It’s no secret that I have a big soft spot for Cadillacs and look back fondly on the days when anyone who was anybody drove a Cadillac. Those days have long passed, but Cadillac has been working hard to bring back that feeling of grandeur into their latest line up. Since its glamorous reveal I have been anxiously waiting for my turn to spend a week behind the wheel of the 2014 Cadillac CTS 3.6, and let me tell you, it was well worth the wait.
I am certain that part of my affinity for Cadillacs stems from the fact that I spent a good portion of my childhood riding around in my parents’ 1995 STS. Even compared to today’s standards, that STS is a pleasant car (when it’s working properly). I always thought that the STS served as the perfect blend between power, refinement and elegance, while the CTS was a bit of a compromise. Now however, with the new ATS taking the entry level position, the CTS has been pushed up a notch in the Cadillac lineup to fill the void left by the departed STS, so it definitely had some growing up to do.
Happily my all-grown-up 2014 CTS-4 (AWD) tester came exactly as I would have picked it. All black inside and out, powered by the 321-horsepower 3.6L V6 and equipped with the fully optioned out Premium Package, because the only way to have a Cadillac is with all the bells and whistles. In this configuration the car looks absolutely breathtaking. The polished 19-inch alloys, chrome detailing and LED accent lighting are stunning against the Diamond Black Tricoat paint and the car just exudes class.
The elegance is not limited to just the exterior of the car. My tester came equipped with the full Jet Black interior with carbon fibre accents. The soft LED accent lighting against the carbon fibre looks spectacular while the soft supple leather and high quality materials used just about everywhere scream class. The leather seats are just right, as is the elegantly styled leather wrapped (heated) steering wheel. The CTS also does an excellent job of feeding the driver information without being intrusive or distracting. The full LCD gauge cluster can be set up to display just about anything you’d ever want it to; from basic driving data, to navigation, entertainment and even shows off some fancy 3D models. All of this is also complemented by GM’s typically well thought out heads-up display projected onto the windshield.
Of course, being a Cadillac, and costing just over $72,000, there are no compromises when it comes to features. The CTS Premium comes equipped with everything you’d expect in a car of this calibre and more. Aside from all the typical luxuries such as the heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, adaptive cruise control, panoramic roof and all the electronic driving aids you could imagine, the CTS also has a few interesting features. The first being the Intellibeam headlamps- – the car automatically detects when you’re driving on an unlit road and turns on the high beams. Subsequently, it also detects oncoming traffic and turns the high beams off. It’s not a perfect system, but it does help take some of the stress out of driving on back roads at night.
Another interesting feature is the automatic tightening seat belts; unlike most cars where you put your belt on and give it a yank to tighten it up, once you’ve fastened your belt and settled into your seat, the CTS gives the belt a bit of a tug for you making sure it’s at the right tightness for your body. It feels a little intrusive at first, but once you get used to it, it is a thoughtful gesture. The one downside to all these features is that they are not necessarily the easiest to use and even after driving my fair share of Cadillacs recently, I still had to spend a good 5 or 10 minutes getting reacquainted with CUE, Cadillac’s onboard computer control system, before I could make myself comfortable.
So, the new CTS is equipped with the latest and greatest features, wonderfully styled inside and out, and more importantly it’s just the right size. Unlike the XTS V-sport we tested earlier this year, which even with its 400 horsepower, felt big and clumsy, the CTS maintains that perfect balance of performance and comfort that I’ve come to expect from a Cadillac. With its 321-horsepower V6, my tester hauls some serious butt. More surprising though is its ability to devour curves like no mid or full-sized Cadillac I’ve ever driven. While the CTS is clearly no sports car, it remains perfectly composed through high-speed curves and offers just the right amount of road feel and steering response to keep enthusiasts like myself entertained, while still offering all the smoothness and comfort that Cadillac is known for. To have all this, I don’t feel like I had to give up much in terms of fuel economy, as I averaged a healthy 10.1L/100km in my wintery rush hour commuting – right in line with what I’d expect from a mid-size luxury car.
Now, while I usually can’t stand the sight of snow, I was quite pleased to wake up one morning during my week with the CTS to find a good 20cm of fresh fluffy snow blanketing my suburban neighbourhood. With the exception of a stuck minivan, the streets looked empty – it was a snow day! The perfect day to test out the CTS-4’s AWD system. With the system in “snow mode” and riding on Michelin winter tires, my CTS proved unfazed by the snow. Its sleek black sinister looking figure effortlessly glided passed the stranded minivans and out onto the untouched back roads. As the CTS slithered right by a struggling snow plow and continued carving through the fresh snow, I decided that it truly represents what a Cadillac should be. It is uncompromised style, comfort and performance in an edgy yet elegant package that only Cadillac could put together.
The CTS is the type of car that makes mundane tasks feel so much more classy; stopping at a 24-hour grocery store for cold-cuts and iced tea feels like your Al Pacino pulling up to the latest movie premiere. As a driving experience it represents my ideal balance, making the CTS the ideal everyday car for an enthusiast like myself who may have a proper sports car to toss around on weekends, but is looking to add a little driving excitement to the daily grind and haul the family around without compromising an inch on comfort, style or refinement.
2014 Cadillac CTS 3.6 Gallery
Photos by Theron Lane