The Cadillac CTS should be on every test drive list for consumers in the market for a luxury-performance sedan.

The five-passenger CTS has it all ó rock-solid performance, outstanding handling and absolutely loaded with luxury.

Itís also available in rear- or all-wheel drive configurations.

It is one of my favorite vehicles ó not only for the 2009 model year, but of all time.

In fact, itís No. 2 on my wish list of vehicles I would own if I had the bucks, running a close second behind the Chevy Corvette.

I absolutely love this car, which by the way, earned North American Car of the Year honors when the current generation was first introduced for the 2008 model year.

For the 2009 model year, CTS buyers have their choice of two available powerplants.

The base CTS is powered by a 3.6-liter V-6 engine with variable valve timing and port fuel injection. Delivering 263 horsepower and 253 lbs.-ft. of torque, it is mated to either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. Using regular unleaded gasoline it has an EPA fuel economy rating of 18 mpg city, 26 mpg highway.

The CTS DI is powered by a direct injection version of the same engine and delivers 304 horsepower and 273 lbs.-ft. torque. Available with the same transmission choices, it has an EPA fuel economy rating of 17 mpg city, 26 mpg highway.

As I mentioned earlier, the CTS is an absolute blast to drive.

Although classified as a mid-size luxury sedan, there is no mistaking its performance DNA.

While acceleration is quick and responsive, the independent suspension system keeps the 18-inch wheels hugging the ground as the CTS literally glides through the curves.

And if you opt for the manual transmission Ö oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!

What a blast.

I would certainly put the CTS up against any of the rear-wheel drive luxury imports in the segment.

The Cadillac is that good.

That said, it is a luxury car.

From the leather appointments with craftsman fitted details to the dual zone automatic climate control system to the keyless entry/start function to the ultrasonic park assist system to the premium audio system with XM Satellite Radio and OnStar capabilities, when you ride in a CTS, youíre riding in the lap of luxury.

Itís also loaded with safety features, which include: dual-stage driver front airbag, dual depth front passenger airbag, driver and front passenger side seat-mounted side airbags, roof-rail side curtain airbags for both seating rows, active front seat head restraints, anti-lock brakes with traction control, StabiliTrak stability control system with brake assist, tire pressure monitoring system, OnStar with Turn-by-Turn Navigation and optional adaptive forward lighting system.

With a base price starting around $35,000, the CTS is an absolutely phenomenal vehicle.

For those in the market for a luxury sedan, I HIGHLY recommend the CTS for a test drive and purchase consideration.

Neal White has been covering the automotive industry for 20 years and is affiliated with the Texas Auto Writers Association and the Midwest Automotive Media Association.

THE NUTS AND BOLTS

MODEL:

2009 Cadillac CTS

5-seat luxury sedan†

Rear- or all-wheel drive

Trim packages:

CTS, CTS DI

PRICE RANGE:

$35,000-$48,000

ENGINE:

3.6-L V6 (263 hp/253 T)

3.6-L V6 DI (304 hp/273 T)

TRANSMISSION:

6-speed automatic

6-speed manual

EPA: 18/17 mpg city, 26/26 mpg highway (3.6/3.6 DI)

FUEL: Regular unleaded

SUSPENSION:† Independent SLA with monotube shocks and stabilizer bar (front); independent multi-link with monotube shocks and stabilizer bar (rear).

TRACTION CONTROL:

Four-channel StabiliTrak with brake assist and traction control.

BRAKES: ABS

LENGTH: 191.6 inches

WHEELBASE: 113.4 in.

WIDTH: 72.5 inches

HEIGHT: 58 inches

WEIGHT: 3,845-4,118 lb.

TRACK: 61.8/62

(front/rear)

FUEL TANK: 18 gallons

TIRES: 18-inch