Cadillac CTS Review

Welcome to exhibit A in the argument that Americans can still (or maybe "again") build world-class, exciting, involving cars.

Two true stories: The first from about six or seven years ago, when my boyhood race driver hero, Bob Bondurant, swapped his fleet of Mustangs at the Bondurant School of High Performance Driving near Phoenix, Arizona for the first-gen Cadillac CTS. Was he kidding, I asked?

Bob himself tossed me the keys to a leftover Mustang and told me to take the slalom course (my favorite) for as long as I wanted and get my best time...and then take a CTS.

It took about four tries to get it with the Mustang.

In the CTS, I blew the best Mustang time away on the first shot...and it got better from there. The thing handled like it was on rails.

Yeah, it was a bit underpowered and the interior was kinda plasticky, but the car was a ball to drive...and it has gotten better not with every generational change, but with every model year.

Second, I have a friend who has owned a string of Mercedes-Benzes. He's now on his third CTS. Everytime the lease comes up, he orders another...and calls me, marveling at how they've made a great car better.

The '09 CTS simply rocks. $36,265 gets you a 263 horsepower V6 that's smooth as silk, mated to a six-speed manual, anti-lock brakes, 17-inch wheels, dual-zone climate control, terrifically comfortable seats, an 8-speaker Bose audio system with AM/FM/CD/mp3 and XM and more. Stop there and you've got a great car and an amazing bargain.

But toss $9,300 or so in options on it, like GM did with our test car and you'll be blown away. This one had the luxury level one package, a hugely upgraded audio system including a 40 gig hard drive music device and a very, very good navigation system that hides inside the dash when not in use, a six-speed automatic and...wonder of wonders, real wood on the center console, instrument panel and door trim.

There's only one cooler Cad on earth...and it's spoken for until at least 2012.

UPDATE: Another week in another CTS...this one with only $5,000 worth of options (kissing the upgraded audio and nav systems goodbye) just reinforces my earlier opinions. Though I'd probably pop for the audio.

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