Cadillac reinvented their brand in 2003 with the introduction of the stunningly designed Cadillac CTS. Made up of sharp edges, lots of angles, and a rear-wheel drive platform, Cadillac caught everyone off guard! The hot four-door is now a deal and filled with the performance, luxury, and technological advancements expected of a Luxurious Bargain.
The CTS was said to be a competitor of the BMW 3-series and BMW C-class, but it was much larger than either inside and out. The body was just over 190 inches long and 70.6 inches wide, which is family mid-size sedan territory. The interior can fit three of your best friends with plenty of room to spare, and features plenty of storage compartments for all your junk.
Three engines were available on the CTS through this first generation. A 3.2 liter 220 horsepower V-6 was standard in 2003 and came with either a 5-speed manual automatic tranny. Then in 2004, Cadillac dropped the 3.2-liter engine for a 2.8-liter engine that had 10 less horsepower 25 ft-lbf less of torque. A new engine was optional though, the now widely used 3.6-liter V-6, developing 255 horsepower and 250 ft-lbf of torque.
The real bargain in used CTS's is the CTS-V with its Corvette sourced 5.7-liter V-8 engine. With 400 horsepower and 395 ft-lbf of torque being put through the rear wheels, smoking rubber becomes second nature! Transmissions for all three engines in 2004 and onward could be a 6-speed manual or 5-speed automatic, with the CTS-V only putting power through the 6-speed manual.
Fuel economy for all of the V-6 engines is at 18 mpg city and 27 mpg highway, which shows how well engineering the 3.6-liter V-6 is over the other two. The CTS-V gets only three mpg less around town and four less on the open road, at 23 mpg.
Depending on which CTS model you look into, you most definitely will find some interesting combinations and packages that Cadillac offered on its German fighter. The Luxury Sport Package offered 17-inch alloys, a sport-tuned suspension and steering system, and upgraded brakes. A voice activated DVD-based navigation system, sunroof, CD-changer, XM satellite radio and Xenon headlights were offered as single options. Larger alloys and more upgrades for the Sport Package were added in 2004 such as load-leveling rear suspension so that your CTS does not brush the ground when your huge cousin gets in the back.
Safety systems in the CTS were on par with other luxury automakers at the time. Traction control and ABS were standard, with an antiskid system being optional. Full side curtain and front thorax airbags were also standard in case you forget to obey the laws of physics or some crazy old driver does not see your flashy Caddy. Of course with a nicer vehicle you are looking at paying a bit more for Comprehensive Car Insurance, but doing your homework and checking for available discounts through your provider can save you money in the long run.
Reliability of the 2003-2007 CTS was quite well, with a few first model year issues in 2003. The "Service Steering System" warning light may come on because of a failure of the variable effort steering solenoid, Also, the "brackets attached to the catalytic converter may crack or break resulting in a rattle or buzzing noise that seems to come from the engine compartment." The recall list shows that in 2004, the "driver's frontal airbag and/or roof-mounted side-impact airbag in some cars could deploy when the ignition key is turned to the ‘on' position." There were also a few others for other model years, so be sure to check out safecar.gov for details.
Prices for a 2003 Cadillac CTS in good condition are around $12 grand and reach $23,500 for a loaded 2007 model. A well-maintained 2004 CTS-V can be had for $20,000 or $25,500 for a 2005 model years.
Sources: ConsumerGuide and Cadillac