Saturday, November 16, 2019

Upscale Electric Motoring

The 2018 Cadillac CT6 PHEV is Cadillac’s large flagship sedan. With battery power and an electric motor added to a gasoline engine, it offers a premium electric car experience.

2018 Cadillac CT6 PHEV

A sophisticated foot in both worlds–electric and gasoline

The CT6 sits between the all-electric Tesla luxury sedans and the smaller and less costly all-electric models and hybrids, such as GM’s own Chevrolet Bolt EV and Volt plug-in hybrid. When GM announced last fall that it would offer 20 electrified vehicles over the next five years, they were thinking mostly of cars with this technology.

The Electric Possibility

The 2018 Cadillac CT6 PHEV combines a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with a two-motor electric drive system and an 18.4-kWh lithium-ion battery pack, driving the rear wheels. You may think a small four-cylinder in a 4,537-pound sedan makes no sense, but between the three powerplants, the system puts out 335 horsepower and 432 pounds-feet of torque, great for acceleration and effortless cruising. The battery, unfortunately, takes up the front third of the trunk, but there is still 10.6 cubic feet of cargo space—enough for an electric bass guitar and practice amplifier (or I am guessing a set of golf clubs).

2018 Cadillac CT6 PHEV

A guitar and an amp–and not much more

The CT6 consistently displayed 29 or 30 miles of range when I charged up at work or at home (the EPA rates it at 31). So, my 18-mile commute was totally battery-powered, along with in-town errands. I only used the engine once, on a slightly longer trip.

I essentially was driving an electric car for the week, and the numbers back it up. The gauges told me I averaged 250 mpg over 248.4 miles. The instant torque and silent, smooth drivetrain made the luxury of the car stand out. The EPA numbers are 62 MPGe for electricity and gasoline and 25 mpg for just gas. Green numbers are 3 for Smog but an awesome 9 for Greenhouse Gas.

What You Get for the Money

Electric cars tend to cost more than equivalent internal-combustion models for now, and my Deep Amethyst Metallic test car, with no options listed, came to $76,090.

Price that against Tesla’s least-expensive Model S, the 75D, at $75,700, before factoring in the federal and state deductions and the $5,500 you save not buying gasoline. The Cadillac qualifies for the same rebates and tax breaks. A major difference is that the all-electric Tesla has a 259-mile range, and needs recharging, while the Cadillac runs as a gasoline vehicle when the battery is depleted and has a combined 430-mile range.

2018 Cadillac CT6 Plug-In Hybrid

Apple CarPlay moves right in

The Cadillac CT6 is today’s version of the full-size luxury sedan, for a diminishing pool of traditional customers who choose them in this era of crossover vehicle ascendancy. Though handsome, the design is hardly radical. If you look closely, you’ll see the Cadillac shield motif everywhere, from the rear trunk shape to multiple elements on the instrument panel to the stitching on the leather seats. The materials and assembly are about as good as GM gets. The attractive interior blends wood and carbon fiber with metallic detailing.

Catch a Cue

The Cue system inside has taken some hits in reviews, but I found it to be nearly flawless. It provided a big screen full of useful, colorful information. It starts up with a whooshing sound when you enter the car, starting in the instrument panel and dramatically migrating to the 10.2-inch center console display. The Apple CarPlay integration (it has Android Auto as well) provides large colored buttons and gave me the texting and navigation services I use regularly. The Bose audio sounds clean and powerful in the well-insulated cabin.  The only annoyance was swiping the screen to move audio presets, which sometimes didn’t work. There’s also a center console touchpad, as in a Lexus, for controlling the screen remotely.

2018 Cadillac CT6 Plug-In Hybrid

The luxury touches are all over the interior

This car has the electronic camera interior rearview mirror, which gives an unobstructed, wide view of what’s behind. I’ve enjoyed that in my Bolt EV. It also features a Rear Seat Reminder when it senses anything back there. This is good for babies and pets, but also for leftover Chinese food and your briefcase.

Charging Up

To charge the car, I plugged into a ChargePoint station at work and dispatched it in a few hours at 240-volt Level 2. At home, I simply plugged it in to household current and it was full in the morning.

The CT6’s instrument panel shows you whether you’re using or generating electricity–and how

2018 Cadillac CT6 Plug-In Hybrid

Cadillac fields a contender

much. The left-hand gauge center also provides various views, including numbers and bar graphs. You can easily configure all three parts of the instrument panel to show various information, as in other GM vehicles.

The 2018 Cadillac CT6 PHEV offers attractive sedan styling, plenty of traditional luxury, and amazing electric-car performance if you stay close to home. It’ll provide economy-car fuel economy on long trips with no inconvenience. Its little secret? It’s built in Shanghai, China.

In order to give you the best perspective on the many vehicles available, Smarticd has a variety of contributors. When possible, we will offer you multiple perspectives on a given vehicle. This comes under SRO-Second Road Test Opinion. We hope you’ll enjoy these diverse views–some are just below—and let us know what you think in comments below or at [email protected].

Road Test: (John’s view)

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Smarticd is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition, we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.

Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class, which leads us to emphasize electric cars, plug-in hybrids, hybrids and diesels. We also feature those efficient gas-powered vehicles that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at [email protected].

Steve Schaefer, a Contributing Editor and EV specialist at Smarticd, has written a weekly automotive column for 26 years, testing more than 1,250 cars. Now, he’s focusing on EVs and hybrids. Steve remembers the joy of riding in his father’s Austin-Healey. After discovering the August, 1963 issue of Motor Trend, he became entranced with the annual model change, and began stalking dealers’ back lots to catch the new models as they rolled off the transporter. Coming from a family that owned three Corvairs, Steve was one of the first Saturn buyers, earning him a prominent spot in their 1994 product catalogue. To continue the GM tradition, Steve has a Chevrolet Bolt EV. Steve is a founding member of the Western Automotive Journalists. Recently, Steve became a Climate Reality Leader, trained by Al Gore, and is focused on moving to EVs and 100% renewable energy. Currently he is working at a start-up dedicated to Read his EV/hybrid blog at

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