the digital speedometer on the dash shrinks and moves to the left and the feed from the night vision system’s camera appears in the center of the dash. Unaffected by light, it highlights heat signatures instead. So animals, pedestrians, other vehicles, and electrical transformers on power polls all stand out vividly on the screen to help avoid potentially deadly accidents with deer, moose, and moody teens out walking along the road in dark clothes at night. You can’t rely too heavily on it for night driving because things like stop signs and traffic lights don’t stand out on the screen (no heat signature). Cadillac advises you to simply glance at it as you drive, watching for bright spots ahead.
The CT6 has plenty of other little nuances that will win you over. Door handles that light up as you approach the vehicle after dark, seat belts that cinch up tight as you start driving, a raft of sensors to help avoid accidents, a large panoramic sunroof to illuminate the interior. Cameras all the way around the car that assist with backing up and pulling into parking spots. Did I mention the 16-way massage seats for all four primary seats? Heavenly. Utterly heavenly.
As a flagship, the CT6 does an excellent job of representing and demonstrating Cadillac’s strengths. The only way to improve it would be a little more performance and later this year, Cadillac is releasing the CT6 V-Sport, which should add some more excitement to the package. We hope to drive it soon and we’ll let you know how it stacks up. In the meantime, the CT6 Platinum AWD will proudly and capably lead Cadillac into the future.