Full 2014 Cadillac CTS Wagon Review
What's New for 2014
Cadillac has eliminated the base 3.0 trim level from the 2014 CTS wagon lineup, and standard and optional equipment has been shuffled on the remaining trims.
Although the 2014 Cadillac CTS Wagon will never be every shopper's cup of tea, there's no denying that it brings real panache to a historically staid vehicle genre. And it's still quite functional as five-passenger station wagons go. You could commute in it every day, and there's enough room inside to ferry the kids to school while carrying a golden retriever in the cargo area. Mind you, the CTS wagon is not without a few functional flaws. But if you can work around these issues, it's an intriguing option for an upscale family car.
Apart from the daring bodywork on the Cadillac CTS wagon, you'll notice that it's a little bigger than most other luxury-brand wagons in this price range. It's basically a midsize car, and this has obvious space benefits inside its nicely furnished cabin. Even with its larger footprint, the CTS handles well and turns out to be surprisingly fun. Acceleration is respectable with either of the V6 engines, and all-wheel drive is optional for shoppers needing extra winter-weather grip.
However, you might find fault with the 2014 CTS wagon's overly stiff ride, which is an issue with either of the available sport suspension packages. In addition, the driver seat is oddly positioned relative to the front console and the pedals, which can make it difficult to get comfortable behind the wheel. Finally, the dramatically sloping roof line makes it tricky to see out the back of this wagon, so the available rearview camera is almost a necessity.
If you're set on getting a premium-brand wagon, there are a few alternatives in this price range. Our favorite is the recently redesigned 2014 BMW 3 Series wagon, which comes with a potent pair of fuel-efficient four-cylinder engines (your choice of gasoline or diesel), while offering an excellent ride/handling compromise and a spacious, high-quality cabin. Another good option is the 2014 Audi Allroad, which has an equally luxurious interior and also gives you some light-duty off-road ability. Although not as sporting as the others, the Acura TSX wagon and Volvo XC70 are solid all-around picks that also merit consideration.
In the end, the one thing that none of these competitors can really match is the 2014 Cadillac CTS Wagon's distinctive style. If that's the Caddy's main draw for you, we can recommend this generally capable luxury station wagon with few reservations.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 Cadillac CTS Wagon is a five-passenger midsize wagon available in three trim levels: Luxury, Performance and Premium. The high-performance CTS-V Wagon is reviewed separately, as are the CTS sedan and coupe.
The Luxury trim level comes standard with 17-inch wheels, automatic headlights, a power liftgate, a sunroof, heated mirrors, keyless entry, remote ignition, automatic wipers, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated eight-way power front seats (with adjustable lumbar), driver memory functions for the driver seat and outside mirrors, a split-folding rear seat, leather upholstery, a wood-trimmed steering wheel, a manual tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Also standard are Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, OnStar emergency communications and a seven-speaker Bose sound system with six-CD changer, auxiliary audio jack, satellite radio, a rearview camera, a heavy-duty cargo net (allowing safe transport of pets) and a cargo cover.
Optional on the Luxury trim is the CTS Touring package, which adds 18-inch wheels, a sport-tuned suspension (dubbed FE2), adaptive xenon headlights, foglights, a different grille, chrome door handles, a leather/simulated suede steering wheel and shift knob, and sport alloy pedals. Upgraded brakes and a limited-slip rear differential are included with this package on cars with all-wheel drive.
Next up is the Performance model, which gets the Touring package items as standard but loses some of the Luxury model's standard equipment, including the rearview camera, automatic wipers, pet net and cargo cover. It then adds a more powerful engine, unique 18-inch wheels, automatic xenon headlights, foglights, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and a 10-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system with digital music storage and a USB/iPod audio interface.
An optional Performance Luxury package adds back the previously omitted rearview camera, automatic wipers, pet net and cargo cover. This package also supplies rear parking sensors, heated and ventilated front seats, a power-adjustable heated steering wheel and a cabin deodorizer.
The Premium model includes all the above equipment, but adds a panoramic sunroof and a navigation system with a pop-up touchscreen display and traffic and weather updates. Both items are optional on the other trims.
