Best & Worst Cadillac CTS Years

We've ranked each Cadillac CTS model for every generation so you can avoid picking the worst Cadillac CTS years and go for the best Cadillac CTS years.

In this guide, I’ll break down all Cadillac CTS generations, unveiling its best years to buy and the worst Cadillac CTS years to avoid.

Our insights are grounded in reliable data from sources like NHTSA and Consumer Reports, ensuring a thorough assessment of each model’s performance, safety, and reliability.

Specifically, I’ll provide the nuances of each Cadillac CTS generation’s engine performance, technological advancements, safety improvements, common problems, and recalls.

Let’s dive right in!

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Table of ContentsShow

Cadillac CTS Generations

The Cadillac CTS, first introduced in 2003, marked a significant shift in Cadillac’s approach to luxury sedans. The first model, known for its distinctive design and performance-driven engineering, featured various powerful engine options and a refined, well-equipped interior.

It set a new standard for Cadillac in terms of blending performance with luxury.

Here’s a table outlining Cadillac CTS generations between 2003 and 2019. Cadillac ended production of the CTS in 2019 where it was replaced with the CT5.

1st Generation (GMX320)2003-2007
2nd Generation (GMX322)2008-2013
3rd Generation2014-2019

Understanding these generational changes is crucial in determining which model year might be best based on the advancements or issues specific to each era.

Cadillac CTS Best, Neutral, and Worst Years

When evaluating the Cadillac CTS across its generations, we consider various factors to determine the best, neutral, and worst years. These factors include:

  • Owner-reported reliability (surveys)
  • Annual maintenance costs
  • Safety ratings
  • Consumer Reports reliability scores
  • Consumer Reports owner satisfaction scores
  • NHTSA recalls, investigations, and complaints
  • Edmunds owner ratings
  • JD Power owner ratings
  • Kelley’s Blue Book (KBB) owner ratings
  • VehicleHistory owner ratings
  • owner ratings

The upcoming graph consolidates all these ratings, providing an overall perspective on the Cadillac CTS’s performance over the years.

Cadillac CTS Car Smite Score Combined Overall Score

We’ve categorized each model year into best, neutral, and worst years based on extensive research in the table below.

GenerationBest YearsNeutral YearsWorst Years
1st Generation (GMX320)2007N/A2003
2nd Generation (GMX322)2010
3rd Generation2016

‘Neutral Years’ are those that neither particularly excelled nor significantly fell short in our criteria, demonstrating average performance, dependability, and owner satisfaction.

Some factors, such as NHTSA recalls, can negatively impact a car’s reliability. A higher number of complaints and recalls typically indicates lower reliability for a vehicle.

Let’s dive into the Cadillac CTS’s best, neutral, and worst years.

Best & Worst Years for Cadillac CTS 1st Generation (2003-2007)

Cadillac CTS 1st generation 2003 model
The 2003 Cadillac CTS

The Cadillac CTS’s first generation, launched in 2003, marked the introduction of a luxury sedan with a sporty edge, offering a range of engines and a design that blended modern styling with classic Cadillac elegance.

Honestly, the first-generation Cadillac CTS models are problematic, but considering the age and price, 2007 is the best year to buy.

The Best Year: 2007

The 2007 Cadillac CTS stands out as the best year of this generation.

It offered two main engine options: the 2.8L LP1 V6, producing 210 hp, and the more potent 3.6L LY7 V6, delivering 255 hp.

These engines were paired with 5-speed automatic or 6-speed manual transmissions. Fuel efficiency was moderate, averaging about 16 city/25 highway mpg.

The 2007 model showcased technological advancements, including an improved infotainment system and safety features such as enhanced stability control and better airbag systems.

While it faced recalls for rear axle seal leaks, the overall reliability and build quality of the 2007 model were significantly improved over earlier years, offering a more refined and dependable luxury driving experience.

The Worst Years: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006

We categorized the 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006 Cadillac CTS model years as the worst due to many recalls and owner-reported complaints on NHTSA.

The 2003 Cadillac CTS was particularly problematic, with issues in the electrical system leading to power loss and transmission troubles.

These models also faced significant recalls, including those for ignition switch malfunctions and front brake hose corrosion.

The 2004 Cadillac CTS struggled with transmission and brake problems and new issues such as rear axle seal leaks and fuel pump terminal overheating.

These problems persisted into the 2005 and 2006 Cadillac CTS models, with additional concerns like inaccurate fuel gauges and rear differential failures.

Consumers rated these Cadillac CTS models low on VehicleHistory and, so avoiding them is highly recommended.

See NHTSA 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 Cadillac CTS recalls and complaints.

