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The 2016 Cadillac CTS4 Premium Combines Big Luxury and Great Driving Dynamics

Living in the Metro Detroit area, the most common luxury car is the Cadillac CTS4 and having spent a week driving the 2016 CTS4 Premium, there is little question why this plush, roomy and powerful sedan is such a popular choice in and around the Motor City.

While Cadillac offers bigger, more powerful and (technically) more luxurious sedans, the CTS has been the brand’s key model for a more than a decade. The CTS is so important that the company is slowly transitioning to a new naming style based on the CTS, but as new, attractive Cadillac models like the ATS and the new CT6 have shifted some sales away from the CTS – the original “CT” sedan is the company’s key model.

While the Cadillac CTS might not technically be the bestselling model in the brand lineup and while other midsized luxury sedans are more common on the road in other parts of the country, there is no luxury car that you see on the road around Metro Detroit more often than the CTS. Due to the heavy snowfall we see each winter, many of the CTS sedans on the roads around Michigan have all-wheel drive, so I would call the Cadillac CTS4 one of the most common luxury cars in the area.

Really, for someone who wants a true premium midsized luxury sedan from an American automaker, the 2016 Cadillac CTS4 Premium is the vehicle that best fits that description and with the addition of the V6 engine and the all-wheel drive system – this is the best option for year-round driving in the worst possible conditions.

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My 2016 Cadillac CTS4 Premium test car was fitted with the 3.6L V6, the 8-speed automatic transmission, the advanced all-wheel drive system and the long list of standard features which come with the Premium trimline. This heavily loaded package has a starting price of $64,685, but when you add on the Jet Black/Morello Red leather interior package for $1,500, the $495 upcharge of the Stellar Black exterior paint, the $250 high capacity cooling system and the $995 destination fee, the price as tested for my beautiful black Caddy came to $67,925.

The Exterior
While opinions on exterior design are purely subjective, I like the look of the new Cadillac CTS and I like the look of the CTS4 Premium. I like the low, long lines of the CTS styling which flow from the big central grille and I like the stretched rear roofline mated with the raised trunklid area. I think that the CTS feels like a proper luxury car from front to back just in its basic lines, but when you add in the splash of bright silver trim on the door handles, around the windows, on the big grille, on the integrated exhaust tips and on the aggressive 18 inch wheels – the CTS4 has a bold design with an understated luxury emphasis.

Most importantly, this all-wheel drive luxury sedan doesn’t sit like an all-wheel drive SUV. Some long, low sedans tend to sit unnaturally high when fitted with all-wheel drive, but the 2016 CTS4 has a comparably low stance to that of the rear-drive models.

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They say that if you don’t look back at your car when you walk away from it in a parking lot, you bought the wrong car. I drive a great many cars and this was one that I found myself looking back at it because it’s just that pretty. Some people might have their criticisms of the CTS exterior design, but there is no question that it fits perfectly into the sporty modern luxury sedan segment and I personally love the look of this Caddy.

The Interior
While the exterior of the 2016 Cadillac CTS4 takes a subtle approach to the luxury feel, the cabin of the CTS Premium presents you with the pinnacle of modern American luxury.

My 2016 CTS4 test car was fitted with the Jet Black and Morello red interior layout and were I buying a new CTS today – this color palate would most certainly be my first choice. This package costs $1,500 and adds complete leather coverage of the front and rear seats, with the vast majority of the cabin finished in Jet Black. However, the splash of silver across the dash, the high gloss carbon fiber trim on the center of the dash/doors and the Morello Red trim on the center console, the doors and the lower portion of the dash creates a very premium, very sporty look. The dark red trim adds some color, but it the choice to go with the darker shade allows it to be more luxury and less high performance feeling, even with the carbon fiber trim.

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Aside from looking great from front to back, the interior of the 2016 Cadillac CTS4 Premium is likely one of the most comfortable options in the luxury segment. This starts with the “performance” front bucket seats, which both offer 20-way adjustability, so whether you are very tall or very small, the CTS Premium seats make sure that you are very comfortable when seated in either of the front seats. These front seats are, of course, both heated and cooled and the rear outboard seating positions are also heated, so while the rear seats don’t offer the same level of adjustability - these rear seats are still very comfortable. These are the kinds of rear seats that you sink into…the kind of seats that prevent your friends from calling “shotgun” when you all go for a ride, because riding in the back is just as comfortable as the front seats.

In addition to the seats being very comfortable and heated, the long roofline of the CTS offers great seating space in every dimension up front and in the and rear. The CTS got bigger with the new generation and that enlarging led to major rear legroom – one area in which midsized sedans can suffer. Even if you are a very individual sitting in the rear seat, the CTS has plenty of leg, shoulder and head room, making this a car that can comfortably get seat four tall adults.

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Now, before getting into the gadgets inside the 2016 CTS4 Premium, I want to run through the long list of safety features that might not be mentioned because they weren’t technically utilized during my stint in the new Caddy. I believe that the CTS4 Premium has pretty much every high tech gadget that GM offers, both inside and out. The Driver Awareness Package adds Forward Collision Alert, Lane Keep Assist, Blind Zone Alert, Lane Change Alert, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, the Safety Alert Seat, Rainsense Wipers and IntelliBeam headlights. The Driver Assist Package adds full speed adaptive cruise control, front and rear automatic braking and automatic safety belt tensioning. The Luxury Package adds Tri Zone Climate Control, a Color Heads Up Display, the power rear sunshade, manual rear side sunshades, lighted door handles, lighted door sill plates and a 110 volt power receptacle, along with the aforementioned rear outboard heated seats. Those three packages are all standard with the CTS4 Premium.

