Cadillac has much riding on the all-new 2020 Cadillac CT5. This midsize luxo-sport sedan straddles the gaps left in the brand’s lineup by the demise of the ATS and the CTS, victims of the brand’s realignment of its models. Both were winding down in 2019, but the year before their combined sales represented roughly 45 percent of Cadillac’s car sales and 15 percent of its total sales.
The CT5 strategy was to create a buggy that could aggressively take on the European big boys, like the BMW 3 Series and the Audi A4. We would like nothing more than to see the CT5 flourish in that quest. The initial returns, however, are not promising.
Cadillac has seemed a bit lost of late. Like the hapless Cleveland Browns, it always appears to be in the process of rebuilding, always just a season away from championship form. The colossal waste of time and resources brought on by the schizophrenic relocation of its headquarters to New York City and now back to Detroit is a symptom of its somewhat rudderless journey. There are only so many deckchairs to rearrange.
A product of this corporate environment, the all-new CT5 landed with more of a plop than a splash. In gauging the already published reviews and impressions, the consensus suggests that the CT5 is good enough, but it doesn’t raise the bar or set a new standard. These reviews are riddled with gripes about the soft suspension and the so-so 4-cylinder turbo. We are of a mind that every sporty car doesn’t need to set some sort of record at the Nurburgring, but when your goal is to take a bite out of the 3 Series, you better build something jackrabbit quick and capable of carving a corner with Katana precision. The CT5 doesn’t seem to be it.
All the news isn’t bad. Appearing in the "plus" column is the fact that, in its normal guise, the CT5’s price is well below its in-segment competitors. Even the CT5-V’s base price is positioned below the high-performance versions of competitors. With its magnetic ride control and twin-turbo V6, the CT5-V does rise to the performance level of certain key competitors. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but we think the CT5 exterior styling stands tall against any of its rivals. It is one handsome machine.
The Cadillac CT5 is all new for 2020. See the 2020 Cadillac CT5 models for sale near you
What We Like
- Attractive entry-level price
- Available all-wheel drive
- Available V6 twin-turbo engine
- Stunning good looks
What We Don’t
- Unimpressive interior furnishings
- V-Series not up to historic performance standards
The CT5 is a rear-wheel-drive sedan with available AWD. Two engines pair with a 10-speed automatic transmission with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters to provide the CT5’s propulsion. The first is standard in the Luxury, Premium Luxury and Sport grades. It’s a 237-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine with stop/start. It generates 258 lb-ft of torque.
Government-estimated mileage in RWD models is 23 miles per gallon in the city, 32 mpg on the highway and 26 mpg in combined driving. Opting for AWD doesn’t cost much in fuel efficiency at 21 mpg city/31 mpg hwy/25 mpg combined.
The engine upgrade in the Premium Luxury, is a 335-hp 3.0-liter V6 twin-turbo engine, producing 400 lb-ft of torque. It delivers an estimated 19 mpg city/26 mpg hwy/21 mpg combined. Again, moving up to AWD has little impact on mileage at 18 mpg city/25 mpg hwy/21 mpg combined.
The CT5-V receives a retuned version of the 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6. In this application, the V6 makes 360 hp and 405 lb-ft of torque. In the past, V-Series models have boasted impressively bigger performance numbers. The CTS-V’s V6, for example, delivered more than 200 hp and 200 lb-ft of torque more than the V6 in the regular CTS models. The extra engine performance in the CT5-V, however, doesn’t have a significant effect on mileage. The FWD numbers are 18 mpg city/26 mpg hwy/21 mpg combined. Opting for AWD returns 17 mpg city/25 mpg hwy/20 mpg combined.
Standard Features & Options
Cadillac offers the CT5 in four grades: Luxury, Premium Luxury, Sport and V-Series. All exterior colors, other than white or black, will add either $625 or $1,225 to the bottom line. AWD is available on all grades. It’s a $3,090 upcharge on the Premium Luxury trim, and it adds $2,600 to the total price of the other three grades. All prices include the $995 factory delivery charge.
