The terrific new CTS sedan moves Cadillac one step closer to luxury dominance

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The 2014 CTS is an important car for Cadillac.

At the New York International Auto Show in March, Mark Adams, executive director of Cadillac Global Design, presented the sedan as the “next logical step” as “Cadillac is expanding and elevating as a brand.”

The first CTS brought rear-wheel drive back to Cadillac in 2002, an early flicker of hope that the brand could transform itself from the perfect ride for Jerry’s father on “Seinfeld” to something that could tear young buyers away from BMW and Audi.

That transformation has come along nicely. In the past year, Cadillac put two all-new sedans into the market, the sporty ATS and full-size XTS. It’s growing faster than it has in 40 years.

Now it has circled back to the CTS, the brand’s “centerpiece.”

The third-generation CTS is longer, lower, and lighter than the outgoing model. It’s also $6,000 more expensive — a sign of Cadillac’s growing confidence in its products and its plan to move upmarket. The base version of the CTS goes for $46,025.

We had the chance to drive a CTS with the 2.0-liter turbocharged four cylinder engine, as well as one with the 3.6-liter V6. We spent some time with the CTS V, the $59,995 performance version of the sedan, as well.

We have plenty of things to nitpick in each. And it’s still not clear if the CTS is on par with established market competitors like the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series, and Mercedes-Benz E-Class.

But here’s the bottom line: With the new CTS and CTS V, Cadillac has nailed another step on its long climb back to the top of the luxury chain.

Here’s the base version of the CTS. It’s lower, longer, and lighter than the outgoing model.

The styling is excellent (and well highlighted by the “Majestic Plum” color).

So is the “driver-centric” interior.

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