Cadillac CTS-V: The Car Bible (Second Gen)
The American M5 is a powerhouse, a modern classic, and a very cool car.
Welcome to the second-generation Cadillac CTS-V Car Bible. As you scroll down, you’ll learn all about this vehicle’s qualities, features, finer points, and shortcomings. If you’re thinking about buying one of these, want some help maintaining or modifying one, or just want to deepen your knowledge for the next round of car trivia, you’ve come to the right place.
This is a living document that’s updated as we learn (and confirm) new valuable information. That’s also why the comment section is open. Got something to add? Drop a comment. Got a question we didn’t answer? Go ahead and ask. Our staff will try to reply, and if they can’t, you might get some insight from another reader. Don’t be shy; the more dialogue we have the better this Car Bible will get.
–Andrew P. Collins, Car Bibles Editor-In-Chief
(Disclaimers, Disclosures: Some Car Bibles will have links to specific forums, groups, brands, shops, or vendors for parts shopping and such. We have no sponsorship deals or official affiliation with any of them unless explicitly stated.)
- The Short Story
- Fast Facts
- Spotter’s Guide
- Check This Car Out If …
- Important Trim Levels and Options
- Year-To-Year Changes
- General Reliability and Ownership Costs
- Obscure Details
- Red Flags and Known Issues
- Where To Buy Parts
- Aftermarket Support
- Popular Modifications
- Key Technical Details
- Fluids, Filters, and Capacities
- Factory Service Manuals
- Other References and Resources
- Professional Reviews
- Owner Reviews
- What They’re Worth Now
- Where To Find One for Sale
- What To Ask A Seller
- Competitors To Consider
- Photo Galleries
- Pop-Culture References
- Enthusiast Inquiries
- Downloadable Paperback Car Bible
- Comments Disclaimer
The Short Story
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Cadillac delivered a subpar product; low-quality, floaty front-wheel-drive automatic sedans and coupes weren’t any match for the rear-drive luxe sports cars that Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW were making. In an attempt to recapture a younger clientele interested in a sportier car, Cadillac in 2003 released the controversially styled rear-wheel-drive CTS. It was a hit.
The CTS’s great bones and access to the rest of the General Motors parts bin meant that a BMW M-car competitor was only natural. So, the engineers at Cadillac refined the CTS even more and threw a Corvette engine up front with a six-speed manual transmission in the middle.
We loved that. The second-generation CTS-V is more of the same goodness, an even more powerful Corvette engine in a luxury sedan that went like a bat out of hell. Also, it’s not just a sedan this time; Cadillac also made a CTS-V coupe and wagon.
We’ll link to some bigger galleries below, but here’s a little selection of pictures to get you started.
For a very short time, the CTS-V sedan held the Nürburgring record for fastest production sedan on stock tires. That is until the Porsche Panamera beat it a few weeks later.
Manual-transmission CTS-Vs come with no-lift shift but not launch control. Interestingly, the C6 Corvette that has a similar engine and transmission, has both.
Similar to the Corvette, the CTS-V uses a pushrod-style engine versus the overhead cam units found in its competition.
The Cadillac CTS itself is a distinctive-looking car. All CTS models use an evolution of Cadillac’s famous Art & Science design language. That means thin taillights and headlights, an egg-crate grille, and straight lines over wide wheel arches.
CTS-Vs look very similar to the regular CTS except for the staggered wheels, dual exhaust tips, and Brembo brakes with calipers that have a monogrammed V-series logo that can be seen through wheels. The CTS-V trades the egg-crate grille for a mesh one. The side and rear of the vehicle have a V-series logo.
Fun fact: If there’s a small GM symbol, also known as the Mark of Excellence, on the front doors, you are looking at 2009 or 2010 CTS-V.
Wagons were only made from 2011 to 2014.
Randomly, Cadillac reordered the CTS and V logos in 2010. Model year 2009 CTS models have the V logo on the left and the CTS text on the right. From 2010 on, this is reversed.
Cadillac produced around 18,000 CTS-Vs in all body styles for all markets, including Europe and Asia. The rarest version is the wagon. Only 1200 CTS-V wagons were produced, and only 534 of them came with manual transmissions.
By comparison, more than 25,000 E90/E92/E93 M3s were produced for the United States and Canada alone.
Check This Car Out If …
You’re looking for an ostentatious, brute-force sedan that’s easier to maintain yet just as satisfying as a BMW M-car or an Audi RS.
Important Trim Levels and Options
The CTS-V’s options list was short, with the only option of substance being some sporty Recaro Seats to keep you in place on the track. Otherwise, all CTS-Vs came identically equipped, save for transmission choice or wheel color finish (2011 and newer). There’s also a wood trim and Alcantara-covered interior trim package option, too.
2009 model year:
- Introduced in 2008 as a 2009 model year.
2010 model year:
- Rear trunk garnish modified to say Cadillac.
- Rainsense wipers removed from options list.
- Navigation made standard equipment.
2011 model year:
- Coupe and wagon (dubbed Sportwagon) introduced.
