For the first time, a version of the CTS hits a GM-estimated 30 mpg on the highway, when equipped with the four-cylinder turbo. It also gets 19 mpg in the city with rear-wheel drive, according to GM.
NEW YORK (AP) -- Cadillac wants the CTS to accelerate and handle better than a BMW. So it's losing a little weight.
The 2014 version of the CTS midsize luxury sedan is aimed squarely at the BMW 5-Series. It weighs 200 pounds less than the BMW 528i and 250 pounds less than the current CTS.
Cadillac's best-selling sedan needs the makeover. Sales fell nearly 15 percent last year, and the CTS lost ground to the 5-Series and the Mercedes E-Class in the important midsize-luxury segment.
"Longer, lower and leaner," were the mandates for General Motors designers in redoing the CTS, which is being unveiled Tuesday evening ahead of the New York International Auto Show.
The CTS' weight loss secret? Aluminum. The car has new aluminum doors and also uses aluminum in the bumper beams and the front cradle, which is part of the structure. Making the car lighter will help it feel more nimble when drivers compare it to the BMW. The new CTS weighs in at 3,616 pounds.
The third-generation version keeps the angular look of the current model, but the creases are less severe. The interior gets a more upscale, hand-crafted look with richer colors than the current models. Some of the inside door and dash panels can be swapped out by dealers to change the look of the interior. Dave Leone, Cadillac's chief engineer, said the new panels are engineered so they won't come loose and rattle. Dashboards and doors are often sources of interior noises.
"It naturally wants to nest in there," he said.
There's also a new CTS performance model, the Vsport, with a twin-turbo V-6 engine that can go from zero to 60 mph in an estimated 4.6 seconds. That should also help the CTS go after BMW, said Leone.
"They do a good job of blending power, luxury and performance," he said. "We want to do that even stronger."
In recent years, BMW and Mercedes have squared off for the lead in U.S. luxury car sales. Mercedes won last year, followed by BMW. In the middle-luxury line, Mercedes sold more than 65,000 E-Class models, followed by the 5-Series at about 57,000. Cadillac sold just under 47,000 CTS models, according to Autodata Corp.
GM executives hope the new CTS can team with the XTS large sedan and the ATS small sports sedan to help the Cadillac brand grow in that highly profitable segment of the market. Despite the debuts of the XTS and ATS, Cadillac sales fell 1.7 percent last year. At the same time, BMW and Mercedes sales each grew 14 percent.