Another Step in the Reinvention of GM’s Luxury Brand
Cadillac continues to reinvent itself and refine its luxury product portfolio with a upscale set of vehicles that appeals to today’s luxury sports sedan buyer, and competes head to head with its European/Asian competitors like Audi, BMW, Genesis, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz. The Cadillac CT5 midsize sport sedan is its latest salvo in the battle.
What is the Cadillac CT5?
It’s a sport-luxury four-door RWD/AWD sedan that sits on a 116-wheelbase and is almost 194 inches long. Built on GM’s Alpha 2 platform that also provides the underpinnings of the Chevrolet Camaro.
The CT5 is all-new for 2020, replacing the Cadillac CTS. As part of Cadillac’s sedan consolidation, it sits between the smaller CT4 and larger CT6.
The CT5 has four trim levels–Luxury, Premium Luxury, Sport and the range-topping CT5-V. Pricing starts at $37,870 for the Luxury trim and tops out at a reasonable $48,690 for the CT5-V. Checking all the option boxes on the CT5-V raises the price to almost $65,000.
The mid-range Premium Luxury model is the version that Cadillac provided Clean Fleet Report for review, priced at $40,695. The base model is equipped with a 2.0-liter turbocharged I4 DOHC four-cylinder direct-injection high-compression engine that is rated at 327 horsepower (hp) and 258 pound-feet (lb.-ft.) of torque. It’s a good engine and can accelerate the CT5 to 60 mph in 6.6 seconds.
Our test CT5 came equipped with the optional 3.0L twin-turbocharged DOHC V6 motor that is a slightly detuned version of the V6 in the CT5-V. It’s rated at 335 hp and 400 ft.-lb. of torque vs. the CT5-V version that ups the hp to 360 and torque to 405. Zero-to-60 times for the V6 drop to about 4.9 seconds for RWD model and 5.1 for AWD. The CT5-V version drops another 0.3 seconds from its 0-60, but it’s hard to feel that slight advantage.
Both the four- and six-cylinder engines are available in either RWD or full-time AWD. The only transmission choice is the Hydra-Matic 10L80 10-speed automatic. This transmission was flawless with quick, seamless shifts, and was always in the right gear for every driving situation. Both engines also have Active Fuel Management, which is GM’s cylinder deactivation strategy. Depending on the engine load, the V6 would seamlessly switch to being a V4, with a resultant gain in fuel economy. According to Cadillac, fuel economy for the four-cylinder is 26 mpg combined, and 21 mpg for the six-cylinder CT5 and CT5-V. RWD and AWD were rated the same. Our V6 test car returned 26.5 mpg. Not too bad for an almost two-ton vehicle. [Ed. note: The CT5 AWD with the 2L engine is rated at more than 30 mpg on the highway so its in our 30 MPG AWD Club.]
How does it drive?
The 2020 Cadillac CT5 that I drove was the Premium Luxury model and was well-equipped with the $8330 Platinum package that included upscale seating, a full glass sunroof, paddle shifters, navigation, a great-sounding Bose premium audio system, advanced multi-zone climate system, heated and cooled seats and self-parking automation.
The four-cylinder engine upgrade along with AWD was $1,900 for the engine and $2,000 for the All-Wheel-Drive package.
The $1,950 Driver Assist package also included Level 2 autonomous driving and safety systems as well as the $1,300 Drivers Awareness package with LED automatic headlights along with an enhanced instrument panel and head-up-display. These options totaled $17,700 and brought the cost of the CT5 before incentives and destination charges to $58,400. This put the CT5 at about the same price as the top of the line CT5-V and is comparable to similar competitor’s offerings.
This CT5 had a great road-feel, very firm, but supple due in part to its ZF electronically adjustable shock absorbers, along with selectable driving profiles. There are two preprogrammed driving profiles, Touring and Sport, as well as individually selectable settings for steering, suspension and engine response. We found that we spent most of our time in the Touring mode during our trip from the San Francisco Bay area to Santa Barbara for a few days. The suspension features double-pivot MacPherson-type front suspension and a five-link independent rear suspension that contributed greatly to the firm road holding of the CT5. Even in Sport mode the CT5 never felt harsh or stiff. The Bosch electric rack power steering system could be a little stiff in Sport mode, but otherwise had great road feel and feedback.
The CT5 has exceptional soundproofing and a very slippery exterior that all but eliminates wind and road noise. The CT5’s exhaust can be set for stealth mode, or the “let’s make some noise” mode, when you bury the accelerator pedal. This car really shows its power with its on-ramp acceleration chops with quick shifts, and a gnarly exhaust note. Braking is firm with no fade; pedal feel was progressive and responsive.
