Skip to main content

Luxury brands often use alphabet soup names for their cars and SUVs. This became popular because some of the most popular luxury vehicles in the late 20th century had names like the 3 Series, E-Class, and LS. Since imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, brands like Acura and Cadillac followed suit.

If you’ve ever wondered why Cadillac models no longer have names like “Eldorado” and “DeVille,” here’s the story and the meaning behind the CT naming convention of the brand’s luxury cars.

What does ‘CT’ stand for in the Cadillac brand?

“CT” stands for “Cadillac Touring,” according to Gear Patrol. The “C” is pretty obvious, and the “T” descends from older models like the CTS (Catera Touring Sedan), STS (Seville Touring Sedan), DTS (DeVille Touring Sedan), and…well, you get the idea. Meanwhile, the numbering system is similar to what BMW and Audi do. The bigger the number, the bigger the car (CT4, CT5, CT6).

The history of ‘CT’ branding

One of Cadillac’s earliest forays into acronym names was with the third-generation Seville. The 1987 Cadillac Seville had an upscale, performance-oriented trim named STS (Seville Touring Sedan). When the fourth-generation Seville came out for the 1992 model year, an SLS (Seville Luxury Sedan) trim was added.

The first modern Cadillac with an alphanumeric name was the 2003 Cadillac CTS. The CTS was a big deal for Cadillac. Caddy previously had a lousy track record with its entry-level cars. The Chevy Cavalier-based Cimmaron was a bit of a joke, and the Opel-based Cadillac Catera was better but never really made its mark. The CTS, which stands for Catera Touring Sedan, had the design, performance, and premium features to make Cadillac a serious player in its segment.

The CTS is the earliest example of “CT” nomenclature in the Cadillac lineup. Under the leadership of Johan de Nysschen, previously from Infiniti and Audi, Cadillac changed its naming scheme when the 2016 CT6 came out. The Cadillac CT6 was the brand’s flagship luxury sedan and the first RWD Cadillac sedan since the Fleetwood was discontinued in 1996. The CT6 only lasted through the 2020 model year in the U.S., but it’s still available in China.

The CTS was discontinued in 2019 and replaced with the CT5 for the 2020 model year. That same year, the Cadillac ATS was replaced with the Cadillac CT4. Ever since then, every Cadillac sedan has followed the naming convention of “CT,” followed by a number, except for the Celestiq EV. As previously mentioned, the bigger the number, the bigger the car.

What does ‘V’ stand for in the Cadillac brand?

The now-iconic V-Series is a line of high-performance Cadillac sedans, coupes, an SUV, and, yes, even a wagon. It all started with the 2003 Cadillac CTS-V, which borrowed an engine and transmission from the C5-generation of the Corvette Z06 along with a host of other performance upgrades. It expanded to the XLR-V roadster and STS-V sedan, but neither has grown the same reputation with enthusiasts as the CTS-V.

The second-generation CTS-V had a coupe and wagon variant, and the first-ever V-Series SUV was introduced for the 2023 model year in the form of the Escalade-V.

So, what does “V” stand for? Well, nothing, really. It’s a play on the iconic V-shaped ornaments on post-WWII Cadillac models. That emblem didn’t really represent the letter V, but it forever associated the letter with the Cadillac brand.

Related What Do the Letters BMW Stand For?

What Do the Letters BMW Stand For?