2014 Cadillac CTS Road Test: A Spin Around the Block
I am very familiar with the second generation Cadillac CTS (2008 to 2013). My parents actually have a black 2012 Cadillac CTS with the 3.0 liter and all-wheel-drive. They were coming off of a 2004 Jaguar S-Type when they opted for the mid-range Caddy. So, needless to say, whenever I’m in Milwaukee for a visit, I spend a fair amount of time driving or riding in that car.
I’ve come to a conclusion regarding the gen-two Cadilac CTS. It drives and rides well (better even in some regards than my mother-in-law’s 2013 Mercedes-Benz E-Class), but (and this is a big but), unless you pony up for some serious upgrades or go all-in on a CTS-V, the interior and fit-and-finish are grossly lacking. Caddy worked so hard on the 2008 to 2013 CTS to get it to drive like a Bimmer, Benz or Audi that they came up a bit short on the interior.
Not so with the 2014 Cadillac CTS. Recently, I got behind the wheel of the new CTS for a bit of a real-world road test. My test car was a Red Obsession rear-wheel-drive CTS with the premium package (see bottom), a 272 hp 295 pound-feet DOHC 2.0 liter turbo four-cylinder and a six-speed transmission.
I didn’t take it on the track like I did with the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. I drove it through rush-hour South Beach traffic over fresh, new, smooth streets and construction areas that were so bad you’d be better off driving on washboards.
So, how did it fair? In a word… well. At 195.5 inches long, 72.2 inches wide, 57.2 inches tall and with a 114.6 inch wheel base, the 2014 Cadillac CTS is a veritable twin in size to the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series or Mercedes-Benz E-Class. In the middle-sized luxury sedan market, size matters. And, the 2014 CTS slots right into the butter zone. Inside, it easily feels as roomy as its European counterparts, while outside it’s small enough to maneuver about town without holding your breath to make the car smaller.
However, while it is important, size isn’t everything. Interior design, finish, gadgets and gizmos are just as important (if not more so). You need to feel as if you’re sitting in a $45,000 to $72,000 car. This is where the CTS has come up short in the past.
As I alluded to above, Caddy has upped the ante in the new car. Not surprisingly, the 2014 Cadillac CTS has a similar interior efficient and rather nice looking layout as the Cadillac XTS and ATS. That means the updated CUE Information and Media Control System with embedded navigation, heads-up display (HUD), haptic feedback sensors in the place of control buttons and knobs and a configurable LCD instrument cluster straight out of a sci-fi movie/ Cadillac XTS.
I already like the user-customizable LCD instrument cluster, it’s easy to read and actually quite functional. I also quite like the HUD. It’s clear without being distracting and overly in the way. I learned to like both features in the XTS. The 2014 Cadillac CTS’ CUE is good, but I’m not a huge fan of checking my Facebook status from the car. That’s what iPhone’s are for.
But, what I’m not convinced about is the haptic feedback controls. Yeah, they’re cool. But, my stove has haptic buttons which never, ever work without fiddling with ’em. The 2014 Cadillac CTS’ worked great on the test car, but I wonder how long they’ll cooperate. Since I’m in my 30s now, I may be becoming an old fuddy-duddy. In my day, we had buttons that you could actually feel being pushed. Eh, we’ll see. For now, they look pretty slick, but I can take or leave them.
Continuing on the technology track… back-up sensors. When they first came out, I was all Whatever, I can park my own car. Then, I fell in love. They make parallel parking just so damned easy. Now, in the 2014 Cadillac CTS where they’re combined with a trajectory-enabled back-up camera, you can park anywhere, anytime. There’s a spot just 8 inches bigger than the car… BRING IT! Yeah… good stuff.
Comfort. It’s important. This isn’t an SRT Viper. It’s a 2014 Cadillac CTS, which means I want to be comfortable while driving. And, in the front seats, the 2014 Cadillac CTS is a lovely place to be. The test car had leather seats, although in the lower trim levels, you get pleather. The leather seats were comfortable. The power-adjustable seats (20-way bolster and 8-way seat) allow you to spend way too long adjusting minutiae that you never even knew could be adjusted. But, rest assured, once settled-in, you will have the best, appropriately heated, most properly bolstered, lumbar-friendly diving position you could ever fathom.