Best & Worst Years for Cadillac CTS 2nd Generation (2008-2013)

Cadillac CTS 2nd generation 2008 model
The 2008 Cadillac CTS

The second generation of the Cadillac CTS, spanning from 2008 to 2013, brought significant enhancements in design, performance, and technology.

The second generation was successful, 2010-2013 being the best Cadillac CTS years. 2008 and 2009 were the worst Cadillac CTS years to avoid like the plague.

The Best Years: 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013

In its second generation, the Cadillac CTS’s best years were 2010 through 2013.

These models featured a variety of engine options, including a 3.0L V6 with 270 hp (2010-2011) and a more powerful 3.6L V6 offering 318 hp.

The engines were coupled with 6-speed automatic transmissions. Fuel efficiency for the 3.0L model averaged around 18 city/27 highway mpg.

Safety features in these years were advanced, including electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes, and multiple airbags.

The interior was marked by luxury, offering various trim levels with high-quality materials, an upgraded infotainment system with navigation, and premium audio systems.

These models were well-received for their improved build quality, reliability, and luxury features, making them the best years in the second-generation CTS lineup.

The Worst Years: 2008, 2009

What Cadillac CTS years to avoid? 2008 and 2009 were the worst second-generation Cadillac CTS years, with many recalls and issues reported by owners.

These early years of the second generation encountered issues mainly with the electrical system and engine.

Owners reported various electrical malfunctions, intermittent illumination of warning lights, and engine misfiring and stalling.

The 2008 Cadillac CTS was subjected to a recall concerning a heated windshield washer module short circuit.

Engine problems became more pronounced in the 2009 Cadillac CTS, with many owners complaining about timing chain failures.

See NHTSA 2008, 2009 Cadillac CTS recalls and complaints.

Best & Worst Years for Cadillac CTS 3rd Generation (2014-2019)

Cadillac CTS 3rd generation 2014 model
The 2014 Cadillac CTS

The third generation of the Cadillac CTS, which ran from 2014 to 2019, is characterized by its sleek design, enhanced driving dynamics, and high-tech features.

The 2016 to 2019 models are Cadillac CTS’s best and most reliable model years, while 2014 is the worst year to avoid.

The Best Years: 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019

What are the best Cadillac CTS years? 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 are Cadillac CTS’s best and most reliable years in its third generation.

These models offered various engine options, including the efficient 2.0L LTG Ecotec turbocharged four-cylinder with 268 hp, a 3.6L LGX V6 producing 335 hp, and the high-performance Cadillac CTS-V’s 6.2L LT4 V8 delivering 640 hp.

With an 8-speed automatic transmission, these engines balanced power and smooth handling. Fuel efficiency for the 2.0L engine averaged around 21 city/30 highway mpg.

Safety features were top-notch, with available driver assistance technologies like adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, and automatic emergency braking.

The interior of these models was luxurious, offering various trim levels with premium materials, advanced infotainment systems, and customizable ambient lighting.

The Neutral Year: 2015

The 2015 Cadillac CTS is considered a neutral year.

While it shared many features and engine options with the best years, it didn’t match the refinements of the later models.

This year, it still offered the same range of engines and the 8-speed automatic transmission, commendable safety features, and a well-equipped interior.

However, minor issues and a slightly less advanced technology package compared to subsequent years categorized it as neutral.

The Worst Year: 2014

With the highest number of recalls and complaints, 2014 is the worst Cadillac CTS year to avoid.

This year faced issues mainly with the powertrain, with owners reporting rear differential failures causing grinding noises and a burning oil smell.

Recalls for this model year concerned contamination of the chassis electronic control module, transmission shift cable detachment, and an inoperable wiper system.

These problems and their impact on the car’s overall reliability and driving experience made the 2014 model less favorable within the third-generation CTS lineup.

See NHTSA 2014 Cadillac CTS recalls and complaints.

Cadillac CTS Resale Values

This graph provides an insightful look into the average resale values of Cadillac CTS models across different generations.

Cadillac CTS Average List Price


Our research reveals that for those seeking the best Cadillac CTS experience, 2010-2013 and 2016-2019 are the best years for superior quality and reliability.

Conversely, 2008, 2009, and 2014 and the early years of the first generation are the worst Cadillac CTS years to avoid.

What are your experiences with the Cadillac CTS, and how do they align with our findings?

Share your experiences in the comments below!

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Jonathan Eckert

Jonathan is an ASE-certified mechanic with over 22 years of hands-on experience in the automotive industry. His expertise spans a wide range of vehicles, but he specializes in diagnosing and repairing Japanese cars. His previous workplace highly commended his meticulous attention to detail, and that's exaclty what he uses at Car Smite to craft the best guides for each purpose.