var axel = Math.random() + “”;
var a = axel * 10000000000000;
By most calendars, a decade isn’t a long time in the grand scheme of things — except on the automotive calendar, where it is nearly an eternity. Aside from some extreme cases, a decade encompasses at least two vehicle generations. It’s the average amount of time a typical consumer keeps a newly purchased car. It can also be the difference between also-ran and champion.
Examine our 2003 Car of the Year competition, if you will. The Infiniti G35
won by offering an unbeatable combination of style, refinement, handling, and value. We put BMW on notice: The Japanese have done it better. The Cadillac CTS, meanwhile, was barely mentioned, and praised only for its bold new design.
Welcome to 11 years later. In the intervening time, the CTS evolved into a champion in its own right, and was named Car of the Year in 2008. Again, we put Germany on notice: America’s coming. In neither of those victories, though, did either car face down its competition for the title. That’s what makes this year different.
The Infiniti Q50 — the G35’s modern successor — is hobbled with driveability issues and relegated to Contender, not Finalist, and certainly not Winner. Likewise missing from the Finalist and Winner’s circles are the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class, both direct competitors to the CTS, and the standard-bearers of the segment.
Advancement in Design
Since its inception, the Cadillac CTS has been synonymous with design. The car was polarizing from the start, imitating no one and rarely imitating itself. By the time the second-generation car arrived in 2008, people were starting to wonder if Cadillac’s Art and Science design theme had staying power. That car made the original look incredibly dated. At the end of 2013, many were asking the same question: Can Cadillac keep this thing going, or has it played out? This new car leaves no question. Art and Science is as relevant and trend-busting as it’s ever been; moreover, it has once again successfully evolved in order to remain contemporary and competitive well into the foreseeable future.
The CTS is blessed with the size necessary to properly compete in the E/5 segment, and Cadillac’s designers accentuated the added length with a long dash-to-axle ratio and proper forward-leaning, rear-drive proportions. The stretch is elegant and light, giving the car presence without adding visual weight. It looks purposeful, not chunky. The signature achievement is the successful extension of the “light blade,” as Cadillac calls it, up the front fender and down into the front fascia, creating an unmistakable look as easily identifiable in a rearview mirror as when you’re standing in front of it.
The theme carries over to the interior, with defined creases and angles throughout. It’s clearly Cadillac, but not a carbon copy of the related ATS, instead offering its own, more elegant take. The layout is clean and simple but appears busy on close inspection, hindered by too many trim and accent elements colliding. The design extends to an optional all-digital TFT display that replaces the analog gauges and offers crisp, coherently designed and reconfigurable graphics.
If the previous two generations of CTS had a fault, it was in a dearth of powertrain options. The casual consumer was only offered a competitive V-6 engine with no small, more efficient alternative, and a cavernous gap on the opposite end between the standard car and the high-performance CTS-V. The new model remedies that oversight by doubling the expected model range. (The CTS-V hasn’t been officially announced, but see next page.)
The most surprising engine is the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder (CTS4), which offers class-leading power with competitive fuel economy. In our own Real MPG testing, it returned 20/30 city/hwy mpg despite running a six-speed automatic to the competition’s seven- and eight-speed gearboxes.
It’s a similar case with the V-6 CTS models, which run a new eight-speed automatic transmission. Both the naturally aspirated and twin-turbo models offer power and fuel economy directly in line with the competition. The twin-turbo Vsport takes it a step further by beating the Germans’ twin-turbo V-8s in performance at the same time. Those two models returned 18/32 mpg and 20/27 mpg respectively in our Real MPG testing.
Pity the engineer who must make the most out of an existing, compromised design. Envy the one given a good design as a starting point. Cadillac had the good fortune to design the new Alpha vehicle platform to be a world-beater from the start, and every lesson learned on the ATS — the first Alpha car — was improved upon for the CTS.
The result is an absolutely fantastic chassis. To start, it’s hundreds of pounds lighter than the competition while matching those vehicles in size, leading to advantages in performance, handling, and relative efficiency. These reveal themselves on the road and the track. On imperfect pavement, the magnetically damped CTS rides as well as any in the class, if slightly too firm, while remaining light and nimble on a challenging road. The chassis stays composed and effortlessly responsive in curves thanks to brilliant body control and direct, lively steering. On the track, the CTS matches or dispatches its segment rivals across trim levels in performance testing while offering competitive fuel economy on the road.
