TEST DRIVE: Cadillac's Hugely Powerful Station Wagon Is A Joy To Drive

Cadillac CTS-V wagonThe 2013 Cadillac CTS-V Wagon is a thrill ride.

The 2013 Cadillac CTS-V Wagon is an unusual car.

It’s a luxury station wagon with a supercharged V8 engine.

It’s little-known and rarely seen, making up just 3% of CTS sales.

And it’s a pure joy to drive.

For five days, the CTS-V Wagon served as our ride in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts.

It did the job perfectly, offering the control to handle winding mountain roads, the power to pass slowpokes on two-lane highways, and the spaciousness to comfortably fit four adults and their accompanying luggage.

The CTS-V Wagon starts at $63,215, the well-equipped version we tested came out to $75,885.

I wasn't sure about how I would feel driving a station wagon. It's far from my favourite type of car.

One friend's reaction: 'It looks like a Hearse.' Fair point.

But this Caddy has a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 engine under the hood, good for a whopping 556 horsepower. That's about 8 Smart cars worth of ponies.

And unlike a hearse, it makes you feel alive. Seen head on, it's stunning.

Our wagon came with a $995 'black diamond' paint job. Looks good.

The grille looks even fiercer close up.

That grille (and the rest of the 4,425-pound car) can go from 0 to 60 mph in 4 seconds flat.

Let's put that in perspective. The 2014 Aston Martin Rapide S does the same in a sluggish 4.8 seconds.

All that power may seem excessive, but it actually comes in handy on the two-lane highways of Western Massachusetts, where being stuck behind someone doing 5 mph below the speed limit can feel like being in one of the lower circles of hell.

But hit the gas pedal on the CTS-V, and you fly by them. All of a sudden passing — normally something to be done quickly and fearfully — becomes a sheer pleasure. You're safely back on the right side of the road in a few seconds, and the adrenaline rush is a pleasant side effect.

Enough gushing about power, let's go inside.

It costs $300 extra to get suede on the wheel and shifter. I personally prefer leather — I found the suede made it a bit harder to grip the wheel. It sounds stupid to gripe about suede, but it's true.

Plenty of room in the backseat. (36.1 inches of legroom, to be exact.)

The side view mirrors have a higher-than-usual inner corner, which makes a big difference in visibility.

Like just about every new car, the CTS-V comes with a big screen.

That screen comes with all the basics, including navigation and audio controls.

The maps feature was befuddling. What am I looking at here? Navigation overall was not very helpful.

At least there's help for the mute.

One great thing about the CTS-V: The screen lowers into the dash. That way, when you're driving at night and don't need navigation, there's no large source of light in you peripheral vision.

It pops up automatically when you put the car in reverse, a thoughtful feature.

The rear view camera is helpful on a car that's 16 feet long.

How long does it take four college graduates to figure out how to the the air conditioning really going? About 10 minutes, until someone realises you have to press the snowflake button in addition to lowering the temperature.

The wagon's Bose sound system is fine, but nothing to write home about.

No paddle shifters in this wagon, but buttons on the back of the steering wheel can change gears when the car's in manual mode.

The CTS-V posts mediocre fuel economy numbers (14 mpg city, 19 mpg highway), but at least they proved accurate during our trip.

It also comes with a feature we have not spotted anywhere else: a G-Meter. Yes, it measures how much gravity you're feeling when you whip around a tight turn or slam on the gas pedal. In a week on the twisting roads around the Berkshires, we topped out at .44 G forces.

Did you forget you've got a V8 engine under the hood? Here's a reminder.

And another. (This is the cloth that comes with the car, to clean your smudgy fingerprints off the centre screen.)

Overall: The CTS-V wagon is a tremendous amount of fun to drive, and offers the practicality of a roomy car with a big trunk. We dock points for weak gas mileage and some confusing controls, but if you have $63,000 to burn and want to stand out on the road, this is the station wagon for you.

Here's another GM car we loved.

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