Building upon the reputation of the two previous generations of the CTS sedan, Cadillac set forth to accomplish a lofty goal: to create an even better midsize sedan that could hold its own against anything from Germany, Japan, and Korea. In order to do this, Cadillac took a ground up approach to the CTS, reducing mass wherever possible while adding in higher quality materials and more advanced levels of technology to provide the best bang for the luxury buck. Starting with the ATS in 2012, Cadillac has shown a rabid obsession with weight savings as a way to provide a more nimble, better handling vehicle. It’s something that has paid off tremendously as the CTS 2.0T AWD comes in just under 3,800 lbs, undercutting the competition by 200 lbs or more.
Cadillac’s weight saving come into play in other areas, too. Because the 270-hp 2.0L inline-4 cylinder has less mass to propel, the CTS feels pretty quick, even with the base engine. It never feels underpowered, easily getting up to speed and able to make quick work of passing other cars on the highway. Not only that but during a road trip from Minneapolis to Des Moines, Iowa, I easily managed to average over 30 MPG while doing my best to shorten the drive time as much as possible. The 6-speed automatic transmission did a great job of balancing acceleration with fuel economy while taking as much fuss out of the driving experience as possible.
Despite all of Cadillac’s focus to reduce the weight of the car, you’d never know it from the driver’s seat. This particular CTS had relatively few options, but most notable was the $3,500 Seating Package which provided supple leather seats that were heated and cooled. Combined with the heated, power-adjustable steering wheel, extra LED ambient lighting, and split folding rear seat, it’s well worth the money and contributed to a very luxurious cabin to spend hours at a time in while cruising through flyover country. A standard, 11-speaker Bose surround sound audio system also features some trick noise cancelation technology to keep the interior quiet and serene, even as you approach warp speeds. With SiriusXM and HD Radio as standard, I never had a problem finding something to listen to, but if I got bored with the radio, there are three available USB ports to plug my phone or iPod into, as well as a CD player in the glovebox.
Like the majority of Cadillac’s lineup, the 2014 CTS sedan features the Cadillac User Experience, or CUE, infotainment system. Although the system has received some flack in the past, Cadillac has been hard at work ironing out the kinks. While it takes a little bit of time to get used to the disappearing menus that reappear when your hand gets close to the screen and the piano black and chrome panel that features touch-sensitive buttons for audio and HVAC controls, the more time you spend using the system, the easier and more natural it feels. There’s something positively futuristic about the proximity sensors that activate the menu screens when you move your hand towards the screen or the way the control panel on the center stack flips up to reveal a hidden cubby hole in the dash, complete with its own glowing USB port for discretely charging your phone. It’s the little surprises like this that really stand out in this car.
It’s clear that Cadillac has put a lot of thought into improving one of their best sellers. They had a clean slate to work with for the 2014 CTS sedan and they put together the best car they know how to. The attention to detail is superb, right down to the perfect stitching of the leather on the dash panels or the haptic feedback of the screen and touch panels that make it feel like you’re pressing a real button. While driving the CTS, it feels incredibly planted, yet supple and agile. It’s surprisingly playful for a car of its size, but again, this is a direct result of Cadillac’s laser focus on weight savings.
With a base price of $46,025 MSRP for a standard CTS with the 2-liter turbocharged engine and rear wheel drive, Cadillac undercuts the price of a comparably spec’ed BMW 528i or Mercedes E350 by over $4,000. The CTS 2.0T with AWD like I tested with the Seating Package will cost you right around $51,000, still a bargain compared to the Germans. For some buyers who don’t care about having a fun to drive, fuel efficient car, the decision of which luxury sedan may come down to looks. While each car in this segment has their own unique styling language, the CTS really stands out to me. The chiseled front snout looks like it’s locked in a menacing growl but nothing about the styling is overly flashy or ostentatious. The design language is modern and elegant, cohesive and timeless. There are just enough chrome and LED accents on the front of the car to let people know you’re driving a Cadillac without coming off as gaudy or tacky. It all works together in an understated way. The 2014 Cadillac CTS isn’t a car for those that want to shout “I’ve made it!” It’s a car for people who have already arrived and don’t need to prove it to anyone.
Guest blog post written by: Alex Bellus – a well-known automotive photographer in the Twin Cities area and a frequent attendee of MN C&C at the Automotorplex. He is an Automotive Analyst for IHS Automotive and has a wide range of automotive knowledge. Keep your eye out for his next Blog Post where he will highlight another popular Morrie’s vehicle!