2014 Cadillac CTS vSport Road Test & Review: Introduction
Comfort, fluidity, confidence, grace, balance, power, agility, style…
These are the attributes any model wishing to be taken seriously in the mid-size luxury sport sedan segment should possess. For this, enthusiasts have BMW to thank, and for this manufacturers have always had BMW to chase. The BMW 5 Series is easily the benchmark by which all other rear-drive six-cylinder luxury sport sedans have always been measured.
And for good reason, BMW’s cars have always exhibited all of those qualities and more. This segment of the market gets more and more competitive every year, and when a new entry emerges, the eyes of motoring scribes everywhere turn to see if one universally recognized question is answered.
Does it measure up to the vaunted BMW sedan?
And so, ever since the introduction of the first Cadillac CTS back in 2002, (as a 2003 model) Cadillac has hungrily pursued the BMW. With this, the all-new 2014 Cadillac CTS vSport, the company may well have just pulled alongside.
2014 Cadillac CTS vSport Road Test & Review: Models & Prices
For the 2014 model year, Cadillac is offering the CTS in six primary trim levels; Standard, Luxury, Performance, Vsport, Premium, and Vsport Premium.
The feature set for the $46,025 Standard CTS models includes a set of seventeen-inch alloy wheels, Brembo brakes, heated exterior mirrors, automatic headlights, a rear parking sensor array, remote start with keyless entry and pushbutton start, an auto-dimming interior rearview mirror, a dual-zone automatic climate control system, and a manual tilt-and-telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel.
The driver monitors the engine, secondary functions and road speed via a 5.7-inch display screen; there are also a set of power-adjustable front seats and driver memory settings. The upholstery in the base model CTS is premium vinyl. While the rear seats are fixed into position, they do offer a pass-through to the trunk.
On the tech side of the ledger, you’ll find GM’s OnStar telematics suite of services, Bluetooth streaming for audio and telephony, and the base Cadillac User Experience (CUE) infotainment system. CUE’s elements include an eight-inch touchscreen video monitor, voice activation for most secondary functions, and an eleven-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system supporting three USB ports, an auxiliary audio input, satellite, and HD radio. The CUE system is upgradable to include navigation and two more speakers for the Bose sound system—as an option for CTS Standard and Luxury trim levels.
The Standard trimmed CTS can also be upgraded with Cadillac’s optional $3,500 Seating Package. This will add leather at all four seating positions, a set of heated and ventilated front seats, a split-folding rear seatback, heat for the steering wheel with a power tilt-and-telescoping column, a glovebox mounted CD player, and an upgraded LED interior ambient lighting package.
Moving up to the $51,925 CTS Luxury trim model garners the Standard model’s Seating Package along with a smart xenon headlight system featuring automatic high beam control. Luxury-trimmed CTS models also boast Cadillac’s electronic safety suite. This encompasses a lane-departure warning system, a forward collision alert solution, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, a rearview camera, and Cadillac's vibrating driver's seat warning system.
Options for CTS Luxury include 18-inch wheels, Cadillac’s adaptive magnetic suspension system, a panoramic sunroof with a power-operated sunshade, a power rear sunshade, and manually deployable side shades in the rear doors.
The CTS Performance model, which starts at $58,325, includes all the elements of the Luxury model, along with automated parallel parking, illumination for the exterior door handles and sill plates and a head-up display. The Performance Package also brings a 110-volt power outlet and a tri-zone automatic climate control, as well as heated rear seats.
The $2,540 Driver Assistance Package can be added to the Performance model, which will fit the CTS with smart cruise control, automatic braking to avert a crash, an automatic collision-preparation braking system, and automatic seatbelt tightening.
The $1,625 Performance Seat and Cluster Package adds a set of 20-way-adjustable front sport seats, along with reconfigurable performance gauges.
The 2014 Cadillac CTS Premium trimmed car starts at $62,725, and includes all of the elements of the Performance model—plus leather for the dash and door panels, the Driver Assistance Package, and Cadillac’s advanced theft deterrent package.
All of the above models can be had with Cadillac’s 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a choice of all-wheel drive or rear-drive. A normally aspirated V6 can be ordered for the Luxury and Performance trimmed models, also with a choice of rear- or all-wheel drive.
The $59,995 CTS vSport uses Cadillac’s twin-turbocharged V6. To this, it adds the elements of the Performance trim level, along with a sport-tuned suspension system, four driver-selectable driving modes, sport-oriented steering, an electronic limited-slip rear differential, and a unique set of eighteen-inch wheels shod with high-performance tires.
