EDITOR WES RAYNAL: This 2014 Cadillac CTS 3.6L Premium Collection drives like a big ATS, and I mean that as a compliment. This car proves Cadillac continues to be on a roll.
For starters, it looks terrific. Long, low and creased, the exterior shape looks just right. It attracts crowds wherever it goes. The LEDs look fantastic at night to give the car a powerful appearance.
The interior is lovely, too, and it is really quiet in there, very little road noise. The materials look well assembled and also look like high quality. I even am coming to terms with CUE. Getting used to it I suppose. I am thankful I can turn the radio up and down and/or switch stations with steering wheel buttons…
This CTS is a much better driver than the last one, and like the ATS, it's down to the chassis. It is seriously dialed in. The car feels nimble for a midsize sedan. The steering is about perfect, the suspension is firm but compliant, and the car feels balanced and stiff. This normally aspirated V6 (obviously not as powerful as the twin-turbo in the Vsport), but the car doesn't feel like a dog by any means. The transmission upshifts early for better fuel economy, but there are paddle shifters for manual control if you want to play.
Overall, this is a heck of a nice midsize sedan. Those who think the default choices in the midsize luxury class are the BMW 5-series, Mercedes-Benz E-class and Audi A6, need to take a new Caddy CTS for a spin before plunking down their money.
ASSOCIATE WEST COAST EDITOR BLAKE Z. RONG: I hadn't expected to be impressed by this CTS, and indeed a track day at Willow Springs International Raceway in California hadn't endeared me to a 2.0T model, which hemmed and hawed and panic-tensioned the seatbelt as I cornered until my shoulder felt like it had been pummeled by the New England Patriots starting defense. Well, the 3.6-liter V6 version has the same unnerving seatbelts that never failed to elicit a range of emotions from passengers, mostly surprise and uncanny discomfort. Maybe because Cadillac knows that the CTS is worthy of such enthusiastic driving -- it is a car that is utterly engaging, with steering that's weighty and precise, with a chassis that feels instantly comfortable and familiar to push, and push hard.
That 3.6-liter engine produces good midrange power, but never feels terribly quick. Those expecting to be blown away like the Maxell Guy will want to look at the 420-horsepower Vsport. What's more, it runs out of steam at higher rpm. But it does retain a pleasantly subtle growl, hidden as it is under so many layers of acoustic engineering. On the freeway, the interior is quiet, contemplative.
There's a lot to contemplate. This is possibly the most beautiful and well-put place to sit and stay that GM has ever made. Some might criticize the myriad interiors, textures, and lines inside -- and rightfully so, as it's a lot to take in at first glance. But it works. Entirely reconfigurable digital gauges sing and dance and flitter in and out like a Broadway musical. The center console is swoopy and shiny, the dashboard intricately shaped, the stitching sufficiently high-contrast to distinguish itself. Once inside, the CTS is insulated enough to mask all of your shouts at CUE, which isn't my favorite automotive operating system on the market today.
The exterior is swoopy, too, because we can finally hark back to what Cadillac does best: acres and acres of ponderous bodywork, which is shiny and glassy and polarizing but impossible to ignore. It's always been this way. The front end is a perfect blend of curves and angles jutting up against each other, taut and sinewy and subtly aggressive until it oozes downwards in back.
SENIOR ROAD TEST EDITOR NATALIE NEFF: The CTS is lovely, inside and out, with a captivating exterior that doesn't try to be anything but a Cadillac, wrapped around a truly pleasurable place in which to spend time. The mind-numbing drudgery of rush-hour traffic is rendered powerless by the comfortable confines, but off-ramps and winding back roads erupt in Technicolor glory by a chassis nimbler than the car's size indicates. I loved driving the CTS, in all manners and on all roads.
And unlike Mr. Rong, I found the 3.6-liter V6 engaging and surprisingly quick. No, I was never blown away, but the engine's dexterity certainly impressed me, powering the car, as it did, with confidence through an accordion of traffic, deliberate stabs of the gas pedal rewarded with prompt pickup and a decisive throttle response. I could easily “settle” for this non-turbo version of the 3.6.
All that said, that pain-in-the-butt CUE system is an absolute deal breaker for me. For my $68,000, I'll be damned if I'm forced to stab, stab, stab at a fan “button” or slide a finger repeatedly to get more volume. Seriously, I'm so sick of these types of touch interfaces. They're inefficient and dangerous and I cannot wait for automakers to finally figure that out.
2014 Cadillac CTS 3.6L Premium Collection
Base Price: $65,485
As-Tested Price: $67,825
Drivetrain: 3.6-liter V6; RWD, eight-speed automatic
Output: 321 hp @ 6,800 rpm, 275 lb-ft @ 4,800 rpm
Curb Weight: 3,616 lb
Fuel Economy (EPA City/Highway/Combined): 18/29/22 mpg
AW Observed Fuel Economy: 20.2 mpg
Options: Jet black/morello red accents ($1,650); 18-inch polished aluminum 15-spoke wheels ($750)
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