2014 Cadillac XTS Vsport First Drive

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2014 Cadillac XTS Sedan

(3.6L V6 Twin-turbo AWD 6-speed Automatic)
  • 2014 Cadillac XTS Vsport

    2014 Cadillac XTS Vsport

    Discretion, thy name is Vsport: only visible differentiation from standard XTS is unique grille and Vsport badges. | September 05, 2013

7 Photos

A Promising Start for Cadillac's Vsport Strategy

The 2014 Cadillac XTS Vsport has steering-wheel paddle shifters for its standard six-speed automatic transmission. You will not need them. Ever.

The throttle pedal is all that's required to extract maximum acceleration from the XTS Vsport's twin-turbocharged V6, so mighty is this all-new engine's Thor's-hammer punch. Its massive torque is ready for deployment from as low as 1,900 rpm and it stays on the job all the way to 5,600 rpm. At that point, the Vsport's all-wheel drive and beefed-up automatic are earning their keep to manage what otherwise would be absolute chaos.

It might be 17 feet long, but this is the most bombastic Cadillac since the CTS-V.

2014 Cadillac XTS Vsport

The New Name for Fast
This is the first of Cadillac's new Vsport models, which aim to bridge the gap between the brand's standard offerings and its ultra-high-performance V-Series lineup. In this case, Vsport means an upgraded V6, standard all-wheel drive and a retuned suspension.

And this isn't just any V6; it's a 3.6-liter powerhouse that develops 410 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. General Motors engineers borrowed heavily from the tricks they learned from cars like the supercharged 6.2-liter V8 in the Camaro ZL1 and Cadillac CTS-V.

This engine is 90 percent new compared to the conventional 3.6-liter V6, and is structurally jacked up everywhere to handle the big boost. The net result is that there's brutal shove on top from nearly any speed. The torque drop-off at the 5,600-rpm redline is fairly pronounced, but that's of little consequence. By that time, the six-speed automatic has unobtrusively but vigorously selected the next ratio and you're realizing that the gauge cluster is vomiting three-digit readouts at an alarming pace.

No Need To Talk Numbers
Perhaps in keeping with the "gentleman's express" vibe we get from the 2014 XTS Vsport, Cadillac didn't directly provide a 0-60-mph number. So until we can get some instruments on the thing, we'll speculate that the XTS Vsport will effortlessly crank out 0-60s in the low 5-second range.

That's a vastly quicker time compared with the run we measured for the standard 2013 Cadillac XTS and its normally aspirated version of the 3.6-liter V6. After all, the twin-turbo hardware brings three-digit gains in both horsepower and torque: 106 added hp and 105 extra lb-ft of torque.

Perhaps looking over its shoulder at this state of affairs, BMW hiked the output of the 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 in its 550i for the 2014 model year. It now generates 445 hp and 480 lb-ft, an interesting development given that Richard Bartlett, assistant chief engineer for the new Cadillac engine, mentioned that BMW's V8 was used as a performance benchmark.

With the 2014 upgrade, the BMW V8 makes 35 more horses and as Bartlett concedes, "They spank us on torque." Then again, BMW should have an advantage given the German engine's considerably larger size, something that isn't lost on Bartlett.

2014 Cadillac XTS Vsport

For All You Hydraulic Holdouts
Unlike the heavily revised V6, the chassis of the 2014 Cadillac XTS Vsport is largely unchanged. So yes, you're working big power through what intrinsically is a front-wheel-drive architecture. Typically, that doesn't amount to much fun, and adding another 90 pounds over the front wheels wouldn't appear to help the situation.

But we've already been convinced that the XTS's basic layout does not keep its handling from being responsive and balanced. More power is what the XTS needed, and its chassis and handling are in no way hurt by another 100-odd horses. In fact, the newfound power is a good fix for dealing with the car's tendency to understeer.

