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.
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.
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.
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.
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Review I recently had this car for an extended rental covering nine days and 1200 miles, so I hope my review holds some weight. When I first got on the road in this Cadillac, I was thoroughly impressed and thought GM has come a long way since the last time I had regular use of another GM vehicle in the late 90's. This Cadillac had good power, good braking, decent handling and road feel. The HID headlights light up everything on the road, but get used to the flashing from oncoming cars thinking you have your high beams on. The 6-speed transmission is good but is no match to an 8-speed ZF transmission. The interior is very nicely appointed, but the infotainment/climate control is extremely cumbersome. Buttons would not register depresses or would be delayed. Adjusting the audio volume with buttons that had a delay couldn't be more annoying. The large LCD screen showed fingerprints all over and there is color banding if viewed thru polarized sunglasses. The hidden compartment behind the controls was too easily opened when inadvertently touched. The Bluetooth connection also intermittently would not play audio from an iPhone and would require an effort to disconnect and reconnect. Which leads me to review the worst design flaw of this vehicle: the "smart" key. The locking algorithm of the car allows the user to lock the key inside the car with no ability to unlock the car. I experienced this when I had the key in my hiking backpack, walked up and opened the trunk where I placed said pack and key inside the trunk and closed the trunk. Doing so, locks the trunk without alarm and does not unlock the trunk and/or doors. No other smartkey equipped car I've experienced would allow the user to do this, and I cannot believe GM engineers did not think of this all-too-common scenario. Even a 2007 Toyota Prius would unlock the cabin doors if it detects the user closing the hatch with the key inside the hatch. Overall, this was a nice effort by GM in producing a luxury vehicle to compete with the Japanese and German manufacturers, but it still misses in the fine details that make a good car a great car.
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What options are available on the 2014 Cadillac XTS?
Exterior Colors: Black Raven, Radiant Silver Metallic, Crystal White Tricoat, Sapphire Blue Metallic, Graphite Metallic, Silver Coast Metallic, White Diamond Tricoat, Red Passion Tintcoat, Crystal Red Tintcoat, Dark Adriatic Blue Metallic, Phantom Gray Metallic, Stellar Black Metallic, Bronze Dune Metallic, Black Diamond Tricoat, Deep Amethyst Metallic
Interior Colors: Jet Black leather, Shale w/Cocoa Accents leather, Medium Titanium w/Jet Black Accents leather, Jet Black w/Light Wheat Accents premium leather, Kona Brown w/Jet Black Accents leather, Very Light Platinum w/Dark Urban/Cocoa Accents premium leather, Caramel w/Jet Black Accents leather
Popular Features: Alarm, Audio and cruise controls on steering wheel, Auto Climate Control, Aux Audio Inputs, Bluetooth, Fold Flat Rear Seats, Leather Seats, Multi-Zone Climate Control, Parking sensors, Post-collision safety system, Power Driver Seat, Rear Bench Seats, Remote Start, Stability Control, Tire Pressure Warning, Trip Computer, USB Inputs, Upgraded Headlights, Cooled Seats, Heated seats, Navigation, Back-up camera, Keyless Entry/Start, Mobile Internet, Electronic Folding Mirrors, Blind Spot Monitoring, Lane Departure Warning, Sunroof/Moonroof, Apple Carplay/Android Auto, AWD/4WD, 360-degree camera, Heads up display, Upgraded Stereo, Adaptive Cruise Control, Pre-collision safety system, Rear Entertainment System