The back seat, however, is a totally different story. A little while back, when I reviewed the Fiat 500L, I noted there was huge gap between the rear bench seat and the doors into which small pets could fall, never to be seen again. That was a bit of an issue.
The 2014 Cadillac CTS has a similar problem. For some unfathomable reason, the designer (Eric Clough, I’m looking in your direction) decided to make the surface of the rear seat shorter than the body support upon which it rests. That means while your heinie is comfortably ensconced in the rear seat, the backs of your knees are hitting a rather rough carpeted metal bump and not the supportive soft leather that should be there. In a car that worked so hard to make the cabin a truly nice place to be, this is a surprising boo-boo. Apart from that foible, the interior has miles better than on the last generation CTS and easily on par or better than the Europeans.
Onto the actual drive of the 2014 Cadillac CTS. As I said, I tested a 2.0 liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder with 272 hp 295 pound-feet or torque. Power was routed to the rear wheels via a shiftable six-speed automatic transmission. Know what? I am a huge proponent of turbo four-bangers. You get good power and good fuel economy. In the case of the new CTS, that means 5.7 seconds 0-60 and a fuel economy of 20 mpg city and 30 mpg highway. On the off chance you missed that, I said 5.7 seconds 0-60 mph for a 3,615 pound car with a four-cylinder engine.
The car does feel very sprightly, much more so than the last gen. The 2.0 liter never feels small. And, despite its lilliputian displacement, the exhaust note is surprisingly throaty. The sound from the exhaust was a bit confounding, actually.
In the turns, thanks to the 2014 Cadillac CTS’ near 50/50 weight distribution and four-wheel independent suspension with MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link suspension in the back, it was very planted and sure-footed. Even on very gravelly roads, with me goosing the throttle mid-turn, the CTS held its line like a champ. On smooth blacktop, the 2014 Cadillac CTS was peerless. The ride was quiet, smooth and uneventful; just as it should be. However, on the crappy and jarring roads mid-construction, the Magnetic Ride Control did a stellar job of smoothing out the bumps without feeling wallowy or even remotely boat-like. Steering is responsive, surprisingly quick and sharp without being too heavy.
Back to the original question. Does the 2014 Cadillac CTS eliminate the failings of the previous incarnation and match up with the European counterparts in terms of drive and luxury? Yes. The new CTS is a beautiful car (just look at those LED fog lights…), distinctly Cadillac. Gone are the cheesy plastics and cheap surfaces of the old car. Enter real wood, aluminum and leather (or at least really nice soft plastics). Power, handling, ride and comfort are great. It appears that with Cadillac’s success with the XTS, ATS and now the 2014 CTS, Cadillac is fighting to regain its place as the “Cadillac of Cars.” For more information on the 2014 Cadillac CTS, check out the features and options list below and visit Caddy here.
2014 Cadillac CTS Features and Options
2014 Cadillac CTS Specifications
- Luxury Package includes (KI6) 110V power receptacle, (KA6) heated rear outboard seating positions, (B7G) illuminated front door sill plates, (CJ4) tri-zone climate control, (DB3) power rear window sunshade, (DE8) manual rear side windows sunshades, (HD7) illuminating door handles and (UV6) color head-up display
- Seating Package includes leather seating surfaces, (TG5) single disc CD/MP3 player, (AM9) split-folding rear seat, (KA1)/(KB6) heated/ventilated driver and front passenger seats, (DR2) outside, heated, power-adjustable, driver-side auto-dimming, body-color, manual folding mirrors with integrated turn signal indicators and puddle lamps, (TSP) LED ambient lighting on instrument panel and door, (UVD) heated steering wheel and (N38) power rake and telescopic steering wheel
- Advanced Security Package includes (UTR) additional shielded theft-deterrent alarm system, (UTU) tilt sensor, (ULS) steering column lock, (PB4) locking wheel lugs and (AKI) laminated glass rear door windows.
