The CT6 was introduced for the 2016 model year as a proper RWD-based flagship sedan for Cadillac, intended to supplement the frumpy, dynamically disappointing, FWD-based XTS. Although four-cylinder, twin-turbo V-6, and plug-in hybrid models have been offered at various times in the CT6's life, the only remaining powerplants are GM's workhorse 3.6-liter V-6 and the mighty Blackwing twin-turbo V-8. With Cadillac not planning to share the Blackwing and CT6 production having ended in January 2020, this could be customers' last chance to snag a seriously rare engine and experience Caddy's take on the "hot-vee" twin-turbo V-8 formula. In what's near certain to be its final model year, the CT6 competes with alternative midsize and full-size luxury sedans, such as the Kia K900, Lexus LS, and Volvo S90.
The CT6 is a mixed bag. Its high points give us hope that Cadillac might be able to produce real world-beaters again one day, but the execution falls short. We'll start with what we love. The CT6 is by far the lightest car in its class and that designation makes itself clear the moment you round the first corner. The Cadillac doesn't drive like a Miata but considering the dimensions, it's a great handler. Body control and cruising ride comfort are also strong points, especially when equipped with the magnetic suspension that's now standard on most trims.
Cadillac's Super Cruise hands-free driving functionality is at least as good as and maybe better than that of Tesla's inconsistent Autopilot. Although many of the CT6's prior powerplants have fallen away, the Blackwing V-8 is a pavement-punishing thrust machine we desperately wish had gotten more exposure.
But the CT6 is not without fault. Interior material choices are all over the place: a mixture of thick, high-quality leathers, cheap-feeling plastics, and parts-bin switchgear you could find in other GM vehicles at a third of the price. There's also a safety feature that tightens the seatbelt under enthusiastic driving conditions, but it was more panic-inducing and uncomfortable than reassuring. Oh, and the rearview camera monitor Cadillac likes to brag about is grainy in picture quality and disorienting to use.
The CT6 is close to being a great car and a great Cadillac, but that last 10 percent of polish necessary to succeed in the luxury world just isn't there.
The first of the CT6's two available engines can be found in countless GM vehicles across numerous segments whereas the other is and will probably only ever be offered under the hood of a CT6. Let's start with the former.
Premium and Premium Luxury models are powered by a naturally aspirated 3.6-liter V-6 that makes 335 hp and 284 lb-ft of torque. Six-cylinder CT6s return 18/27 mpg city/highway. Variations of the same engine are used in Chevrolet Camaros and Blazers, as well as in GMC Canyons and Cadillac XT6s. In the CT6, it's paired with a 10-speed automatic and AWD. We haven't tested a 3.6-liter CT6 but last time we ran a one-size-smaller CTS with the same engine and RWD, it completed its 0-60 run in 6.3 seconds.
If you want more power and are interested in scoring a rare V-8, go for the Blackwing. Cadillac's hand-built "Blackwing" 4.2-liter twin-turbo V-8 is included in the CT6-V and CT6 Platinum in two states of tune. In the V model, it's tuned for ultimate performance and cranks out 550 hp and 640 lb-ft of torque. For luxury duty in the Platinum, it makes "just" 500 hp and 574 lb-ft. In either variant, it delivers a reasonable 14/25 mpg. When we tested a CT6 Platinum, it hustled to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds.
Driver-assist active safety features are plentiful on the CT6, especially if you elevate beyond the entry-level trim. The base CT6 luxury includes auto emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane keep assist as standard, but there's a big jump in equipment when you step up to Premium Luxury. That model includes Cadillac's exceptional Super Cruise hands-free driving capabilities that combine clever adaptive cruise control with active lane centering, driver attention monitoring, and road data. Those models also add enhanced auto emergency braking with rear braking, auto park assist, and a 360-degree camera system.
The CT6 seats five, and, in typical full-size luxury fashion, it does so with room to spare. Front seat passengers can stretch out in 46.4 inches of legroom and rear seat passengers won't be cramped with 40.4 inches—more legroom than some smaller cars offer up front. The large trunk can hold 15.8 cubic feet of cargo volume.
We've had issues with Cadillac's CUE infotainment system in the past, but the modern iteration—complete with a center rotary controller—is a massive improvement. In the 2020 CT6, it's a 10.2-inch touchscreen system with integrated navigation plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support. The standard eight-speaker Bose audio system isn't too bad, but Premium Luxury and Platinum models include an exceptional 34-speaker Bose Panaray setup. Both audio systems feature active noise cancellation, and every CT6 has a wireless charging pad.
The entry-level CT6 starts with a 3.6-liter V-6, 10-speed automatic, and AWD. Rolling on 19-inch alloy wheels, the CT6 base model also has rain-sensing wipers, LED headlights and taillights, a panoramic sunroof, front and rear parking sensors, and remote start. Active noise cancellation works through the 8-speaker Bose audio system and infotainment is accessed with a 10.2-inch touchscreen with integrated navigation, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. An 8.0-inch instrument cluster display is standard, as are dual-zone climate control, leather upholstery, heated 14-way power front seats, and a wireless charging pad. For driver-assist features, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, rear cross-traffic alert, lane keep assist, and blind-spot monitoring are all included.
Stepping up to Premium Luxury provides myriad hardware improvements and interior upgrades. For starters, it's the least expensive car to include Cadillac's Super Cruise hands-free driving capability. It also features magnetic ride control suspension, 20-inch alloy wheels, curve-adaptive headlights, illuminating door handles, active rear steering, and a hands-free power tailgate. Seating is upgraded to 16-way heated and ventilated front seats and rear seats are heated as well. There's a 12.0-inch instrument cluster display up front, ambient interior lighting, a heated steering wheel, quad-zone climate control, a color head-up display, and a rearview camera that displays in the rearview mirror. Those sitting in the back see significant benefits, such as rear seat infotainment with two 10-inch displays, rear seat manual sunshades, and power rear sunshade. Lastly, in addition to Super Cruise, the Premium Luxury model includes a 360-degree camera system, automatic park assist, enhanced automatic emergency braking, and rear emergency braking.
Though it misses out on Super Cruise, the CT6-V is the only way to get the 550-hp version of Cadillac's hand-built 4.2-liter twin-turbo Blackwing V-8. The performance flagship of the CT6 also features a high-performance Brembo braking system, a mechanical limited-slip rear differential, sport-tuned magnetic suspension, 20-inch V Series wheels with summer tires, black exterior accents, a carbon fiber V Series rear spoiler, carbon fiber interior trim, magnesium shift paddles, adaptive cruise control, and a selectable Track mode.
The CT6 Platinum combines the opulence of the Premium Luxury model with some of the power and performance of the CT6-V with a 500-hp version of the Blackwing V-8 and Super Cruise hands-free driving. Other upgrades include unique 20-inch alloy wheels with chrome inserts, semi-aniline leather upholstery, and 20-way front seats.