Cadillac CT6: Semi-autonomous sedan impresses with tech offerings

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“Look Mom no hands,” is a phrase many will recall uttering in their youth while riding a bike. Today, Cadillac offers you the opportunity to revive that classic line with the 2018 Cadillac CT6 Platinum AWD sedan with Super Cruise.

Cadillac rolls out Super Cruise, SAE Level 3 system technology using rigorously tested software, combining LiDAR mapping data, sensors, facial movement tracking cameras, and GPS technology.

I tested the system (freeways only) during a week with a CT6 AWD sedan.

First off, the system is currently only for long(ish) expressway driving, and not crowded stop and go urban, suburban streets. Super Cruise enables simple hands-free driving by first tracking your facial expressions to determine whether you are distracted, then the other components kick in to provide the proper positioning and special distance on the highway.   

Using the system for the first time is a definite trust issue. I felt a little uneasy taking my hands off the wheel (you don’t have to) and keeping them at my sides. For Super Cruise to work you have to have cruise control turned on. The CT6 must be centered in the lane. In the gauge cluster, the Super Cruise icon and separate steering wheel light bar shows the system’s status. A menu of colored SC icons combined with corresponding steering wheel light bar colors indicates the level of system availability – red is bad.

You must pay attention, because if you don’t, SC nannies you by locking out for the key cycle. You’ll experience the system reverting to manual control via light indicators, haptic seat/audible alerts on off-ramps, interchanges, toll booths and construction zones where speeds fluctuate, stop, and in tighter turning radius situations.

This is semiautonomous driving, not autonomous driving, so due to facial recognition (and common sense), you can’t read a book, work your laptop, take a nap, completely turnaround, or eat a meal. If I had the car longer, and did a lot of highway driving, I presume I would get used to the system and feel less anxious.

As for the actual car, the 2018 Cadillac CT6 Platinum AWD is a nudge toward big Cadillac sedans of the late 1970’s/early 1980s. The CT6 shares design cues with the 8.5-inch shorter CTS. That design, spread over a longer platform, works well with its low, muscular, wide-shoulder look, crisp bodylines and 20-inch alloy wheels.

The interior of the CT6 is a blend of tech meets luxe, finished in a business-like design. The materials used, and the build quality, were first rate. Luxury and convenience goodies include heated steering wheel, 34-speaker Bose Panaray audio system, wireless mobile phone charging, OnStar 4G LTE with a wi-fi hotspot, multiple USB ports, Bluetooth connectivity, satellite radio, a huge 12-inch digital gauge cluster.

The diagonal 10.2-inch CUE interface touchscreen dominates the dash and commands attention. I liked the head-up display that was large and had great icons. As for passenger comfort, there are heated/ventilated massaging front seats, and heated/articulating rear seats. I found the front seats too firm/flat and wanting for proper support on longer trips. Front and rear passengers are blessed with 1970’s-style leg, head and shoulder room. My Platinum AWD tester added rear climate controls, center armrest with media controls, HDMI input, wireless headphones for the 10-inch rear seat entertainment screens, dual sunroofs, rear power sunshade and manual side shades. As for cargo capacity, there is 15.3 cubic feet of trunk space.

Cadillac offers four- and six-cylinder engines, but no V8 in its flagship sedan. My test car came with the top engine, a silky 3.0-liter V6 with twin turbochargers backed with an 8-speed automatic.

When you are actually driving the CT6 you’ll feel it understeer in a fast corner. Cadillac got the electric steering right and it is balanced to work in both selectable drive modes: Tour and Sport. The acceleration is strong with a firmer ride than you may expect – not a bad thing.

The 2018 Cadillac CT6 is the top model of this luxury brand. Base Price is $88,295, with my tester landing at $89,295.

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