Well-equipped, the Luxury ($37,890) comes standard with 18-in alloy wheels, LED headlamps and Taillights, a capless fuel filler, an electronic parking brake, auto vehicle hold, push-button start, acoustic laminated glass, auto on-off headlamps, heated power outboard mirrors, Rainsense auto wipers, two 12-volt power outlets, eight air bags, dual digital driver information display, a 12-way power-adjustable driver seat, a 10-way power-adjustable front passenger seat, dual-zone auto climate control, an HD rearview camera, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, leatherette seating surfaces, a tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel, full power accessories, remote start, split-folding rear seating, Teen Driver, three USB ports, upper and lower active aero grille shutters, Bluetooth connectivity, Cadillac Connected Access capability, 4G LTE Wi-Fi capability, a 10-in color touchscreen, a 9-speaker audio system, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, satellite-radio capability, OnStar capability, automatic emergency braking, forward-collision alert and front pedestrian braking.
Premium Luxury ($41,690) adds outboard mirrors with integrated turn-signal indicators, a driver-side auto-dimming outboard mirror, illuminated door handles, ambient interior lighting, leather seating, 14-way power-adjustable front seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, lane-change alert with blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and rear-park assist.
The Sport ($42,690) loses the leather seating for leatherette, but its upgrades include 19-in alloy wheels, black Brembo performance front brakes, black exterior accents, a body-color rear spoiler, 18-way power-adjustable front seats and alloy sport pedals.
The V-Series ($48,690) comes standard with the performance-tuned twin-turbo V6, an electronic limited-slip differential, launch control, magnetic ride control, performance traction management, performance suspension, V-Series interior accents and an upgraded steering wheel.
Several options are available as stand-alones or in packages across most grades, like a head-up display, adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist with lane-departure warning, a navigation system, the Bose Premium audio package, Semi-Aniline leather seats, an UltraView dual-pane sunroof, blue brake calipers, a locking fuel door, reverse automatic braking, automatic parking assist and a lot more. Coming soon for selected models is Cadillac’s Super Cruise technology, a more comprehensive driver-assist technology that will help the driver steer the car.
Every 2020 Cadillac CT5 comes standard with eight air bags, including two front knee air bags, and the usual safety systems like traction control and stability control. Every CT5 also provides front pedestrian braking, automatic front emergency braking, forward-collision alert, an HD rearview camera and Teen Driver, which allows adults to engage customizable vehicle settings for younger drivers.
Premium Luxury and higher grades also get lane-change alert with blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and rear-park assist. Optional on upper grades are a head-up display, adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist with lane-departure warning and automatic parking assist.
No third-party agency has crash tested the CT5.
Behind the Wheel
Inside, the CT5 looks comfy and basically up-market. Although the instrument panel is well integrated, it is a wild riot of buttons and switches. The tsunami of plastic bits in the middle of the dashboard is daunting. We do like the fact there is an actual volume knob for the audio system. There are also convenient redundant controls on the 3-spoke steering wheel. Everything is driver-centric. Passenger accommodations are within the segment norm, even if the trunk’s cargo space is stingy.
On paper, the CT5 looks quite competitive. A quick glance at the 4-cylinder and V6 specs show them comparing well to the same offerings from in-segment competitors. But, that’s the issue: They are good enough, but they don’t dazzle. Although the CT5-V delivers a sharper suspension and more ponies under the hood than other CT5 versions, it isn’t the performance leap we’ve come to expect from V-Series Cadillacs. We simply don’t think the CT5 is going to coax many owners out of their European sport sedans.
Other Cars to Consider
2020 Mercedes-Benz C-Class — Here the 4-cylinder offers a bit more power, the AMG V6 offers a lot more power, and the V8 turbo, well, you get the idea. However, C-Class models are pricier than the CT5.
2020 Audi A4 — A beautifully crafted cabin is the big draw for this compact Audi. Its only engine offering is a 4-cylinder turbo that delivers less power than the CT5, but the A4‘s pricing is very close to the CT5’s.
Used Audi A6 — Still sporting Audi’s terrific interior craftsmanship, the A6 provides a larger cabin and a V6, in addition to a 4-cylinder engine.
Compared to its rivals, the 2020 CT5 is basically a bargain. In picking a trim level, we say buy what you can afford. Every grade provides a load of standard features. If we had the budget for it, we’d opt for the V-Series. Not only does it deliver more performance, but it also opens up the full range of CT5 options. Find a Cadillac CT5 for sale