A Sports Sedan with a Luxury Interior
The 2020 Cadillac CT5’s interior is world-class, easily as good as, if not better than, those from Audi and Mercedes. The CT5 I drove had very nicely fitted seats, done in Sedona/Jet Black motif with Opus semi-aniline perforated leather seating surfaces in a great looking tan, called Sedona Sauvage.
The seats were power-adjustable in just about every dimension with a heated, power tilt-telescoping steering wheel that had memory settings for up to three drivers. Both front and rear seating was very good, with plenty of rear seat legroom and adjustable HVAC outlets.
There were two displays in the cockpit, one for the driver and the other for the infotainment system, plus an additional HUD windshield driver display. While most of the CT5’s controls were on the screens, there were also lots secondary physical buttons that saved the driver from having to navigate through levels of menus. The CT5’s controls were mostly intuitive, still it took a few miles behind the wheel to feel comfortable about finding all the controls.
The Bose audio system included Apple CarPlay and Android Auto standard. The sound is augmented with DSP sound processing for a rich and deep sound, with great range that made any source a rich and immersive experience. Bluetooth connectivity and multiple USB-A/C ports were available both front and rear, and a wireless charging pad in the center console is a nice touch. The Caddy includes OnStar and Wi-Fi hotspot subscription services.
The CT5 had all of the critical safety systems that are becoming pretty much standard these days, including blind spot monitoring, lane departure and lane keeping assist and automatic high-beam LED headlights. Adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, forward collision warning and emergency braking are standard. Still, Cadillac follows GM’s strategy of making the more useful systems optional on most of the trim levels to present a lower vehicle base price.
The CT5 will have Cadillac’s Level 2 Autonomous-driving feature, Super Cruise, which is a hands-free driver assistance package that can steer, accelerate and brake a vehicle without a driver needing to keep their hands on the wheel. It is available through a subscription service, but our test vehicle did not have it installed.
A Head-Turning Exterior
The overall styling of the 2020 Cadillac CT5 gives it a very European presence with a sharp hood, short overhangs and a dynamic-looking roofline. Leading all of these design elements is the large Cadillac signature grille highlighted with knife-edge LED daytime-running lights along the front fender lines. The Cadillac DNA is part of the overall design in this Cadillac, but in the end, the design is quite striking and the CT5 wears it better that its larger and smaller siblings. While in Santa Barbara, admirers stopped to check it out, and all give it two thumbs-up.
There are four trim levels for the 2020 Cadillac CT5 and a variety of option packages. Visit Cadillac’s website for full specifications, pricing, and incentives.
CT5 Luxury: $36,895
CT5 Premium Luxury: $40,695
CT5 Sport: $41,695
Destination Charge: $$995
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
- Limited warranty – Four years/50,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty – Six years/70,000 miles
- Complimentary maintenance – First visit
Summing It Up
The CT5 is a significant vehicle for Cadillac, which is attempting to be a disrupter to the status quo in the midsize sports-luxury vehicle market.
Cadillac is coming from behind. With their future desire to be GM’s electric vehicle halo brand, it is unclear where this traditional internal combustion engine-based vehicle will land in GM’s product plans, but for now, the CT5 is a great example of a well-built and engineered sport luxury sedan.
If you are considering an Audi, Mercedes, BMW, Lexus, or Genesis, make sure you consider the CT5 as well.
To sum it up, the 2020 Cadillac CT5 isn’t your father or grandfather’s Caddy, it’s a genuine 21st century sports luxury sedan that stands shoulder to shoulder with any other brand.
Story & photos by Gary Lieber
Make sure to opt-in to the Clean Fleet Report newsletter (top right of page) to be notified of all new stories and vehicle reviews.
Related Stories You Might Enjoy—Our Midsize Luxury Musings
Road Test: 2016 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid
Road Test: 2018 BMW 530e xDrive iPerformance
Road Test: 2015 Infiniti Q50
First Drive: 2017 Jaguar XE
Road Test: 2020 Lexus ES 300h Hybrid
Road Test: 2018 Lexus GS 450h Hybrid
Flash Drive: Tesla Model 3
Road Test: 2018 Volvo S90 PHEV AWD
Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition, we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.
Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class, which leads us to emphasize electric cars, plug-in hybrids, hybrids and diesels. We also feature those efficient gas-powered vehicles that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at firstname.lastname@example.org.