2004 Cadillac CTS
2004 Cadillac CTS. Click image to enlarge

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General Motors of Canada

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By Chris Chase; photos by Greg Wilson

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Cadillac pretty much hit rock bottom in 1982 with the Cimarron. It was a rebadged Chevy Cavalier, and about as far from what a Cadillac should be as you could get, considering that half a century previously, the brand called itself, “The Standard of the World” and built cars powered by 16-cylinder engines.

A turnaround was needed, and badly, but it wouldn’t come until 2002, when General Motors’ most prestigious marque wheeled out the CTS: it was the first Cadillac sedan to sport the brand’s edgy new styling, and it spearheaded Caddy’s return to respectability, being the first of several subsequent models designed to keep up with Germany’s best.

The first CTS used a 3.2-litre V6 making 220 horsepower and 218 lb-ft of torque. Cadillac enthusiasts – the fact that there are some of these and that they know how to use the Internet is a testament to the CTS’ success in appealing to a more, uh, lively demographic – are of two minds about this engine. Those into modifying their cars feel the 3.2-litre is a poor choice, as there is little aftermarket support for it. Other drivers who prefer to leave the engineering to the guys at General Motors say the 3.2-litre is a fine motor, even if it might be a bit underpowered.

2004 Cadillac CTS
2004 Cadillac CTS. Click image to enlarge

Speed freaks got their wish in 2004, when Cadillac added two new motors to the CTS line-up. One was the 3.6-litre V6 that’s being used in a multitude of GM products these days; in CTS form, it makes 255 horsepower and 252 lb-ft. The real powerhouse was the 5.7-litre V8 bolted into the CTS-V, the first member of Cadillac’s then-new V-series performance line. This Corvette-based engine grew to 6.0 litres in displacement in 2006, but produced the same 400 horsepower and 395 lb-ft of torque as the smaller motor.

In 2005, the 3.2-litre was replaced by a 210-horsepower, 2.8-litre V6 based on the 3.6-litre.

Transmission choices were a five-speed manual or five-speed automatic in 2003 models; in 2004, a five-speed manual came with the 3.2-litre motor, while the five-speed auto was standard spec for 3.6-litre models, and the CTS-V got a six-speed gearbox. For the 2005 through 2007 model years, all cars got a six-speed manual as the base transmission, and a five-speed automatic was an option on all but the CTS-V.

2004 Cadillac CTS
2004 Cadillac CTS. Click image to enlarge

Fuel consumption with the original 3.2-litre engine is rated at 12.9 L/100 km (city) and 8.4 L/100 km (highway) with the automatic transmission, according to Natural Resources Canada. The 3.6-litre (automatic-only in its first year) got ratings of 13.4 L/100 km (city) and 7.8 L/100 km (highway); manual transmission versions of this car were a little thirstier. Cars with the 2.8-litre engine were only marginally more efficient than 3.6-litre models, so choosing the smaller motor probably isn’t worth it unless the 2.8-litre car is a great deal. The CTS-V’s ratings of 15.3 L/100 km (city) and 9.2 L/100 km (highway) look pretty good on paper, but driving the car gently enough to achieve those numbers would be challenging, to say the least.

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