- The Washington Times - Friday, April 3, 2009

Cadillac’s acclaimed midsize sedan is the CTS. This luxury car has an edgy, aggressive appearance - and buyers like it.

In response to an explosive, positive reaction from consumers and critics, Cadillac brings on a more powerful model for 2009. The introduction of the new Cadillac CTS-V puts General Motors on par with other luxury brand high-performance super models, such as the Mercedes-Benz AMG Class, the BMW M Series and the Audi S Line.

The 2009 CTS-V has a 556-horsepower 6.2-liter V-8 engine. It is the most powerful production model in the history of Cadillac and has a starting price of $58,575.

Statement-branding is what Cadillac is doing by building the CTS-V. Cadillac is making a statement that it is on the same competitive world stage as the European uber cars.

With a super car like the CTS-V in its stable, luxury performance-oriented drivers are more likely to give consideration to the Cadillac brand and take a look at the entire CTS line when shopping for a rear-wheel drive sports sedan. The CTS lineup is composed of three engine varieties, one being for international export only (2.8L V-6). For the U.S. market, Cadillac builds two strong 3.6L V-6 engines.

I drove the 2009 CTS with the 3.6-liter V-6 engine with variable valve timing. Offered in both rear- and all-wheel drive, this CTS generates horsepower of 263 at 6,400 rpm and a healthy 253 lb.-ft. of torque at just 3,100 rpm. The CTS is mated to either an Aisin six-speed manual transmission or the Hydra-Matic electronically controlled six-speed automatic.

The engine in my AWD tester was hooked to the automatic transmission and had an EPA-rated fuel economy of 17 miles per gallon city and 25 mpg highway. The RWD automatic model gets 18/26, while the RWD manual is less efficient at 16/25 mpg.

Cadillac offers an even more fuel-efficient, powerful 3.6-liter V-6 that puts out 304 horsepower and 273 lb.-ft. of torque. This engine also has VVT with the added benefit of direct injection. With 304 horsepower and 273 torque, this engine is very economical on gas consumption and gets 17/26 mpg with the automatic and 17/25 mpg with the manual transmission.

The tester’s base price was $37,980 and included the wide selection of luxury amenities typically expected from a world-class car. Cadillac recently announced that it will offer Wi-Fi access for its best-selling model starting in April. The automaker says the Cadillac Wi-Fi by Autonet Mobile maintains Internet connections while the vehicle is in motion.

As an example, Cadillac says one passenger can be online with Facebook while another is watching YouTube videos. Cadillac Wi-Fi is a dealer-installed $499 option with a monthly subscription of $29.

The bottom line as-tested price on the tester was $48,815, which included the $775 destination charge. Cadillac has bundled many of the optional features into packages. The Performance Collection on the tester for an additional $3,755 included a long list of sport-oriented enhancements including a sport suspension and an upgrade from the standard 17-inch wheels to 18-inch wheels.

The $2,765 CTS Luxury package brought the interior surroundings to the level of a Lexus or a BMW with such things as a power switch tilt/telescoping steering column, keyless start up and access and cooled front seats. A $1,000 upgraded audio system is offered, too.

Standard safety equipment include six airbags, active head restraints (whiplash prevention), and a robust, crash-energy absorbing body structure that helped the CTS earn a Top Safety Pick rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

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