2014 Cadillac CTS 2.0T Review and Road Test

It’s been decades since Cadillac produced the “Cadillac” of anything. However, when car buffs dismiss the only American luxury brand left, they fail to see Cadillac’s march forward. 2002 brought the first RWD Cadillac since the Fleetwoood. A year later the XLR roadster hit, followed in 2004 by Cadillac’s first 5-Series fighter, the STS. Not everything was rosy. The original CTS drove like a BMW but lacked charm and luxury fittings. The XLR was based on a Corvette, which made for excellent road manners, but the Northstar engine didn’t have the oomph. The STS sounded like a good idea, but the half-step CTS wasn’t much smaller and ultimately shoppers weren’t interested in a bargain option. That brings us to the new ATS and CTS. Ditching the “more car for less money” mantra, the ATS has been created to fight the C/3/IS leaving the CTS free to battle the E/5/GS head-on. Can Caddy’s sensible new strategy deliver the one-two punch fans have hoped for? I snagged a CTS 2.0T for a week to find out.

I found the outgoing CTS a little discordant, but 2014 brings an elegant more aggressive refresh. GM’s Art and Science theme has matured from “cubism gone wrong” to shapes that flow and jibe with a larger grille and softer creases. The 5-Series continues to go for elegant and restrained, I find the XF and A6′s design a mixture of plain-Jane and snazzy headlamps while the Infiniti Q5o and Lexus GS are going for flowing elegance.

The demur side profile continues with a simple character line to draw your eye from front to rear. One thing you’ll notice during that eye-movement is the distinct RWD proportions that separate the CTS, E, 5, GS, XF and Q50 from the long-nosed Audi A6 and near-luxury FWD options. Out back the CTS’ rump is a bit less exciting but employs all the latest luxury cues from hidden exhaust tops to light piped tail lamps. I was hoping Caddy’s fins would be further resurrected, but the “proto fins” on the XTS are absent. Pity. Obvious from every angle is an attention to build quality absent from earlier generations with perfect panel gaps and seams.

Unfortunately, the first thing you’ll notice out on the road is the coarse sound from under the hood. GM’s 2.0L engine is no less refined than BMW or Mercedes’ four-bangers, but the difference is you can hear the engine in the CTS. In fact, based on the overall quietness of the cabin (a competitive 67 dB at 50 MPH), I can only conclude that Cadillac designed the engine to be heard. I don’t mind hearing the 3.6L V6, but most luxury shoppers would prefer not to be reminded they chose the rational engine every time they get on the freeway. On the bright side, because GM does not offer start/stop tech, shoppers are spared the inelegant starts and stops that characterize 528i city driving.

While I’m picking nits, the 6-speed found in the 2.0T and most 3.6 models lacks the ratio spread and shift smoothness of the ZF 8-speed automatic found in most of the competition.

The reason I label those flaws as mere nits is because of how the CTS accomplishes every other task on the road. Acceleration to 60 happens a 4/10ths faster than an E350, a half-second faster than the 528i, a full second faster than a GS350, and practically years ahead of the A6 2.0T. Part of this has to do with the engine’s superior torque curve and higher horsepower numbers, but plenty has to do with curb weight. At 3,616 lbs, the CTS 2.oT is 200lbs lighter than the BMW or Lexus, 400lbs lighter than an E350. The comparable Audi A6 would be the front-wheel-drive 2.0T model with the CVT at 3,726. If you think that’s an unfair comparison, the 2.0T with Quattro is 3,900lbs and does little to correct the A6′s front-heavy weight balance.
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Comments

Mo Al says:

Subscribed. Great detailed review. Waiting for the v-sport though 🙂

Jax Wins says:

I Dont like the body design of this version. They should have kept the shorter body design.

Bruno TaTa says:

   Front seat adjusted for a 6’5″ passenger and you complain about rear seat room behind it?  That should be edited out, as it is obviously way out of the norm.

MilkTrafficker says:

5:55, yes, that’s precisely a Cadillac problem. If Cadillac had never stopped being Cadillac instead of trying to be another Lexus and BMW (cars that took market share because of quality, not style nor comfort) it would have never lost so much consumer interest. GM took American automotive character and luxury and flushed it down the toilet to end up looking like Hondas and then bankrupt.  

A car with no leg space is not a Cadillac, it’s just any other car. It is that simple. 

