DETROIT — On guy asked if he could sit behind the steering wheel while another got in the back seat and a third stood outside the car checking out the lines of the 2016 Cadillac’s CT6. You expect that sort of reaction out of young boys, but these were fully grown men.
The CT6 is one of the eight all-new vehicles that Cadillac will spend $12 billion on to launch by 2020. That’s four years from now. And if the CT6 is any indication, and it surely is, then Cadillac will rejoin the front rank of the world’s luxury brands.
When Cadillac introduced the CT6 last spring, it said the full-size sedan integrated performance, efficiency and agility unseen in a large luxury car. The CT6 was a different kind of luxury car.
Our test car was powered by a twin turbocharged V6 engine that made 400 horsepower and a matching 400 pound-feet of torque. It was mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. The engine had cylinder deactivation which we wouldn’t have known was there unless we read it; that’s how smooth the engine ran. The car had an EPA rating of 18 mpg in the city, 26 mpg on the highway and 21 mpg combined.
This car was a driver’s car and that has as much to do with weight than anything. Cadillac used what it called an “aluminum-intensive” architecture that incorporated 11 different materials for strength. The full-size CT6 actually weighs less than the mid-size sedans of its competitors and yes, we do mean the Germans. Although spacious, sumptuous even, the CT6 was agile; it handled like a midsize sedan. The turning radius, aided by rear-wheel steer, was a comparative 37 feet.
The car bristled with so much technology that Cadillac didn’t pay much attention to the interior, at least not in the press materials. But that’s where you convey luxury and interior designers did a pretty good job.
The CT6 had a digital instrument display and it is the first one we’ve seen that was attractive. Stylists used real half rings to house digital odometer and temperature and fuel gauges inside. The speedometer was in the middle. And rather than pop up the digital instruments fold faded in and fold faded out. Interior trim was carbon fiber and there was lots of it on the doors and the dash.
Most striking was the infotainment layout. Cadillac has downsized its CUE system and made the touch screen seem bigger than its 10.2 inches. The CT6 also had a pad on the console that could be used to control the features without touching the screen. It basically was a mouse pad.
The front seats were heated and cooled while the rear seats were heated. The car also had a dual moon roof. The front was retractable and the back fixed. There were shade screens for the rear side windows as well as the rear window.
Since we had the twin turbo V6, the test car had all-wheel-drive. The two features are sort of joined at the hip. The CT6 like all Caddy cars except the XTS is rear-wheel-drive. But this system called active on demand all-wheel drive features a continuously variable clutch that can deliver up to 959 pound-feet of torque to front wheels.
The CT6 was also equipped with magnetic ride control. It had selectable drive modes and active rear steer. And there was active vehicle hold that prevented the car from moving forward or backward when the driver’s foot was off the brake. It is meant to reduce fatigue during stop-and-go traffic. There was night vision, automatic front and rear braking and full-speed range adaptive cruise control.
Available were extended comfort seats in the front that could massage, heated and cooled articulating rear seats with media controls including HDMI and USB ports, a rear seat infotainment system with 10-inch diagonal screens that retract into the front seat backs and Quadzone climate controls so that climate settings could be personalized for each seating position.
Our test car did have not any of that but it did have Cadillac’s new 34-speaker premium sound system. It had a 360-degree overhead view camera, a rearview camera and what Cadillac called an industry first surround view video recording system that could record front and rear views while driving or 360 degree views if the security system is violated.
The CT6 had a new self-parking system with automatic braking; it had night vision, pedestrian collision mitigation that provided pedestrian detection alerts and automatically braked to avoid collisions.
Of course, it had a Wi-Fi hot spot, Bluetooth, satellite radio, a navigation system, voice controls, a heated steering wheel, adaptive cruise control, front and rear automatic braking as well as a bunch of other creature comforts. All that technology and more was wrapped in stylish sheet metal.
The car was long, low and wide. The grille and the signature lights or face of this Cadillac has evolved. The vertical front lights featured new LED light blades that framed the front, with forward lighting by what Cadillac calls Indirect Fire LED headlamps.
The 2016 Cadillac CT6 was the beginning of a new round of products that should take us into the next decade. The base price was $67,570. Add options and freight charges and the sticker on our test car was $81,840.
Frank S. Washington is editor of AboutThatCar.com.