By Frank S. Washington
DETROIT – It was longer, lower and meaner than the car it replaced. The 2014 luxury sedan had aluminum doors, a 50-50 weight distribution between front and rear and it could be equipped with a dual turbocharged six-cylinder engine that generated 420 horsepower and 430 pound-feet of torque.
Those are the sorts of specs expected of European luxury sport sedans. But these numbers belong to the 2014 Cadillac CTS sedan which was recently named car of the year by a respected automotive enthusiast’s magazine. After a week with the new CTS, we can say the award was well deserved.
First, we did not have the Cadillac CTS Vsport with the dual turbocharged V6 engine. We had the 2014 CTS with its normally aspirated 3.6-liter V6 that made 321 horsepower, 275 pound-feet of torque and it was mated to Cadillac’s first eight-speed automatic transmission.
The new Cadillac CTS can also be equipped with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 272 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. Although this engine put more pound-feet to the pavement, the normally aspirated six-cylinder, with more than 300 horsepower, was still a lot of fun to drive.
No matter what engine you choose, the CTS can be equipped with all-wheel-drive or rear-wheel-drive. The test car was rear-wheel-drive and traction control allowed it to power through a slippery curving entrance onto an expressway. Still, all-wheel-drive should be the prevailing powertrain in areas with snowy winter climes.
Cadillac’s shield grille was wider, the headlamps flowed up into the hoodline and the LED light guides continued Caddy’s new look. The automaker uses LED running lights better than most manufacturers. Vertical, they are instantly recognizable and give the car illuminated fins fore and aft.
But as good as the CTS looked the real thrill of the luxury sport sedan came from the driver’s seat. The test vehicle was equipped with an Kona brown leather interior that included jet black accents, alloy sport pedals, real wood trim, French stitching, 20-way cooled and heated performance seats and a 12.3 inch reconfigurable virtual instrument cluster.
From the driver’s seat, the magnetic ride suspension could be set on sport, touring or snow and ice. Sport seemed the appropriate setting; winter was coming but the pavement was still dry. Brembo brakes brought the car to resolute halts. The CTS was lighter, it weighed a svelte 3,600 lbs., and the car was very agile. Acceleration was swift, handling was crisp and it had that knack that comes through superior engineering that let the driver feel what the car was doing without feeling what the car was doing. The sport sedan was really a pleasure to drive. The 2014 Cadillac CTS had what you’d expect in a $65,000 luxury sedan. There was all round parking assist, automatic bright head lights, ambient interior lighting, a rearview camera, keyless entry and push button start, an enlarged sunroof, lane departure alert, blind side warning and adaptive cruise control. Plus, the usual suspects: satellite radio, a navigation system, voice control and more. Of course, it had OnStar. But what used to set Cadillac apart was the unexpected. And the new CTS was equipped with several surprising attributes. It had an adjustable heads up display, it could park itself, there were manual shade screens on the rear side windows in addition to the power shade screen on the rear window and perhaps the slickest thing of all was a power cover for the front cupholders. That tells us that at Cadillac they’re thinking about what’s practical and thoughtful for customers. Although the 2014 Cadillac CTS is an aggressive evolutionary design for the luxury sedan, its equipment and performance is another quantum leap forward for the brand.
Frank S. Washington is editor of AboutThatCar.com.