2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe review:

2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe

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Starting with navigation, a touch-screen system is available starting at the Performance trim level and standard on our Premium model. The system features a motorized screen that can be raised to show the full 8-inch display for viewing maps, selecting destinations, and interacting with most of the advanced features of the infotainment system. The display can also be lowered to a point where only two lines of audio source information are displayed. We found this minimalist configuration useful, minimizing display glare for nighttime driving. Additionally, spoken turn-by-turn directions are still read aloud by the system with the screen lowered, so we can appreciate its usefulness for drivers who simply want less visual distraction while on the road.

Traffic and weather data are also piped into the dashboard over the XM Satellite Radio connection. If the navigation system recognizes traffic along the vehicle's current heading, even if a route hasn't been chosen, it will prompt the driver and suggest an alternative path around the obstruction if available.

The navigation system is based on a 40GB hard drive, so its performance is quick and responsive, but this configuration also has a few bonus advantages. The first is media storage, as a portion of the Cadillac's hard drive is devoted to the storage of ripped audio files from CDs. The CTS' hard drive also features the ability to pause live radio. When listening to AM or FM programming, simply tap the pause button and the stereo will begin to cache up to 20 minutes of audio. Users are now free to exit the vehicle to run into a store or pump a tank of gas without missing a moment of their favorite news broadcast, sporting event, or talk show. The radio pause feature is, however, not compatible with XM Satellite Radio programming.

Users are able to take advantage of the Coupe's HDD to pause and cache live AM/FM radio.

Other audio sources include CD audio playback, an analog auxiliary input, and a USB port with mass storage and iPod/iPhone compatibility. However, the Cadillac had an issue recognizing our fifth-gen iPod video as anything other than a mass storage device, possibly because of a firmware conflict. However, tests with a newer iPod Nano yielded better results. Bluetooth audio streaming is not available.

Users are also able to take advantage of that big 8-inch screen for DVD playback--when the vehicle is parked, of course--with full Dolby 5.1 surround. The system will still play back the audio of an inserted DVD with the vehicle in motion, so owners of concert DVDs can take advantage of them while on the road. Audio is pumped through a Bose surround system. Sound quality tended to slightly overemphasize the lower end of the audible spectrum with bass taking center stage even with the three-band EQ set to flat. With a bit of tweaking, we were able to coax more evenly balanced audio out of the system, but lovers of pounding bass lines of rock, pop, hip-hop, and electronica will get the most out of this system. The audio system also featured an automated volume control function that considers vehicle speed and open windows to subtly boost the sound levels to compensate for road noise.

Of course, being a premium GM vehicle, the Cadillac CTS Coupe features the full array of OnStar-based technologies and services. Users are able to contact an OnStar representative from the driver's seat to have destinations for turn-by-turn directions beamed to the dashboard, request roadside assistance, and receive automatic crash response in the event of an accident. From outside the vehicle, users are also able to contact OnStar for issues ranging from reporting a stolen vehicle to requesting remote door unlock in the event of a lockout.

GM and Cadillac's implementation of OnStar is a boon to the CTS Coupe's cabin tech package, but when it comes to hands-free calling things get a bit unnecessarily complicated. Bluetooth connectivity is there, but so is GM's OnStar hands-free calling system. However, neither system seemed well implemented, causing the telephone experience as a whole to suffer as a result. On the Bluetooth side, pairing a phone is handled by voice command with no onscreen prompts or information. Once paired, there is no address book sync, only user-assigned speed-dial entries with voice tags saved one at a time. On the OnStar side of things, users get an in-vehicle telephone number as part of the service that can be used to make or receive calls. The additional complexity of juggling an additional number for the car seems a bit unnecessary, and we'd like to see GM/Cadillac throw more of its weight behind the Bluetooth connectivity with more-advanced features.

Our CTS Coupe was also equipped with an array of driver aids. Standard on all CTS Coupes is rear parking assist, a proximity sensor that beeps with increasing intensity as the vehicle approaches an obstruction while reversing. Optional on the Performance and standard on our Premium model is the rearview camera that displays a view from the vehicle's rear bumper on the 8-inch LCD display while reversing. The coupe's thick C-pillars slightly impede visibility creating a much larger blind spot than the CTS sedan, yet Cadillac does not offer any sort of blind-spot detection technology on the CTS at this time.

Convenient touches--such as power front seats with heated and ventilated seating surfaces and two memory settings with an easy exit preset for the driver's seat, standard universal home remote, a heated steering wheel, and dual-zone automatic climate controls--round out a well-appointed cabin tech package.

In sum
The Cadillac CTS Coupe earns high performance marks for its sporty handling and meaty V-6 engine's straight line power. The direct-injected engine's EPA estimated 18 city and 27 highway mpg also go a long way toward boosting that performance score.

It's also no surprise that the CTS Coupe earns a high design score based on the overwhelmingly positive reaction that we got from our fellow motorists during the course of our testing. A well-appointed interior and cleverly organized dashboard interface also do their part in influencing this score.

The CTS loses a few cabin comfort points for having two rather mediocre hands-free calling systems that tend to step on each others' toes quite a bit. We also dinged the coupe for its lack of advanced safety features, such as blind-spot and lane-departure warnings. Yet, the CTS makes up for these flaws and omissions with an infotainment system that, despite being a bit dated as cabin tech packages go, still packs most of the features that we like to see from the driver's seat.

Finding oneself in the CTS Coupe's driver's seat trim begins with forking over $47,010 plus an $825 destination fee for our RWD Premium trim level vehicle. At this level, nearly all of the features are standard; one only needs to add $2,090 for the Performance package and $110 for a dealer installed Underhood Appearance package to reach our as tested price of $50,035.

Tech specs
Model 2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe
Trim Premium
Power train 3.6-liter direct-injected V-6, RWD
EPA fuel economy 18 city/27 highway
Observed fuel economy n/a
Navigation 40GB HDD based, XM traffic
Bluetooth phone support yes
Disc player Single-disc CD/DVD
MP3 player support USB, iPod, analog auxiliary input
Other digital audio XM Satellite Radio
Audio system 5.1 surround Bose
Driver aids Rearview camera, rear proximity sensor, adaptive headlamps
Base price $47,010
Price as tested $50,035

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