Cadillac CT6: What the critics think

The rear-wheel-drive CT6: Cadillac takes aim at the Germans. Photo credit: BLOOMBERG
UPDATED: 4/7/15 1:21 pm ET - adds comments

The 2016 CT6 is Cadillac’s answer to the large, rear-wheel-drive luxury sedans from Germany that have dominated the small and fading segment for years. Some American entries have failed to compete in the segment, but Cadillac promises it has done its homework with the CT6. Here’s what some critics and others are saying about the sedan that debuted last week at the New York auto show.

“It’s never been harder [to revive a premium car segment]. It’s going to take tremendous time and money. I’m not saying it can’t work, but there’s a lot of cultural inertia behind Cadillac, and there’s a huge amount of competition coming from a German auto industry that’s getting even more aggressive. There’s not going to be any quick win. ... Cadillac is selling the traditional metrics of automotive excellence, which are design, engineering and performance. That’s what they’ve been doing for the past 100 years. That’s not really daring. Daring is having a robot drive you.”

-- Adam Jonas, Morgan Stanley automotive analyst, in The New York Times

“I’m not sold on Cadillac’s latest naming convention, as it will lead to more confusion than the existing nomenclature, but if the CT6 provides a powerful blend of advanced luxury features and capable performance, the name won’t hold it back.”

-- Kelley Blue Book analyst Karl Brauer

"Some analysts and critics will question why the first new Cadillac since [Johan] de Nysschen took the reins last September is a large sedan when most of the luxury market growth is coming in the segments of small and midsize cars and crossover vehicles. But the CT6 is meant to make a statement that Cadillac is raising the bar for itself. In the U.S., de Nysschen will be judged as much by the critical reaction to this car, as by sales after it rolls into showrooms early next year."

-- Greg Gardner, Detroit Free Press

"The Cadillac CT6 is not a radical departure from the other cars in its lineup, and that’s a good thing. With sharp edges and well-defined lines, the CT6 looks massive and intimidating, belying the performance that Cadillac says lies underneath. The front says “get out of my way!”, while the inside looks exquisite, with a luxurious and contemporary look that matches the exterior. The car is gorgeous inside and out."

-- Jordan Golson, Wired

"If the CT6 is close to Cadillac's 3,700-pound claim, then the newly patriated lower Manhattan brand has what the boys and gals from biz school call a unique selling proposition."

-- Jonny Lieberman, Motor Trend

“This is the car that’s supposed to be driving Cadillac’s future. This is the car that’s supposed to be pointing the way for American luxury. This isn’t supposed to be a competitor to the big German flagships, but it’s getting there. This is the 2016 Cadillac CT6. This might be the return to big back-seat American cruising. Most Cadillacs we’ve seen of the current-generation ATS and CTS have had a focus on the driver, with control dynamics lightyears ahead of any old-school Cadillac. But if you were worried about Cadillac losing its roots, about Cadillac forgetting what it means not to drive, but to be driven around, about Cadillac missing what it means to be a Cadillac, fear not. Because, like its Germanic rivals, it’s bringing things back to the back seat.”

-- Michael Ballaban, Jalopnik

“The CT6 is a far cry from the Elmiraj, the sleek concept car from which the CT6 was derived, and which was on display at last year’s auto show. That was a worthy successor to my father’s DeVille. But evidently bold and daring have their limits, even for the new Cadillac.”

-- James B. Stewart, The New York Times

“The CT6 is stuffed with luxury. Leather, wood and carbon fiber are part of the interior mix. Let’s not forget LED lighting, either.”

-- Jonny Lieberman, Motor Trend

“The CT6’s proportions, emphasis on efficient low-displacement performance, and allotment of rear legroom has it poised to sell big in a growth market beyond our shores: China. Like Lincoln with the upcoming Continental, Cadillac wants a larger slice of China’s booming luxury-car market, and the CT6 production plans follow that line.”

-- Robert Sorokanich, Car and Driver

“Building a luxurious frigate with real sporting intent is difficult. And whether the CT6 lives up to that promise remains to be seen. But carries impressive credentials. The battle for sporting luxury supremacy begins next spring.”

-- Eric Evarts, Consumer Reports

“Poking around the car at the show, we notice a clear step up from other Cadillacs in terms of quality and materials, but we’re unsure if the CT6’s cabin does enough design-wise to keep up with the show-stopping interiors of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and Audi A8. In the Cadillac’s favor are all sorts of new technologies, like a 34-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system, and enhanced self-parking system, a camera-screen rearview mirror and a haptic touchpad to operate the updated, upgraded CUE infotainment screen.”

-- Joseph Capparella, Automobile

“I expected to be blown away by the latest effort to generate a ‘standard of the world’ model. That just hasn’t been achieved. The wood trim in the Platinum model, for instance, is atrocious. The new CT6 is nice, but it’s not niiiiiiiiiiiice.”

-- Aaron Bragman, Cars.com

"Agility is achieved via the big sedan's three engine options. Base models will get a 2.0-liter turbo four making 265 hp, upgraded models get the 335-hp 3.6-liter V6 and top models come with the new 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6. That engine, shared with the CTS V-sport, will deliver 400 hp. All are paired with eight-speed automatic transmissions. Add optional Magnetic Ride Control and the Active Chassis System with rear steering and all-wheel drive to the equation, and we could be looking at a potent performer."

-- Jake Lingeman, Autoweek

“The ATS and CTS are great, and the Escalade is now an icon in its own right, but Cadillac’s quest for a return to its glory days require a big American sedan that is as good as, if not superior, the international competition. The CT6 sedan is that car it will take into battle.”

-- Alex Nunez, Road and Track

“The CT6 is more than just a new name and face, it is a brand new Cadillac down to the very bones. Utilizing an advanced aluminum-intensive architecture that contains 11 different materials to maximize strength and rigidity, the CT6 sparks a new manufacturing style for GM, allowing them to choose the materials that suit different parts of the chassis best.”

-- Brian Leon, New York Daily News

You can reach Jack Walsworth at jwalsworth@crain.com -- Follow Jack on Twitter: @jackwalsworth

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