Remember when Cadillac only made a few oversized front-wheel drive sedans and a rebadged truck? Yeah, those days seem far behind us now, but until the CTS came along it didn’t look like Cadillac could build a competitive luxury car anymore; or even cared too. The original CTS may not have blown away the competition, but it showed Cadillac still had some mojo left and that a proper rear-wheel drive luxury car could emerge from the wreath-crested manufacturer.
|1. Three engines will be available, a 272 hp 2.0 L turbocharged four-cylinder, a 321 hp 3.6 L V6 and a twin-turbo 3.6 L V6 making 420 hp.
2. A six-speed automatic or all-new eight-speed automatic are available.
3. The CTS 2.0T should achieve 20 mpg city and 30 mpg highway while the Vsport is rated at 17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway.
4. The CTS will begin at just over $46,000, while the CTS Vsport should start under $60,000
And for the past decade the CTS has soldiered on redefining people’s perception of Cadillac, straddling the line between the compact and midsize luxury classes. But now, entering its third generation, the CTS can finally become the proper mid-size luxury sedan it was always meant to be thanks to last year’s introduction of the smaller ATS.
LONGER, LOWER, MEANER
Sporting a 1.2-inch longer wheelbase, the 2014 CTS is now five-inches longer than the 2013 model. This extended length, combined with a lower roofline and lower cowl, give the third generation CTS a more purposeful looking stance. The CTS has always been about style and the new model has it in spades – though with fewer controversial angles.
The front end has an elegant, modern, yet ‘old school’ luxury look that may be the defining moment in the evolution of Cadillac’s Art and Science design theme. Head-on, it’s instantaneously recognizable thanks to the dual vertical LED strips that give the car a serious dose of road presence. In total, 198 LEDs light up the road ahead.
Get the Flash Player to see this player.
The back end is a little less unique and features more than a few styling cues from its big-brother XTS. All CTS models get dual slant-rectangle exhaust finishers and a choice of 17, 18 or 19-inch wheels. The underbody has several flat panels bolted on to help with aerodynamics and allow a drag coefficient of just 0.29 for all models.
THREE ENGINES CHOICES
Taking advantage of this slippery shape are three available engines. For the first time ever, a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder can be found under the hood of the CTS, delivering a healthy 272 hp. Still available will be the carryover 321 hp 3.6 L V6 found in last year’s model. But the big news for 2014 is an all-new 3.6L twin-turbo V6 producing a hearty 420 hp and 430 lb-ft of torque. This engine will be found exclusively in Vsport models of the CTS, which is not to be confused with the performance special CTS-V. That model should arrive later on and make even more power.
All four-cylinder models as well as all-wheel drive V6 models will use an update version of the six-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive V6 CTS’s and the twin-turbo Vsport will get an all-new new eight-speed automatic. This transmission is a fantastic unit, delivering quick upshifts and downshifts.
It reminds us a lot of BMWs eight-speed automatic in its ability to seamlessly transition between sedate and spirited driving modes. It’s much more responsive than either the Mercedes or Infiniti seven speed automatics, but obviously can’t quite perform as well as Audi’s two-clutch seven-speed unit.
MAJOR WEIGHT REDUCTION
Cadillac has gone on a weight savings spree, cutting mass from every possible corner of the new car. The manufacturer boasts the base RWD CTS will be the segment’s lightest car at 3,616 lbs and a comparable BMW 550i will be 300 lbs. heavier than the CTS Vsport.
The new model is built on a stretched version of the ATS’s platform, a car known for its driving dynamics. Cadillac wants the new CTS to be one of the best performance vehicles in the class and all models, even the base ones, come equipped with Brembo brakes and the option of Cadillac’s Magnetic Ride Control.
The 2.0T and 3.6 CTS’s really do drive like an ATS, just with more room inside. The Magnetic Ride control is still an amazing piece of technology and the difference between sport and touring mode is dramatic as the car transforms from corner carver to freeway cruiser. Hardly any other adaptable suspension out there does a better job eliminating body roll in sport mode and road imperfections in touring mode.
VSPORT IS VVVVVVERY SPORTY
But those looking for a bigger shot of performance, there is the CTS Vsport. Adding to the standard performance pieces are Pirelli summer tires, a quicker steering ratio, a heavy-duty track cooling package, programmable track mode and an electronic limited-slip differential that all combine to raise the already impressive reflexes of the CTS to a higher level. Turn in is so sharp and composed, it is easy to forget just how big this car is, and that it is a four door sedan.
But the sweetheart of this package is the twin-turbo V6. Significantly smaller and down two cylinders compared to the turbocharged V8s from BMW, Audi and Mercedes, it nearly makes the same amount of power. Cadillac claims it can reach 60 mph in roughly 4.6 seconds, which is pretty impressive for a car with this much power that lacks all-wheel drive traction. Once the back wheels find enough grip, the CTS Vsport feels like it will accelerate forever. It may be an American luxury sedan, but it longs for the autobahn.
OH, THAT SOUND
And then there is the sound. GM’s 3.6L V6 has always been a pleasant sounding engine, even in mundane applications like the Chevrolet Equinox. The ATS 3.6 was the best sounding Cadillac, but the new Vsport, especially in sport or track mode, takes the crown and sounds euphoric.
Not only is it the best sounding V6 found in the General’s stable, it is one of the best sounding V6 engines, period. Add in some unsubtle turbo whooshes and the Vsport model never lets the driver forget what is lurking under the hood.
But performance is only one aspect of a mid-size luxury sedan and to play in this segment a vehicle needs to be jammed full of all the latest technology and safety features. The CTS checks off all the right boxes here as well with features like automatic parking assist, automatic braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and adaptive forward lighting.
And that brings us to what has historically been a sore point for the CTS; the interior. The previous two CTS generations were nice, but never felt special the way a BMW or Mercedes-Benz does. The new car looks and feels far more premium than the out-going model, but still falls a bit short of its German rivals due to a few ill-fitting panels and far too much piano black trim bits. That said, the gap really has narrowed significantly and Cadillac is nipping at the German’s heels.
PICK YOUR STYLE
Eight different interior combinations will be available in the new CTS as well as all the latest technologies like CUE, a heated steering wheel, heated and cooled front seats, a 12.3-inch configurable LCD gauge cluster display, a choice of Bose audio systems and an over-engineered motorized cup holder lid.
Much like the smaller ATS it’s based on, the new CTS is tight inside. With only 35.4-inches of rear legroom and a 13.7 cu-ft trunk, it offers less space in both categories than all of its rivals. Despite these numbers, legroom turns out to be more than enough when sitting in the backseat, but it is headroom that is actually lacking.
Cadillac expects the base CTS to achieve 20 mpg city and 30 mpg highway while the Vsport is rated at 17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway. With the CTS moving upmarket, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that pricing has been increased. It will begin at $46,025, while the CTS Vsport starts at $59,995 including the destination fee.
The CTS has the style and performance to compete with the best from Germany, but, that has been the case for a while now. What Cadillac really needed to do was increase the presence and luxuriousness of the CTS. One look at the new model and it is obvious it has done just that. Only a head-to-head comparison against the likes of the E-Class or 5 Series will tell just how far the CTS really has come, but Cadillac can rest-assured that this is indeed the best CTS ever, if not one of the best Cadillacs of all time.