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Wagon Ho! Cadillac Explores a New Trail


The midsize CTS helped ignite the rebirth of Cadillac, with its dynamic design and good appointments.

Now it's time for CTS to capitalize on its popularity a couple of derivatives, a wagon and coupe.

First up is the 2010 wagon, called Sport Wagon to keep people from using the word "station wagon" and all the baggage it carries.

The coupe, which has been hanging around the GM styling studios in concept form for so long it needed to be introduced or redesigned, comes out next spring. Caddy says no convertible is planned, but don't rule out a high-performance V-Series wagon and coupe to join the souped-up sedan. The V caters to a limited, but affluent, audience of enthusiasts who might turn to a Mercedes AMG or BMW M if Cadillac didn't have one. Mercedes and BMW entries are also the reason for the wagon.

But Cadillac says the wagon will be low volume, with sales reaching "four digits." Coupe sales will reach five. The sedan had sold nearly 32,000 through October.

Like the sedan, the Sport Wagon offers rear-wheel or all-wheel drive. There's a choice of a 3-liter, 270-horsepower V-6 or an upgraded 3.6-liter 304-hp V-6 with direct injection. A 6-speed automatic with manual-mode shifting is teamed with either. But the 2.8-liter turbo V-6 promising 30 mpg highway is reserved for the SRX crossover.

The wagon comes in base ($39,830), luxury ($43,230), performance ($43,530) and premium ($51,720) trim, starting prices that put the CTS' entry level tag in question.

We tested the Sport Wagon with AWD ($1,900) and premium trim, which includes the 3.6-liter V-6 (a $1,400 option in other wagons). Premium adds a bevy of equipment as standard, such as navigation system ($2,145 option in other models), "ultra view" power sunroof with extra long glass ($900) and rearview camera ($355).

Other standard goodies include remote start, heated and cooled seats, a 10-speaker Bose audio, Bluetooth phone connectivity, adaptive lighting that follows the path of steering, polished aluminum wheels and USB port for iPod, along with the gamut of power accessories.

Young or old, male or female, those who saw the wagon had an opinion. Thanks to CTS, all knew it was a Cadillac. Instant recognition, though friend and foe questioned why a wagon, since those bearing Mercedes and BMW labels are mostly invisible?

Perhaps because the wagon is a CTS sedan with a cargo hold for twice the carrying capacity.

Like the sedan, the 3.6-liter V-6 has excellent get-up-and-go. No hesitation at launch, passing or merging, with the smooth and quiet ride you expect in a luxury vehicle. Handling is crisp; steering precise. Stability and traction control are standard for very good road manners.

The bold, chiseled grille, large vertical tail lamps and overall edginess set it apart from the crowd, until you get to the wagon profile. Stylicious? Nope!

And the sedan-rendered-as-coupe styling, with low slung and sloping roofs, carries over to the wagon. The roof sits low and sight lines suffer. Even with the rearview mirror adjusted perfectly, view out the back is limited. A blind-spot warning system similar to that in larger Cadillacs was ruled out because of high cost (as was adaptive cruise control).

Can't fault cabin comfort, but the rear seat would be cozier with a little more knee room. Front and rear doors open very wide for easy entry/exit, but the wider the opening, the greater the reach to close the door once inside. This one calls for Inspector Gadget.

The cargo hold is wide and deep. Rear seatbacks fold flat if more room is needed. The premium edition comes with stowage under the cargo floor, a divider on the floor and rails in the floor with tie-down hooks, plus a pullout shade to hide contents and a pet guard net between cabin and cargo hold. Neat touches, if you don't mind they're in a wagon.


Wheelbase: 113.4 inches
Length: 191.3 inches
Engine: 3.6-liter, 304-hp V-6
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
MPG: 18 city/26 highway
Price as tested: $54,615
Add $825 for freight.

The sticker:
$51,720 Base
$1,900 AWD
$995 Blue diamond paint

(+) A luxury station wagon with the bold CTS look plus AWD
(+) Performs like a sedan
(+) An alternative to an SUV or crossover

(-) Easy to run up the price
(-) Limited sight lines
(-) Don't expect a lot to be built


Jim Mateja can be reached at transportation@tribune.com.

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