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Yes, you can have both luxury and performance in an American car

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2014 Cadillac CTS Vsport

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As it moves into its third generation with a makeover for 2014, Cadillac’s CTS sedan gets a new model its lineup.

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The CTS Vsport offers buyers a luxury sedan with a little more punch than the other CTS models without venturing into the high-performance CTS-V and its hefty, 6.2-liter, 556-horsepower V8 power plant.

The Vsport comes in two versions, base and Premium, both with a 3.6-liter V6 twin-turbo engine that sends 420 horsepower and 430 pound-feet of torque to its rear wheels, getting you from standstill to 60 mph in an estimated 4.6 seconds, according to Cadillac.

The engine requires premium fuel but those numbers are significant jumps over the 272 hp and 321 hp found, respectively, in the 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo or 3.6-liter V6 offerings in Standard, Luxury, Performance or Premium versions in the CTS portfolio.

The only transmission offered is an eight-speed automatic that features paddle shifters for manual gear selection -- other CTS models get a six-speed automatic. The combination of the new engine and new transmission results in fuel consumption of 16 miles-per-gallon city, 24 highway.

In addition to a different engine and transmission, the Vsport’s suspension and steering also gets some refinements to add to the sportier performance on the street. For competition, the Vsport also comes with a heavy-duty track cooling package, electronic limited-slip differential for enhanced capability on the track, and a track-mode setting with specific steering rate and Magnetic Ride Control calibrations.

The new CTS has grown about four inches in length with about a one-inch longer wheelbase than its predecessors, but has lost about two inches of legroom in the rear, making it kind of snug for adult backseat passengers. Overall, it’s about 300 pounds lighter.

The Vsport is not all about performance. It comes with all the creature comforts common to the luxury segment, and the interior is stunning. Lots of quality leather, wood, anodized aluminum, and carbon fiber permeate the cabin. The leather-wrapped steering wheel has a particularly nice heft to it and gives the driver a pleasant tactile experience.

Of course, there also the customary arrangement of technological features, and therein lies the rub with the CTS Vsport and CTS in general. To operate such infotainment systems as audio, climate, navigation, phones, etc. you must use the CUE (Cadillac User Experience) operating system.

It is a “touch” operation that eliminates the need for knobs or buttons and is operated by the user’s finger tips, either touching or sliding them to make desired adjustments.

The problem is the system currently either reacts too quickly, jumping to a function not wanted, or it takes too long to react on even the most basic of operations. At times you are forced to go back to the beginning if you touch the wrong spot.

There’s a pretty steep learning curve for the whole thing and, quite frankly, the system is a turnoff. It’s increasing frustrating to operate, and it can be an unnecessary, and even dangerous, distraction for the driver.

Still, there is that 420 horsepower ...

The CTS Vsport carries and MSRP of $59,070 in standard trim and $69,995 in Premium form. Both versions come with a long list of standard equipment to reduce the need to plunk down more cash for options.

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