The 2014 XTS Vsport's standard adaptive magnetorheological dampers make for a deliciously supple ride, and the Vsport-specific recalibration does a better job of stifling body roll, one of the standard model's less endearing points. As with the standard XTS, there are selectable standard and sport modes, but even the Sport setting leaves the XTS Vsport softer than the 5 Series or E-Class. The big Cadillac's fancy dampers are by no means filled with Jell-O, though, and we reckon the overall state of tune perhaps is more day-to-day appropriate for all but the hard-driving customers.

Caddy, of course, chose to also make all-wheel drive standard for the Vsport (so far, about 40 percent of all XTS buyers choose AWD anyway), and without it the car surely would be no fun. Even so, the system at times struggles to properly channel the thrust, particularly on crowned roads, when pinning the throttle will force some wiggle through the steering wheel.

Even without that kind of prodding, you may decide you are getting more feedback from the steering because the XTS Vsport (and every XTS with AWD, in fact) is one of the few new vehicles you'll find still fitted with hydraulic-assist power steering. Seems the fitting of AWD doesn't leave enough room for the electric power steering setup the front-drive XTS gets as standard. We don't find any definable degree of extra feel or feedback from the XTS Vsport's steering, but it isn't a stick in the eye, either: The overall tune, progressive and reliable, has been reengineered for the Vsport.

2014 Cadillac XTS Vsport

The XTS Vsport's brakes, meanwhile, are not significantly altered or upgraded, and that's an area where it could have used some help.

Would You Buy It?
Despite a footprint that's generally in line with midsize competitors, the 2014 Cadillac XTS Vsport is considerably longer, a physical trait that tends to push it into the big-car end of the spectrum where the "sport" orientation is less emphasized.

Nonetheless, the XTS Vsport delivers up big-league engine performance, subtle styling (a unique grille and badges are the only changes) and a pleasant if non-aggressive balance of ride and handling. If you care, its fuel economy, a combined 19 miles per gallon (16 city/24 highway) essentially is dead even with V8 rivals.

Starting at $63,020 (including $925 destination), the 2014 XTS Vsport's base price is almost a $6,000 upgrade over the standard XTS with all-wheel drive. And while its base price is a bargain in the segment, the car we tested was a lick more than $70,000, which brings it right in line with its foreign competitors.

Cadillac's 2014 XTS Vsport isn't entirely a sport sedan and it might still be too much in the American-luxury idiom for some. If you're buying horsepower and torque, you're getting your money's worth, but if you're buying cylinders and badge, you won't be as convinced.

Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.

Comments

  • quadricycle quadricycle Posts:

    Cadillac sure seems to have a thing for BMW these days. The ATS is entirely targeted at the 3-series, and now they're pushing turbo sixes? Either way, I like it. I don't think that they need to be as driver focused as BMW, but bigger, comfortable cars with newer (heck, just not outdated) engines that produce good power just seem to fit the brand really well.

  • fortstring fortstring Posts:

    Vsport sure sounds vrroomy

  • noburgers noburgers Posts:

    When the old guys trade in their DTS they are going to be in for quite a shock! I did not see this coming.

  • jeffinoh jeffinoh Posts:

    Nice power. The car was already terrific. But I hate the grille. It's too many ideas in one. Doesn't seem to fit the opening. I'd have to run right out and get an aftermarket mesh grille. Oh, wait...at $70,000 I'd probably get cold feet anyway.

  • frank908 frank908 Posts:

    I appreciate what this car represents, but I am one of those people that at this price-point, I am not necessarily buying cylinders, but most definitely the proper drivetrain architecture to go along with power increase. The XTS-V and this engine against a German rival? No The 14' CTS-V and this engine against a German rival? I think yes.

  • bankerdanny bankerdanny Posts:

    "After all, the twin-turbo hardware brings three-digit gains in both horsepower and torque: 106 added hp and 105 extra lb-ft of torque.".....First, I was assured this site required no math....Second, I don't have the Cadillac's stock power numbers memorized, so knowing the marginal improvement doesn't tell me WHAT THE VSPORT'S POWER NUMBER ARE....and since the article doesn't give the actual ratings, after reading it I still don't know.