More than just a great performer, the CTS is a refined commuter. Noise, vibration, and harshness from the powertrain and suspension are notably absent, with only the slap of the tires to remind you of the world outside. If the car falters anywhere in this category, it’s in the haptic, touch-sensitive climate and infotainment controls, which require a deliberate touch and can be slow to react.
Performance of Intended Function
If it’s not obvious yet, the CTS’ intended function is to take the fight to BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi — and win. It had to beat them on style, on performance, on comfort, and on quality. It has.
In this year’s competition, the CTS was forced to directly face down its strongest rivals. Present and fighting for the Calipers were both the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class, the old guard of the segment and of luxury vehicles. The CTS demonstrated superior advancement in design, performance, handling, and experience over the other two. The CTS’ ride and handling compromise was unmatched, as were cabin noise and isolation. Were the Cadillac to give ground, it would only be on rear-seat space.
Flagship vehicles and halo cars tend to get the most attention, as they’re designed to, and Cadillac is itching to enter that segment. (We’re eager to see a Sixteen or Elmiraj hit the bricks.) But before it can, it must earn its stripes with legitimate C- and E-Class competitors. The ATS and CTS are getting that done.
The new CTS offers a full suite of passive and active safety equipment. Front, front side, front knee, rear side, and front and rear curtain airbags are standard on all models, as is OnStar with Automatic Crash Response. Optional safety features include all-wheel drive, collision warning, lane-departure warning, automatic crash preparations, automatic braking, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, a head-up display, automatic wipers and headlights, backup camera, automatic parking, and the vibrating Safety Alert Seat.
In National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash testing, the 2013 CTS received 5-star ratings in front and side impacts and 4 stars in rollover tests, culminating in a 5-star overall rating. The 2013s received all top scores of Good from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Neither organization has tested the 2014 model. The Cadillac ATS is built on a compact version of the same architecture as the new CTS and it got 5-Star ratings across the board from the NHTSA.
In simple mathematics, the Cadillac CTS makes an obvious value play by pricing its base model well below the starting price of its competitors at $46,025. It likewise prices the impressively high-performing Vsport model below the V-8 competition, while the standard, mid-level V-6 model competes head to head on price. That Vsport model is perhaps the greatest bargain, offering the same all-around driving performance and experience as some specialty M or AMG models at lower cost than their base V-8 models.
Cadillac has properly embraced the competitor’s pricing and configuration model. By decoupling the features and price tag from the engine, Cadillac offers its customers a great range of combinations. Allowing the customer to spec the “base” four-cylinder engine with top-shelf Magnaride adaptive suspension, premium interior, and a full suite of technological features while simultaneously allowing a gearhead to spec a Vsport model without a single option gives the buyer flexibility and personalization options that keep him in the showroom and have a proven track record of increasing profits. If the customer wants to spend $69,000 on a loaded four-cylinder car, Cadillac shouldn’t and won’t stand in his way. Giving customers what they want is of immeasurable value.
Cadillac CTS-V: The Next Season
“V-Series is about track-capable luxury. We call it performance without punishment,” executive chief engineer for Cadillac, David Leon, told us. “With V-Series now embedded into the fabric of Cadillac, we designed the new architecture with CTS-V clearly in mind. Now it’s down to us to raise the bar, and that’s what we’re doing.”
Here’s how we think they’ll do it: Forced induction V-8s rule this class, so we expect a supercharged version of the Corvette’s direct-injection V-8 making 600 hp, for bragging rights. It will likely be backed by a seven-speed manual and quick-shifting eight-speed automatic, with a dual-clutch later down the line. Expect launch control as well. The Vsport’s magnetic shocks and electronically controlled differential will be retuned for greater performance. Sticky tires, lightweight wheels, and other components will improve performance, as will increased aerodynamic downforce. Performance apps and a data recorder will allow you to record, play back, and share your track laps with video.
