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2019 Cadillac CTS-V Review

Terry Box | August 14, 2019
2019 Cadillac CTS-V Review

This Caddy doesn’t cruise, won’t let you snooze and never, ever wears fender skirts.

It prefers chewing up Porsche Panameras. Seriously.

After all, the sullen 2019 Cadillac CTS-V I had recently is the hooligan Caddy, the sedan that wandered into the Corvette shop at GM looking for trouble and horsepower – and found both.

As you may recall, foundering Cadillac sought to redefine itself in the early 2000s, introducing the 2003 CTS as a meek mid-size response to the invasion of German luxury sedans.

Over the years, however, the CTS evolved nicely and with the introduction of the first generation of V-performance models in 2004, Cadillac finally got a bite or two of bratwurst.

The new V is a whole mouth-full – a 640-horsepower semi-civilized beast that is probably the best-handling, best-performing American sedan ever.

So, of course, GM officially ceased production of the slow-selling CTS last month to make way for the new CT5 sedan.

The world just got a lot quieter and slower, I’m sorry to report.

Granted, the silver CTS-V I had – introduced in 2015 as a third-gen V-model -- no longer looks fresh, but it was still as striking as some of Cadillac’s be-finned, skirt-wearing boulevard-monsters from the past, just in a totally different way.

Low, muscular and chiseled, the CTS intimidates lesser cars with a vaguely V-shaped chain grille and hard headlamps that cut deeply back atop its front fenders.

A fine-looking hood with a raised power dome and three carbon-fiber vents in its center hinted at the big heat beneath them, as did a deep carbon-fiber splitter up front that barely cleared most curbs.

Slightly flared fenders, meanwhile, contrasted nicely with edgy sides that featured a crisp, sloping character line running through the door-handles.

In back, four three-inch diameter exhaust pipes stood ready to roar, while the V’s taut body settled tightly on 19-inch spoked wheels wrapped with 265/35 tires up front and 295/30 meats in back.

From every angle, it looked like what it is: a hot rod in a steel-colored tuxedo.

The 6.2-liter V-8 beneath the Caddy’s hood is a basic supercharged Corvette LT5 engine spewing out 640-horsepower and tied to an intuitive 8-speed automatic.

Like all real hot-rods, the V is rear-wheel-drive, but thanks mostly to a well-developed platform, suspension and steering, you can actually use the horses – sort of.

Just ease into them.

In “sport” mode, the V fires off with a great, low snarl sounding like something from deep in a jungle.

If you nudge the loud-pedal lightly, it responds smoothly with a medium-size wave of rich torque, content to effortlessly putter around town at 30 or 40 mph.

Put the pedal to the metal, however, and the CTS erupts into a thunderous, shrieking snarl, spinning its tires and wagging its tail as it blazes to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds, according to Car and Driver.

The fire-breathing engine’s only limit seemed to be fuel – as in 14 miles per gallon and sometimes that’s a stretch. If you like to drive, though, the 4,200-pound V dives into corners with more lively grace and confidence than any of the German sedans I’ve driven lately and steers better than a BMW M5.

That tended to ease all gas pains – even while dealing with a fairly stiff ride.

Did I mention, incidentally, that my CTS labored beneath the weight of a startling $106,000 window-sticker?

That might not be the sort of news you want before entering the sedan’s somber black interior.

A dashboard in pliable plastic offered a textured hood over the instrument panel and 8-inch display screen, for example, but the screen was controlled by Cadillac’s maddening CUE system.

Somehow, someone at Caddy decided that sliding your fingers over horizontal bars beneath the car’s climate and audio systems was better than buttons.

It’s not.

However, the car is capable of providing a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot if that pops your bacon, and was equipped with lane-change, blind-zone and rear cross-traffic alerts.

Those alerts, by the way, are some of the most irritating in the automotive kingdom, buzzing the sides of the driver’s seat when activated and sounding like serious, possibly terminal intestinal problems.

At least the supportive black Recaro seats with suede inserts looked good. But if you’re taller than me, leg- and head-room in back is tight for anyone over 6 feet tall.

My V practically groaned from the weight of $18,000 in options, including the carbon-fiber package for the hood and front-end ($6,250); carbon-fiber engine cover ($1,295); the luxury package ($2,500); Recaro seats ($2,300); and a sunroof ($1,450).

I truly hate to see the V go, but I’m sure they can still be found on dealer lots and I would guess they are being sold at substantial discounts.

They could be the best high-performance bargain anywhere.

2019 Cadillac CTS-V

  • What I liked most: Virtually everything under the hood and body of the angry, road-eating V.
  • What I would change: The interior, which needs better materials and design, but of course, won’t get them now.
  • MSRP: Base price, $86,995; as equipped, $106,180.
  • Official color: Satin Steel Metallic.
  • Fuel economy: 14 miles per gallon in town, 21 on the highway and 16 mpg combined with filler on the right.
  • Odometer reading when tested: 5,517 miles.
  • Spare tire: None – air-pump instead.
  • Weight: 4,168 pounds.
  • Length-width-height: 197.6 inches long/72.2 inches wide/57.2 inches tall.
  • Fuel-tank capacity: 19 gallons.
  • Towing capacity: 1,000 pounds.
  • 2019 Cadillac CTS-V in a few words: An ultra high-performance sedan that likely won’t be topped anytime soon by U.S. automakers.
  • Warranty: Four-year, 50,000-mile overall warranty and six-year, 70,000-mile powertrain protection.
  • Final assembly location: Lansing, Michigan.
  • Manufacturer’s website: www.cadillac.com
  • E-mail me at terry@carprousa.com
  • Up next: 2019 Nissan Pathfinder SV Rock Creek Edition

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Tags: Cadillac, 2019 Cadillac CTS-V, Sedan, 2019, vehicle reviews
David Philllips
Jerry, you have SO MUCH in each week's newsletter that it takes me two days to get through it all (I make it a point NOT to move my lips while reading). Not a complaint. My career was 35 years in publishing. Have sold all manner of books; edited newsletters and was weekly columnist in THE ELGIN COURIER---so I'm a "print" guy. Your encyclopedic knowledge of cars is matched by what I think is a certain degree of modesty. That is to say, you likely consider it bragging to talk/write about how great the newsletter is. However, even though I know there is no Pulitzer for automotive newsletters, I am confident yours has received all kinds of awards/recognition. (The Smithsonian has Archie Bunker's chair, so SURELY there was been some national acclaim for your weekly missive.) The trick is to let your fans know what recognition it has received without appearing to be a braggart. I'll leave that up to your capable staff. BTW: How many staff members do you have at Car Pro?
Keep up the great job of communication. I learn something new every week on the radio show.
David Phillips
The Car Pro
David, thanks so much for your kind words. I work easily 20 hours every week on the newsletter so your praise is greatly appreciated. if it has won any awards, I'm not aware of it, and that is OK with me, I do it for the listeners and subscribers.

We have a number of people on staff, but only three of us actually work on the publication. Amy Plemons our Executive Producer does a lot of work on it. Kevin puts the DFW version together after Amy and I get done writing, usually on Wednesday. Amy posts all the stories to the website.

Again, I think you for the kind words, for listening to the show, and for subscribing!

Jerry Reynolds