  • bankerdanny bankerdanny Posts:

    Sounds like it soundly thrashes the Taurus SHO

  • noburgers noburgers Posts:

    @bankerdannyu before the line in the blog about the power increase it says: And this isn't just any V6; it's a 3.6-liter powerhouse that develops 410 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. Those numbers are better than the SHO.

  • bankerdanny - The engine output numbers are given in paragraph 5: "And this isn't just any V6; it's a 3.6-liter powerhouse that develops 410 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. General Motors engineers borrowed heavily from the tricks they learned from cars like the supercharged 6.2-liter V8 in the Camaro ZL1 and Cadillac CTS-V." I missed these numbers myself the first time I read the article. This is a very nice car, but the long rumored rear-wheel-drive flagship can't get here soon enough. Only then will Cadillac have a large sedan that can compete favorably with the best from Europe and Japan (and Korea) without making any excuses. I like the sport grill and wheels. I think they complement the car and make it more tasteful. The additional performance is also impressive. I still don't think this car looks like a Cadillac though. If you remove the signature grill, headlights and tail lights, it does not quite look like it is in the same family with the ATS and CTS. The proportions are vastly different (I will refrain from saying that they are wrong). It is a very nice car, but we are waiting from the true flagship.....

  • tim_boo tim_boo Posts:

    If they were shooting for a BMW killer they missed! A nice car with more power, but still a front wheel car with some power going to the rear wheels. I think this car compares more to an A6 or S6. Interesting their real competior is the SHO and MKS twins which are not much competion. This car should sell well enough but is certainly a place holder till a real rear drive big caddy hits the streets.

  • bankerdanny bankerdanny Posts:

    @noburgers and engineer: yes, I see that now. I read it twice before commenting and somehow still missed it.

  • Speaking of Cadillac, I saw a black XLR last night (the retractable hard top was closed). All I could say is WOW! It could have been the Batmobile.

  • shatner shatner Posts:

    That is Fugly!

  • And also quite immature.

  • geipelizzy geipelizzy Posts:

    my neighbor's mom makes $80 every hour on the internet. She has been fired from work for six months but last month her income was $13650 just working on the internet for a few hours. more tips here www.Max52.com

  • jeffinoh jeffinoh Posts:

    I think Edmunds should just bill people the going advertising rate when they post these ads in the comments.

  • welshy3575 welshy3575 Posts:

    $70K for this car not a chance, when you can get the Chrysler 300C SRT8 with 470 HP and the handling to back it up, plus the Chrysler is gorgeous, this car is awkward looking. If you're smart you can get a 300 SRT8 for the low $50K range and use that extra $20K for whatever else you want. The Normal Chrysler 300C with the 5.7 Hemi is darn close to these numbers and that goes for the low to mid $40K range plus sounds much better.

  • jdominator jdominator Posts:

    I hate to say it but how can anyone think that a GM product is worth anywhere near $70,000. Just like dodge and it's Viper. What, they think they can compete with Ferrari now. How nuts!

  • rob204 rob204 Posts:

    Cadillac has been using BMW as a benchmark since the beginning of the CTS-V or earlier. Nothing new there. CTS-V, yes please. XTS--- pass, completely. There's better for less from Europe, Japan and... America! Plus, the CTS-V just KILLS this for literally about the same cost and is way bigger. Besides, all this TALK about "we're sure" means nothing. Test it, then talk it over, not the other way around... Until then, it's an also-ran and nothing more.

  • rob204 rob204 Posts:

    Also, @ bankerdanny. MT did test them and... the 2013 SHO weighs a bit more, is quite a bit larger, performed handling tests better(quicker figure 8, more Gs on skid pad) minus stopping(tested from 70mph vs 60mph), has a 365hp rating vs 410 and somehow ran 0-60 quicker, ran the 1/4 mile 1/10th slower, has a better economy rating, costs $20,000 less... Even the MKS costs less and offers more technology with essentially SHO performance. It looks like the ATS needs a CTS-V for testing purposes.

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The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2014 Cadillac XTS in VA is:

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