Cadillac’s CT6 full-size premium sedan arrived for 2016, and now General Motors’ luxury brand has added the all-new Super Cruise hands-free driving system as an option beginning with the 2018 model.
For $5,000 extra on the Premium Luxury model or no extra charge on the top-end CT6 Platinum, Super Cruise brings hands-free driving technology for the highway. The automaker says Super Cruise differs from other driver-assist systems in that it uses a driver-attention system and precision LiDAR map data to steer the vehicle and keep it in its chosen lane, although the technology works only on limited-access divided highways – ones that have dedicated on- and off-ramps.
The CT6 Super Cruise system uses those two extra features to complement the cameras and radar sensors around the vehicle that are designed to help define the lane and make sure the vehicle doesn’t stray outside the lines.
It’s an interesting system that works similarly to those of some other vehicles I’ve tested recently, including Nissan and Infiniti models equipped with what Nissan calls Pro-Pilot Assist, and a Volvo S90 sedan, whose hands-free lane-keeping system is called Pilot Assist.
Our recent weeklong test drive of the 2018 CT6 Premium Luxury All-Wheel-Drive model (base price $69,295 plus $995 freight) equipped with Super Cruise gave us some hands-on – or, rather, hands-off – experience with this system.
During interstate highway driving – with a minimum of two lanes in each direction and the usual limited access – Super Cruise did a credible job of managing the steering effort at highway speeds of 65-75 mph (and slower as conditions warranted). On some long stretches of interstate, this system proved to be useful – but of course only as long as the driver (me) kept eyes on the road and attention to the task of keeping the drive safe.
One of those above-mentioned extra technologies present in Super Cruise – the driver-attention system – wouldn’t let me dilly-dally behind the wheel. It uses a camera on the top of the steering column to monitor the driver’s face, and it has infrared lights that track where the driver is looking while Super Cruise is active.
And it wants the driver to be watching the road ahead. If the driver looks away for too long, the system will give warnings, and in the case of my testing, it told me it was ending the Super Cruise control of the vehicle because of driver inattention.
Cadillac says these systems could also be programmed to work on two-lane highways or those with unlimited access, but General Motors isn’t quite ready to give us that option. I tried to engage Super Cruise on a well-marked but curvy two-lane U.S. highway, but it wouldn’t do it, telling me in a dash message that no map data was available for that road.
Super Cruise also uses adaptive cruise control to keep the vehicle within a safe distance of any vehicle it is following, a feature that of course must be part of any self-driving system.
As for Super Cruise’s driving style, well, let me say that I believe I’m a better driver. There was a lot more moving back and forth within the lane than I would have allowed if I were the one steering the car. Maybe that aspect can be smoothed out some as these semi-autonomous driving systems continue to progress.
Now, would I recommend spending the extra $5,000 to add Super Cruise to the CT6 Premium Luxury model? Probably not if I were on a budget, but then I figure most people choosing to buy a higher-end version of the CT6 wouldn’t really have to worry about whether they could afford the extra dough. And if money were no object, then yes, I would add Super Cruise to my CT6, or just buy the Platinum model that already includes it – mostly because I love technology and would have fun playing with it.
There’s also some level of additional safety that comes from Super Cruise. Cadillac says that “in the limited event of an unresponsive driver,” the system would use the “full capability of onboard driver assistance technologies to bring the car to a controlled stop and contact OnStar to alert first responders, if necessary.” Say, if the driver had a medical emergency, perhaps, and could not continue to operate the vehicle.
And while I never recommend such a dangerous practice as texting while driving, Cadillac says the Super Cruise system can help the driver while he or she is using the navigation system, adjusting the audio system or taking a phone call.
As for the CT6 sedan in general, this is an excellent alternative to some of the similarly priced European luxury models from Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi, as well as some of the newer Japanese luxury brands such as Lexus and Infiniti. Introduction of the CT6 marked Cadillac’s return to the global prestige luxury segment.
The CT6 is larger and roomier than the midsize Cadillac CTS sedan, and it comes with a choice of three engines: the base 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder with 265 horsepower and 295 foot-pounds of torque; a 3.6-liter normally aspirated V-6 with 335 horsepower and 284 foot-pounds of torque; and, for those of us who like more power, a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 that cranks out 404 horsepower and 400 foot-pounds of torque. There is also a CT6 V-Sport model coming for 2019, with a 4.2-liter twin-turbo V-8 engine rated at 550 horsepower and 627 foot-pounds of torque.
The four- and six-cylinder engines come with one of two different eight-speed automatic transmissions. The CT6 V-Sport will have a 10-speed automatic.
For 2018, CT6 prices start at $54,095 (plus freight) for the base 2.0 Turbo model, and range as high as $88,295 for the 3.0 Twin Turbo Platinum model. In between are seven other models, distinguished by engines and included amenities.
Our test vehicle for this report was the CT6 Premium Luxury AWD model, which came with the 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 engine and a host of standard features, along with $11,700 in options (including Super Cruise). That ran the total sticker price to $81,990, including freight.
Other options included the 34-speaker Bose Panaray audio system ($3,700), 20-inch Midnight Silver alloy wheels ($2,095), Satin Steel Metallic exterior paint ($625), and an interior protection package ($280) with floor and cargo-area mats.
