I finally did it: I'm a dad. The funny thing is, I've always owned dad cars, even before I needed to. Owning anything with less than four doors never made much sense, which is how I ended up with a stable of souped-up grandpa cars from the Sixties and Seventies. Now that I'm a father, the '74 Oldsmobile sedan I brought my wife and son home from the hospital in seems a bit dated. And that, my friends, is how I found myself on this quest to find the perfect new dad car.
When my grandmother was growing up in Brooklyn back in the Thirties and Forties, her dad—who we all remember as Grandpa Joe—worked at the Todd Shipyard in Red Hook. The family owned the business, so after members of the upper management gradually died off—usually of sausage and peppers-induced heart attacks or outstanding loan shark debts—his number came up to run the show. As the guy in charge of managing drydock laborers and seein' nothin', he needed a Cadillac. So he got one. He was the last person in my family to own an automobile so fine.
So when I was handed the keys to a brand-new 2018 Cadillac CT6, I felt as if I'd been called upon to rekindle some ancient family tradition. Cadillacs don't have the street cred they once did, but after a long period of not-so-greatness, it's fair to say that they're finally good again. I had tried the latest XTS Vsport, and despite being fast, it still felt like a fuddy-duddy car. There was something about its look that made me think its best use was as a parking lot ornament at the golf course of one of those 55-and-up gated communities.
But with its refined styling and smooth driving dynamics, the CT6 could be a contender, instead of a bum like the XTS turned out to be. And with Cadillac's outstanding semi-autonomous cruise control and a host of active safety features available, the CT6 might actually appeal to people with more than 10 years of driving left in their lives.
But the real question for me is, how does the CT6 stack up as a dad car? It's big, and that, my friends, is a step in the right direction. Don't ask me why, but I felt compelled to drive three hours with my wife and infant son to go surfing in 40-degree water out on the eastern end of Long Island one weekend. The boards didn't fit inside the car—I strapped them to the roof, cutting an appropriately douchey figure as the car glided us through the Hamptons—but the child safety seat, stroller, diaper bag and all the other crap you're compelled to carry when you have a small child fit just fine. There was even enough room left over for a wetsuit, a towel and a hypothermia revival kit.
Thankfully, Cadillac has done away with the annoying haptic feedback non-buttons that are, somehow, still extant on the XTS (which is scheduled to be axed from the lineup next year). Operating the controls while your child is crying hungrily and your wife is questioning your sanity for wanting to go to a distant beach when it's cold and gray outside is easy. The non-buttons have been replaced with real ones, and the dash still looks all smooth and classy.
If I'm going to be honest, I wish the CT6 came with one of the snarling 640-horsepower supercharged V8 engines Cadillac stuffs into the CTS-V. But I also have to acknowledge that such a mentality is juvenile and greedy, and that no one besides me would enjoy the neck-snapping acceleration of so powerful an engine. My wife and child certainly wouldn't appreciate it. The 404-horsepower 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 that came in the CT6 I tested was good enough—both to move around a stately 4,000-pound automobile and to get me in trouble with the local police for driving too fast (although I've been told that the cops around here profile luxury cars and rice rockets).
The best part of this car, hands-down, is the Super Cruise. As a dad, I am the family's de facto schlepper-in-chief; my wife carried a baby for nine months, now it's my turn to carry everything else. So after surfing for several hours and then using my noodle arms to carry the stroller and and child-laden safety seat in and out of shops and restaurants, my front limbs were pretty tired. Once I got on the expressway, all I had to do was jab at a button on the steering wheel with a shaking finger. A green stripe on top of the wheel lit up and my arms were free to assume the position of relaxation—folded behind my head. The car drove us all the way back to Brooklyn from Montauk without so much as a hiccup. It even merged onto the Gowanus Expressway, at which point the green stripe turned red and the car started beeping, signaling an end to my repose. I don't remember Morse Code from my Marine Corps days, but I'm pretty sure I heard it tapping out, "THIS ISN'T A ROAD."
Yet as pleasant as the CT6 is—and as great as it is being able to trust a robot car to drive your family around—I don't think this is the car for us. Mostly because I'm a journalist and can't afford a rich dad (or granddad) car. We live a couple of blocks from the dry dock-cum-Ikea where Grandpa Joe worked, but the lucrative look-the-other-way jobs that enabled him to afford a Cadillac are long gone. That said, I got a guy up in Queens who might sell me his dad's 1970 Cadillac sedan for cheap, so the family tradition could be brought back to life after all.
The 2018 Cadillac CT6, By the Numbers
Price as Tested: $73,915
Powertrain: 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6, 404 horsepower, 400 pound-feet; eight-speed automatic; all-wheel drive
Fuel Economy: 18 mpg city, 26 mpg highway
0-60 MPH: 5.0 seconds
Top Speed: 152 mph
Random fact: If you smash them in real tight, you can fit 8.7 human bodies (at an average of 1.8 cubic feet per) in the CT6's 15.3-cubic-foot truck.