5 Things to Know About the 2017 Cadillac CT6 Plug-In Hybrid

Craig Cole
by Craig Cole

The CT6 is Cadillac’s largest sedan, sized and equipped to challenge models like the Audi A8 and Lexus LS. But thanks to copious amounts of advanced engineering it’s up to 1,000 pounds lighter than some of its competitors.

Obviously, this weight advantage helps the CT6 handle better, accelerate faster and stop quicker, all while burning less fuel. When it goes on sale this spring, the 2017 Cadillac CT6 Plug-In aims to dramatically improve the efficiency of this flagship model. With an advanced hybrid drivetrain and lithium-ion battery pack, it’s estimated to sticker at 65 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent).

It has taken plenty of hard work to achieve that number, which is far better than the 30 miles per gallon a conventional CT6 with the base four-cylinder engine can muster. How did engineers achieve that feat? What else does Cadillac’s latest fuel-sipping vehicle offer? Here are five things you should know about it.

5. Cutting-Edge Drivetrain

As you’d expect, this car features an electrified powertrain, one that’s driven by an 18.4-kWh lithium-ion battery. Mounted above the rear axle, this pack is an integral part of the vehicle’s structure.

“When we designed the CT6 architecture,” explained Brandon Vivian, Cadillac’s executive chief engineer, “We designed it with a plug-in hybrid in mind.” This advanced planning led to other efficiencies, which further reduced the vehicle’s consumption.

This plug-in’s battery should provide an electric-only driving range of 32 miles. When connected to a 220-volt outlet, it can be fully charged in less than four and a half hours.

Vivian said this electrified CT6 uses the same cell chemistry that’s found in Chevrolet’s Volt. “And that’s not something to gloss over,” he added because the reliability of its pack is industry leading.

The other major part of this car’s drivetrain is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine that provides 265 of the system’s 335 total horsepower. Torque clocks in at an impressive 432 lb-ft. With a full tank of fuel, the CT6 Plug-In Hybrid’s total driving range should exceed 400 miles.

SEE ALSO: 2016 Cadillac CT6 Review

This luxury sedan may borrow technology from other GM vehicles, but it breaks ground in at least one important area. “If you look, all of our other competitors have a step-gear transmission and you don’t have the seamless, very sophisticated integration when it goes from… electric to gasoline power,” said Vivian. “We’re able to do that because we have two, hundred-horsepower electric motors and they are coupled to the internal combustion engine through three planetary gear drives and five clutches.”

That’s a lot of complicated hardware, but this cutting-edge transmission should enable the CT6 Plug-In Hybrid to deliver a seamless driving experience, whether the electric motors are working or its gasoline engine is shouldering the burden. Going further, Vivian explained, “It’s almost an infinite capability we have of delivering torque.” This characteristic makes the gearbox perform like a continuously variable transmission, though Cadillac has dubbed its latest creation an EVT.

Curiously, this drivetrain was developed completely in-house by GM, not bought from an outside supplier as is commonly done by automakers. They’re the only ones with a system that operates in this manner. Vivian said, “Nobody else is currently doing anything like this.”

4. Electric Starts

With generous electron storage capacity and a duet of motors, the CT6 Plug-In is designed to run off its battery, which is exactly what it does most of the time. “We always drive on electric power initially,” said Vivian.

But the car is constantly tweaking how power is delivered to provide the smoothest experience. “If you’re lightly driving, we’re using one electric motor. If you’re accelerating a little more briskly, then we use both electric motors. If you’re wanting full performance, then you have the IC (internal combustion) engine with both electric motors,” Vivian explained. Enabling all of this is the car’s resourceful transmission, which ties everything together.

3. Regen on Demand

Helping the CT6 Plug-In store energy is an innovative regenerative braking system. Unlike implementations of this technology found in other hybrids and electric vehicles, the Cadillac’s provides four different settings.

This arrangement is similar to what’s offered in the Volt, which features a small paddle near the steering wheel that allows you to slow down, but Vivian explained, “The way we do it in this vehicle is you put it into manual mode and then the paddles… [they] give you increasing levels of regen.” Going on, he added, “The most aggressive level would be for single-foot driving in traffic. So, you accelerate and take your foot off… you almost never have to touch the brake [pedal].”

2. The Cadillac CT6 Plug-In Will be Fast

Despite being a plug-in hybrid, ostensibly with the aim of being environmentally friendly, this electrified Cadillac will also be seriously quick. Vivian said it can accelerate from zero to 60 miles an hour in 5.2 seconds, which makes it very comparable to the most powerful CT6, which features 404 horsepower courtesy of a twin-turbocharged V6.

Terminal Velocity for the CT6 Plug-In is 150 miles an hour, though it should be able to reach 78 miles an hour running solely on electric power.

SEE ALSO: 2016 Chevrolet Volt Premier Review

1. Designed With China in Mind

Overall, Cadillac executives expect this version of the CT6 to account for only about 5 percent of global sales. In the U.S., that figure will probably be even lower.

Asia is where this plug-in Caddy has the potential to really shine. Vivian said, “This is a much bigger play in China given the regulatory environment there.”

The CT6 Plug-In will, at least in the city of Shanghai but probably elsewhere, qualify for a free license plate, which is a huge monetary saving for customers. In addition to this, there are lengthy waiting lists to get license plates, this car will help customers circumvent the queues.

With abundant efficiency, luxury appointments and the ability to slice through red tape, Cadillac’s CT6 Plug-In could be a sales success in Asia. Reasonable pricing should also help its showroom performance. In the U.S. this car is expected to start at $76,090, including $995 in delivery charges. Look for it at dealerships this spring.

Discuss this story on our Cadillac Forum

Craig Cole
Craig Cole

Born and raised in metro Detroit, Craig was steeped in mechanics from childhood. He feels as much at home with a wrench or welding gun in his hand as he does behind the wheel or in front of a camera. Putting his Bachelor's Degree in Journalism to good use, he's always pumping out videos, reviews, and features for AutoGuide.com. When the workday is over, he can be found out driving his fully restored 1936 Ford V8 sedan. Craig has covered the automotive industry full time for more than 10 years and is a member of the Automotive Press Association (APA) and Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA).

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