Being a Good Vsport
Before you even start the car, the 2014 Cadillac XTS Vsport entertains you. Unlock the XTS at night and you’ll be greeted by Cadillac‘s cool LED-filled door handles and gradually brightening LED light pipes with HID headlights that do a three-quarter turn. Inside, the XTS’ has impressive LED accents, while the center stack and instrument-cluster screens put on a coordinated show in the form of a brief welcome animation.
When you finally do get moving, the XTS Vsport is ready to go with a new 410-hp, twin-turbo 3.6-liter V-6. So what effect does the Vsport engine have on the big XTS’ performance?
You can’t get a 410-hp 2014 XTS for less than $60,000, but consumers disappointed by the regular all-wheel-drive XTS’ average-feeling 6.9-second 0-60 mph time should check out the Vsport model. The base XTS Vsport Premium with all-wheel drive costs about $6000 more than the XTS V-6 Premium with all-wheel drive, but you’ll immediately notice the difference in power and hear a refined engine note appropriate for a luxury sedan in this price range. There’s not much turbo lag, and in the 5.3 seconds it takes the regular all-wheel-drive XTS to reach 50 mph, the XTS Vsport is at 60 mph. Passing power from 45-65 mph improves from 3.3 to 2.6 seconds.
Like the 2014 Cadillac CTS, the XTS starts in the mid-$40,000 range and can be optioned up to about $70,000, putting it in contact with everything from the Audi A6, Acura RLX, and Lincoln MKS EcoBoost to the Hyundai Equus. The XTS Vsport’s 5.3-second 0-60 mph time compares favorably to the front-drive 2014 RLX (5.9 seconds) and pre-refresh 2012 Equus (5.5 seconds), but is slightly behind the MKS EcoBoost (5.2 seconds) and A6 3.0T (4.7 seconds). Braking from 60-0 mph took the XTS Vsport 115 feet, one foot shorter than an all-wheel-drive 2013 XTS V-6, though we noticed a bit of fade at the track.
Of course, the smaller 420-hp CTS Vsport, a rear-drive car that lacks the XTS’ expansive back seat and trunk performed better at the track. Read about the 2014 CTS Vsport’s First Test here. As for the XTS Vsport, the car’s drivetrain hump in the back seat footwell is sizable, but there’s plenty of legroom for four. The XTS also offers something the CTS simply can’t: big-car presence. Say what you want about the more attractive CTS’ stance and styling, some will prefer the image projected by the 4340-pound, 202.0-inch XTS.
That’s not to say the XTS Vsport doesn’t have moves on winding roads. Despite its size, the XTS Vsport responds willingly, with some weight to the steering and minimal body roll. Smaller luxury cars will still be more fun, but the XTS will hold its own on a curvy road. The XTS Vsport’s figure-eight performance of 26.3 seconds at 0.65 g (avg) compares favorably to the all-wheel-drive 2013 XTS V-6’s 27.6 seconds at 0.63 (avg). The MKS EcoBoost just barely has the XTS Vsport beat around the figure-eight course, however, with a 26.1-second time at 0.69 g (avg).
Out in the real world, we still wish Cadillac would offer an adjustable suspension with a comfort mode or a no-cost “upgrade” to 19-inch wheels and more comfort-oriented tires. The Vsport’s standard 20-inch wheels on our test car (wrapped in P245/40R20 all-season Bridgestones) looked amazing, but on less-than-perfect pavement and over freeway expansion joints they proved too firm and transmitted more tire noise than we anticipated from a large sedan.
Our 2014 Cadillac XTS Vsport AWD Premium carried an as-tested price of $65,415 (it’s $63,020 for a base Vsport), and included all-wheel drive, the 410-hp engine, a color head-up display, adaptive cruise control, front and rear automatic braking assist, hands-free keyless entry, articulating HID headlights, 20-inch wheels, a 14-speaker sound system, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and navigation.
The XTS Vsport does have paddle shifters hiding on the back of the steering wheel, but to use them, you first have to knock the gear selector stalk into the six-speed transmission’s Sport mode. The extra step might discourage drivers who use paddle shifters for engine braking in traffic, though we have no issues with how aggressive the transmission gets in the Sport mode.
Elsewhere in the interior, we like the padded, leather-like material covering part of the dash, reminiscent of the cloth material on the dashboards of Cruze sedans. The frameless rearview mirror is slick, as is the hidden storage compartment behind the center stack buttons, the customizable head-up display, and fully digital instrument cluster. Rear visibility leaves a little to be desired and, yes, the Cue infotainment system has potential but isn’t quite as responsive as it should be.
Even though the XTS’ wheels aren’t pushed out to the corners like the rear-drive CTS, the car feels like a premium product. We enjoy the XTS more with the twin-turbo V-6, but even after reviewing the Motor-Trend test numbers, can only recommend the car to specific buyers. If you’re willing to sacrifice a comfortable ride for big wheels or really need a big trunk and rear seat, the XTS could be your car. Lead-footed drivers may want to wait for the similarly priced midsize CTS Vsport or just get an Audi A6 3.0T. When those cars don’t provide the look you crave, there’s another Vsport sedan worth consideration.
|2014 Cadillac XTS4 Vsport|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$65,415|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan|
|ENGINE||3.6L/410-hp/369-lb-ft twin-turbo DOHC 24-valve V-6|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||4340 lb (59/41%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||202 x 72.9 x 59.4 in|
|0-60 MPH||5.3 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||13.7 sec @ 104.4 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||115 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.82 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||26.3 sec @ 0.65 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY FUEL ECON||16/24 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY||211/140 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS||1.03 lb/mile|