Used Vehicle Review: Cadillac CTS-V, 2009-2015

Vehicle Type

Mid-size Performance Sedan / Coupe / Wagon

The CTS-V is said to be something of a luxurious and comfortable rocket thruster on wheels.

History/Description

Packed with a 556-horsepower engine, track-validated chassis upgrades and engineering tweaks from the motorsport world, the second-generation Cadillac CTS-V is an American luxury performance model that aimed to bring the brand’s high-performance presence and motorsports campaign to the global scene with a healthy dose of firepower.

Competing with machines like the BMW M3, Lexus IS-F and various Mercedes-Benz AMG products, the CTS-V offered a sedan body style from 2009, with coupe and wagon variants launching from 2011. In the used market, with all the variations, there’s a CTS-V that’ll be just right for all of your “go really, really fast” needs.
All of that in a model that’s peaceful enough to be driven on the daily, if you like. The CTS-V is an easygoing machine that can be driven gently, should prove road-trip ready, and packs a leather and wood-trimmed dashboard, suede seats and high-class materials that seem to say ‘classy cruiser’, not ‘holy hell, this thing is twisted-quick’.

Engines/Trim

All second-generation CTS-V models are powered by a supercharged 6.2L V8, known internally as the ‘LSA’. Based on GM’s legendary small-block V8 architecture, it features an intercooled supercharger, aluminum-alloy cylinder heads and numerous targeted upgrades for durability in a motorsports setting, as well as a considerable power output advantage over the competition. A six-speed transmission is available on all units in the driver’s choice of manual or automatic.

All units also got Brembo brakes, Magnetic Ride Control, and various track-validated chassis upgrades. Luxury feature content included Bose audio, a back-up camera, memory seating, navigation, keyless engine start and plenty more. In all, here’s a machine that backs owners up for weekend lapping, a peaceful Sunday afternoon cruise, or anything in between, with minimal compromise.

What Owners Like

Typical CTS-V owners rave about the immense power, everyday comfort, high-performance bang-for-the-buck factor and all-around everyday usability of the model. Highway cruising mileage is also appreciably manageable, given the power output. In all the CTS-V is said to be something of a luxurious and comfortable rocket thruster on wheels.

What Owners Dislike

Complaints include a driveline that somewhat lacks polish and refinement, a smaller-than-expected cabin, limited at-hand storage for smaller items, and excessive fuel consumption.

Here’s a look at some CTS-V owner reviews.

Common Issues

Given the number of proven technologies and components at work beneath its skin, the V might be the most reliable version of this generation of CTS available.

Once shoppers have short-listed a few models to test drive, it’s advisable to obtain the VIN number of the vehicle in question, and check with the seller and your local GM dealer to see if the model has ever been in for a replacement supercharger, or if it qualifies for one. Well-documented issues with the supercharger on certain CTS-V models saw dealers replacing defective blowers suffering from a bad bearing. A rattling sound at idle with the hood open is a telltale sign of trouble—so be sure to listen for it.

Apparently, because of this supercharger issue, the warranty for the supercharger was extended for all cars. Here’s some more reading. If buying a CTS-V that’s still under warranty and has never had any supercharger work done, listen regularly for signs of trouble, and have your local dealer service department document any that you notice, in order to support a potential warranty claim.

Here’s some more reading on the extended supercharger warranty

Have a mechanic assess the condition of the CTS-V’s magnetic shock absorbers. Some owners wish for longer life from these components, though suspension wear is largely a function of locale and driving style. Shocks that are leaking or a loud banging sound and excessively rough ride over bumps are signs that attention is required. Given their high-tech magnetically adjustable design, many owners say the cost of replacement shocks isn’t unreasonable.

Next up, check all onboard electronics for proper operation. Anything and everything in the CTS-V that runs on electricity should be checked twice for any signs of trouble. Note any warning lights or messages in the instrument cluster, which could point to a variety of issues.

Having the vehicle inspected at a GM dealer for signs of abuse, excessive wear, and to confirm that all fluids are fresh and full is another great idea. If buying a used CTS-V without service records, budgeting for a full fluid change with factory-prescribed fluids is a fantastic idea for peace of mind.

Though not common enough to cause major concern, some owners have reported issues with trunk and liftgate releases that fail to unlatch the trunk via the key fob or emergency release. Double check to ensure the trunk opens and closes as expected. If that’s not the case, you’ll probably need a new trunk latch mechanism.

Door lock actuator issues on sedan and wagon models have also been reported, as have issues with the touch-activated door handles on the CTS-V Coupe. In any case, be sure to check, several times, for proper door handle functionality and proper operation of the locks on each door of any CTS-V you’re considering.

Check the interior, especially the front footwell carpeting, for signs of moisture and mildew. Many owners have complained of leaky sunroof drain tubes, which allow water to enter the car at random after heavy rain. The solution is to ‘unblock’ the tubes that allow water seeping past the sunroof glass to drain. Some owners use a compressed air line to ‘blow’ debris out of the tubes, and others run a piece of weed-whacker wire through the lines and double check that they’re clear by pouring water through afterwards. Many owners who have experienced this problem have made clearing the sunroof drain tubes part of their springtime maintenance routine.

Final notes consist mostly of the common-sense stuff when buying a used performance car. Be on the lookout for excessive wear to tires, brakes and clutch, ensuring the seller isn’t trying to pass an expensive replacement off to you. Further, for maximum peace of mind, avoid a model that’s been modified, especially in terms of engine parts, suspension, or engine management software. Though upgrades on a car like this one can be fantastic fun, they can also negatively affect durability and longevity if they’re of poor quality, or have been poorly installed.

The Verdict

Most of the likely issues in a used CTS-V will be easy to identify and fix, and many will be covered by GM warranty coverage on newer, lower-mileage units. Opting for a used model from a Certified Pre-Owned program with any additional warranty coverage available is ideal for maximum peace of mind. In any case, a healthy CTS-V should provide thrilling access to world-class motoring on the relative cheap.

Recalls: none

The CTS-V is said to be something of a luxurious and comfortable rocket thruster on wheels. 4/30/2015 10:26:07 AM