The Cadillac CT5, which was brand new for the 2020 model year, took the place of the CTS in General Motors’ luxury sedan portfolio. Its mission is the same as the car it replaced: compete on equal footing with the German trio of Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz along with Japanese brands Acura, Infiniti and Lexus. But it does so with a radically different package than the CTS. In place of the sharp corners and angular greenhouse of its predecessor is a smoother sedan with a flowing fastback shape. The new CT5 is also around $10,000 cheaper than the CTS it replaces, despite the fact that the two are within a few inches in exterior dimensions. So while it may be sized similarly to the cars it used to compete with, including the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class, it’s now priced like a 3 Series or C-Class.
Clearly, Cadillac thinks this refined strategy will position the CT5 to better compete against those established luxury players. The car itself drives quite well and is stylish, well equipped, and that price-to-size ratio gives it a unique proposition to attract buyers away from the Europeans.
What’s new for 2021?
The CT5 finally gets Cadillac’s Super Cruise semi-autonomous technology for 2021. It’s the latest version that includes Lane Change on Demand functionality, but it’s only available on Premium Luxury and V-Series trim levels. Caddy’s sport sedan also gets a 12-inch digital gauge cluster with multiple themes, including a Track theme on the high-performance CT5-V.
A new Diamond Sky special edition package will be offered on Premium Luxury CT4 and CT5 models, adding interior and exterior styling upgrades along with all-season run-flat tires on unique wheels. Additional updates include wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a console-mounted rotary infotainment knob that enables left and right clicks to more easily navigate the infotainment system.
What’s the CT5’s interior and in-car technology like?
The Cadillac CT5 interior can best be described as “nice enough.” Unfortunately, “nice enough” isn’t quite good enough to compare favorably with Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz or Volvo. We’d say it’s not good enough to compare with cross-town rival Lincoln, either, but they won’t be selling sedans in 2021. The overall design of the CT5’s interior is reasonably good, if evocative of previous-generation BMWs, but it’s let down by some noticeable cheap-feeling bits and pieces that feel like they came from one of GM’s non-premium divisions … because they literally came from one of GM’s non-premium divisions. By contrast, you won’t find Camry switchgear in a Lexus.
Cadillac has a brand-new infotainment system that will be launching in the new Escalade SUV, but the CT5 sticks with the brand’s oft-maligned touchscreen interface (previously known as CUE). As much as customers and journalists have complained about it over the years, the latest (and likely last) version found in the CT5 works pretty well. All the necessary functions are easy to find, and the touchscreen is quick and responsive. And if you really don’t like the interface, there are physical buttons for the climate control and a pair of dials for audio. We also like the redundancy of the large console-mounted control knob and the smaller knob under the screen, which are better at scrolling through lists, including on Apple CarPlay.
How big is the CT5?
At 193.8 inches long on a 116-inch wheelbase, the CT5 is a tad shorter overall than the CTS, but with a wheelbase that’s about an inch and a half longer. It’s bigger in every significant exterior dimension than the segment-defining BMW 3 Series. With the exception of 2.7 additional inches of rear legroom, which is a solid notch in the CT5’s favor, it’s about the same size inside. Four normal-sized adults ought to fit fine inside.
You used to be able to store a Buick in a big Cadillac sedan trunk. No longer. The tiny 11.9-cubic-foot trunk is easily the most glaring surprise of the CT5 spec sheet. The Audi A6 and Mercedes-Benz E-Class are in the 13-cube range, while the 5 Series apparently has 14.5 cubic feet. It’s even smaller than the trunks of subcompact sedans like the Kia Rio and Chevy Sonic. As we discovered in this luggage test, CT5 owners will find it much more difficult to fit all their luggage into the Caddy than its competitors.
What are the performance and fuel economy?
The Cadillac CT5’s standard engine is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that spins out 237 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. A 10-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive are standard on every CT5, but all-wheel drive is optional. Cadillac claims a 6.6-second 0-60 with this base engine. It delivers 23 mpg in the city, 32 on the highway and 26 combined with RWD. All-wheel drive knocks that down to 21/21/25.
The CT5 Premium Luxury offers an optional 3.0-liter twin-turbo engine that makes 335 horsepower and 405 pound-feet of torque. It returns 19/26/21 with RWD, while all-wheel drive knocks 1 mpg from the city and highway scores.
In CT5-V trim, the same engine produces 360 hp and 405 lb-ft. The more powerful version separates itself from the lesser model at around 4,500 rpm, and carries those extra ponies as it approaches its redline just past 6,000 rpm. With a time of 4.6 seconds, the CT5-V is 0.3 seconds quicker to 60 mph than the Premium Luxury. It gets 18/26/21 with RWD or 17/25/20 with all-wheel drive.