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2010 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon (Petrina Gentile for The Globe and Mail)
2010 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon (Petrina Gentile for The Globe and Mail)

2010 CADILLAC CTS SPORT WAGON

Funky, cool ... Cadillac wagon? Add to ...

Station wagons aren't big sellers in North America - so why has Cadillac introduced its first North American wagon?

It may be a hard sell in Canada; other wagons, like the Dodge Magnum, haven't succeeded in the marketplace and BMW for example is dropping its 5-Series wagon after the 2010 model year. But there are other luxury wagons like the Audi A6 Avant and the upcoming 2011 Mercedes-Benz E-Class wagon.

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Cadillac hopes to cash in on their sales with its new 2010 CTS Sport wagon. It has a good shot, too, because it's a progressive, bold take on a boring old wagon.

Normally I'm not a big fan of wagons, but the Cadillac CTS wagon is an exception. It's a cool, funky design with exquisite sharp lines and angles - you don't feel old or dull driving it. Style-wise, it's far superior to any other wagon on the market.

The exterior is stunning with its signature Cadillac cues. Its taut, sharp lines, extended roofline, sloping rear roof pillars, 18-inch painted aluminum wheels and dual exhaust tips are attractive. Subtle details like fender-mounted air extractors are a nice design touch, yet also functional for the car's under-hood cooling system.

From the B pillar forward, the CTS wagon looks just like its CTS sedan sibling. From the outside, it's virtually the same size as the sedan, but look inside and it's another story.

The wagon is versatile and practical, offering nearly twice as much cargo-carrying capacity as the CTS sedan. There's 736 litres of cargo room in the wagon versus 385 litres in the sedan's trunk. Plus, you can drop the 60/40-split folding rear seats to reveal a huge opening with 1,642 litres of space. There's also a separate ski pass-through between the rear seats.

In the cargo area, adjustable tie-downs mounted on aluminum rails make it easy to secure cargo. There's even a compartment under the cargo floor to hide extra stuff.

Assessing the cargo area is easy thanks to the power lift. Just touch a button on the key fob and it automatically opens. It can also be programmed to lift to a specific height. It's handy when your hands are burdened with groceries.

The interior is welcoming; it looks just like the CTS sedan with its posh, hand-crafted material and upscale feel. My tester had elegant real wood on the steering wheel, transmission shifter, instrument panel and centre console, which creates a sophisticated look in the cabin. The wood is part of a pricey $3,660 performance luxury package, which also adds interior accent lighting, heated and cooled front seats, and a rear-parking assist system.

My tester had a huge sunroof, roughly twice the size of a conventional sunroof, which makes it feel light and airy in the cabin. But it costs $1,660.

Other nice touches in my tester include supple leather seats, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, adaptive forward lights, keyless access, a remote start system and a Bose 5.1 sound system with 40-GB internal hard drive.

The dashboard layout is clean and straight-forward; the analogue gauges are easy to read day or night. On a minor note - while there's no key to insert in the ignition, you still have to turn the ignition to fire up the engine, which is a bit redundant.

The eight-way power adjustable front bucket seats are spacious and supportive. The rear seats, however, are a little tight on legroom and headroom because of the sloping roofline.

There are two engines offered - a 3.0-litre, direct-injection V-6 with 270 horsepower and 223 lb-ft of torque and a 3.6-litre, direct-injection V-6 engine with 304 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque, which is my tester.

The direct-injection technology maintains fuel economy and lowers emissions, while improving power. It also reduces cold-start emissions by 25 per cent. Mated to the engine is a six-speed automatic transmission.

The CTS sport wagon hugs the road nicely; it's stable and comfortable at low and high speeds. The cabin is quiet, too. It doesn't feel big or awkward to drive or park, either. And it's nicely balanced with little body roll when cornering.

The all-wheel-drive system offers excellent traction on snow-covered roads. But the visibility, especially out the back, is blocked by big rear pillars and a small rear window.

As far as the fuel economy, the 3.6 AWD averages 9.8 L/100 km combined highway and city driving. A nice surprise is that it takes regular gas instead of premium, which is the case for most of its luxury competitors. So you'll save serious money every time you fill up.

The new Cadillac CTS sport wagon ranges in price from $44,325 for the base 3.0 RWD model to $53,790 for my tester, the top 3.6 AWD version. Just be careful with options - as tested, my vehicle costs $61,925.

Still the CTS wagon is an attractive, practical ride that's a nice alternative to a larger gas-guzzling SUV and makes a bolder statement than any other competitor on the road.

pgentile@globeandmail.com

2010 CADILLAC CTS SPORT WAGON

Type: Luxury mid-sized, four-door wagon

Base Price: $53,790; as tested, $61,925

Engine: 3.6-litre, DOHC, V-6

Horsepower/Torque: 304 hp/273 lb-ft

Transmission: Six-speed automatic

Drive: All-wheel-drive

Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 11.7 city/7.4 highway; regular gas

Alternatives: BMW 5-Series Touring, Audi A6 Avant, 2011 Mercedes-Benz E-Class wagon, Volvo V70

Follow on Twitter: @PetrinaGentile

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