Evan Ganske says:

I think this CTS is a great start to a competitive Cadillac brand. While the CTS will most likely only be offered in a sedan variant, an ATS Wagon and Convertible are imminent (and obviously the Coupe). Quality is right up there with the Germans, but the Cadillac brand fails to deliver the “success” image that a BMW might. This is because we had such crappy products in the 80’s-00’s, but things are starting to change and perception takes awhile to achieve. While I love the CUE Infotainment, it definitely needs to be faster. Also, this CTS needs to deliver better performance and efficiency to thoroughly compete. Here’s what I’m thinking:

Variable Valve Timing, Spark Ignited Direct Injection, and Intake Variable Valve Lift are standard on all DOHC EcotecS engines. Variable Valve Timing, Spark Ignited Direct Injection, and Active Fuel Management are standard on all OHV EcotecL engines. Variable Torque Management is standard on all boosted engines.

Variable Torque Management increases boost under heavy acceleration for better get-up-and-go and decreases boost for better efficiency during cruising. Active Grille Shutters and Stop/Start are both standard.

Standard- 1.8t I4 with 260HP/270-285LB-FT
Hybrid- 1.8t eAssist I4 with 265HP/275-290LB-FT
Diesel- 2.8tdi I4 with 240HP/350-365LB-FT
Standard Luxury- 1.8t I4
Optional Luxury- 2.8t V6 with 325HP/340-355LB-FT
Standard Performance- 3.0t V6 with 360HP/370-380LB-FT
Standard Premium- 1.8t I4
Optional Premium- 2.8t V6
V Sport- 3.6tt V6 with 430HP/450-470LB-FT
V- 6.2sc V8 with 620HP/635-650LB-FT

To simplify that, the two main or “core” engines will be either a standard 1.8L Turbo I4 or an optional 2.8L Turbo V6. The speciality choices are an eAssist 1.8L Turbo I4, 2.8L Diesel I4, or a 3.0L Turbo V6. Last but not least, the high performance variants will get a 3.6L TwinTurbo V6 or 6.2L SuperCharged V8.

Re San says:

“I going to try and forget about the XTS for just a little bit, because Cadillac would like you to believe that’s a 7 series, S-class competitor” — WRONG!   Simply because this is pure conjecture on your part!  Cadillac has never stated or implied or “have you believe” the the XTS is a shoulder to shoulder competitor to the German flagships.   Anyone with have a brain knows this!…the XTS was dubbed the interim flagship built solely to keep the full size, now discontinued DTS customers happy, and that it has accomplished.   Get your facts straight!

Trades46 says:

I rate the Mk3 CTS higher than the BMW 5, Lexus GS & Infiniti M. It matches the Audi A6 (not in chassis/engine, but equally good build quality) and slightly under the redesigned/refreshed Mercedes E.

I see 2 major weaknesses in this otherwise great car.
1. Engines. Other than the Vsport 3.6 V6TT, the NA 3.6 V6 & 2.0T is meh at best. It doesn’t match the German big 3 nor Lexus in that regard. If GM has better drivetrains, this CTS would be quite good.
2. CUE. I personally think this newest generation MyFordTouch is BETTER than the CUE, and MFT isn’t exactly class standard in terms of infotainment systems. The touch screen is nice, but immensely confusing & responds slower than a 1999 PC. Get rid of CUE and use the Buick system; buttons are more old fashioned, but why try to reinvent the wheel when it already works?

A solid pick, and much greater car than the mk1 & mk2 CTS. It’s also the 2nd Cadillac which I think look beautiful; they’re nailing the Art & Science theme nicely now.

Gabe Goglia says:

Great Review!  Great Car!

Navi Badwal says:

nice talk on the new CTS…nice power output….. nice design…. BUT there is no car like Mercedes Benz, I would buy the E class over the CTS any day. There are cars… and then there is MERCEDES BENZ. …..BOLD !!

j swan says:

Well done, excellent review. 

ewtubewatcher says:

beautiful exterior, but the interior center dash is really ugly in my opinion.   the glossy finish also made it look really cheap for some reason.  

kenya catholic says:

this guy talks too much

d4803d .ILITE says:

great job on this review!

Sheila LaShay says:

I have a 2014 Cadillac CTS and it’s totally redesigned and lighter.The Cadillac User Experience (CUE) works fine. Mine is Black Raven with the Cashmere/wood and suede interior. Not my first CTS but it is the most expensive $$$$. 

Jack Ferrell says:

BS on the sound, when I 1st got in and started it, my 1st impression was the way it sounded. My family grew up with Cadillac’s for 50 years.

Jarrod Long says:

Thanks for the detailed review. I also personally like the styling and it’s nice to see Cadillac really try to compete with the foreign brands – with some top notch engineering.

I’m sure, with your experience, that the 2.0, 4 cylinder engine is the way to go, but I drove it and the 3.6 V6 and just like the sound and feel of the V6 better. Personal preference I guess.

I have to have AWD otherwise would have loved the TT V6 I’m sure. Trading in my 330xi that I’ve had for 7 years for this car. Ordered it last week!

frankie122 says:

having a hard choice between the new 2014 ME/BE E350 and the new CTS…ugh tough choice!!

