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2018 Cadillac CT6: Handsome design meets flashy technology

2018 Cadillac CT6 11.jpg
2018 Cadillac CT6 (Sinclair Broadcast Group / Jill Ciminillo)

I was in a constant state of anticipation, hands quickly lifting to hover over the wheel with any hint of disruption in the lane a head. My foot raised and poised over the brake, waiting to see if I needed to take control of the vehicle.

But I didn’t.

As long as I kept my eyes on the road, Super Cruise in the 2018 Cadillac CT6 was in complete control of the steering, acceleration and braking on the highway.

And it was weird.

During a recent test of the 2018 Cadillac CT6 with Super Cruise, my husband and I decided to take a road trip to put the plush seats, comfy ride and semi-autonomous technology to work.


Spoiler alert: We kinda liked it.

Design

To me, the design of the CT6 is more handsome than attractive. It has long horizontal lines and more angles than curves. The edgy design is certainly characteristic of the Cadillac family and has been since the launch of the original CTS in 2003.

While I’m not a particular fan of the exterior styling, I will say the CT6 is distinctive, and you won’t mistake it for a car from any other automaker.

The interior of the Platinum trim test vehicle was an exercise in luxury with plush leather seats, quad-zone climate controls, seat massagers and shiny wood accents. The overall schema is traditional luxury, reminiscent of an older touring vehicle that someone of the Baby Boomer Generation would appreciate.

But that nostalgic feeling quickly vanishes when you see the high-tech of the infotainment system.


Equipped with an updated version of the Cadillac User Experience (CUE), the CT6 offers a10.2-inch display screen with clean crisp graphics and is controlled by touch or a trackpad. I opted for the touch-screen, which was easy to use, but longed for volume and tuning dials.

Behind-the-wheel gauges are all digital and vibrantly colored with configurable information displays.

Ride & Handling

The ride and handling is why I’ll say someone younger than a Boomer would buy the CT6. It’s smooth and comfortable while at the same time manages to be fast and sporty.

The test vehicle was equipped with the top-tier 3.0-liter, twin-turbo V-6 engine that delivers 404 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque. This is the kind of seamless power that proves effortless under fast acceleration and aggressive passing maneuvers.

This engine does come with my least favorite feature – auto stop/start – but it also thankfully comes with a button to turn it off. If you aren’t familiar with this feature, be aware pretty much every new vehicle has it these days, and it shuts off your engine when you come to a complete stop. When this happens, your HVAC shuts off and any from-a-stop acceleration is delayed as the engine turns back on when you lift your foot off the brake.

Other engines available in the CT6 include the 2.0-liter I-4 turbo and the 3.6-liter V-6. It is also worth noting that the I-4 engine is only available with rear-wheel drive whereas the V-6s are only available with all-wheel drive.


Fuel economy

The test vehicle is estimated to get 18 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway with a combined rating of 21 mpg.

During my more-than 180 miles on the road, I averaged 22.7 mpg in combined driving, so I’ll consider that a win.

Tech & gadgets

The biggest tech feature on the 2018 CT6 is Cadillac’s Super Cruise. This is a Level 2 autonomous system that allows you to take your hands off the wheel and foot off the gas, allowing the vehicle to take control in highway driving situations.

But you can’t check out.

Cadillac specifically engineered Super Cruise to track your eyes, and the second you focus on your phone or start doing something other than paying attention to the road, the system issues visual, audible and haptic alerts. Eventually it will shut off if you don’t start paying attention again.

The system uses a combination of LiDAR, cameras, sensors and GPS to keep you in your lane and can only be engaged on the highway within a single lane. A green light appears to show you that the system is ready to be activated, and it turns red when you need to regain control of the vehicle.


Though the vehicle won’t changes lanes for you, it allows you to take control of the steering while Super Cruise is engaged – indicated by a blue light – and then will re-engage automatically after you have completed the lane change.