If you want it all, go for the $69,995 CTS vSport Premium. This will get you everything on the CTS Premium and vSport standard equipment list. Then, all you have to do is order the $100 high-performance brake pad upgrade.
Our 2014 CTS vSport Premium tester stickered for $70,990—including $925 in destination charges.
2014 Cadillac CTS vSport Road Test & Review: Design
The basic elements of Cadillac’s Art & Science design language—the angular shapes and vertical lighting treatments—are there, however this is the most organic it has ever looked. Instead of an amalgam of straight lines, there is a texture to the body of the CTS, which makes it a bit more pleasing to the eye.
The 2014 CTS is also longer and wider than the 2013 CTS, which gives the car more presence. It’s still taut and lean, but now it looks more substantial as well. Even though the car is longer and wider, its cowl and roofline are lower. This introduces a sleekness of design previous versions of the CTS lacked.
This is truly a global-looking car. While the appearance is unmistakably American—you know definitively you’re looking at a Cadillac—it also fits in with designs from all over the world. This is a Cadillac looks just as much at home on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris, as it does on Woodward Avenue in Detroit.
Easily the most striking aspect of the new design is the front of the car. The grille is wider, with a lot more texture and detail. Meanwhile, the way the headlight clusters flow upwards into the fenders of the CTS is absolutely masterful. The LED daytime running light tubes, complement this wonderfully. When a CTS is behind you, you know you’re impeding something special.
2014 Cadillac CTS vSport Road Test & Review: Comfort & Cargo
The interior of the 2014 Cadillac CTS vSport is remarkable in that it focuses its attention on the driver, yet the other occupants of the car won’t feel slighted. It also feels more spacious than the 2013, and is certainly more luxurious.
The seating is absolutely first rate, regardless of the upholstery you order. Comfort is given a great deal of priority. Over a number of quite long drives, we never once thought about the seats. We simply adjusted them to our desired positions, and set off on our drive. This is how you know they’re good, you really don’t think about them.
Yes, rear seat passengers will still have to rely upon the generosity of front-seat passengers on long drives, but given the exceptionally long range of travel the front seats enjoy, this won’t be much of a concern. Still, its German rivals best the CTS in this regard. The 13.7 cubic feet of trunk space, while adequate for most situations, also gives up a bit to the imports.
That said, the interior feel of this new CTS is the most upscale Cadillac has ever offered.
The primary source of that vibe is the outstanding attention paid to detail in the interior. The way the design team integrated contemporary technology with handcrafted appointments positively defines the CTS sedan’s interior experience.
Further, buyers get a lot of choice.
Some eight different interior treatments are offered—and there’s no skimping on materials; authentic wood, carbon fiber, or aluminum are used as trim elements. And while the Standard model uses vinyl upholstery, it’s a very rich-looking vinyl. Naturally, leather seating is available, including cut-and-sewn full semi-aniline hides.
2014 Cadillac CTS vSport Road Test & Review: Features & Controls
Settling behind the wheel of the CTS vSport, the first thing you’ll note is this is a true black panel control environment. When you get in the car, the instrument panel and center stack are dark. Everything is electronic, including the reconfigurable main display housing the speedometer and tachometer. Even the switches on the steering wheel illuminate only when the car is started.
The same goes for the center stack, dominated by the CUE system’s eight-inch display screen. The look is decidedly high-tech. There are no dials—everything is accomplished either by touch or by voice. Haptic feedback affirms the acknowledgment of your touch commands.
As nice as it all is, there is a bit of a learning curve involved. CUE is intuitive, but you have to train yourself to wait for it to respond, and some things do require a bit of menu surfing to access. However, once you’ve got everything set up the way you like it, most of the repetitive tasks are very easily accomplished.
The optional 12.3-inch high-resolution, multi-configurable LCD instrument cluster display in our Vsport premium test car nicely complemented the CUE display in the center stack. We had a choice of four different instrumentation layouts. These ranged from basic (relatively speaking, of course) to decidedly performance-oriented. The graphics are both bold and crisp and can be tailored to specifically deliver the exact level of vehicle information desired. The full-color, multi-configurable head-up display supplements the instrument cluster nicely, adding even more utility to it.
Other key features include:
- Cadillac’s first 20-way adjustable front seats
- A motorized cup holder lid in the center console
- An electronically locking glove box
- An electronic parking brake
- A remote start feature which also activates the climate control system—including seat heaters and seat ventilation
- A Bose Centerpoint Surround Sound system with 13 speakers.