Optional on AWD Performance and Premium models is the 19-inch All-Season Tire package, which adds steering wheel shift paddles, 19-inch wheels and all-season tires. The 19-inch Summer Tire Performance package (available on both rear-wheel-drive 3.6 models) includes 19-inch wheels, summer performance tires, a performance cooling system, an even sportier suspension setup with a rear load-leveling feature (dubbed FE3), upgraded brakes, a limited-slip differential and the steering wheel shift paddles.
The Premium model is also eligible for its own version of the Touring package, which bundles the contents of either of the 19-inch tire packages (depending on whether your wagon is rear-drive or AWD) with Recaro sport seats.
Powertrains and Performance
Every 2014 Cadillac CTS Wagon comes standard with a six-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is optional across the board.
The CTS Luxury model comes with a 3.0-liter V6 engine that produces 270 horsepower and 223 pound-feet of torque. The EPA's estimated fuel economy is 21 mpg combined (18 mpg city/26 mpg highway) regardless of whether your car is rear- or all-wheel drive.
The 3.6 models get a 3.6-liter V6 engine that produces 318 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque. EPA-estimated fuel economy is identical to wagons with the 3.0-liter V6.
The CTS wagon's standard safety features include antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front active head restraints, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. Also standard is OnStar, which includes automatic crash notification, on-demand roadside assistance, an emergency button, stolen vehicle locator and active intervention, and remote door unlock. A rearview camera is optional on the 3.6 Performance and standard on the 3.0 Luxury and 3.6 Premium. Meanwhile, parking sensors are standard on the 3.6 Performance and optional on the 3.6 Premium.
In government crash tests, the previous-generation (2008-'13) Cadillac CTS sedan, upon which the 2014 CTS wagon is based, received the best possible rating of five stars in the overall, frontal and side crash categories. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, the sedan was awarded the best rating of "Good" in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side impact and roof strength tests. Its seat/head restraint design was also rated "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts.
In Edmunds brake testing, the CTS 3.6 Wagon with the FE2 suspension and summer performance tires came to a stop from 60 mph in 118 feet. That's a few feet longer than average for a vehicle with summer tires, but still a respectable distance. You should expect slightly longer braking distances on wagons with all-season tires.
Interior Design and Special Features
Inside the cabin, the 2014 Cadillac CTS Wagon features a pleasing angular theme to match its exterior edginess. Soft-touch materials are plentiful, and they're accented by tasteful wood trim. The optional navigation system emerges from the top of the dash and retracts almost fully, leaving a small section visible as a touchscreen display for the audio system -- a smart and elegant alternative solution to having a separate control panel. We also appreciate that Cadillac provides a redundant control knob for scrolling through iPod or satellite radio menus, since doing so with a touchscreen interface can be frustrating and distracting.
Unfortunately, the interior also comes with its fair share of flaws. Many find the driving position awkward because of the car's slightly offset pedals, low-mounted driver seat and compromised knee room due to the sweeping center stack. Further hampering front seat comfort are the flat, stiff seatback cushions. Overall interior room, however, is quite good and better than many competing models, though rear-seat access can be a bit tricky due to a low roof line. Outward visibility to the rear is poor, so make sure your CTS wagon has the rearview camera.
Cargo capacity is obviously important with a wagon, and the CTS provides 25 cubic feet with the rear seats raised and 58 cubic feet with them lowered. This is more than a 3 Series wagon or Allroad and only a little less than most compact luxury crossovers.
It may be a station wagon, but the 2014 Cadillac CTS Wagon is far more athletic than you might expect. Its steering is precise and well-weighted, and even though this midsize wagon doesn't feel quite as sharp around turns as the 3 Series wagon or Allroad, it's still plenty of fun for a family-oriented car. An overly stiff ride is the main knock against Cadillac's station wagon, and you'll want to take a thorough test-drive before driving off in a CTS with the most aggressive FE3 suspension setup.
Although the 3.0-liter V6 is a competent base-level engine, keep in mind that its fuel economy is no better than that of the 318-hp 3.6-liter V6. If you can swing the higher monthly payment, the more powerful engine is a worthy upgrade on the relatively heavy Cadillac CTS wagon.