Cadillac says the CT6 is one of the world’s lightest and most-agile full-size luxury performance sedans, with dimensions and spaciousness on par with BMW’s short-wheelbase 7-Series.
It has about the same weight, agility and efficiency of the smaller CTS. As a result, the CT6 is lighter than the BMW 5-Series and 6-Series and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class. Its body structure makes ample use of aluminum to provide strength and make the vehicle lighter, which helps with fuel economy.
Among standard features on our tester was the rearview mirror that has a camera system that gives the driver a completely unobstructed view to the rear – with no headrests or body elements blocking the way. The regular mirror is there, too – the driver can choose the camera view by flipping the lever at the bottom of the mirror just like changing from day to night view on a standard rearview mirror.
The CT6 four-cylinder models come with rear-wheel drive, but all-wheel drive is standard with the V-6 engines, so it was included on our tester. This all-wheel drive is meant for slippery road surfaces and to add stability in turns, but isn’t intended for any kind of off-road driving. This car is too low to the ground to use off-road.
The active-on-demand all-wheel drive features a continuously variable clutch that varies the power sent to the different wheels to make the most of handling and stability in all conditions.
Other technologies include Active Rear Steer, Magnetic Ride Control and selectable drive modes, as well as Auto Vehicle Hold, a driver-selectable feature that prevents forward/rearward vehicle creep when the driver’s foot is off the brake. It reduces fatigue during heavy stop-and-go traffic and improves vehicle control on steep grades. Some SUV models have a similar technology that most call “hill hold.”
Our tester came with the 360-degree around-view camera, which put the image on the Cadillac CUE dash screen, to help reduce blind spots around the vehicle. It’s similar to the Nissan/Infiniti Around View monitor. The image is displayed to the left of the rearview-camera view on the big dash screen – which is completely different from the rearview mirror camera system. It gives the driver a virtual bird’s-eye view of the vehicle and its surroundings, which was particularly helpful in crowded parking lots.
The CT6 also offers the industry’s first surround-view video recording system, which can record front and rear views while driving, and can do 360 degrees of recording if the vehicle’s security system is activated. It records onto an SD card.
There is also Enhanced Night Vision, which helps identify people and animals in the vehicle’s path, displaying them on the instrument-panel display for the driver information center. This is part of the Super Cruise Package, which also brought front and rear automatic braking.
Other features include Advanced Park Assist, which can almost park the car by itself, and Pedestrian Collision Mitigation, which gives the driver alerts to dangerous situations. Both are standard on the Premium Luxury model we had, along with lane departure warning and lane-keep assist, automatic safety belt tightening, rear cross-traffic alert, and side blind-zone alert.
We also had a head-up display that projected the vehicle’s speed and other information on the lower edge of the windshield directly in front of the driver.
The Jet Black leather interior included two very comfortable heated bucket seats up front, with 16-way power adjustment for the driver and front passenger. The rear bench seat can hold three people comfortably, and there is no lack of leg or knee room. Also included is a power-operated trunk lid, which has hands-free operation.
There’s also a very cool wide-view sunroof, and the rear side windows have manual sunshades. They can interfere with the driver’s side vision, though.
Our tester’s twin-turbo V-6 engine provided outstanding pickup, and the eight-speed transmission shifted smoothly. Handling was precise and predictive, even on some twisty country roads.
EPA ratings for the 3.0-liter engine are 18 mpg city/26 highway/21 combined.
The automotive columns of G. Chambers Williams III have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 1994. Contact him at email@example.com or on Twitter @gchambers3.
2018 Cadillac CT6
The package: Five-passenger, four-door, rear- or all-wheel-drive, four-cylinder or V-6 powered, large sedan.
Highlights: Cadillac’s new full-size sedan arrived as a late 2016 model, offering a choice of three engines – two of them turbocharged – and a host of new technology, connectivity and luxury features, including a rearview mirror that uses a camera to eliminate blind spots. For 2018, a new hands-free driving system is available.
Negatives: Can get quite pricey; all-wheel drive not offered with four-cylinder engine.
Engines: 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder (standard); normally aspirated 3.6-liter V-6 (optional); twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6 (optional).
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic.
Power/torque: 265 HP./295 foot-pounds (2.0-liter); 335 HP./284 foot-pounds (3.6-liter); 404 HP./400 foot-pounds (3.0-liter).
Brakes, front/rear: Disc/disc, antilock.
Length: 204 inches.
Base curb weight: 3,657 pounds (2.0); 3,926 pounds (3.6); 4,085 pounds (3.0).
Trunk volume: 15.3 cubic feet.
Towing capacity: 1,000 pounds.
EPA fuel economy: 22 mpg city/31 highway (2.0); 18/27 (3.6); 18/26 (3.0).
Fuel capacity/type: 19.5 gallons (all models)/premium recommended but not required (2.0); unleaded regular (3.6); premium required (3.0).
Base price: $54,095-$88,295, plus $995 freight.
Price as tested: $81,990, including freight and options (Premium Luxury AWD 3.0-liter with Super Cruise package).
Major competitors: Lexus GS, LS; BMW 5-series, 7-series; Mercedes-Benz E-class; Infiniti Q70/Q70L, Audi A6, A8, Jaguar XF.
On the Road rating: 9.3 (of a possible 10).
Prices shown are manufacturer’s suggested retail; actual selling price may vary.