Why You Need to Mod & Tune Your CTS-V

Why You Need to Mod & Tune Your CTS-V

The Cadillac CTS V is one of the most well-known, bang-for-your-buck, performance luxury sedans on the market today. Over the past 15 years, it has proved itself a worthy opponent in any road and track comparison and has been produced exclusively in Lansing, Michigan at the GM Lansing Grand River assembly plant. Let’s take an in-depth look at each generation of the CTS V, as well as performance parts that we think makes it one of the best vehicles on the market today.


First Generation


The first generation CTS V originally featured a naturally aspirated LS6 engine from 2004-2005 but was later changed to an LS2 from 2006-2007. The LS2 allowed the CTS V to have a wider torque band due to its higher displacement. This generation was ONLY offered in a 4-door sedan with a manual transmission and held a recorded 0-60 time of 4.6 seconds with an estimated 13.1 sec 1.4-mile time. For such a heavyweight vehicle, it tore up the Nurburgring in just 8 minutes and 19 seconds. For an American sedan to keep up with the likes of the Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG, BMW M5, and Lexus IS-F was a feat all of its own.


The first generation CTS V with LS6’s equipped had a notoriously weak rear differential. There are stories from drag racers far and wide that a small amount of wheel hop during a burnout can absolutely destroy one of these units in no time flat. The solution to this would be putting money into stronger internals or buying a much stronger differential like the GForce Performance Engineering 9” kit. Other than that the CTS V is bulletproof all things considered.


Second Generation


The second generation brought about a ton of change, starting with the use of the LSA engine. This 6.2L Eaton TVS supercharged V8 stood out in the crowd by boasting an impressive 556 horsepower and 551 pound-feet of torque. To keep the air charge coming from the supercharger cool, it utilizes an internal water-to-air intercooler built into the supercharger known as the “brick” (This is important to remember when we go over performance upgrades at the end of this segment). Although the LSA was produced in Mexico, it proved to be a potent staple in the American Legend that is the LS Engine and became the baby brother to the almighty LS9 engine that came in the Corvette ZR1. This potent V8 power-plant was partnered with a much stronger GM 6L90 automatic transmission and an option for the manual lovers in the form of the buttery smooth TR-6060. Unlike the first generation, GM decided to offer the CTS V in different body styles its second time around. This iteration of the V badge came in a 2 door coupe, 4 door sedan, and the ever-classy 5 door SPORT WAGON! GM states a 0-60 time of 3.9 seconds for the sedan with a 4.0 second run for the heavier wagon and coupe models. The ¼ mile time improved to a staggering 11.97 at 116.9mph. A very impressive run considering the second generation came in at a lofty 4,250lb curb weight.


The main issue with the second generation CTS V deals with the intercooler brick that we previously mentioned. When increasing the boost levels on a CTS V the structure of the brick can be compromised by the increase of pressure and heat inside of the supercharger. This will cause the end tank of the brick to collapse and leave a pretty big mess. There are several solutions on the market right now that act as good insurance to help prevent this from happening. Talk to the tuner or performance shop to see which way they’ve found is the most efficient at preventing this issue.


Third Generation


The third and current generation of CTS-V comes with same engine as the new Corvette Z06, the LT4, yes, THAT LT4 engine. This new age design features a 1.7L Eaton TVS supercharger that spins up to 5,000 RPM faster than the previous generations 1.9L supercharger. The extra friction from the smaller supercharger unit led to some major cooling issues, notably under the hood of Corvettes, in the form of constant overheating and in some cases cars being engulfed in flames. There are ways to help remedy these issues that I’ll cover in the performance upgrades section of the program. The LT4 is, of course, direct-injected which means the air charge does not receive the same cooling treatment from the injectors atomizing fuel in the runner like its port-injected brethren. All-in-all this didn’t stop the third generation CTS V from becoming the most powerful Cadillac ever produced by putting down an impressive 640 HP and 630lb of torque. This increase in power causes this 4,145lb luxury yacht to get up and run a 0-60 in just under 3.6 seconds.


The second and third generation CTS V has had the drivetrain beefed up to be able to handle the massive power increase from the supercharger.


As time moves on and the CTS and CTS V name become discontinued at the end of 2019, we look forward to seeing what GM and Cadillac have in store for us with their new CT5 and CT5 V platforms. Keep reading for CTS V parts recommendations and check out our Tech Tuesday video for more information.


Performance Part Recommendations


  • When it comes to buying performance upgrades there are several companies that you need to check out. I am particularly fond of the cooling lineup offered by Prospeed Autosports. Prospeed offers several upgrades from Upgraded Stewart EMP Pump kits to full replacement Heat Exchanger systems depending on your budget and needs.


  • Metco Motorsports is my go-to company for pulley upgrades and offer them in a wide variety of sizes depending on the level of boost you are trying to achieve with your setup.


  • What do you need if you are adding more air? More fuel! That’s where Fore Innovations comes into play with their Fuel System Packages. You can customize each “Level” of their Dual and Triple pump packages all the way down to the filtration media.


  • Brian Tooley Racing is my go-to company in the Camshaft department. They make a slew of killer camshafts that work excellent no matter what combination of parts you’re running. I’m very fond of the BTR STG III camshaft on CTS V’s as you don’t sacrifice any drivability, gain gobs of power, and chop the block in style.


  • As always with any need for growth in the Horsepower department, there are an array of injector companies you can use to get the job done that offer data. My personal recommendation is to go with Fuel Injector Clinic, Fuel Injector Development, or Injector Dynamics to be sure you are getting a quality injector with data. When it comes down to it the CTS V is by far the best horsepower per dollar vehicle you buy on the market today. Behind its minor issues lies a fleet of aftermarket performance parts ready to repair and improve upon an already excellent platform.
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