BY MARK MAYNARD
Cadillac has one foot on the gas pedal and the other on a power inverter as it transitions to the electric-vehicle division of General Motors. And on this threshold is the release this year the new gasoline-powered CT4 and CT5 sport sedans. Both new models replace two very competent sedans.
The new models are sized, equipped, and priced to conquest new customers in the Compact Luxury segment.
“We don’t consider these vehicles to be direct replacements for the ATS or CTS,” said Cadillac assistant brand manager Stefan Cross in an email. “As good as those vehicles were, we feel that the CT4 and CT5 elevate the drive experience in the areas most important to customers.”
Handcrafted cut-and-sewn leather is standard on the CT5. (Cadillac)
Cadillac CT5 Overview
The new models make a good statement for Cadillac. But they debut amid an industry-wide syndrome known as “It’s not an SUV.”
“Sedans represent a gateway to luxury for many buyers and with this new sedan lineup, we feel poised to draw new customers to the brand — in the U.S. and global markets,” Cross said.
The driver area is smartly designed for driver necessities.
Cadillac does have a varied line of SUVs in its compact XT4, midsize XT5 and three-row XT6 crossover. These models are scheduled for “freshenings” in 2023 and 2024 for the XT6. And then there is the brand-defining Escalade, which was redesigned this year.
It will be the 2022 model year before the debut of the first Cadillac-branded EV, the Lyriq crossover. It will be followed by the Celestiq ultraluxury sedan and a large SUV in 2023. Another extra-large SUV is planned for 2024 and another crossover is possible, according to industry reports.
The front seats are eight-way power adjustable with a manual thigh extender.
Cadillac CT5 Pricing
With so much attention on SUVs today, the Cadillac CT5 deserves recognition. It’s a head-turner with the fast lines and a sloped rear deck of a sport sedan, down to its distinct alloy wheels. The car looks rich and exclusive, especially in the tester’s Raven Black.
And it is priced right. The CT5 is sold in three trim levels with three turbocharged engine choices, in rear- or all-wheel drive. The entry model with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder starts at about $39,000 and the 3.0-liter V-6 starts at about $45,000; add $2,600 for AWD. And the mighty CT5-V, with a 360-horsepower version of the V-6, starts at about $50,000. Pricing includes the $995 freight charge from Lansing, Mich.
CT5 starting prices range from about $39,000 to $45,000.
Sizewise, the CT5 has about the same footprint as the CTS sedan. However, the CT5 rides on a longer wheelbase and is shorter by 1.7 inches. It is the same height (57.2 inches) but nearly 2 inches wider. Occupants will appreciate the wide front-seat shoulder room of 56.7 inches. And its curb weight of 3,660 pounds (rear-drive) is 97 pounds lighter.
The tester was well-dressed with the Platinum package ($8,330), and two driver-assist packages, topped out at $56,770. As equipped, it could easily be a car to keep for a decade, with updates to the software.
Cadillac’s new-vehicle warranty is four years or 50,000 miles bumper to bumper with a free first scheduled service (oil change and oil filter, and check-up). The powertrain is covered for six years or 70,000 miles.
At this posting, there was a $1,500 cash-back offer on a lease or $1,000 back on the purchase price. Current offers and incentives are
The shift console is a functional space with wireless charging.
The Premium Luxury tester has clean lines of contemporary design and a collection of desirable materials. For example, the standard handcrafted cut-and-sewn leather is applied to the instrument panel, doors, armrests, and seats.
Some of the plastic in the lower areas appears to be more Chevrolet than Cadillac, but the overlay of the Platinum package ($8,330) diminishes the effect. The package adds gorgeous-looking semi-aniline leather upholstery that feels supple but durable, with the potential of aging to a fine patina. The front seats are eight-way power adjustable with a manual thigh extender.
The driver area is smartly designed with good cup holders, charging ports, several areas for small-item storage. The 10-inch infotainment screen is easily viewed and used. The screen also has some exterior buttons and switches for temperature and AC controls, seat heaters and ventilation, and audio volume and tuning.
The front headroom is tall at 39 inches with the two-pane Ultraview roof. And legroom is long at 42.4 inches.
The shift console is a functional space with wireless charging, cup holders, and a controller dial to access infotainment and make touch-screen selections. The center armrest console has dual charging USBs, including a C-type. And a phone slot, which Cadillac calls a “shrine,” has charging cable access.
Sightlines are open at the side mirrors and over the shoulder. Entry height is comfortable and even feels somewhat elevated; at least I wasn’t staring into the taillights of the car ahead in traffic.
Especially useful is the HD 360-degree Multiview camera that gives views of the curb, overhead and forward; the backup view has guidance lines. The 39-foot turning circle is wide but not unwieldy.
18-inch Michelin Primacy all-season tires are self-sealing when punctured, but the tires can feel hard at Interstate speeds.
Cadillac CT5 Powertrains
The twin-turbocharged and direct-injection 3.0-liter V-6 has 335-hp and 400 foot-pounds of torque 2,400-4,400 rpm. The auto stop-start at idle can be switched off, such as in stoplight traffic when it can be annoying.
With 90 percent of the peak torque at 1,800 rpm, acceleration is without hesitation. Sport mode will sharpen the shift points without being overly aggressive. The 10-speed automatic rolls on with measured smoothness.
Official fuel economy ratings are 19 mpg city, 26 highway and 21 mpg combined on the recommended premium fuel. My driving averaged 16 to 30.2 mpg.
A buyer could save $3,500 with the turbocharged 2.0-liter, but it has just a slight fuel-economy advantage: 23/32/26 mpg.
The eBoost braking system has generously sized 12.6-inch rotors at the front, 12.4-inches rear.