Those features of the 2016 CTS4 Premium come in addition to the long list of standard items that I did use every day, including the adaptive remote start system, the keyless access with push button start, the Surround Vision system with an overhead view of the vehicle when backing up, the self-parking technology, the UltraView power sunroof and the top of the line Cadillac CUE infotainment system with navigation. Oh, the center console also has a wireless charging pad that just magically works with all sots of cell phones – including mine. It doesn’t get much easier than setting my phone down in the car and having it charge during the drive.

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That is a whole lot of information to take in, but what it amounts to is a luxury car that leaves you asking for very little – if anything. When you climb into the driver’s seat, you are greeted by the big, bright customizable gauge cluster that sits just beyond the heated leather steering wheel. The steering wheel has paddle shifters on the back and controls on the front for many of the interior features, from the driver information center to the media system and with the voice control button – you can also adjust the navigation without taking your hands off of the wheel.

While criticized by some, I like the CUE infotainment system a great deal and I have no complaints about the functionality of any part of the system. From the climate control and the navigation system to the radio/satellite/auxiliary sound system with Bose speakers, the different systems of the vehicle are all controlled easily while driving and when cranked up loud – the Bose system sounds incredible.

The 2016 Cadillac CTS4 Premium has tons of seating space, plush seating for four adults, a state of the art infotainment system, one of the best-looking gauge clusters on the market and a massive glass roof all for under $70k.

The Drive
While my 2016 Cadillac CTS4 Premium test car was not fitted with the VSport package, it still offers a solid level of “fun to drive factor” with the standard features including the 3.6L V6, the 8-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters, Brembo front brakes and the Magnetic Ride Control system system. With 335 horsepower and 285lb-ft of torque, the CTS4 offers solid acceleration from a stop while the all-wheel drive system ensures great traction in any weather. Those who want better performance can add an upgrade suspension system, bigger brakes and, of course, the twin turbo V6 engine with 420 horsepower, but the naturally aspirated V6 packs enough power that the CTS4 never feels underpowered. Acceleration from a stop is solid and when cruising on the highway, putting the gas to the floor will cause the Caddy to quickly eclipse any posted speed limit in the USA.

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In terms of handling and ride quality, the GM Magnetic Ride Control suspension system affords the perfect mix of road gripping and comfort. With this system adjusting itself a thousand times a second, the damper system can make adjustments based on the driving style and the road surface so when you are driving more aggressively, the suspension system will stiffen for improved handling while gentler driving causes the suspension to soften up for a smoother ride. Also, the driver mode selection system allows you to pick between Comfort, Sport and Auto, so if you want to force the system to maintain the best handling or the best ride quality, you can do so with a push of a button. Even in the Comfort setting, the CTS4 handles both broad, high speed turns and tight, low speed turns very smoothly and as non-performance focused midsized sedans go – the CTS is a pleasure to drive in twisty roads and open roads alike. When Sport is chosen, the suspension moves to a more aggressive tune, while the transmission, the steering system and the throttle all sharpen up for a more exhilarating driving experience. When enjoying a spirited cruise down a twisty back road, popping the CTS4 into Sport mode makes the car more responsive in every way while the paddle shifters allow you to aggressively select your next gear for the best approach and departure from a hard turn.

Not everyone will hammer the turns and drive the 2016 CTS4 like a performance sedan, but if you are one of the people who demand big fun to drive factor from all of their vehicles – this luxury sedan delivers.

While driving the 2016 Cadillac CTS4, I had a chance to experience the all-wheel drive system in two relatively extreme conditions – my local unpaved roads and the local Metro Detroit roads after a few inches of snow have piled up. My area is riddled with unpaved roads and while I normally avoid them with anything smaller than a high-riding SUV or pickup, local road closures forced me to take the CTS4 down a series of these rough, muddy roads. I went considerably slower than I would in an SUV or truck due to the fact that some of the ruts on the road are deep enough to cause the Cadillac to bottom out, but even when the surface was covered in inches of sloppy mud – the CTS4 pushed its way through. More importantly, when the area was blanketed in a few inches of snow after a night of rain, the CTS4 did a fine job of traversing the icy, snow-covered roads. Really, in every situation which I encountered and on multiple road surfaces, the CTS4 performed well enough that I would recommend it for anyone who needs a car that can get around in the worst weather that Old Man Winter has to offer.

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The 2016 Cadillac CTS4 Premium is fun to drive and fun to ride in, whether you are out for a weekend cruise through the countryside or if you are fighting your way through weekday traffic to get to work. The advanced suspension system affords the CTS4 an impressive level of ride quality on even the roughest roads while the all-wheel drive system makes sure that you can get where you need to go in any weather. Best of all, when the weather is clear, the CTS4 Premium can be driven and enjoyed like a sport sedan while still offering almost 30mpg on the highway. During one long highway trip, I averaged 28.8mpg under normal driving circumstances while averaging 20.8mpg over the course of my 8-day test.

The Final Word
When it comes to midsized luxury sedans, the 2016 Cadillac CTS4 Premium might not be the bestselling option in the segment, but with a stunning exterior, a spacious cabin, a mile-long list of standard features, a powerful yet efficient engine and an advanced all-wheel drive system for well under $70,000, the CTS4 offers more luxury bang for the buck than the European rivals and when it comes to American luxury – there is really no rival for the Cadillac CTS Premium.