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January 2010

January 04, 2010

New Car Review: The 2010 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon

By Bob Plunkett

Cadillac With its wide track and squatty stance for knife-edge sharp skin that ripples over wheelwells and amplifies a blunt in-your-face prow capped by a toothy grille, this four-door tourer is the first-ever car-based wagon out of Cadillac and General Motors.  Dubbed the CTS Sport Wagon, the way-cool and agile set of wheels is derived from Cadillac's premium mid-size CTS sport sedan.


Essentially, the overall package size of the wagon is the same as the sedan, yet inside there's nearly double the cargo capacity due to the wagon format at the rear.  The five-seat sedan has a trunk capacity of 13.6 cubic feet, while the wagon's cargo bay aft of rear seats measures to 25 cubic feet but expands to 53.4 cubic feet when the rear seatback folds down. Tail treatment for CTS Sport Wagon shows a slick slab bumper in monochrome flanked by tall vertical tail lamps, a Cadillac hallmark, with twin round pipes in chrome protruding below the body-colored bumper.


Inside a spacious cabin with room for five, the exterior theme of chiseled forms and angular features is expressed in a monochromatic treatment with hand-cut, hand-sewn and hand-wrapped surfaces.  Vivid analog instruments are housed in three tubular binnacles and the dashboard center stack of controls is trimmed in a high-tech satin metallic finish or genuine Sapele Pommele wood.


Front bucket seats, optionally heated and ventilated, are contoured to fit the body with firm side bolsters to hold you in place during quick-cut pavement maneuvers. The soft leather upholstery comes with French stitching, which also shows up on top of the instrument panel, door inserts and the shifter boot.


Extensive safety measures apply, including air bags surrounding front-seat riders and stretching like curtains in concealment above front and rear side windows.  The four-wheel disc brakes score big high-performance aluminum brake calipers and link electronically to an anti-lock brake system (ABS) and traction control system (TCS) plus GM's StabiliTrak skid controls. Steering, through a rack and pinion device enhanced by a variable-assist power system, feels dead-on precise and entirely quick in response.


Powertrain options begin with the base aluminum 3.0-liter V6 rigged with dual overhead cams, direct injection technology and VVT (variable valve timing). With direct injection, the fuel goes directly into the engine's combustion chamber and fosters a thorough burn of the mix of air and fuel.  This plant generates 270 hp at 7000 rpm with the torque pushed to 223 lb-ft at 5700 rpm.


Optional power comes from a direct-injection dual-cam 3.6-liter VVT V6 that generates the power of a V8 but earns better fuel economy numbers.  The 3.6-liter V6 for CTS makes 304 hp at 6400 rpm, with torque peaking to 273 lb-ft at 5200 rpm.


Traction options include standard rear-wheel-drive (RWD) or optional on-demand all-wheel-drive (AWD).  Three levels of suspension tuning include standard FE1, FE2 for the 3.6-liter engine and a RWD-only FE3 sport suspension with summer tires.


Various equipment packages dress the CTS Sport Wagon.  The Luxury Level One Package brings a retractable cargo shade, theft-deterrent alarm system, accent lighting and an audio kit with 6X CD changer upgradeable to a hard-disc  navigation system and Bose 5.1 Cabin Surround 300-watt premium audio system with ten speakers. Luxury Level Two Package adds heated/ventilated front seats, a split-folding rear seat, power for the telescopic steering column and a keyless passive entry device. Then the Performance Package installs foglamps and HID headlights, aluminum wheels with multi-coat painted finish and P235/50R18 V-rated all-season blackwall tires.


Pricing for Cadillac's 2010 CTS Sport Wagon starts at $37,500.


For more information see RTM's Cadillac Buying Guide or visit


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January 01, 2010

New Car Review: The 2010 Buick LaCrosse

By Bob Plunkett

2010buicklacrosse The revamped LaCrosse, sleek in a stylish new design drawn with taut lines and keen edgework, carries a powerful new direct-injection V6 engine and mounts exacting mechanical hardware on a rigid new front-wheel-drive (RWD) platform to deliver precise handling traits.  The 2010 Buick LaCrosse, completely redesigned with a choice of fuel-thrifty V6 engines and optional all-wheel-drive (AWD) traction, was unveiled at the 2009 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Keep in mind that Buick has become one of the biggest brand stars in the vast consumer car market emerging in the Peoples Republic of China.  Developing the 2010 LaCrosse was a global effort.

The design for LaCrosse's luxurious five-seat passenger compartment occurred in China at GM's Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center (PATAC).  Sheetmetal styling originated in the United States at GM's Technical Center in Warren, Mich., and the new vehicle comes together at GM's Fairfax Assembly Plant in Kansas City.

Steering is a rack and pinion design with variable-effort assistance. The driver gets a good feel for the road through this system, which is firm and quick at highway speed yet compliant and easy to work for slow-go movement in a parking lot.  Brakes include a large disc at every wheel linked to an anti-lock brake system (ABS).  And LaCrosse CXL and CXS upgrade to GM's StabiliTrak electronic vehicle skid control system.  LaCrosse CX rolls on 17-inch wheels, with CXL stocking 18-inch aluminum rollers and CXS using chrome-plated 18-inchers or optional 19s. 

The FWD architecture works for all LaCrosse editions, although for CLX there's on-demand electronically controlled AWD equipment available. This intelligent system uses a computer and wheel sensors in conjunction with ABS and StabiliTrak to determine how much power to apply at each wheel for maintaining tire traction on wet roads. 

LaCrosse CX employs a 3.0-liter V6 to generate 255 hp at 6950 rpm and 217 lb-ft of torque at 5600 rpm. Transaxle is GM's fuel-saving Hydra-Matic 6T70 six-speed automatic with tap-up/tap-down driver shift control.  And the federal EPA sets fuel economy numbers for this LaCrosse powertrain at 18 mpg City and 27 mpg Highway.  LaCrosse CXL and CXS stock a 3.6-liter V6 which develops 280 hp at 6400 rpm with torque climbing to 259 lb-ft at 5200 rpm.  With the larger V6 in play, LaCrosse earns EPA scores up to 26 mpg for the highway.

Extensive safety measures apply, including air bags surrounding front-seat riders and stretching like curtains in concealmentabove front and rear side windows. 

LaCrosse's tasteful two-tone passenger compartment provides seats for five including form-fitting front buckets and lots of amenities.  LaCrosse CX shows standard equipment like premium cloth upholstery, power controls for windows and door locks and mirrors, a steering wheel that tilts and telescopes, air conditioning and an audio kit with AM/FM/CD/MP3.  LaCrosse CXL adds leather-clad heated seats, twin-zone automatic climate controls and foglamps, while CXS features perforated leather upholstery with front seats heated and cooled.  The list of options includes high intensity discharge (HID) headlights with adaptive forward lighting, GM's Side Blind Zone Alert, Bluetooth phone connectivity and a backseat DVD entertainment kit. 

Buick posts MSRP figures for the 2010 LaCrosse in a range from $27,085 to $33,015.

For more information see RTM's Nissan Buying Guide or visit

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