2016 Cadillac CT6 First Drive


Cadillac has a problem. Over the past few years it has developed and delivered a pair of sedans—the ATS and CTS—that are as good as or better than anything Europe has to offer. And yet, car sales were down last year and those cars really haven’t put a dent in the sales of the class leaders. For instance, Cadillac sold 26,873 ATS sedans and coupes last year compared to some 140,000 BMW 3- and 4-Series models. The CTS did a bit better on a percentage basis, as Cadillac churned 19,485 examples of its mid-size sport sedan compared to about 50,000 Mercedes E-Classes.

So what’s a brand that wants to prove it delivers top-notch luxury to do? Well, keep plugging away and keep building great cars.

Cadillac’s latest offering to take on Europe’s best is the 2016 CT6 full-size sedan, which is arriving in March. A new flagship model for the brand, the CT6 is actually a “tweener.” It’s sized like the BMW 7-Series, which makes it about four-to-five inches shorter than the Audi A8 and Mercedes-Benz S-Class, and priced more like the smaller Audi A6, BMW 5-Series, and Mercedes E-Class.

We recently headed to Los Angeles to see if the CT6 has the chops to rival those revered cars.

A Cadillac experience

This wasn’t a typical press trip. Cadillac provided a curated experience along the lines of a day in the life of a prospective buyer. It started with a lunch at a chic downtown Italian restaurant, followed by a quick $ 14 drink at a rooftop bar that I was far too uncool to patronize. For every attractive woman in the place there was a twenty-something guy with a man bun, knit cap, or decorative neck scarf. The first day ended with dinner in an artist’s studio. You know, like the typical Cadillac owner might schedule for any given Wednesday night.

Of course, I was shuttled to all of these activities in the back seat of the new CT6. Let me tell you, it’s not a bad place to be. There’s enough legroom for an NBA forward, and headroom is plentiful, too. Four-zone automatic climate control is available so occupants can be comfortable wherever they sit, and a large center console provides storage and a handy armrest. Though I didn’t use it, Cadillac also offers a rear entertainment system with a pair of 10-inch screens, an HDMI port, and streaming capability through the OnStar system’s 4G LTE and Wi-Fi hotspot connection.

However, I have a couple of complaints that I wouldn’t have in the German cars. The seat belt receptacles sit too low, making them hard to find when you try to buckle in, especially with the center console down. The middle seating position is extremely unfriendly, as the outboard seats are practically buckets and the middle occupant has to sit on a perch and deal with the transmission tunnel. And, though minor, the rear doors should have automatic closers. On several occasions, greeters had to shut the door more than once to get it to fully latch. That doesn’t happen in an S-Class.

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