The 2014 Cadillac CTS sedan is all-new. Several versions of the previous-generation CTS—the coupe, wagon, and powerful V-series—remain on the market. They carry into 2014 with minor changes...more
The 2014 Cadillac CTS is a rear-wheel-drive, mid-size luxury car comparable to the BMW 5 Series and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class. It is sold as a coupe, sedan, and wagon. An all-new, third-generation sedan goes on sale for 2014. It's larger and more luxurious than before and comes with a range of powerful four- and six-cylinder engines. For now, Cadillac continues to sell the wagon and coupe variants of the old CTS. There's also a high-performance V-series version of the second-generation model that features a 6.2-liter supercharged V-8.
The 2014 Cadillac CTS seemed like something of an anomaly when it first appeared more than a decade ago. No one expected that Cadillac could ever produce something that drove like a German car. "Shouldn't that be left to the Germans?" we asked in our first review of the 2002 CTS. In fact, the CTS brought about a new era at Cadillac. The third-generation CTS sedan, new for 2014, is still pursuing the Germans and may have finally caught them.
The 2014 Cadillac CTS is a bigger, more expensive car than the one it replaces, in large part because the new ATS has taken over duties as the brand's entry-level model. Somewhat subdued styling testifies to a desire to steal customers from the conservative-looking stalwarts of this segment, the BMW 5 Series and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class. The clamshell hood flows into a rounded-off nose, and the rear end is almost bulbous. That's not to say the car has gone flabby. Sculpted body sides, a low hood, and slim sideview mirrors tell you that it's nothing like the front-wheel-drive XTS. So do the attractive rear-wheel-drive proportions -- phallic nose, razor-thin front overhang.
The 2014 Cadillac CTS shares with the ATS a lightweight rear-wheel-drive architecture, called Alpha, but makes greater use of lightweight materials. The door structures and hood, for instance, are made of aluminum. As with the ATS, Cadillac has pushed back against the trend toward large, heavy wheels. Seventeen-inch wheels are standard; eighteens and nineteens are optional. The result is a car that Cadillac says is 200 to 400 pounds lighter than its direct competitor, the BMW 5 Series.
The CTS sedan offers three engines. The base model features a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder than produces 272 hp. Then there's the familiar 3.6-liter V-6 -- basically the same engine offered in the previous generation. That V-6 serves as the basis for a new twin-turbo six-cylinder offered as part of an aggressive new model call the Vsport. The 420-hp engine sounds great when angry and quickly settles down to a country-club hush when it's not aroused. Like many turbo engines, it suffers from a bit of lag just off the line. The Vsport (not to be confused with the V-series) comes with a smooth, responsive Aisin eight-speed automatic and is rear-wheel drive only. If you get an all-wheel-drive, normally aspirated V-6 or either RWD or AWD with the four-cylinder, your transmission is a six-speed automatic.
The CTS handles as much like a two-seat sports car as a big luxury sedan allows. The Vsport comes standard with Magnetic Ride Control, which is also optional on the base CTS; the system offers Touring, Sport, and Track settings. Although the stability control can be turned off completely, it lets you rotate the car and steer with the gas pedal in normal Track mode. This lets you enjoy trailing-throttle oversteer. Overcook it in a corner and stability control kicks in, but only long enough to help make sure that you're not going to spin the car; the electronic watchdog shuts down once oversteer is under control. For all this sportiness, ride quality and quietness are what you'd expect from a Cadillac.
The interior closely resembles Cadillac's other recent introductions. In particular, the quality of the materials takes a major leap forward. The optional carbon-fiber trim, for instance, cost Cadillac three to four times as much as the fake stuff used in the old model. Worth it. Upper trim-level models like the one we sat in feature fancily cut-and-sewn semi-aniline leather on just about every imaginable surface, even the horn cap on the steering wheel. Cue, Cadillac's controversial infotainment system, is standard. Outward visibility is good, thanks to relatively thin A-pillars and the aforementioned low nose, which in some markets necessitates pyrotechnic actuators to raise the hood in the event of a pedestrian impact. Despite the increase in the car's length, the back bench is still a bit tight, and the center seat straddles the driveshaft tunnel, as is typical with a real-wheel-drive layout. Those who want more room might consider the front-wheel-drive XTS, which starts for about the same price as the CTS.
With all this talk of the new CTS, we should point out that you can still buy some versions of the old CTS. The previous-generation coupe, wagon, and high-performance V-series all carry into 2014. They're worthy of consideration, even if they're not quite as refined as the new car or their German competitors, particularly in terms of interior quality.
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