2010 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon Review – Yes, wagons can be cool again

Cadillac Expert Reviews

By Twain Mein


  • Smooth and powerful 304 hp V6
  • Excellent road feel that is smooth, communicative, and refined
  • Handling performance that rivals the European sedans
  • Unique styling


  • Uncomfortably hard front seats
  • Rear seat access is limited
  • Time lag with full throttle acceleration
  • Steering wheel shifters don’t automatically override into manual mode

Ruling: If you’re going to get a 4-door, skip the sedan and just get a wagon!

The Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon is a ray of hope for U.S. auto manufacturers and likely one of the best products made by GM. As GM has been forced to shed it’s brands (Hummer, Saturn, Saab, Pontiac, and Oldsmobile), they’ve turned to their marquee brand to reinvigorate demand. Cadillacs used to be flashy and large with sumptuous rides – but at the cost of any real driver involvement. With the CTS, Cadillac dramatically reintroduces a more dynamic driving environment and an excellent blend of handling and comfort.

The results are impressive. In fact, the sedan on which it is based, won Motor Trend’s Car of the Year award in 2008. And the CTS and Wagon variant were on Car and Driver’s Top 10 Best Car list for 2010. Elements that make this Cadillac great are its unique styling, impressive interior appointments, fantastic ride quality, and excellent handling.

2010 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon

Driving impressions
I wasn’t sure what to expect in this new Cadillac. When I was a teenager, I used to park cars at parties my grandparents would throw. My grandparents were loyal to Buicks; huge engines with floaty rides and acres of crushed velour. But the Cadillacs at these parties were even more luxurious and smooth; leather seats, absolutely hushed interiors, and power assisted steering that was finger tip light—that also provided zero road feedback. I thought the CTS would harken back to the lifeless and isolated feel. Boy was I wrong. Instead the CTS felt European. The ride quality is in between that of a BMW and an Audi; taughter than an Audi but not as sensitive as BMW. The ride had great dampening yet still telegraphed the road to the steering wheel.

We tested the rear wheel drive Premium Edition that was loaded and had optional 19’’ wheels with summer tires and sports suspension. It stickers for $54,635.

2010 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon

The build quality on the CTS was excellent. The seams along the hood and doors were even and tightly spaced. The paint was lustrous and deep and the interior felt substantial.

Interior comfort and ergonomics
In homage to it’s past, the CTS features an elegant though thick wood steering wheel that feels great in your hands. The jewel like gauges have a retro yet modernized look.

Though a bit corny, the navigation/control screen silently slides up when you start the car creating a nice effect. The Mercedes-Benz C-class, a brand closely associated with luxury and advanced engineering, hides their dash-mounted information display screen under a spring loaded panel which is manually released or pushed out of sight. Something we consider even more corny. And though its GPS system is lauded, it was somewhat complicated to use.

2010 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon Interior

The dash features rich looking plastics, beautiful wood inserts and vents that carry over the styling themes of the exterior. Controls were mostly well placed but I found the HVAC was a bit low and required a look downward to adjust.

Up front, seat space was excellent with plenty of leg, hip, and head room, even for my 6’2’’ father. Personally, I found the driver’s seat too hard and uncomfortable. Though my father thought it was fantastic.

2010 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon rear seating2010 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon cargo area2010 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon rear cargo area

Rear seat room was also plentiful; however, the first time I got in back I hit my head on the sloping pillar that interrupts entry.

The rich leather seats and a nicely carpeted cargo area were tasteful and high quality.

The automatic tailgate has a special feature that will limit its extension—in case you have a low garage. It’s a thoughtful touch.

A panoramic sunroof unites front and rear passengers; it’s enormous and offers a huge opening for sky gazing.

Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon UltraView SunroofCadillac CTS Sport Wagon UltraView Sunroof

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  • Peter Anastopulos says:

    I prefer the term Estate as the Europeans call them but wagon is not a derogatory term.Even Shooting Brake as Rolls Royce and Lagonda called them when custom fitted with hand made rifles .They suggest a sporting life and old money in places like Oxfordshire,Bordeaux ,Upperville VA. and Tuscany.This the type of auto the Lord Rothchilds drives to his country homes.Americans see the family Dinosaur wagon.Wagons are my vehicle of choice the shape when done right the rear acts like an air scoop.I have owned Volvo and VW /Audi groups wagons but I am glad there is a Cadillac option.I think this car is handsome and what with the CTS can do after whipping the 5 series this car is ideal.The only problem is with us.Can we show some class and buy this over the hideous Lexus RX.

  • Kurt Gensheimer says:

    Great review Twain. I still don’t understand the merits of electronic throttle control. Seems like yet another needless complication of a simple process. I’ve never owned a car with a problematic cable throttle.

    I just looked at all the new wagon offerings that were featured at the NY Auto Show a few weeks back. Looks like the cycle from wagon to SUV to CUV is now coming back to the wagon again. Lots of carmakers offering one for 2011.

    Can’t wait to drive the CTS-V wagon!


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