Few cars so impressively combine knock-out looks, swanky creature comforts and pulse-quickening performance with the everyday usefulness of a can opener as the new-for-'10 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon.

Got theater tickets? Take the CTS Sport Wagon. Going to Home Depot? Take the CTS Sport Wagon. Heading to the in-laws for the weekend? Take the CTS Sport Wagon — of course.

It all begins with the sexiest sheet metal in the segment. Wagons from BMW and Audi might match the Caddy on many fronts, but exterior styling is not one.

From the B-pillar forward the CTS Sport Wagon is a duplicate of its sedan platform mate, but we can't get enough of the razor-sharp creases, high beltline, raked silhouette and tasteful flashes of chrome that make today's Cadillacs stand out from the crowd.

In fact, the wagon may carry those traits better than the sedan, with its edgy lines sloping away more gracefully at the rear. As Cadillac designer Clay Dean suggests, the wagon finishes what the sedan starts.

The wagon body style also allows for a priceless pair of elongated rear lamps that drip down the length of the power rear liftgate. It is the ultimate nod to Cadillac's stacked-taillamp heritage.

Our tester came outfitted with 19-in. polished aluminum rims and performance rubber, filling the wheel wells to a maximum proportion more typical of the Germans. General Motors Co. needs to do more of this on its other vehicles.

Inside, no expense is spared. Leather seats are buttery soft and nickel-like trim materials contrast nicely against Sapele Pommele wood and chrome accents.

Subtle Cadillac design cues populate the cabin, such as chrome chevrons in the seatbacks and center console, and cut-and-sewn trim. Count the pop-up navigation and driver-information system among those cues, as GM has begun proliferating that design throughout Cadillac.

A panoramic sunroof stretches into the rear seating area, bathing passengers with natural light. When the sun goes down, ambient lighting makes a functional styling statement.

But what makes this car so useful is its hatchback, which gives it twice the cargo-carrying capacity as the sedan. The space measures 25 cu.-ft. (720 L) and grows to 53.4 cu.-ft. (1,523 L) with the rear seats folded flat.

Yes, it really gobbled up all our Home Depot purchases. The trip to the in-laws was authentic, too, with packages safely tucked away under a standard retractable cargo shade.

The wagon also includes a cargo-management system that is adjustable, so groceries and other such items stay in place. It stows away under the floor when not needed.

A cursory attempt at assembling the unit without the owner's manual ended badly, however. Let's just say it is not an intuitive piece of equipment. But the rails along the floor for the system look cool, and so do the chrome scuff plates.

Motivation comes via the rear wheels and GM's excellent 3.6L high-feature direct-injection V-6. A two-time Ward's 10 Best Engines winner, the 304-hp V-6 and longitudinal orientation combine for sports car-like driving dynamics.

The wagon feels nimble for its size, and a well-programmed 6-speed automatic transmission makes quick decisions and always finds the correct gear. Compatibility with regular fuel is a bonus, too.

And buyers might need those extra nickels, because our “premium collection” tester stickers at $55,630 with destination charges. Optional equipment totals $3,085. Word is the heavy sticker has been scaring away buyers, but fortunately for GM into other Cadillac models.

Cadillac officials admit sport wagons as a rule do not fly off dealer lots, but also note their model outsells the competition 2-to-1.

With Americans lukewarm to wagons, let alone one with this heavy a price tag, the CTS could suffer from an awfully short lifecycle if sales don't take off when the car arrives in Europe.

That would be a shame, because the CTS Sport Wagon arguably is one of the most versatile, comfortable, fun-to-drive cars on the road today.

[+] PROS/CONS [-]

  • Eye-catching style
  • Award-winning V-6
  • Hatchback versatility
  • Cryptic cargo system
  • Tepid sales worrisome
  • It ain't cheap, folks

'10 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon

Vehicle type: Front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 5-passenger wagon

Engine: 3.6L DOHC DI V-6

Power (SAE net): 304 hp @ 6,400 rpm

Torque: 273 lb.-ft. (370 Nm) @ 5,200 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed automatic w/manual mode

Wheelbase: 113.4 ins. (288 cm)

Overall length: 191.3 ins. (486 cm)

Overall width: 72.6 ins. (184 cm)

Overall height: 59.1 ins. (150 cm)

Curb weight: 4,212 lbs. (1,911 kg)

Price: $55,630 (as tested)

Fuel economy: 18-26 mpg (13-9 L/100 km)

Competition: BMW 5-Series Sports Wagon, Audi A6 Avant