2008 Cadillac CTS DI V6 AWD Review

By Brendan Moore


In the interests of full disclosure, I am telling you right up front that I love this car. I am positively smitten.

So, if you have an anti-GM bias, you may as well stop reading here, because you’re not going to like what I have to say.

The CTS that Cadillac loaned me for a week had the direct injection (SIDI) V6 that is available as an option for the CTS and will undoubtedly find its way into poor relatives like Chevrolets in the future. It is 304 HP as opposed to the 263 HP of the standard-issue (SIFI) 3.6 liter V6. It is the top engine in the CTS lineup with the 3.6 liter on the bottom. Just as an aside, for people who want to go even faster, the CTS V-Series has a fire-breathing 550 HP V8 as the only engine available in the high-performance “V” designation (and not available in any other CTS model).

It also had the fulltime all-wheel-drive (AWD) system, which I had the chance to make use of during both an ice storm and a few inches of snowfall that occurred a few days apart during the time I had the car.

The car that Cadillac supplied to me also had just about everything else it could possibly have in terms of options, bringing the MSRP to a healthy $48,735 (with $745 destination charge) from a base of $34,545 (destination charge not included). I will do the math for you – that is $13,445 in optional equipment and covers things like the better brake system with the performance over-sized discs, the AWD, the Premium Luxury Package, which covers a tremendous amount of items, and the premium red paint on the car.

The Cadillac CTS with the 304 HP direct injection V6, the standard-equipment 6-speed automatic transmission and the AWD system is rated by the EPA at 17 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway, and my experience with the car tracked to the stated fuel economy. By the way, the higher-horsepower SIDI engine in the CTS gets better fuel mileage than the 263 HP SIFI engine.

The car is a very handsome vehicle, no doubt about it. The redesign done for this year’s model got everything right as far as I’m concerned. The previous look was too angular for me to love (although I liked it) and the smoothing out of some of those very sharp creases has done wonders for the car’s curb appeal. And my goodness, the interior design is just great. The center stack treatment is superb and will be imitated over and over again by other cars in the next few years. The big leap in material quality in the interior is also much-appreciated.

I would spend some time on all the high-tech electronics, the kicking stereo, the nice leather, comfort and convenience features, etc., but really, every luxury car has pretty much the same stuff inside these days, and the Cadillac is no exception. Its all swell and it all worked great. The car had no glaring omissions in luxury or technological features, and there was nothing it had that other cars of its ilk don’t have, like, say, a combination shoe shine and expresso machine in the glovebox, or a fur-lined sink in the back seat.

But, you ask plaintively, how does the damn thing drive?

Very, very well – thank you for asking.

I spent a lot of seat time in this Cadillac and I have to tell you, I’m impressed. It was a pleasure to drive and it was also a pleasure to drive fast. And I drove it fast in good weather and bad; I did not linger anywhere for long. I took it to my secret spot (the one filled with tight curves and uneven, undulating road surfaces) near where I live and did my best to upset the car. I was trying to wipe that luxury grin off its anthropomorphic being and I was trying to make that CTS work for a living.

I did the opposite; long-distance highway cruising at high speeds, the Cadillac CTS voraciously gobbling miles as we streaked towards our destination, cosseted in the lap of luxury.

I drove it to work in rush-hour traffic, enjoying the solidity and quietness of the CTS as I jockeyed for position in the inevitable traffic mayhem around Washington, D.C.

I think the direct injection AWD Cadillac CTS is a wonderful machine and a nice piece of work.

I was surprised at how good the new CTS is and furthermore, this is a car I would actually buy with my own money. Since I am a jaded, cynical auto journalist, that’s a big leap for me. There are not a lot of cars that I like this much. If you’re a buyer in this segment, you owe it to yourself to put the 2008 CTS on your list for a test drive.

COPYRIGHT Autosavant.net – All Rights Reserved

Author: Brendan Moore

Brendan Moore is a Principal Consultant with Cedar Point Consulting , a management consulting practice based in the Washington, DC area. He also manages Autosavant Consulting, a separate practice within Cedar Point Consulting. where he advises businesses connected to the auto industry. Cedar Point Consulting can be found at .