- Backup camera added as standard equipment.
2012 model year:
- Rainsense wipers return as standard equipment.
- Blindspot notification added.
- Rear rotors were revised to a two-piece design.
2013 model year:
2014 model year:
2015 model year:
- Coupe only, all other models discontinued.
General Reliability and Ownership Costs
Cadillac is a premium manufacturer, and the CTS offers performance comparable to German sports sedans without the maintenance costs. Parts are much cheaper than a comparable M3 or M5.
Fuel economy is not the CTS-V’s strong suit.
The enthusiast’s holy grail, the CTS-V wagon, almost didn’t happen. Head of GM at the time, Bob Lutz, had to be convinced to make that car.
Red Flags and Known Issues
Rockin’ Recaros: The CTS-V’s Recaro seats (optional) have been known to rock around and make a noise unbecoming a luxury car. This is normal but annoying. Car and Driver experienced the same thing in their long-term tester back in the day.
Supercharger rattle (rare): Some early models had issues with the supercharger isolator, causing a rattling noise. In later years (2011 and newer), the supercharger design was slightly revised, eliminating the noise. Some early car owners got their superchargers replaced under warranty.
Whiny rear differential (rare): Early CTS-V models had an older AC Delco fluid with an improper additive, making the differential noisier than usual. Later models have an improved fluid, and the older fluid can be changed out without issue or damage.
Remarkably, the CTS-V missed any sort of recall campaign. The non-V CTS had some recalls that do not apply to the CTS-V.
Where To Buy Parts
The CTS-V’s fire-breathing performance and luxury car chops mean that your local bargain car-parts store might be a bit lacking in quality replacement parts. The CTS-V’s MagnaRide shocks, Brembo Brakes, and other parts don’t lend themselves to discount aftermarket replacements.
Some parts are shared among other Cadillac or GM vehicles and can be replaced cost effectively. Other parts, like engine, transmission, or brakes are more of a dealer-only affair.
The CTS-V’s big-block overhead-valve engine begs for modification. Famous tuners such as Hennessey Performance have created 1000-plus-hp CTS-Vs, although it seems like they’re not supporting the second generation anymore.
Lingenfelter offers supercharger upgrades.
A great video on CTS-V modifications can be viewed here.
The CTS-V’s big-block overhead valve engine begs for modification.
By far, the CTS-V’s most popular modification is exhaust. The V-8 under the hood is particularly muted. Let that sucker breathe. MagnaFlow, Stainless Works, and more all offer exhaust upgrades. Some opt to even gut the catalytic converters, but that’s stupid and bad for the environment, so don’t do that.
Tuning and upgraded headers and superchargers go a long way to uncorking that 6.2-liter beast. Loads of owners have modified their car from the already impressive 556 horsepower to Dodge Charger Hellcat-beating numbers.
Key Technical Details
Engine: 6.2 liter, overhead valve (pushrod) with two valves per cylinder, producing 556 horsepower and 551 pound-feet of torque. The block and head are aluminum.
Transmission: Six-speed manual (via Tremec) or a six-speed torque-converter automatic.
Drivetrain: Front engine, rear-wheel drive.
Suspension: Front double wishbone with a 29-mm hollow stabilizer bar. In the rear, a multilink design with 24-mm hollow stabilizer bar. Both ends use Magnetic Ride Control (MagnaRide) with electromagnetically controlled shocks.
Wheelbase: 113.4 inches
Overall length: 191.6 in (sedan), 191.3 in(wagon), 188.5 in (coupe)
Curb weight: 4213 to 4392 pounds, depending on trim and options
Fluids, Filters, and Capacities
Fuel: Cadillac requires at least 91 octane
Battery size: H6
Engine oil: 5w-30; Cadillac insists on oil changes every 7,500 miles
Oil filter: The CTS-V uses a spin-on filter, AC Delco part number PF46E; some CTS-V owners have opted to use the AC Delco PF63, which is longer and easier to replace; keep in mind you will have to add about a half quart more oil if you use that filter.
Air filter: The part number is 17220-PNB-505 for the OEM air filter. Cadillac recommends replacement as necessary
Cabin air filter: The OEM replacement filter is 80292-S5D-406. Cadillac recommends changing this filter every three years, or 30,000 miles, whichever comes first
Transmission oil: Cadillac recommends the automatic-transmission fluid be replaced every 45,000 miles; the transmission uses Dexron VI; the manual-transmission fluid should be replaced every 22,500 miles and uses Dexron VI
Transmission filter: The automatic-transmission filter should be serviced every time the fluid is replaced; the part number is 24258269; the manual transmission does not have a filter
Differential oil: Cadillac insists the CTS-V’s differential oil be replaced every 45,000 miles; it uses Dexron Gear Oil, AC Delco 88862624; some CTS-V owners have opted for a more traditional Red Line 75w-110 gear oil
Coolant: Cadillac recommends changing the coolant every 150,000 miles or five years, whichever comes first; it uses Dexcool
Power-steering fluid: Cadillac does not give a specified fluid change interval for power steering; these power steering systems use AC Delco Power Steering Fluid
Brake fluid: The OEM rating is DOT3 Spec, but some opt to run DOT4 if they’re doing any sort of performance driving; Cadillac does not have a service interval listed, but many owners inspect and replace or flush once a year
Spark plugs: Cadillac recommends the spark plugs be changed every 97,500 miles; the OEM spark plug is AC Delco 41104, and it has a 0.044-inch gap; many owners opt to use NGK BR7EF with a 0.028-inch gap
Factory Service Manuals
Right now, it seems like the factory service manual is an offline-only affair. If you find a linkable PDF, send us an e-mail.