2014 Cadillac CTS vSport Road Test & Review: Safety & Ratings
The list of safety features available for the 2014 Cadillac CTS vSport is quite lengthy. In addition to the expected ABS, stability, and traction controls, as well as the full complement of airbags, the available safety kit includes:
- Full Speed Range Adaptive Cruise Control
- Panic Brake Assist
- Forward Collision Alert
- Automatic Collision Preparation (with brake prefill)
- Lane Departure Warning
- Side Blind Zone Alert
- Rear Cross Traffic Alert
- Rear Vision Camera With Dynamic Guidelines
- Adaptive Forward Lighting
- Active pedestrian protection
2014 Cadillac CTS vSport Road Test & Review: Engines & Fuel Economy
A choice of three engines is offered for the 2014 Cadillac CTS. The base powerplant is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, capable of 272 horsepower and 295 ft-lbs of torque. As we mentioned before, this engine can be had with either rear- or all-wheel drive. A six-speed automatic transmission is paired with the turbocharged four.
The CTS Cadillac’s normally aspirated 3.6-liter V6 engine option is good for 321 horsepower and 275 ft-lbs of torque. If you pair it with rear-wheel drive, you’ll get an eight-speed automatic transmission. If you go all-wheel drive, you’ll get the six-speed automatic.
Our CTS vSport test car came with the 420-horsepower twin-turbocharged 3.6-liter V6. This gave us 430 ft-lbs of torque routed to the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission.
According to the EPA, the four-cylinder CTS returns 20 miles per gallon in the city and 30 on the highway in the rear-drive configuration. You can look for 19 in the city and 28 on the highway with AWD. The V6 returns 18 in the city and 29 on the highway with rear-drive; 18 in the city and 26 on the highway with all-wheel drive. Our CTS vSport tester was rated at 17 in the city and 25 on the highway. We averaged 20 miles per gallon overall.
2014 Cadillac CTS vSport Road Test & Review: Driving Impressions
Comfort, fluidity, confidence, grace, balance, power, and agility are all highly evident in the way the Cadillac CTS vSport goes about the business of driving. With well over 420 horsepower and 430 ft-lbs on tap, power is both abundant and readily accessible. The Cadillac also turns in sharply and is remarkable neutral in handling. Its 50/50 weight distribution imbues it with a high degree of agility, enabling it to feel like a much smaller car than it actually is.
This gives you the confidence to shuttle down the highway at elevated speeds, readily exploiting holes in traffic. The 420-horsepower twin-turbocharged V6 in our Vsport tester accelerated like a big V8, thanks to the 430 ft-lbs of torque it offered up quite readily. The delightfully sonorous engine note only became obvious when the car was accelerating hard.
Driving the 2014 Cadillac CTS vSport, it is very obvious somebody gave a lot of thought to the messages this car transmits when it is driven. And, they are all very good messages indeed. The braking system proved itself more than up to the engine’s capabilities, as did the magnetic suspension system. Keeping the car very flat in extreme cornering maneuvers, it also provided a supple ride in more conservative driving.
Here’s the thing, with all of that performance capability, the one thing everyone who rode with us in the Cadillac commented on was how quiet the car is. And, it’s absolutely true, the 2014 Cadillac CTS offers a very peaceful cabin environment when you need it—yet delivers a very dynamic and engaging driving experience when you want it. That it manages to provide both with equanimity is a singularly remarkable achievement.
2014 Cadillac CTS vSport Road Test & Review: Final Thoughts
So, is the 2014 Cadillac CTS vSport a worthy competitor to the BMW 5 Series?
Well, if we’re comparing the BMW turbo six to the Cadillac turbo six, the Cadillac does make more power. Further, it offers an eight-speed automatic—just like the BMW—and a magnetic suspension system, which the BMW does not have. In fact, you have to get the eight-cylinder 550i to outpower the CTS vSport. And if you do that and fit it will all the gear you get on the Cadillac, you’ll be looking at more money for the BMW.
Further, the Cadillac is similar in size, has a handsome appearance, and says quality when you look at it. Dynamically, it’s just as enjoyable to drive, will attack mountain roads just as vigorously, and around town it’s just as smooth, but quieter than the BMW.
And yes, we know, a lot of you are going to have trouble believing this.
To that, all we can say is, go check it out for yourself.
2014 Cadillac CTS vSport Road Test & Review: Pros & Cons
Handsome appearance, well crafted interior, thoroughly modern look and feel, a broad range of engines, more than adequate performance, good fuel economy.
CUE’s operation requires a few cues to figure out, smaller trunk than the competition, less interior space too. Resale value might not be as high as MBZ, BMW or Audi.