|2014 Cadillac CTS4 2.0T||2014 Cadillac CTS 3.6|| 2014 Cadillac CTS Vsport
|PRICE AS TESTED||$65,345||$67,470||$60,095|
|POWER (SAE NET)||272 hp @ 5500 rpm||321 hp @ 6800 rpm*||420 hp @ 5750 rpm*|
|TORQUE (SAE NET)||295 lb-ft @ 1700 rpm||275 lb-ft @ 4800 rpm*||430 lb-ft @ 3500 rpm*|
|ACCEL 0-60, MPH||6.0 sec||6.3 sec||4.4 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||14.5 sec @ 93.5 mph||14.7 sec @ 96.7 mph||12.8 sec @ 111.9 mph|
|BRAKING 60-0, MPH||115 ft||111 ft||98 ft|
|LATERAL ACCEL||0.81 g (avg)||0.85 g (avg)||0.94 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||26.8 sec @ 0.65 g (avg)||26.7 sec @ 0.66 g (avg)||24.7 sec @ 0.78 g (avg)|
|EPA ECON (CITY/HWY)||19/28 mpg||18/29 mpg||17/25 mpg|
|REAL MPG (CITY/HWY)||20/30 mpg||18/32 mpg||20/27 mpg|
var axel = Math.random() + “”;
var a = axel * 10000000000000;
|2014 Cadillac CTS4 2.0T||2014 Cadillac CTS 3.6||2014 Cadillac CTS Vsport|
|DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT||Front engine, AWD||Front engine, RWD||Front engine, RWD|
|ENGINE TYPE||Turbocharged I-4, alum block/head||60-deg V-6, alum block/heads||Twin-turbo 60-deg V-6, alum block/heads|
|VALVETRAIN||DOHC, 4 valves/cyl||DOHC, 4 valves/cyl||DOHC, 4 valves/cyl|
|DISPLACEMENT||121.9 cu in/1998 cc||217.5 cu in/3564 cc||217.5 cu in/3564 cc|
|REDLINE||6500 rpm||7000 rpm||6500 rpm|
|WEIGHT TO POWER||14.3 lb/hp||12.0 lb/hp||9.4 lb/hp|
|TRANSMISSION||6-speed auto||8-speed auto||8-speed auto|
|SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR||Struts, coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar||Struts, coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar||Struts, coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar|
|BRAKES, F;R||13.6-in vented disc; 12.4-in vented disc, ABS||13.6-in vented disc; 12.4-in vented disc, ABS||13.6-in vented disc; 12.4-in vented disc, ABS|
|WHEELS||8.5 x 18-in, cast alum||8.5 x 19-in, cast alum||8.5 x 18-in, cast alum (Vspt fr), 9.5 x 18-in, cast alum (Vspt rr)|
|TIRES|| 245/40R18 93V M+S
Pirelli P Zero Nero All Season
| 255/35R19 96V M+S
Pirelli Cinturato P7 All Season
| 245/40R18 93Y (fr), 275/35R18 95Y (rr)
Pirelli P Zero
|TURNING CIRCLE||39.0 ft||36.7 ft||36.7 ft|
|HEADROOM, F/R||39.2/37.5 in||39.2/37.5 in||39.2/37.5 in|
|LEGROOM, F/R||42.6/35.4 in||42.6/35.4 in||42.6/35.4 in|
|SHOULDER ROOM, F/R||56.9/54.8 in||56.9/54.8 in||56.9/54.8 in|
|CARGO VOLUME||13.7 cu ft||13.7 cu ft||13.7 cu ft|
|ACCELERATION TO MPH|
|0-30||1.6 sec||2.3 sec||1.6 sec|
|PASSING, 45-65 MPH||3.5||3.1||2.1|
|TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH||1800 rpm||1500 rpm||1500 rpm|
|AIRBAGS||Dual front, f/r side, f/r curtain, front knee||Dual front, f/r side, f/r curtain, front knee||Dual front, f/r side, f/r curtain, front knee|
|BASIC WARRANTY||4 yrs/50,000 mi||4 yrs/50,000 mi||4 yrs/50,000 mi|
|POWERTRAIN WARRANTY||6 yrs/70,000 mi||6 yrs/70,000 mi||6 yrs/70,000 mi|
|ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE||6 yrs/70,000 mi||6 yrs/70,000 mi||6 yrs/70,000 mi|
|FUEL CAPACITY||19.0 gal||19.0 gal||19.0 gal|
|RECOMMENDED FUEL||Unleaded premium||Unleaded regular||Unleaded premium|