Other References and Resources
This CTS-V owners forum is the most comprehensive and responsive place to learn about this car.
Car and Driver’s Tony Quiorga was amazed at the CTS-V’s level of performance and luxury offered on tap.
“Official pricing has not yet been announced, but we estimate that this new CTS-V will command $59,000 for an optionless model. That’s about $5500 more than the previous CTS-V’s price, but there’s really no comparing the two. In one evolutionary step, Cadillac has addressed every weakness of the original and in doing so has built a sports sedan that poses a threat to German competition costing far more. ”
Popular Mechanics’ Mike Allen was impressed with the CTS-V’s on-track dynamics.
“What struck us most was how easy it was to push the CTS-V from the very first lap. Placing the car is intuitive and hitting the turn-in, apex, and track-out points requires only that you look where you want to go.”
Real Owner Impressions
Do you own a CTS-V? Give us a ring.
What They’re Worth Now
The second-generation CTS-V has appreciated. There are no deals. A higher mile, automatic-transmission example will list for more than $30,000. Low mile, manual-transmission versions can fetch upwards of $50,000. The manual-transmission station wagon is the rarest and most expensive version of them all.
Where To Find One for Sale
The CTS-V is new enough to be found at a dealer’s lot or the usual Rolodex of online classifieds. But the CTS-V’s status as an enthusiast vehicle means that well-kept examples will make their way to bidding sites like Cars and Bids or Bring-A-Trailer.
What To Ask a Seller
Like any enthusiast vehicle, the CTS-V’s worst enemy is its owners. Like my momma always told me, “If you buy a gun, you’re going to shoot it.”
It’s wise to automatically assume that a CTS-V owner has done some sort of track day or hoonage or whatever. It’s a 500-plus-hp sedan. The question is: How much hoonage? And how much is acceptable to you, a prospective buyer? Try and find out what kind of life the CTS-V lead. Was it a daily driver, or did it live at the track? Are the tires, brakes, suspension components excessively worn?
Competitors To Consider
The Cadillac CTS-V existed in arguably a golden era of enthusiast cars.
Most obvious is the E90 series BMW M3. Its naturally aspirated V-8 engine and sublime driving dynamics match the CTS-V’s, even if its technically a hair slower. The M3 is a smaller vehicle, and its complicated powertrain is much more expensive to repair when it breaks.
The Pontiac G8 GXP is from the same era and has the same engine, sans supercharger. It is fast, big, and American, even if it’s technically an Australian car with a twin nose. However, the G8’s parts commonality with other U.S.-made GM products isn’t as straightforward as you’d think, and it’s a much larger, heavier car.
The first-generation Porsche Panamera is nicer, and in Turbo and 4S trims it is even faster around a track than a CTS-V. However, it’s automatic only and horribly ugly to look at.
Depending on how your monthly payment could shake out, a new or gently used Charger or Challenger Hellcat could effectively cost about the same as a gently used manual CTS-V. Yet again, automatic only on the Charger.
Lastly, a used Cadillac ATS-V can be had for about the same price as a good CTS-V. It’s newer and about as fast in a straight line and on the track. But it is much smaller inside, and there’s no V-8 rumble from the turbo V-6.
There are a lot of big, fast cars from the early 2010s. Take your pick and go nuts.
The old CTS was used as a traffic car in “The Matrix,” but the second-generation version didn’t get too much love — at least, not much love outside of the enthusiasts who wanted a sedan that went like stink.
Every car has a collection of common questions that pop up in forums and Facebook groups whenever new blood joins in. Here’s one.
So, it’s a Corvette engine?
The CTS-V’s engine comes from the Corvette derived, offering a setup similar to the supercharged C6 ZL1. There are key differences, though. The CTS-V’s engine has a smaller supercharger, lower redline, and weaker internals, among other things. A good explainer of the differences between the two engines is here.
Downloadable Paperback Car Bible (Coming Soon)
If you’re old school and like to keep reference notes on paper, or you’re just a completionist and want a free accessory for your Cadillac CTS-V… we’ll have a downloadable supplement soon.
Think of it like an owner’s manual supplement. Keep it in your car, and your days of waiting for slow internet on your phone at the auto-parts store are over.
You’ve reached the end of the Cadillac CTS-V Car Bible and are about to scroll into the comment section. If any questions were left unanswered in the text above, try posing it in the space below. All CTS-V tips are also welcome.