I recently enjoyed a Cadillac CT6 in Luxury trim. It’s the luxury car your friends have likely never heard of. Valid in the marketplace, worth the asking price; a viable alternative to every single one of its competitors. Not just an alternative, superior in some respects.
However, it takes years – no – decades of social inertia for brand perception to turn around. Twenty years ago Cadillac was almost a footnote. Ten years ago they were in the conversation in performance luxury comparisons, and now, depending on your taste, they’re certainly among the frontrunners in their target segments.
Before going outside in -18°C morning weather, it was a treat to auto-start the car from my kitchen to get the heat going. Eco-weenies be damned. I’m old, my bones hurt in the cold, and I feel entitled. Is this luxury?
My editor and I have frequent discussions attempting to answer this question. Is it cachet? Gadgets? Exclusivity? It may be all those things, but one that we agree on is innovation. Here, Cadillac wowed me with something at first I never knew I wanted, but now I need.
As part of the Enhanced Vision and Comfort Package, Cadillac has added a line item called “Rear Camera Mirror With Streaming Video”. Initially, I figured it was pure gimmickry. After using it for a week, however, and now being without it for one day in my personal car, I realize it may be one of the most sensible and usable innovations in all of 2016 Automobiledom. A bold statement, but allow me to rant for a moment.
I’m going to single out Toyota/Lexus drivers here, because they are universally guilty of this bit of annoying driver behaviour. For reasons unexplainable, turning on a Toyota product also turns on its dash-cluster lights. This, in turn, makes their operators think all their lights are on. Of course, they aren’t. No tail lights, but worse – high beams are on. This annoys absolutely every other driver, and the operators are completely clueless. Outside of crushing all offending cars and their operators, what’s the solution? Cadillac’s trick display in the rear view mirror.
Honestly, it’s genius. In one position, it’s a regular rear-view with auto-dimming. Flip it to camera mode and it’s a LCD showing you what’s behind you – no heads, headrests, pillars – and more importantly, no glare from blinding high-beams. It took me three days to get used to the wide-angle image, but i’m firmly in love with the feature.
Being a car of 2016, it has the usual safety gear including forward collision alert, lane departure warning, lane-keep assist, auto-high beams, parking assist, low-speed auto-braking, rear-cross traffic alert. It’s all rather tedious and perhaps redundant – we all should just pay attention when driving.
Additionally, there is OnStar, where you can (and should) press a button, and get a real human to do your nav programming for you. On top of that, the car is equipped with a 4G LTE connection, a 110v plug in the backseat, along with a wifi hotspot so your leeching friends can write the next great Canadian novel in the heated back seats, or update their Snapchat. Probably the latter.
GM’s third generation of their magnetorheological shocks are, frankly, mind blowingly good. The ride quality in this large sedan is never jarring, never floaty, and yet the chassis always seems to communicate what’s going on below. The steering isn’t over-boosted and gives a good sense of what the tires are doing. All this in a large luxe sedan, not a self-described sport sedan like some competing vehicles that feel vague and soft. Kudos to Cadillac.
Road and wind noise levels are predictably low, and highway cruising is cake. It’s even efficient. The 3-litre twin-turbo engine was just starting to dip below the 8L/100 mark on a recent trip – astounding considering the available power and the 4,300 lb curb weight. The cylinder deactivation tech is imperceptible – much of the time I was in a V4. The transmission is pure butter. Better than the 8-speed ZF unit? I’d need more time and miles to judge.
So what’s wrong with it? Why aren’t we seeing this car everywhere?
If all things were equal, and I was looking at the car only as a product, ignoring brand positioning, resale, lease rates etc., on looks alone I’d pick the CT6 ten times out of ten over an A6 or a 5-Series of similar price. The car exudes presence.
Sadly, all things are not equal. The German and Japanese brands are doing a better job of understanding their customer. Cadillac is coming around, but everything takes time.
In a couple of decades, if Cadillac stays their current course, they really could be The Standard of The World, particularly if that message comes from their customers.
2017 Cadillac CT6 3.0L Twin-Turbo Luxury AWD
Base Price: $73,575
As Tested: $87,115
Notable Options: Bose/Panaray Sound System $4,255; Active Chassis Package $3,895; Enhanced Vision and Comfort Package $2,515; Dark Adriatic Blue Metallic paint $825
Drivetrain: 3.0-litre six cylinder twin-turbo, 404 hp, 400 lb-ft, 8-speed automatic transmission
Performance: 10.4L/100km in mixed driving; officially rated at 9.1L/100 highway, 13.0L/100 city
VVUZZ Recommended: The least expensive vehicle in the large-lux segment, with some features unavailable on pricier competition.
Images courtesy of Cadillac.