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2012 Cadillac CTS Coupe ReviewThe Good
Entering its second year in production, Cadillac's luxury-oriented 2012 CTS Coupe gets a new grille, an updated V6 engine with a boost in hp and a new optional Touring Package, as well as standard Bluetooth across the trim lineup.The Bad
The rear seat of the 4-passenger CTS Coupe remains a tight fit for adults, and most owners and reviewers continue to report problems with visibility out the back, making a rear-view camera an essential feature.
The CarGurus View
In a number of ways, the CTS Coupe represents form over function. While most agree the Coupe looks very appealing from the outside, critics have issues with what's under the vehicle's attractive skin, including a tight cabin with limited headroom and legroom, a cramped rear seat, a small trunk, visibility problems out the back and performance that doesn't quite meet expectations. On the plus side, the CTS Coupe delivers a well-equipped interior and a smooth ride, although it can become harsh at times. Owners who seek a vehicle that stands out from the crowd should definitely consider the CTS Coupe, but those who want a more practical vehicle with chart-topping performance might want to look elsewhere.
At a Glance
The Cadillac CTS Coupe receives a number of upgrades in its second year. For starters, it gets a revised 3.6-liter V6 engine, which now delivers 318 hp, up from 304 hp the previous year. The updated engine weighs about 20.5 pounds less than its predecessor and features a more efficient design, which helps to improve performance while holding the line on fuel economy. In addition, Cadillac equips the CTS Coupe with a new shield-shaped front grille for 2012. The grille features new materials and finishes, a new frame and mesh combination, and sharper colors for the Wreath & Crest logo, making it stand out more. In addition, Bluetooth becomes a standard feature on all 2012 CTS Coupes, including Base, Performance and Premium trims. Cadillac also adds a new Touring Package for the Premium trim, which features Midnight Sapele wood interior trim, Recaro sport seats, sport alloy pedals, microfiber sueded seat inserts and a sueded steering wheel and shift knob, as well as 19-inch polished aluminum wheels and a unique grille with a dark finish. Finally, the CTS Coupe gets a new blind-zone alert system for 2012, which comes standard in the Performance and Premium trims.
The CTS Coupe's exterior design continues to turn heads, thanks to its aggressive front-end appearance, crisp lines and wide stance. A high beltline and low, sweeping roof ensure a muscular appearance, while keyless, flush-mounted auto-touch door handles provide a unique look and help improve aerodynamics. Similarly, frameless doors and windows give the CTS Coupe a clean side profile. Both the front windshield and rear window are more steeply raked than the CTS sedan's, adding to the vehicle's sleek, windswept design. In the rear, vertical LED taillights and dual exhaust pipes exiting through a single center-mounted chromed exhaust outlet make a distinctive statement. Halogen headlights are standard for the Base trim, while the Performance and Premium trims get HID headlights and integrated foglights. All trims come equipped with daytime running lights and heated side mirrors. The Premium trim also includes Rainsense windshield wipers.
Few reviewers dispute that fact that the CTS Coupe excels when it comes to exterior design. They're less complimentary about the vehicle's interior space, as well as its performance. Despite its increased power, the Coupe still lags behind some competitive vehicles when it comes to performance. The CTS Coupe, for instance, posts a 0-60 time of about 6.2 seconds, which matches the time of the Audi A5 Coupe, although the A5 comes with a smaller turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that produces 211 hp and gets up to 30 mpg. The Infiniti G37 Coupe, equipped with a 3.7-liter, 330-hp V6, manages the 0-60 sprint in just 5.5 seconds, while the fleet-footed BMW 335i jumps out to 60 mph in just 5.3 seconds, although some testers claim a 0-60 time as low as 4.7 seconds, thanks to the Beemer's 300-hp, twin-turbocharged 6-cylinder engine. Other competitors include the Hyundai Genesis Coupe and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupes, including the C250 Coupe and the C350 Coupe. A number of reviewers suggest that prospective buyers who like the CTS Coupe's styling but would like better performance should have a look at the CTS-V Coupe.
Cadillac made a number of tweaks to the CTS Coupe's V6 engine to boost horsepower and efficiency. Larger intake valves, an integrated head and exhaust manifold, a plastic intake manifold and new intake port and camshaft designs reduce engine weight and improve airflow, which in turn helps to improve fuel economy. In addition, the V6 features direct injection and variable valve timing. Thanks to the design improvements, the V6 now generates 318 hp, up from 304 the previous year, and 275 lb-ft of torque, up from 273. Despite the improved hp, the V6 holds the line on fuel economy numbers, which check in at 18/27 mpg, the same as last year.
Cadillac continues to pair the V6 with a 6-speed automatic transmission with Sport and manual-shift modes. In its standard configuration, the CTS Coupe is powered through the rear wheels, though owners can opt for available all-wheel drive (AWD) at all trim levels. Advanced torque vectoring, along with a standard electronic limited-slip differential, allow the AWD system to move torque not only between the front and rear wheels, but also from side to side along the rear axle to ensure optimal handling and stability.
While not kicking the CTS Coupe all the way to the top of its class, the V6's extra power certainly takes the Coupe up a notch in terms of performance. For the most part, reviewers were pleased with the power provided by the previous year's V6 engine, and the additional hp for 2012 should help close the gap between the CTS Coupe and its most aggressive competitors.
