Cadillac is on a roll. Last year the new ATS was the North American Car of the Year.
Not to be outdone by its younger brother, this year the CTS came out with not just a new look, but a complete redesign that is slightly larger. The result is now the 2014 Motor Trend Car of the Year.
Does that mean it’s the best midsized luxury sports sedan out there? That’s a pretty bold statement, and frankly one that is best left to individual tastes. Let’s just say that the CTS is definitely a contender that should be considered.
Let’s start with the power up front. You have three options. A 2.0 liter, 272 horsepower turbo four-cylinder, a 3.6 liter 321 horsepower V6, or a 3.6 liter, 420 horsepower Vsport twin turbo. My test car had the 272 hp option, and before you big block Cadillac purists stick your noses in the air, I need to say that I loved it. The turbo delivered all day long. In fact if you drove it without knowing it’s a four-cylinder, you’ll probably be shocked at the performance. In fact, it left me wondering why anyone would want the mid-range 321 HP option. After all, if it’s power you want, go the distance and get the twin turbo with 420 HP. If not, the turbo four-cylinder won’t disappoint. Mileage is great as well. Officially the rear wheel drive version gets 20 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. My test car was the all wheel drive model, which delivers 19 city/28 highway. During my test week the CTS averaged about 24 mpg. Impressive for car that moves this well.
There are six trim levels. You can get Standard, Luxury, Performance, Premium, Vsport and Vsport Premium. My test car was the Luxury model. While it was nice, I was wondering what the Standard is like. With a base price of $45,100, it might be a great deal in the luxury market. Or you could bump up to the other end of the spectrum and get a Vsport Premium that starts at $72,300.
The body has been redesigned for 2014. At first glance a lot of folks won’t notice the difference. It’s an evolutionary step up. The front end isn’t quite as boxy as last year’s model. The headlights and the side grills work to give the new design a faster look. It has a vertical row of lights that give the car a very distinctive look at night (my friend called it a space ship). The grill is also bigger. One of the interesting design features are what Cadillac calls active aero shutters on the grille. They close down when maximum cooling isn’t needed to improve the aerodynamics of the car. That’s what helps deliver the 30 mpg. The side of the CTS now has a slight design rake that gives it a more aggressive look. The 2014 version has also lost the port just above and behind the front wheel.
Speaking of the front wheel, they have some serious stopping power with Brembo brakes. Interestingly, Cadillac choose to keep its own branding on the units rather than plug the performance brand.
Move inside, and you won’t be disappointed. There are 8 different interior design combos. I liked the Luxury model, but I’d definitely want to compare the Standard version before dropping the extra bucks. Cadillac is very proud of its CUE (Cadillac User Experience) system. You use it to control everything from the radio to performance stuff. I can’t say I was over impressed. It’s not bad, it’s just nothing spectacular. (You can watch a video about the CUE system here.) It’s not quite as great as Cadillac wants you to believe. To be fair, a lot of car manufacturers are struggling in this area. They know what people want, but getting the technology to meet those demands isn’t easy.
Cadillac’s dash uses electronic sensors instead of buttons and dials. It takes a little getting used to, but I’m sure most folks will quickly adapt. It helps give the dash a very stylish and forward-looking feel. Interestingly, one of the most interesting features was the cup holder. It’s stylishly hidden when not in use, with a motor driven door that moves out-of-the-way when you have a thirst buster in hand.
Despite the fact that the car is slightly longer, the interior space isn’t bigger. Having said that, it feels just fine. You have plenty of room up front, and the back seat, while not huge, is just fine.
The CTS has plenty of safety goodies. All versions get the Driver Awareness Package. It features Forward Collision Alert, Side Blind Zone Alert, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Warning System, Safety Alert Seat, Rear Vision Camera, Rainsense automatic wipers, and IntelliBeam headlamps. The IntelliBeam headlights were very cool. They automatically chose between high and low beams. What impressed me the most is that during my test week it was never wrong. It was on high beams when no one was coming, and quickly switched to low when another car approached.
Another thing I liked about the car was the warning system that was built into the seat. Instead of having an annoying beep that tells you and your significant other that you’re about to back into something, you get a slight vibration in the driver’s seat. The closer you get to trouble, the more insistent the vibration. The whole car doesn’t need to know you almost did something stupid. It’s just between you and your seat.
My test car stickered at $56,875, which is reasonable for a luxury car. I love power, but I couldn’t see spending the extra for the Vsport. I like Cadillac’s warranties. You get a 4 year/50,000 mile warranty on the whole car and 6 years/70,000 miles on the powertrain. You even get 4 year/50,000 premium care maintenance.
The CTS is a very likeable car. It has distinctive looks that help it stand out in the crowded midsized luxury sports sedan arena. If you like the looks, the rest of the car won’t disappoint.