Across America In A CTS-V Wagon: The First 2000 MilesS

I’m writing to you today from what I believe to be the crown jewel of the entire Best Western hotel chain. By this, I mean the place has a hot tub, a restaurant that serves prime rib, a bowling alley (a bowling alley!), and wireless Internet that worked for approximately seven glorious minutes yesterday evening, provided, of course, that I operated my computer while standing in the closet. Really, it’s great. I’d leave a review, but the rating system is online.

The reason for my hotel stay is that I am currently taking my Cadillac CTS-V Wagon on a 5,500-mile roadtrip across the country and back. Some of you will remember this. For those who don’t, a little refresher: I am currently taking my Cadillac CTS-V Wagon on a 5,500-mile roadtrip across the country and back.

It’s been three days and 2,000 miles, which means it’s time to provide you, dear reader, with some updates. For more updates and photos, please follow me on Twitter, where I’m posting from the road as often as I can. (Actually, I’m dictating updates to my girlfriend, who says things like: “Do you want an exclamation point or a period?”) Anyway, here goes:

Day 1: Atlanta, Georgia to Yukon, Oklahoma

Across America In A CTS-V Wagon: The First 2000 MilesS

V Wagon at Graceland in Memphis


My girlfriend and I intended to start our roadtrip around 7:30, which, thanks to Roadtrip Time, meant that we actually left around 9. Roadtrip Time is a well-documented phenomenon in which, no matter how long you allow for activities, things always take considerably longer when you’re on a roadtrip. Really: you could budget 45 seconds for “peeing” only to look at your watch and realize you’ve spent 30 minutes at it, and you’re now projected to arrive at your hotel approximately nine hours late.

The first day’s drive was very long, so we broke it up with a few interesting side trips. This included the Elvis Presley Birthplace in Tupelo, Mississippi, where Elvis was born; Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee, where Elvis lived; and the city of Little Rock, Arkansas, where Elvis did nothing except maybe the occasional line of cocaine off a toilet seat. (To all of you Elvis fans out there who are now offended, I sincerely apologize for this remark. The drug was actually LSD.)

Anyway, for those of you who want to know about the car: day one was mostly uneventful. The rear seats are down because the back is full of stuff, which means I’m basically driving an enclosed El Camino. Yes, onramps are fun. No, rain is not. And to the guy in the G8 GXP who attempted to race me at 1am on I-40 in Oklahoma City: sorry, but my car was loaded down with Elvis memorabilia.

Total Distance – 898 miles
Total Fuel – 49.169 gallons
Fuel Economy – 18.26 mpg

Day 2: Yukon, Oklahoma to Kayenta, Arizona

Across America In A CTS-V Wagon: The First 2000 MilesS
Welcome to New Mexico!

Day two started with some excitement thanks to a low tire pressure light. I’m close friends with this light because it goes on every few weeks in my Range Rover, usually just to remind me that it is, in fact, capable of illuminating. In the Cadillac, a tire actually was low, so we filled it with a precise amount of gas station air (also known as: however much the machine spit out before it shut off) and we were back on the road.

The rest of the day was largely uneventful, though we did visit three highly important US cities: Amarillo, Texas; Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Gallup, New Mexico. I say “highly important” because these three cities are so completely devoid of anything memorable that I believe a striking enemy would simply forget to destroy them, thereby making them tactical strongholds.

OK, so it isn’t quite that bad. Amarillo, for instance, has “Cadillac Ranch,” which is an art installation where tourists come from miles around to spray paint several 1950s Cadillacs that are inexplicably sticking up from the ground. And “Old Town” Albuquerque featured charming adobe buildings and people selling items in that turquoise color that’s required on all jewelry by New Mexico state law. It also included a mariachi band, possibly celebrating “New Mexico Stereotypes Day.”

The automotive highlight: on the 192-mile stretch from Gallup, New Mexico, to Kayenta, Arizona, we somehow averaged 20.22 miles per gallon. I say “somehow” because these were mainly two-lane highways, which meant I did a lot of opposite-side passing. For those who are unfamiliar with such driving, let me just say that few experiences in life equal the sheer terror placing all of your trust in the highway department’s dotted road lines in the middle of the night.

Total Distance – 868 miles
Total Fuel – 46.805 gallons
Fuel Economy – 18.55 mpg

Day 3: Monument Valley and the Grand Canyon

Across America In A CTS-V Wagon: The First 2000 MilesS

V Wagon smiles for the camera at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon

Day three didn’t involve big miles (only 277) but it did include two major sights: Monument Valley and the Grand Canyon.

For those unfamiliar, Monument Valley is a large collection of enormous red buttes that tower over the desert on the Arizona/Utah state line. The Grand Canyon, meanwhile, is a large collection of foreign tourists who park crooked because they’ve rented a Ford Expedition, even though the largest vehicle they had previously driven was a Volkswagen Polo Diesel.

No, I’m kidding. There’s also a canyon there. But the real automotive highlight was taking the Cadillac down the off-road trail at Monument Valley. Here’s what happened: we were warned before entering the park that this would be a “rough” trail. But then we saw people driving Chrysler Sebring convertibles on it, which caused us to think: How bad can it be?

This was a bad idea, primarily because it turns out the famous PJ O’Rourke saying “the fastest car is a rental car” could be modified for Monument Valley purposes to instead be “all rental cars are Jeeps.” At one point, I was passed by a Nissan Sentra. However, there is a silver lining: I can now vouch for the impressive off-road capabilities of the Michelin Pilot Sport.

Across America In A CTS-V Wagon: The First 2000 MilesS

The off-road trail at Monument Valley

Total Distance – 277 miles
Total Fuel – 15.193 gallons
Fuel Economy – 18.23 mpg

So there you have it, folks: a report from our first 2,000 miles on the road. We have at least 3,500 miles left to cover (and probably more) so expect another update soon. I just have to make it to the next Best Western, where the wireless username will be “Guest,” the password will be “Guest,” and the Internet speed will be about the same as calling a friend and asking him to describe what’s on my favorite websites. I suppose it’s better than sleeping in the Cadillac.

Total Distance – 2,043 miles
Total Fuel – 111.167 gallons
Fuel Economy – 18.38 mpg

@DougDeMuro is the author of Plays With Cars. He operates PlaysWithCars.com and writes for The Truth About Cars. He owned an E63 AMG wagon and once tried to evade police at the Tail of the Dragon using a pontoon boat. (It didn't work.) He worked as a manager for Porsche Cars North America before quitting to become a writer, largely because it meant he no longer had to wear pants. Also, he wrote this entire bio himself in the third person.