Car Comparison

2016 BMW 5 Series vs. 2016 Cadillac CTS: Which Is Better?

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author photo by Doug DeMuro January 2016

If you're interested in buying a midsize sedan that combines sport and luxury, the 2016 Cadillac CTS and 2016 BMW 5 Series are on your shopping list. If they aren't, they should be, as they offer impressive performance, a lot of equipment and striking designs. Which one is better? To find out, we've created a close comparison of both models, but first, let's see what's new with the 5 Series and the CTS for the latest model year.

2016 BMW 5 Series

The BMW 5 Series is a rear- or all-wheel-drive luxury sedan offering an array of engine choices and high-tech options and features. It sees only minor changes for 2016, mainly limited to three newly standard features for the V8-powered 550i, including a Harman Kardon sound system, a power trunk lid and satellite radio.

2016 Cadillac CTS

The Cadillac CTS is a boldly styled luxury sedan with rear- or all-wheel drive. Changes to the CTS for 2016 include a revised infotainment system to add Apple CarPlay (and Android Auto, later in the year), along with an updated 3.6-liter V6 engine and a new 8-speed automatic transmission for the base-level 4-cylinder.

Reliability

According to reliability experts at J.D. Power, the 5 Series earns an average score for overall dependability. Although J.D. Power has not yet rated the CTS for reliability, Consumer Reports has, giving it a roughly average overall score, too.

As for warranty coverage, the Cadillac has a leg up, boasting 4 years or 50,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper coverage and 6 years or 70,000 miles of powertrain protection. In comparison, the BMW offers only 4 years or 50,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper coverage with no additional powertrain protection. That's a small advantage, but one that's enough to give the CTS a slight victory in this category.

Fuel Economy

Although the CTS and the 5 Series offer a wide array of powertrain choices, only a few are designed with fuel economy in mind. The CTS's base-level 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder is its most fuel-efficient engine, touting 272 horsepower and gas mileage ratings of up to 20 miles per gallon in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. Drivers who want more power can step up to the 3.6-liter model, which boasts up to 321 hp and 18 mpg city/29 mpg hwy.

Meanwhile, the 5 Series offers three different efficiency-minded engine choices. Base-level 528i models use a 240-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder, which touts up to 23 mpg city/34 mpg hwy. Offering slightly better fuel economy is a 255-hp turbodiesel 6-cylinder in the 535d, which boasts up to 26 mpg city/38 mpg hwy. Drivers interested in more performance can upgrade to the 300-hp 535i, which touts up to 20 mpg city/31 mpg hwy.

So, which is better? Although the 5 Series certainly trumps the CTS when it comes to gas mileage, it's worth noting that the Cadillac isn't too far behind. It's also worth pointing out that the Cadillac offers more power than the BMW while achieving similar fuel economy numbers. The BMW's real trump card is the 535d, which offers a great combination of gas mileage and performance.

Safety

In crash testing carried out by the federal government's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, both the Cadillac CTS and the BMW 5 Series earned a perfect 5-star overall rating. In testing carried out by the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, both the CTS and 5 Series fell short of the firm's Top Safety Pick+ designation after earning Marginal ratings in the firm's challenging front small-overlap test.

As for safety equipment, the CTS and the 5 Series offer just about everything you could imagine. In addition to the usual standard features (side-curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes and traction control), both models offer a blind spot monitoring system, a lane-departure warning system and forward-collision warning with automatic braking. The two sedans also tout an emergency communications system with stolen-vehicle tracking and automatic crash notification. The only safety differences are small: The Cadillac offers lane-keep assist (which you can't have in the BMW) and standard parking sensors (optional in the BMW), while the BMW offers night vision and automated parallel parking, which aren't offered in the Cadillac. As a result, we deem this category a draw, though drivers who want specific safety equipment may prefer one model over the other.

Technology

These days, modern luxury cars have to offer all the latest gadgets and features to earn successful sales, and the CTS and 5 Series are no exception. Both offer a truly amazing array of technology, from items like forward-collision mitigation systems to upscale audio systems, advanced infotainment systems with enormous center screens, available sport suspension and more.

Of course, there are a few technological differences between the 5 Series and the CTS. Notably, only the BMW touts the excellent night-vision system, which includes pedestrian detection to help improve your driving capabilities at night. Only the CTS offers GM's unique safety-alert seat and the excellent magnetic ride-control suspension that manages to combine both excellent cornering performance and luxurious ride quality. Only the BMW offers a rear-seat entertainment system.

In other words, although certain specific features are unique to the CTS or the 5 Series, we think most gadget-obsessed car shoppers will probably find what they're looking for with either of these cars.

Driving Experience

On the road, both the 5 Series and CTS feel like the most athletic models in this crowded segment. Both tout excellent handling with solid road feel and minimal body lean, and both boast highly assuring braking capabilities. While we prefer the refinement of the 5 Series' base engine to the CTS's 4-cylinder, other powerplants are highly comparable, right up to the new CTS-V and the monstrous M5.

But these cars aren't all about performance. Perhaps their best quality, in fact, is just how subdued they can be when you want them to be, meaning both models combine relaxed, commute-friendly luxury with back-road driving pleasure. If driving experience is important to you, it's hard to go wrong with virtually any version of the CTS or the 5 Series.

Autotrader's Advice

To us, the 2016 Cadillac CTS offers a few advantages over the 2016 BMW 5 Series. Yes, many items are roughly identical, like handling and performance, reliability, safety equipment and technology, but the CTS's base price ($46,600) is around $4,500 cheaper than an entry-level 5 Series, which starts around $51,000 with shipping, a price difference that continues up through both models' trim levels. We think the Cadillac also offers more modern styling compared to the BMW's aging design, and we love the CTS's available magnetic ride-control suspension. We admit this is a close one, since you can't really go wrong with either of these two cars, but our money would buy the Cadillac.

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2016 BMW 5 Series vs. 2016 Cadillac CTS: Which Is Better? - Autotrader