It’s fair to say that when you think of a large luxury sedan, clean green energy and ecological responsibility don’t come to mind. These land yachts normally come with big honking engines to match their physical heft, and the class-leading German stalwarts from Mercedes and BMW seem to thumb their nose at the environment as they hurtle down the Autobahn at triple-digit speeds. These days, however, even the jet-set and business class who favor these big sedans are looking to save a few bucks on gas. We first tested Cadillac’s new entry into this category last year, with the base 2.0-liter turbo, and then got to sample the 3.0-liter twin-turbo flagship engine. Now we get our chance with the CT6 plug-in hybrid.
Slotting right between the 4 and 6 cylinder turbo’s power outlet, the hybrid makes use of the same 4-banger coupled with a complex planetary gear-driven electric-drive system. With a combined output of 335hp and 432lb-ft of torque, there’s plenty of motivation to go around. Our test car suffered from some problems with the hybrid drive that restricted us from getting full throttle, possibly brought about by a particularly brutal Chicago cold snap. It serves to highlight how much better this is suited to warmer climates. Still, the complex drive system is relatively seamless, shifting between eleven modes without a hint of awkwardness. The specs show that at full performance, the hybrid powertrain takes 5.2 seconds to 60mph; just two-tenths of a second shy of the flagship 3.0tt. The difference is in the sound, as the hybrid trades off between whisper-smooth electric motor and buzzy four cylinder, while the big engine has an exciting tone.
The EV-only range is rated at 31-miles, and the drive system is good for up to 78mph without touching any gas. If you have a short commute you could get away with only plugging in, saving big-time over a larger engine version. Steering wheel mounted paddles let you dabble with one-pedal driving, using the resistance of the electric motors to slow the car and charge the battery. It will essentially come to a stop on its own, especially in the higher regen settings. A very different use for paddles than we are used to, but cool nonetheless. We already loved the CT6 interior and not much has changed here. The comfortable seats are trimmed in supple leather, and the ‘V’ design ties everything together. Material choices are excellent throughout, even though the Caddy lags a bit behind its German counterparts in this category.
One place where it crushes the Germans is in price. Starting at just $76k, it’s a full $14k and $21k cheaper than the BMW and Mercedes, respectively. What that story doesn’t tell is how much better equipped the base model of the Caddy is, meaning this is a killer value as well as a great way to save some trees. The battery is double the size of the BMW, meaning a more usable EV-only range as well. There are a few concerns, especially the much-maligned Cadillac Cue infotainment system. It’s a bit clunky to navigate, as we’ve pointed out before, and has an odd combination of touchscreen and ‘touch’ buttons surrounding the display. They have added some tactile feedback to the buttons, which helps somewhat, but we can’t wait for this system to bow out altogether.
Overall, this is a really compelling package. Assuming that the glitches with our test car were a fluke, this is a way to have the big sedan you love without the guilt of frequent stops at the pump. Plenty of power on tap, and all the luxury you would need are packaged in a handsome American-made shell. A semi-autonomous driving mode is available too, another top-end feature on this top-end sedan. It’s hard to call a car like this a bargain, but you are getting lots of tech and luxury for your dollars here. It’s proof the future is bright, if not a bit quieter.