Caddy's CTS is ready for prime timeby Mike Schlee
Remember when Cadillac only made a few oversized front-wheel drive sedans and a rebadged truck? Yeah, those days seem far behind us now, but until the CTS came along it didn’t look like Cadillac could build a competitive luxury car anymore; or even cared too. The original CTS may not have blown away the competition, but it showed Cadillac still had some mojo left and that a proper rear-wheel drive luxury car could emerge from the wreath-crested manufacturer.
And for the past decade the CTS has soldiered on redefining people’s perception of Cadillac, straddling the line between the compact and midsize luxury classes. But now, entering its third generation, the CTS can finally become the proper mid-size luxury sedan it was always meant to be thanks to last year’s introduction of the smaller ATS.
LONGER, LOWER, MEANER
Sporting a 1.2-inch longer wheelbase, the 2014 CTS is now five-inches longer than the 2013 model. This extended length, combined with a lower roofline and lower cowl, give the third generation CTS a more purposeful looking stance. The CTS has always been about style and the new model has it in spades – though with fewer controversial angles.
The front end has an elegant, modern, yet ‘old school’ luxury look that may be the defining moment in the evolution of Cadillac’s Art and Science design theme. Head-on, it’s instantaneously recognizable thanks to the dual vertical LED strips that give the car a serious dose of road presence. In total, 198 LEDs light up the road ahead.
The back end is a little less unique and features more than a few styling cues from its big-brother XTS. All CTS models get dual slant-rectangle exhaust finishers and a choice of 17, 18 or 19-inch wheels. The underbody has several flat panels bolted on to help with aerodynamics and allow a drag coefficient of just 0.29 for all models.
THREE ENGINES CHOICES
Taking advantage of this slippery shape are three available engines. For the first time ever, a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder can be found under the hood of the CTS, delivering a healthy 272 hp. Still available will be the carryover 321 hp 3.6 L V6 found in last year’s model. But the big news for 2014 is an all-new 3.6L twin-turbo V6 producing a hearty 420 hp and 430 lb-ft of torque. This engine will be found exclusively in Vsport models of the CTS, which is not to be confused with the performance special CTS-V. That model should arrive later on and make even more power.
All four-cylinder models as well as all-wheel drive V6 models will use an update version of the six-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive V6 CTS’s and the twin-turbo Vsport will get an all-new new eight-speed automatic. This transmission is a fantastic unit, delivering quick upshifts and downshifts.
It reminds us a lot of BMWs eight-speed automatic in its ability to seamlessly transition between sedate and spirited driving modes. It’s much more responsive than either the Mercedes or Infiniti seven speed automatics, but obviously can’t quite perform as well as Audi’s two-clutch seven-speed unit.