Ride & Handling
With a rear track measuring 2 inches wider than the CTS sedan's and a stiffened rear suspension as well as a tighter body frame, the CTS Coupe delivers a sportier, more agile ride than the sedan. It handles well in corners, with minimal body roll, and responds well to steering inputs. According to some testers, the Coupe's front end rides a little smoother than the sedan's, while the rear feels a little harsher, especially over rough road surfaces. Road grip increases when optional summer tires are added, but they also add to the harshness of the ride, some reviewers say. Overall, however, the CTS Coupe delivers a stable, well-balanced ride both around town and at highway speeds.
Tuned at Germany's Nurburgring race track for optimal performance-oriented ride and handling, the Coupe's fully independent sport suspension features a short-/long-arm configuration in the front and a multi-link arrangement in the rear. The ZF Servotronic power rack-and-pinion steering feels precise and responsive, although some testers find it a little light, and 4-wheel antilock disc brakes provide plenty of stopping power. Owners who require even tighter handling can opt for an available Performance Suspension with rear load-leveling and speed-sensitive power-assisted steering, as well as an optional Performance cooling system. Both are available for the Performance and Premium trims.
The Base and Performance trims ride on 18-inch multi-coat painted wheels, while the Premium gets 18-inch high-polished wheels. All trims come standard with all-season tires. Owners can add available 18- and 19-inch polished wheels, depending on the trim level, as well as 19-inch summer performance tires, which come standard with the optional Performance Suspension.
Cabin & Comfort
Despite its somewhat limited confines, the cabin of the CTS Coupe continues to excel in comfort and style. Extensively borrowed from the CTS Sedan, the Coupe's interior features a dual-cockpit design in the front, with a swooping center stack that places controls within easy reach of the driver, although it might take awhile to become familiar with them. Most passengers will find adequate headroom and legroom in the front, although an available power tilt sunroof slightly reduces headroom. However, most reviewers say the backseat remains too tight for most adults, and it's difficult to get into as well. In addition, some reviewers find the seats a little too hard and unsupportive, especially for longer trips.
Leather upholstery comes standard in the Performance and Premium trims, while the Base gets leatherette seating surfaces with leather inserts. In addition, the Performance trim receives heated front seats, while the Premium upgrades to heated and ventilated front seats. For all trims, the front seats feature 10-way power adjustment. Cargo space in the trunk measures only 10.9 cubic feet, but a split-and-fold rear seat helps extend cargo capacity into the cabin.
Additional standard features on the Base trim include automatic dual-zone climate control, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, power windows and door locks, keyless remote and a leather-wrapped steering with steering-wheel-mounted audio and cruise controls. An ultrasonic rear park assist, which comes standard, alerts drivers with a series of beeps when it detects an object behind the car, and the 8-speaker Bose audio system includes standard Bluetooth for 2012, as well as a CD/MP3 player, SiriusXM satellite radio and an auxiliary input jack. Cadillac also includes its OnStar system as a standard feature, with 1 year of the Directions & Connections plan.
In addition to leather upholstery and heated front seats, the Performance trim adds a new side blind-zone alert system, memory settings for the driver's seat and an upgraded 10-speaker Bose audio system with a 40GB hard drive and a USB port. At the top of the line, the Premium trim also includes ambient interior lighting, Sapele wood trim, a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel with wood trim and a navigation system with an 8-inch glide-up display screen, located at the top of the center stack. The optional Touring Package, new for 2012 and available only for the Premium trim, includes 14-way power-adjustable Recaro sport seats, paddle shifters on the steering-wheel column, sport alloy wheels, Midnight Sapele wood trim and a sueded steering wheel and shift knob, among other interior and exterior features.
The IIHS gave the 2012 CTS Coupe a top rating of Good for protecting passengers in all types of crashes. The NHTSA similarly gave the CTS Coupe an overall top safety rating of 5 out of 5 stars. Standard safety features for the Coupe include GM's StabiliTrak electronic stability control system and traction control, as well as 6 airbags, including side-curtain airbags for both rows of seating. In addition, the Coupe's standard OnStar system includes such safety features as automatic crash response, roadside assistance, emergency services and crisis assist.
What Owners Think
As in previous years, the exterior design of the CTS Coupe remains one of the vehicle's top selling points. In fact, many owners consider it one of the best-looking sport coupes today, and it's one of the primary reasons owners chose the CTS Coupe over its competitors. Owners recognize the fact that the CTS Coupe has a small back seat that's tough to get into and a small trunk with limited cargo space, but they like the Coupe's performance and say it rides and handles well. However, some owners report that the vehicle feels heavy at times. Owners also find fault with the Coupe's fuel economy and visibility out the back, and some say it takes time to learn the placement of all the controls and knobs on the center stack. Finally, a number of owners were swayed in their purchases by rebates and incentives, which helped improve the Coupe's value and closed the deal.
Rob has been a contributor to CarGurus since 2007, and an automotive test-driver and writer since the early ’90s. He’s test-driven everything from BMWs and Jags to Bentleys and Saabs, with an occasional Range Rover, Ferrari, Porsche or Lamborghini thrown in. He also created the annual Car of the Year and Exotic Car of the Year awards for Robb Report magazine. He currently resides in Florida.