GM’s brands haven’t always been managed well, and Cadillac is no exception. Especially when it comes to unconventional performance models. Admittedly, Cadillac never offered something as unusual as the SSR convertible pickup or HHR SS panel van. But considering American tastes, Cadillac’s station wagon was definitely an outlier. Especially when the Cadillac CTS-V Wagon showed up to take on Mercedes’ E63 AMG Wagon.
The Cadillac CTS-V Wagon’s specs and features
The wagon version of the Cadillac CTS came a few years into the car’s 2nd generation. The first Cadillac CTS-V Wagon came in 2011 and immediately ticked a few enthusiast boxes.
Under the hood, the Cadillac CTS-V Wagon has the same 6.2-liter supercharged V8 used in the contemporary Corvette ZR1 and Camaro ZL1. It makes 556 hp and 553 lb-ft, all sent to the rear wheels.
With the 6-speed automatic, Motor Trend saw the CTS-V Wagon go 0-60 in 3.9 seconds. That’s the same as the contemporary Porsche 911 and slightly faster than the Camaro Z/28 and BMW M4. But if you were willing to give up a few tenths, you could order the CTS-V Wagon with a 6-speed manual. That’s right, Cadillac of all brands made a RWD stick-shift wagon.
The engine and transmission weren’t the only upgrades the Cadillac CTS-V Wagon had over the base version. It has adaptive magnetic dampers, Brembo brakes, and a limited-slip rear differential, CarBuzz reports. Said differential has its own dedicated cooler, MT reports. It also has Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 tires, Car and Driver reports, predecessors to one of the best performance tires available today. You could also spec it with heated and cooled Recaro sport seats, Gear Patrol reports.
Plus, the CTS-V Wagon was based on a luxury car. It came standard with Bluetooth, navigation, and GM’s OnStar system, which also has an app, Roadshow reports. Other features include automatic climate control and a Bose stereo, Hagerty reports.
What is it like to drive?
The Cadillac CTS-V Wagon isn’t necessarily terribly practical. The rear cargo area, with the seats up, is somewhat small, Autotrader reports. And that supercharged V8 doesn’t help fuel efficiency. But as a fun performance car, the CTS-V Wagon absolutely delivers.
True, the contemporary E63 AMG Wagon was faster to 60, thanks to AWD. But it was significantly more expensive, and you couldn’t get it with a stick. And just as impressive as the speed is the handling. Wired describes it as “a Corvette with four doors” and more cargo space.
The suspension and chassis make the wagon more than capable of carving up corners. And yet, those adjustable magnetic dampers mean the ride is still fairly compliant. The steering is sharp, and the tires very grippy. And in Car and Driver’s testing, it was almost as fast around a racetrack as the Cadillac CTS-V sedan.
Cadillac CTS-V Wagon pricing and availability
The Cadillac CTS-V Wagon was only made for the 2011-2014 model years. On top of that, examples with manual transmissions are rather rare. CarBuzz reports only 514 were built during the 4-year production year. As such, they tend to command a premium.
It’s possible to find a reasonable-mileage CTS-V Wagon for $35,000-$40,000 on Bring a Trailer. But ones with manuals tend to go for closer to $50,000. In May 2020, a 29,000-mile 2014 model went for $58,000.
The Cadillac CTS-V seems to be fairly reliable overall, with few problems reported on CarComplaints. Car and Driver did have a few minor issues with its long-term 2011 model, as did MT. Most, though, were minor electrical hiccups. The biggest faults were a corroded window wiring harness and a bad steering upper intermediate shaft, both replaced under warranty.
But none of these are really deal-breakers. Especially considering, as a supercharged RWD luxury wagon, the Cadillac CTS-V Wagon is a bit of a unicorn.
Follow more updates from MotorBiscuit on our Facebook page.