2014 Cadillac CTS Review

2014 Cadillac CTS - Cadillac offers European mid-range sports sedan fighter with its 2014 CTS Vsport.


Owners of the new 2014 Cadillac CTS Vsport sedan could compete with the fairly common Audi, BMW and Mercedes mid-size sedans owned by neighbors-although most would know little or nothing about the Vsport.

Oops, there goes the "foreign prestige" factor for Vsport owners. Well, bunk. The $59,995 Vsport four-door (not to be confused with the Cadillac CTS-V) can match prestigious foreign rivals.  

It's little known that, while Cadillac virtually dominated the American luxury car market by1950, an independently entered stock 1950 Caddy finished tenth in the 24-hour race at Le Mans, France, competing against the world's top sports cars.

Cadillac ignored the Le Mans achievement. It was selling luxury, not race-track ability, despite its highly touted new high-compression-8, introduced for 1949.

But competition from Mercedes began to seriously affect Cadillac sales and prestige in the 1970s. Still, Cadillac continued to emphasize luxury, despite a few sporty models such as its mostly mediocre 1987-93 Allante sports car.

While still promoting mainly luxury, Cadillac has added a few racy luxury models in recent years.

The revised Cadillac CTS comes in various forms, but the Vsport version takes the trophy with its combination of speed, handling, luxury and technical sophistication. For instance, this is the first General Motors vehicle with aluminum doors, hood and other aluminum components.
Weight is an enemy of performance and economy. Cadillac engineers thus worked manically to make the Vsport lighter. They even used super-light magnesium engine mounts to save about two pounds.

As with all 2014 third-generation CTS models, the Vsport has been restyled, growing five inches in length, with a 1.2-inch longer wheelbase (at 114.6 inches). The roofline and cowl (base of windshield) are nearly an inch lower, and the curb weight is about 200 pounds less than the popular mid-size BMW 528i. The grille is wider, and headlights flow up with the hood line.

There's plenty of room for tall backseat passengers, although this is a rear-wheel-drive car. The center driveshaft tunnel thus makes the middle of the backseat uncomfortable for anything but short trips.

The opening for the large trunk is rather high. There are split rear seatbacks that fold flat to enlarge the cargo area, but the pass-through opening from the trunk to the rear seat is only moderately large.

Front doors open wide, but rear door openings are somewhat narrow.

The CTS Vsport has Cadillac's first twin-turbocharged engine. The 3.6-liter engine has 420 horsepower and a neck-snapping 430 pound-feet of torque. A pair of Mitsubishi  turbochargers help let the engine do 0-60 m.p.h. in 4.4 seconds in a linear V-8-style fashion with virtually no turbo lag and to 100 m.p.h. in 10.3 seconds.

City fuel economy of the CTS Vsport is only an estimated 16 miles per gallon, although the highway number is 24. You may do better on open roads, as the engine of my test CTS Vsport only showed 1,800 r.p.m. at 65 m.p.h.

The engine works with no less than an eight-speed automatic transmission-another "first" for Cadillac-with easily used magnesium paddle shifters for manual shifting. There are "Tour," "Sport" and "Track" modes. The Track mode is best suited for tracks or (dare I say?) street racing, with a specific steering rate and Magnetic Ride Control calibrations for greater track performance. I didn't go near a track (or street race) so I found "Tour" mode to be just right, with its firm-but supple ride.

Highlights of the Vsport are 18-inch aluminum wheels with Pirelli summer-only performance tires (with one-inch wider rear wheels) and available 19-inch wheels shod with all-season tires.

It doesn't take long to appreciate the Vsport's quicker steering ratio with sport-tuned steering effort and response and an easily gripped heated and leather-covered power tilt/telescopic wheel. The car has nearly a 50/50 weight balance. And its sport-tuned suspension with enhanced spring rates and stabilizer bars help deliver excellent handling,  backed by a Stabilitrak-Stability Control system with traction control.

The Brembo disc brakes are impressive, with good pedal feel. You can get them with optional high-performance brake pads. An electronic limited-slip differential taken from the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette enhances track capability, including optimal acceleration out of turns.

The driver has good all-around visibility in the church-quiet interior, which has easily read gauges, supportive leather-covered heated-and-ventilated front seats, Bose surround-sound system, dual-zone climate control and push-button engine start. There are numerous small controls, but they're clearly marked.

Numerous luxury features include even small ones such as (would you believe?) a motorized cup-holder lid in the front console. There's also an electronic glove compartment release, which I couldn't immediately find. A regular mechanical one would do fine. Interior materials are good, although Audi may have an edge here.

Besides the usual air bags, safety items include front and rear park assist systems and an automatic parking assist.

Is the CTS Vsport for you? If you're a member of the herd that buys foreign luxury sports sedans, maybe not. But, after all, it is a Cadillac, and a good one, at that.

Dan Jedlicka

Dan Jedlicka's Website

Dan Jedlicka joined the Chicago Sun-Times in February 1968 as a business news reporter and was named auto editor later that year. He has reviewed more than 4,000 new vehicles for the Sun-Times--far more than any newspaper auto writer in the country. Jedlicka also reviewed vehicles for Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Autos Internet site from January, 1996, to June, 2008.

Jedlicka remained auto editor at the Sun-Times until October, 2008, and continued writing for the newspaper's AutoTimes section, which he started in 1992, until February, 2009. While continuing his auto writings at the Sun-Times, he served as assistant financial editor of that newspaper from 1970 to 1973, when he began his automotive column.

He has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including NBC's "Today," ABC's "20/20" and "The CBS Evening News." He was a host, consultant and writer for Fox-TV Channel 32's 1991 New Car Preview show and that Chicago-based station's 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 Chicago Auto Show Previews.

Jedlicka's auto articles have been printed in national magazines, including Esquire and Harper's. His auto columns have been reprinted in U.S. government publications and economic textbooks and he is profiled in the "World's Greatest Auto Show" history book about the Chicago Auto Show. In late 1975, Jedlicka was host and technical advisor for three one-hour television specials, "Auto Test 76," which aired nationally on PBS and were the first nationally televised auto road test shows.

In 1995, Jedlicka was the recipient of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois Inc.'s Consumer Education Award, given annually to a person who has gained distinction in the field of consumer education. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Media category and inducted into the Legends of Motorsports Guild at the Carquest World of wheels custom car show in Chicago in January, 2006.

Jedlicka was a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year jury, composed of a select number of auto journalists from throughout the country, from 1995 until 2009. From 2010 to 2012, he was a member of Consumer Digest magazine's auto experts panel that gave Best Buy new vehicle recommendations.

He is a 1987 graduate of the Bob Bondurant Race Drivers School and later of the BMW "M" and Skip Barber Advanced Driving schools. He was a member of the U.S. team that participated in the 1987 1,000-mile Mille Miglia race/rally in Italy and has been a race winner at the Chicago area's Santa Fe Speedway.

Jedlicka has owned 25 classic cars, including 1950s and 1960s Ferraris and 1950s and 1960s Porsches, a 1965 Corvette, a 1967 Maserati and a 1957 Studebaker supercharged Golden Hawk. Jedlicka resides with his wife, Suzanne, in the Frank Lloyd Wright historic district of Oak Park. They have two children, James and Michele.

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