The 335-hp V-6 has an eager 400 lb.-ft. torque. (Mark Maynard)
A “trigger” video recorder maintains guard should the car get bumped or worse while driving or when parked. The trigger recording activates all four cameras to record footage to a trunk-mounted SD card that can be later replayed on the CUE infotainment system — or downloaded to an external device for possible police review. And when the recorder is activated when the car is in motion, front and rear cameras also capture footage.
Drivers will stay connected and informed with Amazon Alexa and Apple CarPlay or Android Auto connectivity.
The 10-inch touch screen for the Cadillac User Experience is simple enough to access, but there are tiers of hard buttons for temperature, fan, seat heaters for quick adjustments. (Cadillac)
CT5 Ride and Handling
The cabin benefits from Cadillac’s three-step soundproofing, including acoustic sealing and a sound-canceling audio system. But there is still a little more engine sound that seems necessary at highway speeds with some grainy road texture on concrete surfaces.
The 18-inch Michelin Primacy touring tires (245/45) are self-sealing and have a high (hard) treadwear rating of 540, but their tread life should be relatively long (55,000 miles); there is no spare or inflation system for flats.
Standard driver assistance technologies include Forward Collision Alert, Low-Speed Forward Automatic Emergency Braking, and Front Pedestrian Braking.
The tester included two driver-assist packages that assisted without alarming alerts. Of use was the Following Distance indicator that works with a camera system and measures in seconds how long it would take to stop in an emergency.
The various camera and radar integrations are located behind the windshield, in the front grille, and behind the front and rear fascias. The roof-mounted shark-fin antenna holds the camera used for the digital Rear Camera Mirror.
All lights and lighting inside and out are LED.
The interior is rich in details, including an organic appearance to the wood trim.
Back Seat and Trunk Space
The back seat is one of the nicer spaces in the sedan segment, but its tall center exhaust-transmission tunnel makes it better for 2+2 seating. The sculpted seatback wraps gently toward the door for a bolstering effect. The legroom is relaxed at 37.9 inches.
The seatback can be folded for a modest pass-through opening to the trunk. And there are grab handles with coat hooks and a C-type USB for charging.
Back seat legroom is relaxed at 37.9 inches.
There is a low liftover to the wide opening of the trunk, which looks more spacious than its 11.9 cubic feet. Because there is no spare or inflation system, there is some underfloor storage space.
The CT5 trunk has a wide opening and underfloor storage.
Why Buy the Cadillac CT5?
Enthusiast reviewers lament that the Cadillac CT5 is not the performer that was its predecessor, the CTS. However, the majority of buyers drawn to the sharp styling of this Cadillac will value its luxurious features for a fair price.
Passenger cars are part of the Cadillac DNA, Cross said. “They draw new customers to the brand and allow us to build performance variants and appeal to our enthusiast buyers and fans.”
Cadillac hasn’t announced any EV or hybrid variants of the CT4 or CT5. But with all the new EV crossovers and sedans rolling out over the next few years, learnings from these current sedans will definitely be applied, Cross said.
By the end of the decade, most if not all Cadillac models will be all electric, Cross said. “In the meantime, we do see a prominent market for the CT4, CT4-V, CT5 and CT5-V (as well as their future V-Series Blackwing variants) in the U.S. and across our global markets.”
A long, 116-inch wheelbase and lengthened side glass accentuate the car’s long, low proportion and sweeping fastback profile.
2020 Cadillac CT5 Luxury Specifications
Body style: midsize, 5-passenger rear-drive luxury sedan
Engine: 335-hp, direct-injected and turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 with auto stop-start at idle; 400 lb.-ft. torque from 2,400-4,400 rpm
Transmission: 10-speed automatic
Fuel economy: 19/26/21 mpg city/hwy/combined; premium fuel recommended
BY THE NUMBERS
Fuel tank: 17.4 gallons
Trunk space: 11.9 cu. ft.
Front head/leg room: 39/42.4 in.
Rear head/leg room: 36.6/37.9 in.
Length/wheelbase: 193.8/116 in.
Curb weight: 3,660 lbs.
Turning circle: 39 ft.
Standard equipment includes: smart key locking and push-button ignition, 8-way power front seats with lumbar, HD rearview camera mirror, leather-wrapped steering wheel with paddle shifters, LED headlights and taillights, LED interior ambient lighting, LED lighted door handles, heated power-adjustable side mirrors with turn signals, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, wireless phone charging, 10-inch touch screen Cadillac User Experience, 18-inch painted alloy wheels, rear park assist (tones)
Safety features include: 8 air bags, rear cross-traffic alert, safety alert seat, forward collision alert, lane-change alert with side blind-zone alert, automatic emergency braking, front pedestrian braking
Base price: $41,690 including $995 freight charge; price as tested $56,770
Options on test vehicle: Platinum package, $8,330, includes massaging front seat lumbar, front seat manual thigh extension support, adjustable seatback bolsters, Ultraview sunroof, lighting package, semi-aniline leather upholstery, alloy pedals, Tapshift manual shift control, navigation system, and Bose premium audio package, climate package, parking package;
3.0-liter V-6 with auto stop-start at idle $3,500;
Driver-assist and advanced security package, $1,950, includes automatic seat-belt tightening, adaptive cruise control, locking fuel door, door lock and latch shields, locking wheel lug nuts, enhanced automatic emergency braking, reverse automatic braking, leather steering wheel with magnesium paddle shifters;
Driver Awareness-Plus package, $1,300, includes Intellibeam headlights, following distance indicator, 8-inch gauge cluster, lane-keep assist with lane departure warning, heads-up display
Where assembled: Lansing Grand River, Mich. Warranty: 4-years/50,000-miles bumper to bumper with free first scheduled maintenance; 6-years/70,000-miles powertrain with roadside assistance and courtesy loaner when serviced