2014 Cadillac XTS Vsport

Not long after bombing around the Milford Road Course in the new CTS Vsport, Cadillac invited me to try out its other new-for-2014 Vsport model: the XTS. And despite using the same twin-turbocharged 3.6-liter V6 from the CTS, the Vsport package takes on a whole new meaning here in Cadillac's softer flagship.

In the CTS, this trim perfectly bridges the gap between the standard models and the hardcore CTS-V, and is focused on being the best-driving version of the range without a standalone V badge. The XTS, however, has no proper V model, so the Vsport becomes the new range-topper for that line by default. But unlike the CTS Vsport, which uses rear-wheel-drive architecture and is focused on driving dynamics above all, the XTS is geared toward a much different customer.

The entire XTS experience is far more concerned with plush comfort than handling prowess, and while this Vsport model certainly ups the ante with more power and some mild suspension and steering tweaks, it's not exactly what we'd call a particularly engaging experience. But that doesn't mean it isn't good.

Driving Notes
  • Cadillac's new TTV6 engine is just as excellent in the XTS as it is in the CTS, though it's lost a bit of pep. In the XTS Vsport, total output is rated at 410 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque – decreases of 10 hp and 61 lb-ft versus the smaller, lighter CTS. Still, this engine represents gains of 105 hp and 105 lb-ft of twist compared to the standard XTS' naturally aspirated 3.6-liter engine, and this healthy bump in power is indeed welcomed.
  • Cadillac states that the all-wheel-drive, 4,215-pound XTS Vsport will run to 60 miles per hour in 4.9 seconds. (That's half a second quicker than a base Porsche Cayman, for reference.) And full-throttle acceleration run is accompanied by the deep growl of Cadillac's new twin-turbo motor – it's very much audible here in the XTS, much to my delight.
  • This added power makes the XTS Vsport an incredible highway cruiser, able to pass slow-moving semis with absolutely no drama, all while keeping true to the sedan's core values of being comfortable, quiet and solid on the road. I do the Detroit-to-Chicago run more times in a year than I can count, and the XTS Vsport would be an absolutely ideal pick for this sort of activity.
  • My afternoon in the XTS took me down some of my favorite local backroads – places I've tested countless cars before, and stretches of pavement that I know like the back of my hand. And while I think the XTS Vsport is generally a very nice luxury sedan, a sports car it absolutely is not. Even with the supposedly reworked suspension geometry, the car still floats around and rolls in corners, and the very much front-biased all-wheel-drive system still allows the front tires – Bridgestone Potenza P245/40R20s, for what it's worth – to wash out in enthusiastic cornering. Beyond that, torque steer presents itself when going hard on the throttle, again showing weakness of this AWD architecture. Steering feel is pretty poor, too, and though things are supposed to be better in Sport mode, all you get is added weight to the rack – no actual addition of linearity or direct involvement.
  • So it's not exactly a Vsport in terms of handling performance. Fine. This XTS is still far better to drive than the base model, with a slick-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission that's perfectly matched to the more potent engine. And even with the added power and torque, this XTS will still return 30 miles per gallon on the highway. Not bad at all.
  • Inside, it's the same XTS it always was, and that's fine by me. The seats are incredibly comfortable, the reconfigurable LCD display looks great, and the CUE system, while remaining frustrating and not incredibly intuitive to use, still offers a whole raft of technology and functionality right at your fingertips. The cockpit is very nicely appointed, wind noise and road noise are nearly nonexistent, and really, it's a fine place to pass the time.
  • Visually, the Vsport is set apart by its larger, 20-inch wheels, unique badging and a refreshed, good-looking front grille. That fascia treatment is a small touch, but one that works well and strikes me as a really thoughtful upgrade for this sporty-ish model.
  • Opting for the Vsport will set you back $69,095 – nearly $25,000 over the starting price of a base, front-wheel-drive XTS. Of course, you get a ton more in the way of standard equipment, as well as the awesome engine, but even fully decked out, this means dishing out over $70,000 for a fully optioned example like the one you see here.
  • That puts the XTS Vsport in a different competitive set – now playing with cars like a base Lexus LS or a loaded-up Hyundai Equus. And while those cars don't really offer any great shakes in terms of driver involvement, neither does this XTS.
  • So while this Vsport treatment isn't nearly as bonkers (or as good) as the CTS package, at only $5,000 more than a loaded XTS Platinum with the base engine, it's not a bad upgrade to have. This XTS is as comfortable and easy to drive as it ever was, and while the Vsport formula doesn't radically shake anything up, it's still a great addition to the range.