Sometimes it’s so difficult being special, just ask Cadillac.
Despite wowing editors with howitzer-like blasts of power, scientifically tuned exhaust notes meant to excite the senses and surprisingly strong fuel economy, the twin-turbo gasoline direct-injection V-6 masterpiece inside the ’14 Cadillac CTS Vsport misses a Ward’s 10 Best Engines award by a nose.
“Easy to drive sedately around town and gets good fuel economy,” observes WardsAuto World Editor Drew Winter. “But when you want it to go, wow!”
Rated at 420 hp and 430 lb.-ft. (583 Nm) of torque with peak highway fuel economy of 29 mpg (WardsAuto editors averaged between 19 mpg and 23 mpg [12.4-10.2 L/100 km]), the LF3 V-6 takes down some rival V-8s. And its 8-speed transmission with paddle shifters feels perfectly matched, giving the redesigned CTS sport sedan the perfect balance between luxurious drivability and race-track inspired performance.
The engine also deserves kudos for its unique design, where, similar to the LS9 small-block V-8, GM integrates the intercooler inside the V of the engine instead of mounting it remotely. That reduces compressed-air travel and turbo lag.
But doggone it, this engine is just too special. In the CTS, it sees installation only on top-of-the-line Vsport models. Even with additional availability in the XTS Vsport large sedan, this V-6 will account for just a fraction of sales at Cadillac, and judges like to recognize engines more broadly applied.
It’s expensive, too. Although a CTS with the as-tested powertrain can be had for $59,995, or $5 under the competition’s $60,000 price cap, the model we joyously flogged over 10 days in Metro Detroit started at $69,995 and as-equipped stickered for an eye-popping $71,090.
Hey, that’s the price of a Cadillac today, and for good reason. Cars such as the CTS are as good, under the hood and elsewhere, as any equally expensive model from Germany. But unfortunately, the combination of exclusivity and expense were too great a hurdle for even this beauty of engineering to overcome.