Monday, December 16, 2013

2014 Cadillac CTS 2.0T Premium test drive review. As exciting as you would hope a new Cadillac could be

You may not have picked up on it yet, but I love cars.  Always have.  And as much as I love old cars, I also get pretty excited when some really cool new car comes out.  And I can’t think of anything more exciting than an all-new, rear-wheel-drive Cadillac CTS.  This is the Motor Trend Car of the Year.  It is grabbing praise, headlines, and awards everywhere it goes.  Some people call it the best Cadillac sedan ever.  Others call it the best American car ever.  The 2014 CTS is seriously getting that kind of praise.  The fact that I got a chance to drive a new 2.0T Premium last week was a very big opportunity.  Let’s take a look at my little turbocharged terror.  I’ll bet you’ll think it’s pretty cool too.

The front-end treatment dominates the exterior of this car.  The angled, chiseled lines are bookended by four, stacked LED light strips that cut through the haze like nothing else on the road.  Those lights alone are enough to tell people that this is no ordinary car.  The Cadillac crest sits high in the grille, and punctuates a highly sculpted hood.  This feast for the senses up front contrasts with the sides and back of the car, which are actually pretty subdued.  If the front clip was designed for maximum impact, the rest of the car was designed to be utterly understated.

Another place that you’ll find plenty of impact is the interior.  The first time you sit in the cool, sporty cockpit of the new CTS, you will know without a doubt that the 1996 Fleetwood Brougham is completely dead and buried.  The heated and ventilated leather “Performance Front Seats” were as supportive as any sports car, although the bottom cushion was a bit hard on my boney butt.  The 12.3-inch reconfigurable instrument cluster was essentially a video screen on which digital images of gauges appeared.  An eight-inch touch screen ran Cadillac’s sophisticated CUE system, which features high-tech haptic feedback.

The environment is comfortable, with a decent amount of rear-seat legroom, tri-zone climate control, and burled genuine wood accents.  This is one of eight interior choices, which include different colors, aluminum, or carbon fiber trim.  The infotainment system does everything you could possibly want it to, and the soundtrack emanates from Bose surround-sound speakers.  Electronic gewgaws included a head’s up display, Advanced Safety Belt Tightening (the belts will cinch down on you in a crash, but seem to need to test themselves every time you start out; it reminds me of a blood pressure cuff), and an electronic motor on the cup holder door.

This particular car had a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder good for 272-hp and 295-lb/ft. of torque.  It’s the same setup that was in the ATS I recently tested, and while it had some scoot to it, you did notice it working harder on this bigger car.  Of course, I’d be happy if everything had 450-hp, so maybe I’m not the right guy to ask about how powerful a car seems.  This power plant was connected to a six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters if you are so-inclined.  I have driven a bunch of cars with paddle shifters (I even own one), and I am never inclined.  I guess there are reasons someone would want to drop out of drive and go to manual mode, but I haven’t found them.  This car would be fun with a real six-speed manual, though.

The wheels are optional 18-inch seven-spokes, which fit over big Brembo front brakes.  18-inch wheels are pretty tame on a modern, performance-oriented car like this.  But they actually to help the ride; and the handling doesn’t seem to suffer.  You can punch a button that tunes to the suspension to “sport” mode, which makes it handle even better if you’re really pushing it through a twisty course.  For normal driving, however, sport mode is just a button that seems to disable the power steering.  Surprisingly, in spite of its larger size, handling doesn’t really seem to diminish compared to its ATS cousin.

This is the newest, most advanced Cadillac you can buy, and the price tag reflects that.  With an as-tested price of $65,425, this car is nearly $20,000 more than the 2014 ATS I drove two weeks ago.  It is bigger, however, and it packs quite a bit more technology.  Plus, it looks considerably newer and more premium than the ATS.  There’s a reason this car is getting all those accolades that I talked about earlier.  It is an exceptionally good car.  If you really want the best, you have to pay for the best. 

I’ll tell you one thing for sure—I had no desire to give the keys back to my Phantom Gray Metallic test car.  But since I’m sure if I had run away in it, they would have just found me with OnStar and had me arrested, I reluctantly returned it.  At least I took some pictures to remember it by, which you can see in the slideshow below.  Or, click this link for a nicer version.


  1. CTS has always been good, but that looks great. Glad GM is building great cars like this now.