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2014 Cadillac CTS Overview
As the flagship brand of GM, Cadillac is in a perfect position to prove that the once-troubled company is on a comeback. Thanks in many ways to the 2014 Cadillac CTS, the luxury division is once again taking its place as the Cadillac of luxury cars. With luxury cars, it's always good to remember that of the nearly 15 million new cars sold each year, only half a million units sold are considered luxury vehicles, yet the importance these cars hold in developing a brand's cache is priceless.
The CTS has driven Cadillac's sales success since the last recession, but past versions were sized to compete against both the BMW 3 Series and the 5 Series, the category leaders. With the recent arrival of the smaller Cadillac ATS, the CTS takes the midsize spot, leaving the heavy lifting to the bigger Cadillac XTS, a large sedan that's more like a Mercedes-Benz S-Class. The very fact that these comparisons need to be made for reference means Cadillac has more work to do, but the creation of a luxury coach that completes its trio of sedans is a huge affirmation by Cadillac that it is firmly in the game.
But in the game of luxury, power is the key, and the CTS powerhouse delivers ample juice to compete. The big news here is the available 3.6-liter V6 that drives the rear wheels of the CTS Vsport trim (not to be confused with the CTS-V). Under its hood resides the first twin-turbocharged engine ever offered by Cadillac paired with the brand's first 8-speed automatic transmission. Numbers for the twin-turbo are very impressive for a V6 engine of any kind: 420 hp and 430 lb-ft of torque, with 0-to-60 taking an estimated 4.6 seconds.
Other trims and their respective engines include a naturally aspirated (non-turbo) 3.6-liter V6 rated at 321 horsepower matched with the 8-speed automatic in rear-wheel-drive trims. Or you can get a 6-speed automatic with all-wheel drive (AWD). There's also a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine rated at 272 horsepower paired with a 6-speed automatic, so choices abound.
If all this big engine talk is making you wonder about gas mileage, it's not all bad news. Because the CTS dropped some pounds via a lighter aluminum-based wheelbase architecture underneath and the car's hood and door structures, along with its aluminum-based powerplant, the 3.6-liter V6 will get 19 mpg city/28 highway in RWD versions, and AWD versions get 1 mpg less than that. The RWD 2.0T is expected to get 19/30, but you'll pay more for fueling the V6 twin-turbo with its 17/25 estimate.
To Cadillac owners, size still matters, and the all-new CTS has grown nearly 5 inches in length, which makes it 2 inches longer than its German competitors. For the CTS, the past Cadillac's sharp razor-like lines have been smoothed and rounded, giving it a more refined and conservative look. As for the inside, the CTS takes the trend of tightly stitched leather to new heights. Even the cupholder lid, which has an automatic open/close button, is neatly outlined with stitches that scream luxury—tastefully, of course. Cadillac's CUE infotainment system is all aboard this ship, and though it has sometimes been criticized for being complicated, it's actually one of the most "Apple-like" interfaces in the car world. With motion-sensitivity and "haptic" touch feedback for swiping and dragging images on the 8-inch screen, the technology keeps up with the sedan's totally upscale experience.
As you might also expect, Cadillac has built a bastion of safety within and without the CTS' armor. A self-parking system and automatic braking will completely stop the car in its tracks if obstruction alerts are ignored at low speeds. Cadillac's Safety Alert Seat vibrates when a lane change begins with something in a blind spot. Seat belts that tighten before a crash, adaptive cruise control, brake assist, forward-collision alert, lane-departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert, a backup camera and adaptive headlights are all on the list of highly technical safety wonders.
With all the improvements made to this year's CTS, expect a price increase to follow the trend upward. But if cruising in a Cadillac is your goal, price is, of course, relative. The 2014 Cadillac CTS will be produced in GM's Lansing, Michigan plant this fall and will be available in dealerships shortly thereafter.
Joni Gray has seen the car world from both sides. First, as a marketer inside three major automotive corporations (Mazda, Hyundai and Honda), followed by a decade of editorial positions at Kelley Blue Book and Auto Trader and as Sr. Automotive Editor at the LA Times. Her knowledge of both cars and the people who buy and drive them has given her deep insight about today's car owners and their drive for design, technology and quality as well as performance. Joni lives in Southern California with her husband and Chloe, the lazy whippet.