2014 Cadillac CTS - Driven

Cadillac has come a long way in the last 12 years. Before the CTS, the brand was suffering a slow and agonizing demise, exacerbated by the popularity of several European luxury brands. That first-generation CTS helped pull the iconic American brand upward. Lasting from 2003 through 2007, the first generation established Cadillac’s new "Art and Science" design theme that still continues today. For 2008, the second-generation CTS rolled off assembly lines. It was a quantum leap forward in quality, reliability, and even desirability. Now entering its third generation, the 2014 Cadillac CTS has again made a quantum leap forward in nearly every imaginable way.

Its exterior carries a futuristic interpretation of the "Art and Science" theme while the interior still features an angular and sophisticated look. Under the hood lies three high-tech engines capable of hustling the 3,600-pound sedan to 60 mph in roughly six seconds or faster, yet still achieve 30 mpg highway.

I recently spent a week behind the wheel of Cadillac’s new midsize sedan and came away with great impressions and high hopes for the luxury brand’s future.

The full report and video review are just below the jump.

TopSpeed Garage

Exterior

Cadillac CTS - Driven
Cadillac CTS - Driven
Cadillac CTS - Driven

To say the CTS has a bold appearance with money bags full of swagger would be a fair summation. The sedan is dripping with thoughtful details and interesting nuances that culminate in an overall exciting, yet refined look. I imagine if James Bond were looking for an American sedan, he’d look no further than the CTS. It just has that level of presence and attitude.

I imagine if James Bond were looking for an American sedan, he’d look no further than the CTS.

A strong front grille and bright LED daytime running lights with HID headlights command most of the attention up front. A small chin spoiler along the lower bumper gives an indication of sport. The feature line it creates carries rearward along the bottom of the aluminum doors and ends just above the chrome accents along the rear bumper. Twin chrome-tipped exhaust pipes finish off the look.

The rear end gives off a more laid-back look than the purposeful front. The high beltline and short green house – like the front – seem purposeful in their location. The optional 19-inch chrome wheels on my tester added a touch of class and a bit more road-holding abilities than the standard, 17-inch units likely would.

Interior

Cadillac CTS - Driven
Cadillac CTS - Driven
Cadillac CTS - Driven

Soft leather covers stiffly bolstered sport seats with 20-way power functions, along with heating and cooling.

The magic continues inside the 2014 CTS. Sharp angles and hard creases are offset by smooth curves and luxurious appointments throughout the cabin. Nearly every surface is covered in leather, and what isn’t, is covered in Alcantara or carbon fiber. Fitted with the Premium package, my tester shows just how well the Caddy can dress.

Soft leather covers stiffly bolstered sport seats with 20-way power functions, along with heating and cooling. The leather continues on the center console, gear shifter, steering wheel, and door panels. Even the bottoms of the door pockets are covered in quality leather.

Once behind the wheel, the driver is greeted with a massive, (and optional) 12.3-inch TFT display that replaces the standard analog set. A swanky start-up screen with the crested Cadillac emblem displays shortly before one of the four gauge cluster designs appears on the screen. Yes, the driver is able to choose from four gauge clusters, and then further personalize the experience with several information displays to pick from. Everything from a secondary navigation screen to the SiriusXM radio station, to the trip meter and individual tire pressures can be show to upon request.

I had little trouble operating the CUE infotainment system.

Over on the center console, Cadillac’s CUE system is running the show. The operating system works much like other GM division units. Chevy’s MyLink and GMC’s IntelliLink are a few shapes and color shades away from being the same system. And that’s not a bad thing. The software works pretty well at controlling all the infotainment functions like the radio, navigation, climate, weather, and vehicle settings.

Cadillac CTS - Driven

Down below, digital switches control the radio, HVAC, and front seat climate controls. The glossy panel gives a haptic feedback to confirm an input, much like an Android phone I used to have. It simply gives a quick vibration when clicking or sliding its controls. It does take a deliberate touch to get the desired result, but with practice, it becomes an easy process.

Rear seat passengers get a similar control panel for HVAC temperature and direction of flow. Seat heaters are also in place back there. Rear seat comfort is pretty good, though the CTS is smaller than its BMW and Mercedes rivals. I sat behind myself just fine with legroom to spare. I do wish the seatbacks were a tad more reclined, perhaps just 10 degrees or so.

Drivetrain

Cadillac CTS - Driven

The 2014 CTS has three available engines: a naturally aspirated, 3.6-liter V-6; a trim-topping, twin turbocharged, 3.6-liter V-6; and the entry-level, 2.0-liter, turbocharged inline four-cylinder. While it may be the base engine, the 2.0-liter is far from a penalty box. With 272 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, the I-4 pushed the CTS forward without complaint.

While it may be the base engine, the 2.0-liter far from a penalty box.

The engine makes use of direct inject and variable valve timing on its dual overhead cams. The turbo adds the extra boost, making the little mill sing all the way to its redline. While it does a decent job motivating the CTS, the engine isn’t be best-sounding powertrain option in the CTS. Hard throttle is met with a raspy and almost grating sound that’s more becoming of a much cheaper sedan. The active noise cancellation works to combat any intrusive sounds emanating from the engine bay, but some still manage their way in.

Cadillac CTS - Driven

Torque is the 2.0T’s specialty. With all 295 pound-feet available at 1,700 rpm, the engine will scoot off the line rather quickly with the help of power braking. The massive Brembo brakes do a great job of holding the CTS in place while the turbo spools up for those quick launches. My best time to 60 mph was just under seven seconds, though the road surfaces and conditions weren’t ideal. I’m sure a low six-second time is more than achievable.

