By Shari Prymak
2017 Cadillac CT6 Platinum - Cadillac has done a commendable job of establishing itself as a builder of sporting luxury sedans and trendy SUVs. I do, however, sometimes wonder if Cadillac has lost sight of its own heritage just a bit. The ATS and CTS are both critically acclaimed performance standouts in their respective segments, but there’s no getting away from the fact that, at the end of the day, they are American copy-cats of popular German luxury cars. The Cadillac that my father grew up with was a leader, not a follower, and a very different type of automobile.
The CT6 is different though. Instead of trying to build their own version of some BMW, what Cadillac has done is build a car that takes its own path. It embraces the ideals on which the brand built its reputation. The focus here is not all-out performance and handling, even though it does maintain the high performance standards set by its showroom mates. The CT6 is really more about strong road presence, a lavish interior, and supreme comfort. For many, those are the characteristics that have defined Cadillac for decades.
On the outside, the CT6 doesn’t look dramatically different from the midsized CTS, an already handsome-looking sedan. The small differences, however, like the sharp-looking LED headlights and longer overall profile, are enough give the CT6 more presence on the road. In terms of overall size, the CT6 carves its own niche between the full-sized German flagships and their smaller midsized siblings. It’s shorter than a BMW 7-Series, yet longer than a 5-Series. It’s a clever strategy that certainly differentiates it from its competitors.
Out on the road, the CT6 feels remarkably agile and planted for such a large car, especially when driven in sport mode. The chassis is aluminum-intensive and lightweight, and the all-wheel drive system can be paired with 4-wheel steering, all of which make it feel like a car one size below its class. As great as the handling is, it’s the ride comfort and isolation that stand out the most. In touring mode, the suspension glides smoothly over all but the worst broken pavement, and the cabin is completely free of any wind, tire, or traffic noise.
The CTS and ATS too are very nice rides, but where they both fall short is the interior execution. This is mostly due to frustrating haptic feedback controls and the slow, confusing CUE infotainment touchscreen system. Both of these issues have mostly been resolved in the CT6. The controls are more user-friendly and the design is more upscale. On higher trim models, wood, alcantara, or fine leather cover just about every interior surface, and the level of available technology rivals that of most luxury flagships. I did notice a few minor fit and finish issues that wouldn’t cut it in other makes, but overall, the cabin is a very nice place to spend time.
At the high end, the CT6 comes equipped with premium semi-aniline leather seating that’s heated and cooled all-around and offers fifteen effective massage settings. The spacious back seats can power recline, and have access to a pair of cool retractable HD screens in the front seatbacks. Audiophiles can enjoy a superb Bose Panaray sound system with no less than 34 speakers. At the front, there’s a night vision system, cameras on both the touchscreen screen and rear-view mirror, a head-up display, and various driving aids like pedestrian collision mitigation and adaptive cruise control.
Prices start at a reasonable $61,695, but that’s for the largely irrelevant 4-cylinder turbo model with rear-wheel drive. The all-wheel drive V6 models start at $64,020 and can go up to $99,670 for the top-end Platinum trim level with a twin-turbo V6 engine.
As nice as it is, the CT6 isn’t quite on the same level of the top-tier German flagships. But then, in terms of both pricing and overall size, it’s not meant to be. It’s really more of an alternative to the more value-oriented, second-tier offerings, which include the Lincoln Continental, Genesis G90, and, perhaps, the Lexus LS. Consumers in this segment tend to be more value-minded than the German-buying crowd, which means that the right purchase and lease incentives will be crucial to the success of the CT6. Another important ingredient is a top-notch customer experience at the dealership level to bolster Cadillac’s luxury brand image. Cadillac has the right car. With the right deals and the right service, the CT6 should start filling those five-star hotel fronts in no time.