The 2008 CTS was unveiled at the North American International Auto Show. It borrows styling cues from the Cadillac Sixteen concept car, and went on sale in late August, 2007.
Introduced in 2002 for the 2003 model year, the CTS rode on the new rear-wheel drive GM Sigma platform. It was a return to rear-wheel drive, as well as being the first Cadillac with a manual transmission since the 1988 Cimarron. It replaced the mid-size rear-wheel drive Catera. The CTS name likely came from the initials of Catera Touring Sedan. The CTS was nominated for the North American Car of the Year award for 2002. The CTS is built at GM's Lansing Grand River plant in Lansing, Michigan. The CTS was also assembled in China in 2006, but assembly was discontinued shortly thereafter due to poor sales in that market. The CTS in China is now an exported model once again.
Originally powered by a 3.2L LA3 V6 producing 220hp (164kW), the CTS received a 3.6L DOHC V6 with variable valve timing in 2004, producing 255hp (190kW) and 252lb·ft (342N·m) of torque. The 3.2L engine went out of production in 2005, when a new 2.8L version of the DOHC V6 debuted in an entry-level version of the CTS. In Europe, the 2.8L replaces the previous entry level 2.6L.
The CTS originally offered either a 5-speed 5L40-E automatic transmission or 5-speed Getrag 260 manual transmission. The Getrag was replaced with an Aisin AY-6 6-speed for 2005.
On April 2, 2006 in a 60 Minutes interview with Bob Lutz, part of a prototype Cadillac was revealed to audiences. The car appeared to take design influences both inside and out from the Cadillac Sixteen concept from 2003. Prototype models caught testing at the Nürburgring in Germany also carried many of the design features from the car shown almost unmasked in April. Further spy shots revealed that the car will still have a manual transmission as an option.