A six-speed automatic backs up the 2.0T and works well in conforming to different driving styles. Want smooth? Put it in Touring Mode. Want snappy quick shifts? Change to Sport Mode. A manual mode allows for use of the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. Manual shifts happen quickly, though it’s no substitute for a dual clutch.

Of course, power is sent to the rear wheels. An open differential is standard with the 2.0T, but a limited-slip unit is available with the CTS Vsport powered by the twin-turbo 3.6-liter V-6.

Driving Impressions

Cadillac CTS - Driven

Piloting the CTS is a completely enjoyable experience. The heavily bolstered seats contour around my back and do a great job of holding me in place. The steering wheel feels great in hand and the variable-ratio steering rack keeps a great feel from lock to lock. The CTS enjoys a 50/50 weight distribution, thanks to some clever engineering. That contributes to a very planted feel, even while just cruising around town.

Body roll and extraneous motions are kept to a minimum, thanks to the adjustable Magnetic Ride Control dampers.

Laying the hammer down results in the more of the same feeling. The CTS just feels planted as if it were guided by invisible railroad tracks. The all-season, run-flat Pirelli tires don’t complain too much when entering hard corners. They also hold tight without succumbing to much understeer. Body roll and extraneous motions are kept to a minimum, thanks to the adjustable Magnetic Ride Control dampers. Both Touring and Sport modes live up to their names in delivering a unique ride suited for each situation.

Manually shifting the six-speed auto while in Sport Mode brings even more thrill to the experience. The shifts happen quickly and are deliberate, though it’s not the fastest gearbox I’ve ever paddled. Once deep in the engine’s powerband, the gritty four-banger sound is replaced with a more reedy, raspy sound that is more acceptable in a $65,000 luxury sedan.

All told, the CTS is a solid performer while scooting around town, blasting down the interstate, or tearing up some twisty back roads.

Price

Cadillac CTS - Driven

The 2014 Cadillac CTS commands a base sticker price of $45,100. That gets you the 2.0T engine and six-speed manual. My tester came loaded out with the Premium Collection that includes the 20-way leather seats, the 12.3-inch TFT gauge cluster, the carbon fiber trim, adaptive cruise control, front and rear automatic braking and Automatic Collision Preparation, automatic seat belt tensioners, aluminum sport pedals, and an advanced security system. Selecting the Premium trim automatically sets the MSRP at $62,725.

Optional on my tester were the Red Obsession paint at $995 and the 19-inch polished aluminum wheels at $1,050, bringing the total MSRP to $64,770, including the $925 destination charge.

Competitors

2014 BMW 5-Series

BMW 5-Series

The 5-Series has long been considered to be the Goliath of the automotive world. It just appears unbeatable, and for good reason. The 5 offers plenty of engine choices and a solid chassis with rear- and all-wheel-drive available. A luxurious interior and an unmistakeable badge that exudes refinement and performance are a combination many curious in this segment just can’t pass up.

The base powerplant is a turbocharged, 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder making 240 horsepower. A 3.0-liter, twin-turbocharged I-6 holds up the middle ground and a twin-turbocharged, 4.4-liter V-8 making 445 horsepower holds the top spot. A 3.0-liter turbo-diesel is also available for those who prefer oil-burners.

Pricing for the BMW 5-Series starts at $49,500 and goes north of $66,000 for the twin-turbo V-8.

2014 Mercedes-Benz E-Class

Mercedes E-Class

The E-Class has always been a stalwart of luxury in the premium-sedan class as it offers gobs of pampering amenities, plenty of sporting ability, and a nameplate that exudes ostentatiousness. Modern yet totally recognizable looks help keep the Mercedes at the top of elite shopping lists everywhere.

Powering the E-class is a series of engines including a 2.1-liter diesel, a 302-horsepower V-6, and a 402-horsepower V-8. A seven-speed automatic transmission backs all the engine options and keeps fuel economy numbers in check. The E-Class comes as a hybrid as well, powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 with an electric motor.

Pricing for the E-Class starts at $51,400 for the E250 BlueTEC diesel sedan and can rise as high as $102,370 for the top-line E63 AMG S-model wagon with all-wheel-drive.

Conclusion

Cadillac CTS - Driven

During my week with the CTS, I quickly became enamored by its suave appearance, coddling cockpit, and excellent driving dynamics. Its personality came alive every time I sat in the car. Tons of electronic gadgets and acres of digital screens make the CTS appear futuristic. Sadly, time may not be kind to the edgy design, but while the CTS is still hot off the press, it scores high in that department.

The 2.0T engine and six-speed transmission work well together and power the CTS adequately. Petrol heads may want to look into the 3.6-liter V-6, if not the twin-turbocharged version in the Vsport. Fuel economy in the 2.0T averaged close to the EPA’s 23 mpg combined, settling at an average of 21.8 for the week.

Interior comfort and posh are far and above the standard set by the second-generation CTS and tremendously help bring back the prestige once enjoyed by the Cadillac brand. With products like this and the ATS , Cadillac seems poised to continue its renaissance as a true sport-luxury American moniker worthy of rivaling the stalwarts from Stuttgart and Bavaria.

LOVE IT
  • Classy exterior design
  • Well-executed interior with loads of tech
  • 2.0T works well at motivating the CTS
LEAVE IT
  • Pricing gets a little steep.
  • Some four-banger sounds when under throttle
  • CUE system is a stumbling block for some users.

What is your take?

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