- The Washington Times - Friday, April 5, 2002

When you see the all-new 2003 Cadillac CTS, be prepared to do a double take. Its new styling, featuring crisp, sharp, chiseled lines is shocking.

The smooth, soft curves on the Cadillacs of old have disappeared. Well, almost disappeared. The sides are somewhat soft, but the front and rear are distinctly different from those of any other car on the road.

Cadillac made this move for the purpose of attracting younger buyers into its showrooms. Cadillac people are hoping that once these young drivers get hooked on a Cadillac, they'll be customers for life. There's a good chance that will happen as the upper-scale Cadillacs have a lot to offer.

But those cars are more expensive than the CTS, which starts at $29,990. Should the young buyer want all the bells and whistles, the price could run as high as $35,565.

Cadillac engineers knew the CTS buyer would demand not only distinct styling but performance as well. That is why this car is equipped with a 3.2-liter V-6 engine that produces 220 horsepower. The V-6 is linked to a Getrag manual five-speed transmission, or the CTS can be purchased with a five-speed automatic.

I preferred the manual transmission for its greater response in accelerating compared to an automatic. This causes me to wonder why the engineers didn't use an automatic transmission with some type of autostick shifter, which would provide the best of both worlds.

The suspension is great. The ride is comfortable yet the CTS sticks to the road like glue, the result of three years of testing both in the United States and in Germany. In addition, StabiliTrak, the computer-controlled stability system, is available. The car also has all-speed traction control, plus four-channel anti-lock brakes.

There are numerous options, including the choice of three 16-inch aluminum wheels depending on whether the buyer wants a sports package or luxury package.

Since the Cadillac salespeople want to assist wherever possible, they'll send buyers on their way with a CTS equipped with OnStar. That's like having a personal concierge sitting next to you plus a guardian angel if you crash. OnStar will summon help. Should there be a mishap, the CTS is equipped with loads of safety and security equipment and services.

This car comes with lap and shoulder belts for all five seating positions, plus express up and down windows.

These are the features that can be seen; not noticeable are the side-door beams, doors "D" designed for less intrusion, and the use of ultra-high-strength lightweight steel. There are six dual-stage air bags: two front, two side thorax, and two side curtain.

The interior has plenty of room, but it's a bit drab in appearance, especially the instrument panel.

The doors have chrome handles and I kept wishing to see the sparkle of chrome somewhere in front of me just to break up the monotonous gray.

However, gray background does help the instrumentation stand out clearly.

The three-spoke leather-and-wood padded steering wheel has a nice feel to it and includes convenient buttons for cruise control and the sound system.

The CTS features the Bose music system that has been designed to provide the best acoustics for the car's interior.

The speakers range from 1-inch tweeters on the A-pillars to a 10-inch woofer mounted on the rear shelf, plus five other speakers. Combined, they produce some concertlike sound.

But will the CTS grab attention and lure young buyers to the Cadillac showroom? My guess: "Positively."

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