2012 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon review: Rationalized

The engine has a powerful sound, too. Cadillac engineers have dialed in enough engine sounds on acceleration or decel to satisfy the performance enthusiast, though even at a 2200 rpm cruise at highway speed there’s some booming of the exhaust inside the car. It’s not unsettling and no doubt the CTS-V Sport Wagon owner will find it reassuring as a phone call from a big brother.

2012 Cadillc CTS-V Sport Wagon cargo area

The cargo area of the 2012 Cadillc CTS-V Sport Wagon has cargo management rails and hidden storage bins under the floor.

At idle the engine has a metallic ring to its exhaust rather than an open pipe rumble, almost as if the engine sounds are coming through the all-aluminum engine block and heads. If there’s a disappointment it’s in not being able to blip the throttle and not have the revs hang, something we’ll attribute to the supercharger.

The interior has the same major elements as other 2012 Cadillac CTS-V models, including the larger center speedometer with a smaller tachometer to its left. The needle of the tachometer is accentuated with colored lights around the dial, but surely swapping the tachometer and speedometer would be more useful to the enthusiast driver.

Our test CTS-V wagon had the optional suede-wrapped steering wheel—one more reason to appreciate having opposable thumbs—along with bun-grabbing Recaro sport front seats. These two items should be mandatory items. Don’t leave the dealership without them.

To fully exploit the Recaro seats, however, requires a race track, and although we weren’t able to experience this CTS-V Sport Wagon on a track, we know from prior experience that the CTS-V family is a clingy clan when it comes to corners, thanks in part to magnetic ride control, and it would take a near orbital reentry to overwork the big Brembos.

The 2012 Cadillc CTS-V Sport Wagon has tall LED taillights on either side of its power liftgate.

The 2012 Cadillc CTS-V Sport Wagon has tall LED taillights on either side of its power liftgate.

Of course, the advantage of the Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon over the sedan or the coupe is that big open box out back. While the retractable cargo cover comes standard—and at a$63k base price it should—there’s more hidden storage under the cargo load floor, which can also be propped up to make a divider so your stuff doesn’t slide as far. The CTS wagon also sports a cargo management system with tiedown points that can be moved to fit the load. And finally, when the rear seatbacks are folded, they make a flat floor so big boxes and such will slide in easily.

One could, obviously, get the same cargo capacity with the regular Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon without the extra—and expensive—horsepower. Our test wagon, as spec’ed out, had a list price of $71,485. But then, if cargo capacity were all that mattered, one could lowball a minivan. That would be rational. And the Cadillac CTS-V Coupe makes more sense as a dedicated performance-oriented vehicle.

But if the 2012 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon isn’t a wholly rational choice, at least with the extra cargo capacity it’s one that definitely can be rationalized: It’s the ability to cart stuff around that’s important. The 556 horsepower is just an added bonus.