Cadillac's head-to-head battle with German and Japanese rivals is nothing short of audacious and with the reenergized 2014 CTS joining in, the brand continues to gain newfound respect.
The third-generation CTS joins the new compact ATS and full-size XTS in a constantly evolving lineup and will soon be joined by the electric-powered ELR coupe that will employ a similar powertrain to the Chevrolet Volt. The speed at which these new models are coming to market is dizzying to say the least.
The CTS is being repositioned as a larger model with five inches in added length and just over an inch more between the front and rear wheels.
Despite these increases, the CTS's base weight is about 250 pounds less than the 2013 edition and, according to Cadillac, is now 200 pounds less than a BMW 528i. Contributing to the reduction is a greater use of aluminum in the manufacturing process, including the door structures.
With its elongated nose and lower profile, the finished design is much more exotic-looking and ground-hugging than before, while maintaining Cadillac's knife-edge design cues. The grille maintains its familiar egg-crate shape, but the side air intakes have been enlarged and the fender edges are now trimmed in a row of eye-popping LED (light emitting diode) running lights.
The interior is equally modern and can be trimmed in seven different material combinations, including genuine wood, carbon fiber and aluminum along with cloth and two grades of leather seat coverings.
However it's under the hood where the CTS also displays a flair for the dramatic. The choices include a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 321 horsepower and 275 pound-feet or torque. Also available is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that's rated at 272 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque.
The star of the show is a twin-turbocharged version of the V6 that puts out 420 horsepower and 430 pound-feet of torque. This unique-to-Cadillac powerplant anchors the CTS V-Sport (it's also used in the larger XTS), which is the successor to the hotrod CTS-V sedan. The "V" is available for at least one more year in the coupe and wagon models that carry over unaltered for the 2014 model year. As quick as they are, the 556-horsepower supercharged V8 with its unquenchable thirst for fuel (12 mpg in the city and 18 highway) is no longer considered acceptable or politically correct in this day and age. Enter the turbocharged V6.
A six-speed automatic transmission comes with the turbo four-cylinder and the base V6 with all-wheel-drive. The rear-wheel-drive V6 and rear-drive-only twin-turbo V6 each run with an all-new eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters.
The twin-turbo V6 hits 60 mph in an impressive 4.6 seconds, which isn't quite CTS-V territory (a claimed 3.9 seconds), but it should prove quick enough to satisfy most Cadillac owners. Best of all, perhaps, is that the claimed 17/25 mpg fuel numbers trounce the CTS-V's 12/18 rating. By comparison, the 2.0-liter turbo CTS is pegged at 19/30.
The base CTS sedan, at $46,000 (about $6,000 higher than the 2013 model), comes very well equipped. Even still, the options list is a lengthy one and includes 20-way adjustable front seats, a 12-inch high-resolution display monitor for operating the infotainment, phone and climate controls.
There's also a spoil-you rotten electronically locking glove compartment and even a power-operated cupholder lid for the center console.
Optionally, you can expect plenty of electronic safety systems and alerts as well as magnetic ride control that constantly monitors road conditions and driving style to provide the most comfortable and stable ride possible.
Take a walk around the new CTS and it's obvious that Cadillac is intent on keeping the car as fresh and relevant as possible, and in tune with buyer expectations.
What you should know: 2014 Cadillac CTS
Type: Four-door, rear- /all-wheel-drive mid-size sedan.
Engines (hp): 2.0-liter DOHC I4, turbocharged (272); 3.6-liter DOHC V6 (321); 3.6-liter DOHC V6, twin-turbocharged (420)
Transmissions: Six-speed automatic; eight-speed automatic (std. with twin-turbo V6)
Market position: The premium auto market is a lucrative field for automakers such as Cadillac. The addition of the entry-luxury ATS for 2013, followed by an all-new CTS for the 2014 model year should add considerable brand luster.
Points: Enlarged design makes CTS almost full-size when compared to outgoing model; Cadillac has kept it on a strict diet, thus enhancing overall performance; Roomier interior strikes balance between practicality and luxury; 420-horsepower twin-turbo V6 a welcome option, but is this the beginning of the end for the 556-horse CTS-V?
Safety: Front airbags; front/rear side-impact airbags; side-curtain airbags; front knee airbags; anti-lock brakes; traction control; stability control.
MPG (city/hwy) 19/30 (2.0, RWD)
Base price (incl. destination) $46,000
Lexus GS 350
Base price: $48,150
New-for 2013 sedan offers sporty looks and handling. Optional hybrid.
Base price: $43,000
Classy looks and performance leanings, especially with supercharged V6.
Base price: $48,000
The sportiest sedan of the bunch; 560-hp M model not for the faint of heart.