First Drive: 2010 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon luxury cars first drives cadillac
First Drive: 2010 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon luxury cars first drives cadillac
2010 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon. Click image to enlarge

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General Motors of Canada

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Review and photos by Jil McIntosh

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2010 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon

White Plains, New York – I sure don’t envy the person who walked into that first board meeting with the idea for the Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon. Take one of the company’s most popular models, and add the least-favourite auto configuration in the U.S.? It must have taken several deep breaths and some very heavy-duty antiperspirant.

The result is Cadillac’s first North American factory-built wagon, and it’s a stunner from all angles. The uphill battle it faces is its market, especially in the U.S., where the wagon take rate is even lower than in hatchback-happy Canada. With the cancellation of the Dodge Magnum, the CTS is the only domestic station wagon on the market, facing a row of competitors made up entirely of European models. Historically, domestic shoppers generally don’t buy wagons, and wagon fans don’t buy domestics. Cadillac has a lot to overcome before potential customers even open this model’s four doors.

From the rear doors forward, the wagon is identical to the CTS sedan, including the interior, while the suspension is tuned to account for the extra weight. The rear hatch is hinged at the top, and the back seat is the standard fold-flat variety, unlike the sedan, where a folding rear seat is optional. This gives the wagon a cargo capacity of 736 cubic litres when the rear seat is up, and 1,642 litres when it’s folded down, as opposed to the 385 litres available in the CTS sedan’s trunk.

Two engines are offered, both with direct injection: a 3.0-litre V6 that starts at $44,325 in rear-wheel drive, and $46,950 in all-wheel; and a 3.6-litre V6, at $50,755 and $53,790 respectively. The sedan offers a manual transmission, but the wagon comes strictly with a six-speed automatic. The all-wheel drive system truly is, running 30/70 front-to-rear under normal conditions, but capable of delivering up to 100 per cent of torque to either axle when required.

First Drive: 2010 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon luxury cars first drives cadillac
First Drive: 2010 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon luxury cars first drives cadillac
2010 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon. Click image to enlarge

I drove the 3.6-litre model exclusively. No 3.0-litre models were on hand, which I found surprising given that the Cadillac rep said that he expects the smaller engine to be the bigger seller. The official reason given was that the lunch stop included an opportunity to drive the CTS-V sedan on a racetrack, and the difference between that supercharged V8 and the 3.0-litre would be too much. Yes, they really did say that. I did get a chance to drive the 3.0-litre later, in the all-new Cadillac SRX, where it definitely didn’t shine. The 3.0-litre makes 270 horsepower, but the big problem is with the torque: a mere 223 lb-ft, which peaks at a surprisingly high 5,700 rpm. There simply isn’t enough grunt for anything other than straight cruising on glass-flat roads.

The 3.6-litre is better, making 304 horses at 6,400 rpm, and 273 lb-ft, albeit still at a high 5,200 rpm. The engineers have made some sacrifices in the name of fuel economy, with the transmission shifts tuned to squeeze out a couple of extra miles per gallon – maybe not a big deal to buyers in this price range, but huge news when it comes to submitting those numbers to the government. The car has a tendency to get to around 1,500 r.p.m. and then just sit there, and while you can add a bit more throttle and drive through it, it doesn’t feel spirited. Come upon an incline, tip in your toe, and it hesitates for a split second before it downshifts and starts to respond. That’s something I’d expect from a fuel-efficient family sedan, but Cadillac’s competition includes wagons like the Audi A6 Avant, BMW 535xi Touring, Volvo V70, and when it returns for 2011, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class wagon. Of course, you can always put the transmission into “Sport” mode and control it via the wheel-mounted paddles, and it works very well that way. Both engines take regular-grade fuel. The 3.0-litre rear-wheel drive car is rated at 11.3 L/100 km in the city, and 7.2 on the highway, while the 3.6-litre’s figures are 11.8 and 7.5. Adding all-wheel drive increases the numbers slightly of course: the 3.0-litre is 11.9/7.7, while the 3.6-litre is 11.7/7.4.

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