By Emme Hall.
In today’s auto market there is fierce competition in the luxury sedan segment. Audi, BMW, Acura, and Mercedes Benz – all are looking to get their piece of the pie. So what happens when an American automaker throws their hat into the ring? Today we’re looking at the 2014 Mercedes Benz E350 sedan and the 2014 Cadillac CTS to see which delivers the one-two sport luxury punch.
The CTS comes with a 3.6L V6, good for 321 horsepower and 275 lb/ft of torque, although there are two other engines available. Power goes to the rear wheels via an 8 speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. AWD is also available. EPA fuel ratings are 19 mpg in the city and 29 on the highway.
The CTS comes in 6 different trim lines: Standard, Luxury, Performance, and Premium. VSport and VSport Premium are also available but will be reviewed separately. Our test model in the Performance line, featured heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, a heated tilt and telescoping multifunctional steering wheel, Bluetooth, iPod connectivity, satellite radio, the CUE infotainment system with a 8” touchscreen, back up camera, lane departure and forward collision warnings, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, the Cadillac specific vibrating “Safety Seat,” navigation, keyless entry and ignition, automated parallel parking, front and rear parking assist, and a sunroof.
Our tester also had the optional Driver Assistance package, which includes front and rear automatic braking, adaptive cruise control, automatic collision preparation, and automatic seat belt tightening. We also had the Performance Seat and Cluster Package, giving us full leather seats, sport front seats, and alloy pedals. All this was topped off with 19” polished aluminum wheels.
The Cadillac has an optional sport mode which noticeably tightens up the already precise and excellently weighted steering. Power is delivered smoothly through the 8 speed transmission, although the paddle shifters are located directly in front of the two accessory stalks, which was a bit awkward. Wind the CTS up and you’ll be rewarded with a growly exhaust that would scare your grandpa. At 245 pounds less than the 2013 model, the CTS is nimble on the curvy roads. It attacks corners with abandon, but still maintains its comfort levels and is quite easy and smooth while cruising on the highway.
The Mercedes Benz E350 gets a 3.5L V6 engine, knocking out 302 horsepower and 273 lb/ft of torque. Power goes to the rear wheels via a 7 speed automatic, but the 4Matic AWD is also available. EPA fuel ratings are 21 mpg in the city, 30 mpg on the highway. Expect slightly lower numbers in the 4Matic.
Our test E350 carried the Sport trim line, but it also comes in Luxury. The Sport trim gave us 18” wheels, a sport tuned suspension, sunroof, a multifunctional tilt and telescoping steering wheel, the COMAND infotainment system, Bluetooth, and iPod connectivity. You can add the Premium 1 package for a backup camera, satellite radio, navigation, heated front seats, and a 14 speaker Harman Kardon audio system. The Lighting Package adds automatic high-beam control and adaptive LED headlights. Tack on the Parking Assist package for a surround view camera, an automated parallel parking system, and front and rear parking sensors. There is also the Keyless Go package for keyless entry and ignition and a hands free power trunk lid.
Like the CTS, the E350 remains comfortable while still giving a sporty performance when called upon. Yes, the ride is firm but it soaks up bumps and potholes with ease. The steering is sharp if a tad light. The chassis handles directional changes well and one would have to push it rather hard through the twisties to get the rear end out of sorts. However, the transmission could be more responsive, especially in downshifting.
The 2014 Cadillac CTS in the Performance trim line starts at $60,100 but with our options the grand total was $67,130. The 2014 Mercedes Benz E350 starts much less at $51,900, but you need to add many optional packages to come close to what the CTS offers as standard, which can easily push you north of $67,000. It’s a close call here, but my money is on the Cadillac. While the two are equally matched in handling characteristics, the transmission is more responsive in the CTS. Plus I like the surprise of saying, “This ain’t your granddad’s Caddy!”