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  1. I just don’t believe you, that’s all. I had a 1990 Cadillac Eldorado that not only handled like a barge, had cheap materials inside, but also needed constant repairs and I will never buy another Cadillac again.

  2. You’re going to catch some heat with this. Lots of people don’t like the General.

  3. there a lots of difference between a 1990 Cadillac and a 2008 Cadillac kelemen.

    And I still like the General after all these years after years of disastrous models like the 1980 X-cars and Chevy Vega and bland models. Lots liked Toyota and Honda because of reliability, resale and to a latter extent, the “little guy”/underdog image, but now the roles are switched and Toyota and Honda are now the “big bad Goliath” and the General is the little guy/underdog.

    And the CTS Coupe begin to be see in the streets, to be more precise, some spyshots of the prototype like these pics on .

  4. It matters not which side of the fence you sit with regards to American cars; the CTS walks the walk.

  5. I’ve owned 5 BMW sedans, 4 5-ers, and 1 3-er. I have a new CTS and a BMW 5-er in my garage. My wife drives the BMW and although I love her, she is deinitiely a brand snob. She drives the BMW because she wants to drive a BMW, plain and simple. I’ve been working on her, though, looking for excuses to make her drive the Caddy, and she really likes driving it, but says she could never drive an American car as her own car because it just has the wrong kind of image she desires for herself. And she’s already admitted she likes being in the Cadillac better than her BMW, but she says she doesn’t want to pull up anywhere in an American car.

  6. You must be getting paid by GM to say such a thing that is so obviously a complete lie. No car from Gnereal Motors is as good a German car and no German car is as good or as well made as as a Lexus. And that is the truth, not your mindless congratulatory writing.

  7. A Lexus is not a car. It is an expensive appliance for people that don’t care about cars. By praising a Lexus, you wiped out any shred of value attached to your point of view. Go back to your well-thumbed copies of Consumer Reports, you’ll be happier with those like yourself.

  8. Two anonymouses back, I’ll play apologist for your wife for a minute:

    I can definitely say hands-down the new CTS is a more likeable car than the BMW 5er, but both represent a different kind of luxury.

    The Cadillac image is unapologetically American; very straightforward, gregarious, loud and grinning from sidemarker-to-sidemarker.

    BMW’s aesthetic is much more demure and complex, an almost scientific kind of luxury. For instance: BMW has an Art Cars program. Cadillac doesn’t. There you go.

    Both cars are extremely well-made, both feature very fluid handling and both make driving in any condition feel ridiculously easy.

    You can be an a$$hat in either car.

    I like both because I like both, but I think it’s completely understandable that someone could be turned-on by one and turned-off by another.

  9. What Cadillac was before the Seventies was not what it was for thirty years starting in the Seventies and what it is now is not what it was during that recent thirty-year period. Things changed for the worse for thirty years, and now things have changed dramatically for the better. People that diss on Cadillac need to get with the current reality. Cadillac makes a great car now.

  10. uki, that was sort of confusing to follow, but you’re right. People need to get with the current program.

  11. I can say that from a buyers point of view and a loving husband…I feel that having my wife in a good and safe car are the most important things to me. Although the safety and reliability are important image is also important. We drove everything and we found that Mercedes was our pick of choice. We loved it I mean absolutely loved it, that is until we sat in the Caddy CTS DI. The panoramic sunroof gave a feel of freedom and the response of the vehicle was that of the Mercedes but the price was what sold us for a 2008 caddy CTS DI we would pay nearly 2 grand less then the 2008 Mercedes C-class…but the caddy had more options. trust me i wanted to put her in a Lexus or a Mercedes or BMW but nothing really seemed sensible or reasonable at that…loved the CTS hands down

  12. I own a 2008 Cadillac CTS DI. I am young and like to push it to the limits. I have not put 66,000 on the car and have never had any issues with it.

    I live in the Canadian arctic where it is effin cold for 8 months of the year. There aren’t too many cars that last in this weather and conditions, but the caddi has stood the test of times well thus far.

    The only issue I have with it is room in the back seat 😉 and it is two low to the ground. You have to be very careful while parking it, because the front bumper will hit the curbe.

  13. I just brought a 2008 cts4 AWD the car seems

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