Turab Hasan says:

can’t get awd with the Vsport trim

Basil Alshabi says:

The best review ever on a car…lots of details as you are inside the car! Thanks Alex…regards from dubai

slabiciune says:

Hands down the best review I’ve seen of any car.
Very articulate, and not slow where I would give up on the video.
And, you are not biased which is the most important thing when comparing autos.

Adam Bernard says:

If you like the idea of spending 1400 dollars to change the water pump when your 528i hits 40000 miles, then I would definitely recommend it over the CTS as well.

Dre' cha says:

If this guy says, “Cadillac would like you to think that the XTS is an S-Class/BMW 7 series competitor”, just one more time I’m going to scream..!! Cadillac has stated from Jump street that that they have no flagship at this time and that the XTS was to be a combination and take the place of the DTS (which was NEVER EVER meant to be a 7/S competitor) and the now defunct STS sports sedan.. This car has always been and meant to be a Middle to Middle top car in the lineup.. See 2016 LTS/ETS for S-Class/BMW 7 competitor.. (planned since the inception of the ATS and now Stretched 2014 CTS).. Do your damn Homework man..!!  http://www.autofrenzy.net/home/31

Tarek Malek Antabi says:

what car is better to drive? this or the ATS 3.6 RWD?

Adam Bernard says:

that is a beautiful interior.

Zein Meister says:

how much will this cost right now ?

Ryan Hollister says:

Love the car but hate the four-cylinder, buy the V6 model instead, the four-cylinder is very noisy and sounds cheap and unrefined but however it does make good performance for what it is

Bryan Chance says:

I’m so dissapointed, again! I’ve been waiting for Caddilac to come up with a model (V series) for the later generation of buyers. They’ve got the styling and performance on point, but damn that interior and that center console.. why why why??? it looks like they got it from Transformers! Borrowing and paraphrasring a famous quote: “.. if you build it, they will BUY!! “.. It seems BMW’s new lineup are not so good anymore.. in every aspect…loosing their touch. I’m ready for a change if you are Caddilac!!!

Mitch Evans says:

Oh how I wish I could afford this vehicle.

Bobby Kole says:

You mention the steering wheel being full-grain leather rather than half grain. I’m very interested to know how to spot the difference, which you’ve mentioned in more than one of your videos, and why it full grain would last longer/be less comfortable. 

mekmen1 says:

Crap

jason le says:

Alex, i’m thinking of either getting CTS or GS 350.  I like the look of the CTS (exterior and interior), however i heard so much about reliability on this car in the past.  What do you think about this?? Also heard that Lexus would keep value better right?

Mark Dillon says:

The xts is jus a gap car, it was cheap and easy to put on the market for cadillac until the lts flagship comes out. Spy shots on the net of lts flagship cadillac under development now. The ats platform is stretched for the cts platform and stretched further for the lts platform too. The elmiraj concept is a stretched version of the ats platform as well. The ats platform was designed with this stretching in mind to save money, thats why gm put so much time and money and engineering is the ats.

Bruno TaTa says:

And when you complimented the stitching quality, your finger slid over two panels that meet and were  1/8 inch off center.  

knightky007 says:

Please review 2015 CTS. Great review. Thanks

Mr Smiles says:

Great review.

TheSkinheadlad says:

Really enjoyed this review…

Bruno TaTa says:

They get the dynamics right then it’s let down by styling.  It’s not quite right.

notformebeaky says:

E Class rip off but with a shitty ugly  grille and crappy badge.

Probably not a bad car, but like Lexus and Infiniti, can’t trouble the Germans.

Bruce Solomon says:

The finest automotive reviews on the internet or television bar none. 

Mazeneen Saad says:

Is the car in the video luxury Cts 2.0t?
Because in my country only the cts 3.6L comes with electronic gauges
The luxury cts 2.0t doesn’t has electronic gauges

1234zcrom says:

i think most people are wondering why he is trying to compare this to the 5 series when it was designed to compete with the 3 series…

TheRoshan89 says:

Don’t be fooled by social stigmas – “German engineering” may produce good sound equipment, but their cars are pathetic. Most people you see rolling in BMWs, and Volkswagens got them only for the “German engineering,” and they are so clue less that even when they are having to replace parts at 30 thousand miles they will keep telling themselves that German cars are the best. Note, these people usually also use iphones and macs.

To me the money isn’t an issue, it just seems stupid to buy sub par products just to impress others, they are slaves to peer perception. I hate GM, but as of right now, Cadillac is the king at this price range. you get the most quality for the money you spend from Cadillac.

fany valencia says:

why do people like Mercedes benz?! they’re so ugly omf!

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