2016 Cadillac CT6 Review

Setting Sail in Cadillac’s Newest Flagship is Far From a Nautical Experience

There’s a new luxury flagship sedan on the scene and it’s going for the throat of rival cars like the BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class. No, it’s not a Jaguar, Audi or something from Lexus, but a Cadillac, born, bred and built in the Motor City.

Given its pedigree, the all-new 2016 CT6 may sound like a hulking chunk of Detroit iron, but this is one notion that really puts the ass in assumption. Undercutting competing vehicles, this Caddy’s platform is rife with advanced engineering.

Light is Right

The CT6 is similar in size to a 7 Series or an S-Class, with a wheelbase stretching 122.4 inches. Overall length is 204 inches with a width of 74 inches. The aforementioned BMW, for comparison’s sake, features a hub-to-hub span of just less than 121 inches. Its overall length is an even 200 inches and its width measures 74.9 inches.

Thanks to intelligent engineering, the CT6 weighs much less than its primary rivals. A base model tips the scales at about 3,700 pounds. In comparison, a 2015 BMW 740i – the lightest of the range – clocks in at more than 4,300, while an S550 is heftier by half a ton!

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GM’s new Omega architecture underpins this machine and it features quite a bit of mass-slashing aluminum. In fact, all of the CT6’s body panels are made of this material. Underneath that pretty sheet metal is an extensive network of 13 high-pressure aluminum castings that help make this the stiffest Cadillac ever.

Easing the Burden

Ruthless mass reduction eases the burden on the engine. Because of this, product planners were able to offer a base four-cylinder powerplant, a rarity in large sedans of this class. Providing thrust in base CT6 models is a 2.0-liter turbo that delivers 265 horses and a stout 295 lb-ft of twist, and that latter figure is what really counts in sizeable vehicles like this one.

ALSO SEE: 2016 Cadillac CTS 3.6L AWD Review

For customers who demand more cylinders, a 3.6-liter V6 is also available. With direct fuel injection, an 11.5-to-1 compression ratio and a 7,200 rpm redline, this smooth-running engine puts out 335 stallions and 284 lb-ft of peak twist.

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But what if you want the best of both worlds, that is, forced induction and extra cylinders? Well, the CT6 has you covered. The top powertrain offering is a Cadillac-exclusive 3.0-liter six-shooter. Brandishing a duet of turbochargers, this engine cranks out 404 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque.

Regrettably, no V8 is offered in this car, though one of the company’s product-development experts said a small block will technically fit in its engine compartment, and they haven’t ruled out a V8. This is great news, as it makes a V-Series model feasible … on paper, at least.

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Maximizing the CT6’s available power is an eight-speed automatic transmission, which is standard with every single engine. Models powered by six-cylinder units get standard on-demand all-wheel drive for maximum traction.

When it comes to fuel economy, official numbers have not been released, but Cadillac officials were happy to share preliminary estimates. Four-cylinder cars are expected to return 22 miles per gallon city and 31 on the highway. The mid-level V6 should do 19 around town and 28 on interstate drives. The range-topping twin-turbo should pull down 18 and 26 miles per gallon, respectively, very impressive figures for a luxury flagship.

Luxury Trimmings

Moving inward, like other recent Cadillacs, the CT6’s interior is beautifully executed, though it’s not quite as awe-inspiring as what’s found in a Mercedes-Benz S550. My overall impression of this cabin is one of simplicity, and I mean that in a good way. This car is unintimidating.

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Slide into an S-Class, for instance, and you virtually need a master’s degree in computer science to adjust the radio presets or figure out how to lower the fan speed. Not so in the CT6.

Controls for its climate system and the CUE infotainment are plainly laid out and preschool easy. I like this a lot, though some of the switchgear seems pilfered from lesser GM cars, which is a bummer.

On the center console, there’s a snazzy new multi-touch, laptop-style trackpad for manipulating menus without hyperextending a limb or leaving greasy fingerprints on the CT6’s 10.2-inch touchscreen. This works well enough and even provides haptic feedback in the form of pulsations when you “mouse” from one on-screen item to the next. It’s almost exactly like Lexus’ Remote Touchpad, though this arrangement seems a little more intuitive, plus there’s also a touchscreen, so drivers can use whichever they prefer.

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For better or worse, this car’s audio system still has a volume slider in lieu of a proper knob. Fortunately, this one responds without hesitation, which is a huge advancement from previous versions of CUE.

In addition to all of this, you get 4G LTE service for on-the-go connectivity, as well as a wireless phone charger because WHO HAS TIME FOR CORDS?!

ALSO SEE: 2016 Cadillac CTS-V Review

Drivers who want a concert hall on wheels can opt for a Bose Panaray audio system that features an absurd 34 speakers! There are speakers in the A-pillars, others tucked away in the head rests, and some are even mounted under the front seats. They’re literally everywhere, giving you a rolling symphony experience.

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As for the all-important back seat, coach-class passengers have nothing to worry about. The CT6’s aft accommodations offer stretch-out legroom and more-than-ample head space. A four-zone climate control system also ensures everyone is comfortable.

The Drive

But perhaps engineers at rival automakers won’t be so comfortable. Once they take this machine for a spin, they’re going to feel a little jealous because the CT6 is absolutely magnificent to drive.

Thanks to its relatively light weight, this car corners with impressive tenacity, though GM’s excellent Magnetic Ride Control also helps, as does Active Rear-Wheel Steering. The latter of these two technologies turns the front and rear tires in opposite directions at lower speeds, decreasing its turning circle. At higher velocity, the wheels move the same way for a more planted feel.

Overall, the CT6 behaves more like the much-smaller ATS than you’d ever expect; it’s lithe and nimble in a way that’s nearly inappropriate.

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As for power, the model I evaluated featured the top-shelf 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6. This engine is seriously refined and insanely muscular. Stand on the accelerator pedal and it absolutely rips, whisking you to illegal speeds in short order; the midrange torque it delivers is particularly breathtaking.

Improving efficiency, this V6 is also equipped with stop/start and cylinder deactivation. The former kills the engine while waiting at red lights, the latter shuts two cylinders down when full fury isn’t required.

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One other noteworthy feature that makes driving a little easier is the CT6’s rear-view mirror. Engineers mounted a screen behind the glass that displays video piped in from a trunk-lid-mounted camera, something that increases your field of view by a claimed 300 percent. It’s quite remarkable, giving you an absolutely unobstructed view of what’s behind your vehicle, though it does take a little getting used to.

The Verdict: 2016 Cadillac CT6

Cadillac has been on a roll the past few years. Its ATS is a winner, as is its larger CTS, particularly in V form. It’s safe to say the CT6 continues this tradition.

But what about pricing? Well, you don’t have to pay a lot to get more than you deserve. A base 2.0-liter turbo model kicks off at $54,490 in the U.S., while the top-shelf Platinum version can be yours for $84,460, both of those figures include $995 in destination charges. The 2016 CT6 is scheduled to arrive at North American Cadillac dealers this march.

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