Chances are, if you grew up in the lower 48, the concept of an attractive wagon is as foreign as makizushi. While the rest of the world subsists on a steady diet of cars like the BMW M5 Touring, Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Estate and the Audi RS6 Avant, we’ve been force fed duds like the Ford Taurus Wagon and the Saturn SW. No, life isn’t fair, and as a result, the American population at large simply doesn’t have the vocabulary for a smartly-styled long-roof that’s a pleasure to drive. Class, repeat after me: 2010 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon.
General Motors has been sharpening Cadillac’s claws in a big way over the past two years, and the bulk of the company’s efforts have found their way into the CTS bloodline. While my chops are watering at the thought of the upcoming CTS Coupe, there’s plenty to get riled over in show rooms right now – including the new Sport Wagon. While those that know more than I do say The General copped out on the design by using the rear doors and glass from the standard CTS sedan instead of engineering new pieces, I have no problem with the look whatsoever. Apparently, neither does the public at large. I haven’t gotten this many looks in a car since the bumper on my ’86 Acura Legend was surgically removed by a Chrysler LHS. We had to bolt tractor turning indictors to the nose. They were the size of dish plates.
Part of the CTS Sport Wagon’s allure is due to the fact that it’s unlike anything else rolling out of Detroit right now. Who knew a wagon could be this sexy? Those tall rear tail lights are a work of art, and the long, reaching roof adds elegance instead of bulk to the CTS physique. Since the car uses the same nose as the sedan, you won’t find any complaints coming from this direction. Our tester was equipped with a sport package that threw in those gorgeous 19-inch chrome wheels, along with other goodies like clicky-buttons for the six-speed automatic transmission’s manual mode, sticky Continental rubber and a sport suspension.
Step into the cabin, and it’s immediately clear GM is trying to distance the Crest from the rest of the stable. Usually, it’s easy to find something to nit-pick apart on a car, but the engineers and designers clearly put in the hours on the CTS Sport Wagon interior. There’s very little that shares DNA with the rest of the GM parts bin, and if it does, the company has done a great job of hiding its heritage. I could write a sonnet to that center stack. It’s attractive and well thought out – everything is easy to reach and is arranged in a logical manner. It begs the question why this is so hard for everyone else to master.
But really, you don’t care about any of that business. You want to know what’s going on under the hood. Allow me to oblige. Our tester came packing the optional 3.6-liter V6 engine with 304 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque – solid numbers, even given the car’s curb weight just shy of 4,000 lbs. Bolted to that direct-injection mill is a six-speed automatic gearbox with a manual mode. I’ll be honest, those optional clicky-buttons surprised the crap out of me. Ask for the next gear and the car will happily accommodate your request quickly. I hate to say it, but the slusher was swapping cogs as quick as I could if I were rowing my own. That doesn’t mean I prefer it to a third pedal, though. If GM decided to offer the CTS Sport Wagon with six-speed manual gear box, I’d be figuring out how to sell my internal organs for profit and fun.
The CTS Sport Wagon has a pretty deep well of power to draw from, and if you plant your foot on the fun pedal and hold on, it feels like the car will keep pulling forever. That’s fun the first couple of times, but this car’s biggest draw has to be its suspension. To weigh this much, the long roof will hustle through your favorite set of twists without complaint. Part of that’s due to those special tires, but there’s also plenty of chassis bracing on hand, too. Pop the hood and you’ll see a huge strut tower brace and a similarly massive sway bar. This is as far from the floating Cadillac leviathans of old as you can possibly get. Yes, the ride is somewhat firm for a luxury long roof, but the car more than makes up for it once the road opens up a bit.
So, if I had the scratch on hand, would I buy a CTS Sport Wagon? No. But only because I hear rumors that a V version is in the works right now. Nothing would make this car’s recipe sweeter than a supercharged LSA and a diabolical six-speed manual transmission. As it sits, the Sport Wagon is a damn fine car, especially from a company that was once the poster child of overpriced rebadges. Our tester came with nearly every option you could possibly tick off, and as a result, it carried a final price tag of $52,575, but the base version starts at a more manageable $38,265. Is it a steal? No, but if you’re buying a Cadillac, you aren’t exactly bargain shopping, either.