- Performance Seat and Cluster Package includes (AQJ) 20-way performance driver and front passenger seats, (JF5) aluminum alloy sport pedals and (UDV) 12.3″ reconfigurable gauge cluster with Driver Information Center
- Driver Awareness Package includes Safety Alert Seat, (UEU) Forward Collision Alert, (UFL) Lane Departure Warning, (UVC) Rear Vision Camera, (CE1) Rainsense wipers, (TQ5) IntelliBeam headlamps, (UFG) Rear Cross Traffic Alert and (UFT) Side Blind Zone Alert
- Driver Assist Package includes (AX7) Automatic Safety Belt Tightening, (KSG) Adaptive cruise control, (UGN) Automatic Collision Preparation and (UVZ) Front and Rear Automatic Braking
- Memory Package recalls 2 driver and exit position “presets” for power driver seat, and outside mirrors
- Engine, 2.0L Turbo, I4, DI, DOHC, VVT (272 hp [203 kW] @ 5500 rpm, 295 lb-ft of torque [400 N-m] @ 3000 – 4500 rpm) (STD)
- Transmission, 6-speed automatic (STD)
- Keyless ignition, push button start
- Rear axle, 3.45 ratio
- Drivetrain, rear-wheel drive
- Battery, maintenance-free with rundown protection
- Recovery hook, front or rear location
- Chassis, Continuously Variable Real Time Damping Magnetic Ride Control
- Suspension, Sport
- Steering, ZF premium rack-and-pinion, electric
- Brakes, Brembo front, performance 4-wheel antilock, 4-wheel disc
- Brake, electronic parking
- Exhaust, dual
- CUE Information and Media Control System with Embedded Navigation AM/FM stereo with embedded navigation, 8″ color information display, three USB ports, SD card slot, auxiliary audio port and Natural Voice Recognition (STD)
- Audio system feature, single-slot CD/MP3 player, glove box mounted
- Audio system feature, Bose premium surround sound 13-speaker system includes Active Noise Cancellation
- Audio system, SiriusXM and HD Radio. SiriusXM Satellite Radio is standard on nearly all 2014 GM models. Enjoy a 3-month trial to the XM Premier package, with over 140 channels including commercial-free music, all your favorite sports, exclusive talk and entertainment. Welcome to the world of satellite radio. (IMPORTANT: The SiriusXM Satellite Radio trial package is not provided on vehicles that are ordered for Fleet Daily Rental (“FDR”) use. If you decide to continue your service at the end of your trial subscription, the plan you choose will automatically renew and bill at then-current rates until you call 1-866-635-2349 to cancel. See SiriusXM Customer Agreement for complete terms at siriusxm.com. Other fees and taxes will apply. All fees and programming subject to change.)
- Bluetooth for phone/audio uplevel phone/audio with Natural Voice Recognition
- Antenna, integral front and rear
- Seats, front bucket, 20-way performance driver and front passenger includes (AHE) driver power-adjustable seat back bolster and (AHH) front passenger power-adjustable seat back bolster and manual cushion length adjustment (STD)
- Full leather seats
- Seat adjusters, driver and front passenger 8-way power plus 4-way power lumbar, plus 4-way manual adjustable head restraints
- Seat adjusters, driver includes manual cushion length adjustment and power side bolster adjustment
- Seat adjusters, front passenger includes manual cushion length adjustment and power side bolster adjustment
- Seats, heated driver and front passenger
- Seats, heated/ventilated driver and front passenger seat cushion and seat back
- Seat, rear split-folding with armrest, lockable seatback and lockable rear pass-through access door
- Seats, heated rear outboard seating positions
- Headrests, rear, outboard seats, adjustable 2-way
- Console, front floor with shifter, armrest and covered storage
- Armrest, front center
- Armrest, rear center with cup holders
- Cup holders, 2 in front console, 2 in rear armrest
- Receptacle, power, 110V, located in front center console
- Power outlets, 3 auxiliary
- Floor mats, carpeted front and rear
- Sill plates, illuminated front
- Steering column, power rake and telescopic wheel
- Steering column, lock control
- Steering wheel, leather-wrapped
- Steering wheel, heated rim
- Steering wheel controls, mounted controls for audio, phone and cruise
- Steering wheel mounted Paddle Shift Controls
