I’ve driven across Wisconsin more times than I can remember. Greater than 2/3 of those trips were to Elkhart Lake, home to Road America—a place folks have dubbed America’s National Park of Speed. It’s one of my favorite places ever. While the destination is exciting, I’ve rarely found the 330-mile journey there to be too titillating. Don’t get me wrong—I love the rolling Wisconsin countryside, but I’ve covered the same stretches of road so many times it’s become very monotonous. That all changed when I made the trip out in a 2018 Cadillac CTS V-Sport.
The trip hatched from a hair-brained idea formed the Wednesday prior when I realized I had a couple VIP passes to the IMSA Continental Road Race Showcase at Road America. As an avid fan of the series, I wanted to attend. The problem was, due to prior commitments, Friday was the only day that would work for me. Thus sparked the question to my team via our internal messaging system:
“I have a few tickets/VIP passes to the professional sports car races at Road America this weekend…. It’s a legit opportunity to get some social content…I’m thinking if I moved a couple Friday meetings around I could coordinate a Cannonball run over very early (5:00am) Friday morning, catch 6-7 hours of action at the track and be back home late Friday (~10:30pm). Is anyone crazy enough to enable this plan and tagalong?”
All I needed was one person to bite and, sure enough, Alex agreed to be my partner in crime. We commenced planning. My plan was to find a car that would enhance the road trip experience and provide content for a blog post (you’re reading it here folks). Originally I had another car in mind, but when I ran across the CTS V-Sport I knew it was the one. It was the icing on the cake. Who wouldn’t want to rip across Wisconsin (translation: drive the speed limit the entire way) in a sporty, new Cadillac?
Alex and I met bright and early Friday morning. It was 5am and we had five hours ahead of us before we’d reach Road America. Immediately after sitting down in the Cadillac we both marveled at the seats. “Boy these are comfy,” Alex noted, and boy was he right. The Recaro seats were supportive yet adjustable enough to find a good five-hour comfort level. In addition to five hours of comfort, we also needed five hours of energy. As soon as I pushed the start button and the engine barked to life we got that boost we needed. The engine note, especially under load, was glorious. Not too soft. Not too loud. And with the perfect amount of twin-turbo whooshiness.
We hit the road and in the absence of traffic, we made it to the Wisconsin border in record time. The roads started to get a bit twistier and that’s when I really noticed the steering was surprisingly heavy. A lot of cars have either a highly-assisted soft-steering feel, or overcompensated heavy steering. The steering feedback on the Cadillac was heavy, but in a good way—more like from the days before power steering when you actually felt the road through the wheel. Chalk up another point for the Cadillac CTS V-Sport.
Before we knew it we were driving past and waving at the exit for Chippewa Falls, home of Morrie’s Chippewa Valley Mazda. Then the fog hit. It was hard to see the road immediately ahead of us let alone 100 yards down the road. That’s where the technology in the CTS really shined through. The Lane Keep Assist and Lane Departure warning worked like a champ, keeping us between the lines even when I could barely see them.
Soon the fog lifted and we continued on with full visibility. With clear vision, we were able to focus our senses elsewhere – towards bad Sirius radio singalongs. On the trip, I solidified my affinity for satellite radio. It’s great not having to try to find local stations. The downside is that I learned that Alex is a closet yacht rock fan and sang along to more than one Hall and Oates song. Fortunately, a quick stab of the throttle would always kick up the engine note and smother his high notes. On that topic, the optional sport exhaust on this particular CTS V-Sport really brought the engine to life. It allowed the car to be pleasant enough on a five-hour driving stint and elevated the sensory excitement when dipping into the loud pedal.
Somehow five hours of driving in the Cadillac flew by and before we knew it we were at Road America. We transitioned from hours of watching mundane street cars pass by to watching thoroughbred sports cars ripping by on track. Among the many brands fighting for top honors were Aston Martin, Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Ferrari Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, and lest we forget, Cadillac represented by a trio of ground pounding prototype race cars.
It was neat to make the connection between the sports sedan we drove out to the race with the cars knocking off the fastest laps out on the track. Believe it or not, auto racing is still a solid incubator for production car innovation. Fuel economy, crash safety, suspension innovation, tire wear, and aerodynamics are all highly important in endurance racing events such as the one we attended. Learnings in these areas directly translate to features in road cars—even the Cadillac we drove out to the track.
Racing activities wrapped up at 6pm and we started our journey back home. No surprises, it was similar to the ride out, but in reverse. We avoided the fog but exchanged it for rain of truly biblical proportions. We traded day driving for night driving, and there was a bit more yacht rock on Sirius radio. Perhaps too much yacht rock. Regardless, we made it home a bit quicker than we did the way out. The trip reminded us why we love Road America and it also solidified our love for the Cadillac CTS V-Sport. It impressed us both. We want to drive it again. And again. And again.
What did you like most about the 2018 Cadillac CTS V-Sport?
Ben: There is a lot to like about the Cadillac CTS V-Sport. I really like how well rounded it is. I like a car that is sports and has a bit of a soul. The CTS met my needs for sportiness, yet also delivered a balance of comfort and utility that is usually otherwise compromised when sportiness is thrown into the mix.
Alex: Honestly, there was a lot to like. I think what stood out to me the most was how comfortable it was over long stretches of highway. All of the materials inside the car looked and felt really nice and there was an abundance of technology to enjoy and keep me entertained as a passenger for 10+ hours in the car in a single day.
What surprised you the most about the 2018 Cadillac CTS V-Sport?
Ben: The seats. The Recaro seats hugged my body and were super supportive. They enveloped my body in comfort and support. Even after five hours on the road, I was comfortable, which is a rarity for me when it comes to road trips.
Alex: The price. At the start of the day, I was surprised to see it was almost $70k because that seems like a lot of money to someone like me who doesn’t own a car worth more than about $10k. But by the end of the journey, I was surprised it wasn’t more expensive. Considering how much time we spent in that car, I got out feeling refreshed and like I could do it again. I know I can’t say the same for anything I’d usually drive so I can definitely see the value in that.
Who would you recommend the 2018 Cadillac CTS V-Sport to?
Ben: It’s a great car for someone looking for something a little bit different in the luxury sedan market. It’s a luxury car that exhibits understated American attitude with a performance bark on tap should you decide to use it. Anyone bored with the usual suspects in luxury sedan market should definitely try the CTS V-Sport on for size.
Alex: If you’ve got the money to afford one, and you don’t want or need an SUV or an out and out sports car, I don’t see why you wouldn’t get a CTS V-Sport. When I think of someone buying one of these, I think of a successful businessman or woman who wants something classy and understated that is fun to drive and compromises nothing in terms of luxury.
If you could sum the Cadillac CTS V-Sport up in one word what would it be?