Cadillac’s quest to build a home grown, world class, rear drive luxury performance sedan began with the 2003 CTS. It had the unenviable duty of challenging both compact and mid-size German benchmarks. Despite that, the CTS did just that through two generations. Now, with compact duties handed off to the able ATS, the all-new 3rd generation CTS is designed to go head-to-head against 5 Series and E-Class rivals. Let’s see who gets the headache.
Your first impressions of the 2014 Cadillac CTS sedan, as it heads towards you, is that it is indeed a larger, more serious looking car. All hunkered down, with an oversized grille, and most of the design facets that make German sedans such head turners.
Indeed, overall length is up by 5-inches to 195.5, though wheelbase has grown by just 1.2-inches to 114.6. Both specs coming close to the “5” and “E”. The CTS appears even longer however, as both the roofline and base of the windshield sit 1-inch lower than last year. Up front, the horizontal grille stretches wider, but vertical elements like the headlights are more exaggerated as well; as both the standard projector beam halogens and optional HID’s stare you down menacingly with LED accents.
Even with the larger stance, Cadillac makes no bones about the CTS being based on the compact ATS; which is actually a great thing as it makes for a very dynamic mid-sizer; thanks to near 50/50 weight distribution. And there’s less weight to go around thanks to extensive use of aluminum in the body structure and suspension. At just over 36-hundred pounds, curb weight is now lower than rivals. And, like the new Chevrolet Corvette, Brembo brakes are standard.
Inside, much like the ATS, there’s a European driver-centric layout with good attention to detail including real wood, carbon fiber, or aluminum depending on trim level. Cadillac’s now-familiar CUE interface with 8-inch touch-screen highlights the center stack; and 11-speaker BOSE surround sound audio is standard fitment. The optional Driver Awareness Package features GM’s Safety Alert Seat that vibrates to warn of imminent collision or something in your blind spot.
Also available is a 12-inch high-res. configurable LCD instrument cluster with layouts that go from basic to performance. There are plenty of optional luxury features, from 20-way adjustable heated and cooled front seats, to heated steering wheel. Remote start, however, is standard. Rear seat room is again within class standards, and there’s a reasonable 13.7 cubic-ft. of cargo room in the trunk.
Behind the wheel, the new CTS doesn’t feel quite as nimble as the ATS, but it’s not far off the mark. Base suspension is the familiar MacPherson twin-tube struts up front with a 5-link independent rear with twin-tube shocks. But most cars also have the latest Magnetic Ride Control adjustable setup.
The standard electronic drive mode system has four settings including one for snow/ice. A Track calibration is added to our favorite new CTS sedan, the Vsport. It fits between the regular strength CTS sedan and the sure to be coming full-on CTS-V.
Highlights include 18-inch alloys with performance tires, upgraded pads and larger front brake rotors, a quicker steering ratio, and an electronic limited-slip rear differential.
And of course the piece de resistance, an all-new twin-turbo V6 engine that delivers 420-horsepower and 430 lb-ft. of torque to an also new paddle shift 8-speed automatic transmission. Both firsts for Cadillac. Who claims the combo is good for a 0-60 time of just 4.4-seconds, and from our early drives we agree.
The ATS’s 272-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo I4 with 6-speed automatic is the standard powertrain, and the previous gen’s 3.6-Liter V6 is also available, but is upgraded, as horsepower rises to 321 with the new 8-speed trans. All-wheel-drive is available with the 2.0 and the 3.6 engines though you have to stick with the 6-speed automatic; the Vsport is rear-drive only. And unlike the ATS, no manual transmission is available, at least not for now.
Regardless of which engine you choose, Fuel Economy Ratings are within class, ranging from 20-City, 30-Highway for the turbo-4 to 17-City, 25-Highway for the twin-turbo V6.
Pricing reflects the CTS’s new mid-size position, rising to $46,025 for starters. Still that’s thousands less than the somewhat better equipped 5-Series and E-Class. The desirable Vsport stickers for $59,995.
While it won’t have the impact that the first CTS did, the 2014 Cadillac CTS is better in every way. It’s bigger yes, but also badder; being lighter, as well as more focused. It is just as competitive against mid-size luxury performance sedan rivals as the ATS is against compacts. And, that’s something the other guys will have to take note of if they want to knock heads with the Cadillac CTS.
Engine: twin-turbo V6
Torque: 430 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 4.4 seconds
EPA: 20 mpg city/ 30 mpg highway