- Pedals, Sport aluminum alloy
- Head-Up Display
- Gauge cluster, 12.3″ color, reconfigurable with color Driver Information Center
- Instrument cluster, electroluminescent
- Engine oil indicator
- Windows, power with front and rear express-up and down with passenger lockout feature
- Retained accessory power windows, sunroof (when equipped) and audio system remain operational for 10 minutes after the ignition is switched off or until the driver’s door is opened
- Door locks, power programmable with lockout protection
- Keyless Access, passive entry
- Adaptive Remote Start
- Universal Home Remote includes garage door opener, 3-channel programmable
- Cruise control, adaptive, full-speed range
- Trunk release, power, remote
- Theft-deterrent alarm system, self-powered, shielded
- Theft-deterrent system, vehicle, PASS-Key III+ with immobilizer
- Climate control, tri-zone automatic
- Air filtration system
- Defogger, rear-window electric with front and side window outlets for the driver and front passenger
- Glovebox, electric, lockable
- Mirror, inside rearview auto-dimming, frameless
- Console, overhead includes reading lamps and controls for (UG1) Universal Home Remote, (UE1) OnStar, (DB3) power rear window sunshade (if equipped) and (C3U) UltraView power sunroof (if equipped)
- Sunshades, manual, rear side windows
- Sunshade, power, rear window
- Visors, driver and front passenger illuminated vanity mirrors
- Lighting, interior includes glovebox, front cup holders, overhead console, front and rear door handles, front and rear passenger footwell, map pockets, rear assist handles and cargo area
- Lighting accent, LED lighting on instrument panel and door
- Coat hooks, located on rear left and right assist handles
- Cargo convenience net, trunk
- Wheels, 18″ x 8.5″ (45.7 cm x 21.6 cm) 7-spoke polished aluminum (STD)
- Tires, P245/40R18 all-season, blackwall, run-flat (STD)
- Wheel lugs, locking
- Sunroof, UltraView, power
- Headlamps, high intensity discharge includes Adaptive Forward Lighting and LED vertical light signatures
- Headlamp control, automatic leveling system
- Headlamps, IntelliBeam
- Lamp marker, reflex, front side
- Lamp, LED center high-mounted stop/brake (CHMSL)
- Mirrors, outside heated power adjustable and driver-side auto-dimming, body-color, manual folding with integrated turn signal indicators and puddle lamps
- Glass, solar absorbing, windshield
- Glass, Solar-Ray
- Windows, laminated glass, front side
- Windows, laminated glass, rear door
- Wipers, front intermittent
- Wipers, Rainsense
- Door handles, illuminating
- Daytime running Lamps
- Automatic Parking Assist includes front, rear and parallel parking assist
- Air bags, driver and front passenger frontal front seat thorax and pelvic, rear thorax for outboard seating positions, side-curtain and driver and front passenger knee (Always use safety belts and child restraints. Children are safer when properly secured in a rear seat in the appropriate child restraint. See the Owner’s Manual for more information.)
- Air bag, Passenger Sensing System (Always use safety belts and child restraints. Children are safer when properly secured in a rear seat in the appropriate child restraint. See the Owner’s Manual for more information.)
- OnStar, 1 year of Directions and Connections plan includes Automatic Crash Response, Stolen Vehicle Assistance, Roadside Assistance and Turn-by-Turn Navigation (Visit onstar.com for coverage map, details and system limitations. Services vary by model and conditions.)
- Rear Vision Camera
- Forward Collision Alert
- Side Blind Zone Alert
- Lane Departure Warning
- Rear Cross-Traffic Alert
- Sensor, tilt
- Automatic Collision Preparation
- Safety belts, 3-point, driver and front passenger
- Safety belts, 3-point, rear, all seating positions
- Automatic Safety Belt Tightening
- Child seat restraint system
- Door locks, rear child security
- LATCH system (Lower Anchors and Top tethers for CHildren), for child safety seats
- Trunk emergency release handle
- Tire Pressure Monitoring System
- Front and Rear Automatic Braking
- Traction control, all-speed, brake and engine controlled
- StabiliTrak, vehicle stability enhancement system