Overall Super Cruise performed very well, even though I felt like I was on high alert the entire time. I did have one small instance I had to take over for the vehicle in a construction zone, so I can see why Cadillac is diligent about tracking your eyes to make sure you’re paying attention.

As cool as Super Cruise is, the CT6 isn’t a one-trick pony. Other available tech features include a 4G LTE wireless hotspot, wireless phone charging, a quad-zone climate control system, night vision, rear camera mirror and a 34-speaker Bose Panaray premium sound system.

Trims

The CT6 has four trims, starting with the base Standard, which comes with the 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder turbo engine and rear-wheel drive.

Standard ($55,090): This trim comes equipped with an 8-speaker Bose audio system, 4G LTE WiFi hotspot, Bluetooth phone connectivity, passive entry, push-button start, rear vision camera, wireless phone charging and leather seats. This trim does have the option to upgrade to the 3.6-liter V-6 engine with all-wheel drive for $2K.

Luxury ($60,190): This trim is still standard with the 2.0-liter engine and RWD, but both of the 6-cylinder engines are available with AWD for an additional $2K or $6K, respectively. Features added at this trim include heated steering wheel, heated front seats, navigation, a Bose Centerpoint 10-speaker surround-sound system, surround vision, automatic parking assist with braking, forward collision alert, low-speed automatic braking, lane keep assist and blind spot monitoring.


Premium Luxury ($66,290): This trim comes standard with the 3.6-liter V-6 engine and all-wheel drive; the 3.0-liter is available for an additional $4K. Features added at this trim include the UltraView power sunroof, ventilated front seats, heated rear outboard seats, a head-up display, rear camera mirror and surround-vision recorder.

Platinum ($85,290): This top-tier trim also comes with the 3.6-liter engine, and the 3.0-liter is available for $4K. Features added at this level include magnetic ride control, quad-zone climate control, rear-seat entertainment, a Bose Panaray 34-speaker sound system, adaptive cruise control, forward and reverse automatic braking, night vision and Super Cruise.

One more pricing note: The only “standard” colors are silver and black – every other color will cost at least $625.

Safety

The CT6 comes standard with all the typical safety features you’d expect such as front and side airbags, backup camera and anti-lock brakes, but it’s the available features that stand out.

In addition to autonomous emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, lane keep assist and rear cross-traffic alert, other neat available safety technology includes night vision, autonomous rear braking and a rear-vision camera.

While I appreciate the various safety features available, I think a vehicle of Cadillac’s caliber should include many, if not all of these as standard fare – especially those features available in the Driver Awareness and Convenience Package. This is an option on the base CT6 but standard as you level up to luxury.


Neither the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety nor the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have crash tested any version of the CT6, so safety ratings are currently unavailable for this vehicle.

New for 2018

The CT6 is mostly a carry-over from 2017. The most significant addition is Super Cruise. The CT6 is the first vehicle in the Cadillac lineup to get this Level 2 autonomous technology.

A few of my favorite things

I’m not going to lie; I loved Super Cruise. While I couldn’t let myself completely trust the system, it was a dream in stop-and-go traffic and nice for a long highway-ridden road trip.

The seat massagers were also high on my list of faves. The test vehicle had them in front and rear outboard seating positions, enabling pretty much every seating position to ride with added comfort.


What I can leave

I need both a volume and tuning knob on my car. I don’t care how cool the volume slider looks, it’s not easy to use. And having to tap buttons to change stations is frustrating. Knobs and dials, people.

Autonomous emergency braking should be standard. Full stop.

The bottom line

While I’m not a fan of the styling of the CT6, I do love the ride and handling – especially with the up-level 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6. It’s fun and fast while also managing to be luxurious and comfortable – a nearly perfect touring car in my book.

The price tag starts reasonable for a large luxury sedan but gets steep quickly. And if you want any of the good safety technology, you’ll have to add the Driver Awareness and Convenience Package ($3,500) to the Standard trim or start with the Luxury trim where those features are included.

However, features such as night vision and Super Cruise make me want to shell out $85K for the Platinum version.

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