Wednesday, March 26, 2014

2014 Cadillac XTS VSport test drive review. This is what makes a Cadillac a Cadillac

There was a time when Cadillacs did not compete with cars like Mercedes and BMW.  They had rivals like Lincoln and Packard.  But even among their peer group, they stood alone.  If you bought the best watch or refrigerator or lawn mower money could buy, someone would call it “the Cadillac of lawn mowers.”  That’s because Cadillacs were the best, both in perception and reality.  They were the most luxurious.  They were the most technologically advanced.  They were the most stylish.  And in many cases, they were the biggest.

Cadillac’s philosophy has changed a bit over the years.  They still make great cars.  They are still state-of-the-art.  And they still set the high water mark for styling.  But if you drive a new CTS or ATS, it becomes obvious that they were going for sportiness and technology over luxury and comfort.  No one would have accepted these cars as the Standard of the World 40 years ago.  So where are people supposed to turn for an old-school, uncompromised big Cadillac sedan?

Enter the 2014 Cadillac XTS VSport.  Now this more like what traditional Cadillac buyers are used to.  This car is big—202-inches bumper-to-bumper.  It has presence.  It has a proper back seat.  It is loaded with modern technology.  And you won’t confuse it as something from any other automaker.  This is not an old car by any means, but it follows the tenets of what a Cadillac used to be.  They don’t make ‘em like they used to, but this one follows the same recipe.

Best of all, it’s powerful.  No, it doesn’t have a high-strung V8 like last year’s CTS-V, but with 410-hp and 396 pound-feet of torque, the XTS VSport ain’t no slouch.  These muscle car-worthy stats are achieved with a 3.6-liter, direct-injected V6 that is fitted with two small turbochargers.  Now, that 3.6 is available in everything from Camaros to Enclaves, and it’s a pretty strong plant.  But never has it been more satisfying than it is in this setup.  This car will pin you back in the seat, and its ability to exceed the posted speed limit on the highway will sneak up on you.

In its base configuration, the XTS is a front-wheel-drive car.  But the VSport is equipped with a Haldex all-wheel-drive system.  You definitely want that.  410 is a lot of horsepower, and 396 pound-feet is a lot of torque.  You don’t want to be fighting all that craziness exclusively through the front wheels.  The torque-steer would rip your freakin’ arms off.  With this setup, everything seems very balanced.  Flogging this car is actually pleasurable. 

The interior has sort of a dual personality.  On one hand, it is a classy, warm, and inviting place in which to spend time.  The “Shale” leather and “Cocoa” accents are beautifully coordinated.  Everything is soft, luxurious, and features impeccable French stitching.  There are subtle accent lights that span from the dashboard all the way back through all four doors.  This is the personality of the interior that recalls a warm den with a mahogany desk and a fire crackling in the marble fireplace.  Settle in with a smoking jacket, it’s gonna’ be an indulgent ride.

On the other hand, the instrument panel is almost sensory overload.  Here, you’ll find a dizzying array of LED displays, screens, lights, chimes, and vibrations.  Whether you’re looking at the instrument cluster, the center stack, or even the windshield, there is some bright, happy display trying to give you another bit of information.  Cadillac’s CUE infotainment system gives you everything from navigation to back-up camera to radio options.  There is a 14-speaker Bose surround-sound system.   You will never get bored in this car.

I’m not even going to try and list every feature and option that this baby had, but there were a few that stood out.  The head-up display projects the speedometer and other basic information on the windshield so you don’t have to pick it out on the instrument panel.  Tri-zone climate controls ensure that everyone stays comfortable.  There’s even a heated steering wheel! Keyless entry and pushbutton start means that you’ll never have to take the keys from your pocket.  Capless fueling and rain-sensing wipers make things convenient.  Darn near everything is automatic in it.  All you have to do is get in and go.

The final price tag on our Crystal Red Tintcoat test car was $66,410.  That’s a little out of my budget, but it’s supposed to be.  Like the Cadillacs of old, not everyone can afford this car; and not everyone should be able to afford this car.  Cadillacs are exclusive.  They’re not for us ordinary schmucks.  They’re for people who have arrived.  I got to feel that way for a week behind the wheel of this 2014 XTS, and it gives me even more incentive to strive for better.  This is the way Cadillacs used to be.  This is the way they are supposed to be.

Check out the photo gallery in the slideshow below, or click this link for a nicer version.


  1. I love the look of the XTS. I think it's the best looking Cadillac in years.

  2. Wow, i just saw 410 HP.

  3. Best interior for the price and 32.2 mpg on multiple hour drives with Adaptive Cruise Control set at 65 mph....with AWD! I can't say enough how nice it is to drive this can I bought used used XTS Vsport Platinum with 40,000+ miles on it. Not only does it drive nice but it turns heads at every corner.