Cadillac's 2014 CTS. Photo: General Motors.

General Motors (NYSE:GM) is about to close the ugliest and darkest chapter of its history book, just as soon as the U.S. Treasury dumps its remaining shares in the company. By year's end, GM plans to once again return to investment grade, and in its best financial shape in more than a decade.

GM also has another bright spot this year: Its Cadillac lineup has surged 38% year to date -- its best YTD increase in nearly four decades. Its success is driven by new Cadillac models ATS, CTS, and XTS. Let's look at the 2014 CTS and see what it brings to the table for consumers and investors alike.

Overview and exterior
Typically the CTS has been Cadillac's hero, but last year's introduction of the ATS gives Cadillac a sidekick to its all-new 2014 CTS due out this October.

"CTS has always been Cadillac's centerpiece, and as our brand expands and elevates, the car properly grows to its true place," said David Leone, CTS executive chief engineer, in a press release. "With last year's addition of the award-winning ATS compact luxury sedan, CTS will directly challenge the luxury midsize competition with uncompromised performance, luxury, and technology."

Looking at some of the new tweaks and upgrades in the next-generation CTS, it's clear Cadillac is putting its money where its mouth is -- but it will ask you to pay up roughly $6,000 more for the new model, according to Automotive News.

It's going to offer more interior space, power, and technology, while the new exterior design becomes longer, lower, and leaner. While the vehicle itself gets larger and roomier, it'll be on a strict diet and will shed about 244 pounds from its previous model -- expecting to be the lightest midsize luxury vehicle.

In addition to the weight loss, the 2014 CTS will be offered with a choice of three powertrains and two engines. One of the engines, a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder, will put out an impressive 272 horsepower and will go from 0 to 60 in 6.1 seconds -- 1.5 seconds quicker than its predecessor.

Cadillac's CTS also has a 3.6L V6 engine, and in its premium Vsport model package -- which contains the highest-performing components -- it puts out 420 HP. However, all that power and premium options bring a hefty price tag of nearly $60,000 -- roughly $13,000 more than the standard-version CTS.

All the CTS models will be equipped with Cadillac's prized "CUE" system for connectivity, featuring a large 8-inch touchscreen. Here's a tidbit that was music to my ears: The CTS will also come with a 13-speaker Bose premium audio system with HD radio capability.

Cadillac's 2014 CTS. Photo: General Motors.

Cadillac had me at "Bose system," but here's a list of other CTS interior features, according to a GM press release:

  • Cadillac's first 20-way adjustable front seats.
  • A motorized cup-holder lid in the center console.
  • Heated and cooled (ventilated) front seats and heated steering wheel.
  • Electronically locking glove box.
  • Electronic park brake.
  • Adaptive remote start feature that also activates the climate control system.

In addition to those minor features, it has a plethora of safety features and options. For example, the 2014 will be the first Cadillac to offer "Automatic Parking Assist," similar to Ford's (NYSE:F) feature that parks itself in parallel spaces. It also offers a "Driver Awareness Package" that has vibrating pulses in the driver's seat to bring attention to an imminent collision -- a patented feature. 

Investing takeaway
Luxury lines bring in a high transaction price and fatter margins than standard vehicles, and it's important to be able to step your loyal consumers up as their purchasing power grows over time. One complaint from GM investors is that the company isn't nearly as profitable as it should be for the globe's second leading automaker in sales -- and that looks to change. For investors, GM is an intriguing opportunity because it's years behind Ford in operating efficiencies and has a lot of room to run over the next few years in terms of profitability.

These two crosstown rivals have much to learn from each other. If Ford can take notes from Cadillac's success and apply it to its Lincoln brand, it will be a huge step for growing top-line revenues. If GM can apply Ford's efficient global platform and run its plants and operations at a high percentage of capacity, as Ford does, it will become immensely more profitable. If a hypothetical automaker had GM's top-line success, in combination with Ford's bottom-line success, the result would easily be the best automaker on the globe. Time will tell which company learns its lesson first, but both automakers present us with an incredible investment opportunity as automotive sales rebound in the U.S. and around the world.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.