Auto review: CTS sedan lifts Cadillac to new level

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

Cadillac reaches new heights with the 2014 Cadillac CTS luxury sedan.

The 2014 CTS is the third generation of the sport sedan that began Cadillac’s renaissance. It has grown longer and more expensive to compete with midsize luxury sedans like the Audi A6, BMW 5-series, Lexus GS, and Mercedes-Benz E-class. The two previous CTS models were nearly as big as those cars, but priced below them as Caddy tried to re-establish its luxury credentials.

The 2014 CTS cements Cadillac’s return to the top tier of global luxury.

It offers a wide variety of drivetrains: three engines, two transmissions, rear- or all-wheel drive. The base engine is a 272-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. It comes with a six-speed automatic and costs $45,100 for rear-drive and $47,100 for AWD.

A 321- horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 pairs with a new eight-speed automatic on rear-drive models starting at $53,700. V-6 AWD models get the six-speed auto and start at $55,700.

A twin-turbo version of the 3.6L produces 410 horsepower in the AWD Vsport model, which starts at $59,070. It’s teamed with the six-speed.

Cadillac will probably add an even more powerful V-series version of the CTS later. A coupe is also expected. The odds look bad for a new version of the handsome CTS station wagon, though. Cadillac developed the current wagon primarily for sale in Europe, where station wagons are very popular. Caddy mothballed its European sales plan during the Great Recession. Sadly, that probably spells doom for the CTS wagon.

I tested a well-equipped, rear-drive V-6 CTS Performance with the eight-speed transmission. It had luxurious brown leather and low-gloss wood trim, Bose audio, heated and cooled seats, navigation, voice recognition, blind-spot alert, a backup camera, front-collision alert, Bluetooth phone and audio compatibility and more.

My test car cost $63,375, excluding destination charges.

The CTS competes with the Audi A6 Quattro, BMW 535i, Infiniti M37, Jaguar XF 3.0, Lexus GS 350, Lincoln MKZ and Mercedes E350. The price of the car I tested was competitive with similarly equipped versions of most of them.

The CTS’ wheelbase grew 1.2 inches for 2014. Longer and lower than the old model, the new proportions create an elegant profile. The headlight lenses taper into the fenders, contributing to the CTS’ sleek, fast appearance.

The passenger compartment is comfortable and accommodating, despite being smaller than all competitors but Lincoln. The trunk is smallest in its class, but useful thanks to its wide opening and practical shape.

The interior looks and feels wonderful. The leather and wood in the CTS I tested would be at home in a car costing $200,000. Unlike a lot of over-varnished automotive finishes, the wood was so natural that I could see and feel its grain.

Cadillac’s combination of voice recognition, touch screen and steering wheel controls works wonderfully for navigation, phone calls and audio. But the climate control lacks dials or buttons for temperature and fan speed. It’s less convenient.

The CTS is among the lightest cars in its segment. That pays off in performance, handling and fuel economy.

The V-6 provides plenty of oomph for quick acceleration. The new eight-speed transmission is quick and smooth and works well in manual mode. The adaptive magnetic suspension keeps the CTS stable and steady in aggressive driving and absorbs bumps for a comfortable ride.

The EPA rating of 19 mpg in the city, 29 on the highway and 22 in combined driving falls in the middle of the pack. Unlike most competitors, the CTS’ V-6 runs well on regular gas. That makes it the least expensive to fuel, according to EPA estimates.



—Type of vehicle: All-wheel-drive five-passenger sporty sedan

—Rating: Four out of four stars

—Reasons to buy: Exterior styling; interior look and feel

—Shortcomings: Climate controls; interior space

—Engine: 3.6-liter DOHC VVT direct-injection 24-valve V-6

—Power: 321 horsepower at 6,800 rpm; 275 pound-feet of torque at 4,800 rpm

—Transmission: 8-speed automatic

—EPA fuel economy rating: 19 mpg city/29 highway/22 combined. Regular gasoline

—Wheelbase: 114.6 inches

—Length: 195.5 inches

—Width: 72.2 inches

—Height: 57.2 inches

—Curb weight: 3,616 lbs.

—Base price: $45,100

—Price as tested: $63,375

Prices exclude destination charge.



Mark Phelan is the Detroit Free Press auto critic. He can be reached at


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