The premium division of General Motors’ is in the midst of a major transformation, and not just in terms of utility vehicles. That’s right, Cadillac is has actually developed new four-door sedans for a world that doesn’t seem all that interested in sedans.
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The CT5 and the smaller CT4 are both new, as are the seven-passenger XT6 utility vehicle and the king-size Escalade that’s due out later in 2020 as a 2021 model. Cadillac’s mostly new lineup constitutes a full-blown product revolution.
The CT5, which competes with similarly sized premium models from Germany and Asia (think BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Lexus ES), subs for the recently departed midsize CTS and full-size XTS sedans. The CT5’s contemporary styling is straight out of Cadillac’s latest playbook. Smooth noses and fenders and fastback rooflines have replaced big, toothy grilles and the edgy sheetmetal creases of previous models.
Compared with the retired CTS, the CT5 is about five centimetres shorter and wider, and provides an extra 2.5 centimetres between the front and rear wheels. The trunk volume is 20 per cent less than the CTS’s. That means a full load of passengers might have to pack somewhat lighter on road trips, but at least rear-seat leg and shoulder room is on the generous side.
The dashboard gauges, switches and steering-wheel controls are intuitively laid out and the 10-inch high-definition touch screen has a handy volume knob. The pistol-grip shifter isn’t as straightforward as a conventional lever, but it’s better than dials or buttons.
Propulsion choices consist of a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder that produces 237 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Available is a twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre V-6 that makes 335 horsepower and 400 pound-feet.
Spec out the performance-minded CT5-V and the V-6’s output jumps to 360 horsepower and 405 pound-feet, due to different turbos.
A 10-speed automatic transmission is standard for all.
All powerplants come with stop/start technology that automatically shuts off the engine when idling. There’s also cylinder deactivation that shuts down half of the cylinders at steady cruising speeds. Both features help fuel economy, which for the base four-cylinder is rated at 10.4 l/100 km in the city, 7.3 on the highway and 9.0 combined.
Rear-wheel-drive is standard, while all-wheel-drive is optional.
CT5 pricing starts at $42,000, including destination charges, for the base Luxury trim. Add $2,200 for AWD.
For that, buyers will get faux-leather seat covers, 12-way power-adjustable front seats, reconfigurable driver-information display and a number of active-safety technologies such as emergency braking.
The Premium Luxury model comes with perforated-leather seats, more exterior trim and additional safety tech (blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic backup alert are added).
The CT5 Sport adds carbon-fibre interior pieces, paddle-shift transmission controls, sport-style front seats, exterior rocker moldings, Brembo-brand front brakes and 19-inch wheels (18s are standard).
Along with the more potent twin-turbo V-6, the CT5-V, which rings in at $55,100, includes GM’s run-flat summer performance tires, launch control for quick off-the-line sprints minus the wheel-spin, and magnetic ride control that constantly adjusts the suspension for the road conditions.
Heading the list of options for most models is Cadillac’s Super Cruise. This system allows CT5 drivers limited hands-free capability on 200,000-plus mostly freeway kilometres in Canada and the United States.
To date, Cadillac’s success at competing head-to-head with its offshore-based competition has yielded mixed results, and with claims of parity sometimes falling quite short. Will the CT5, with its leading-edge design and content, be the brand’s best shot to date at getting back into the up-level sedan game?
What you should know: 2020 Cadillac CT5
Type: Four-door, rear- /all-wheel-drive midsize sedan
Engines (h.p.): 2.0-litre DOHC I-4, turbocharged (237)
3.0-litre DOHC V-6, twin-turbocharged (335/360)
Transmission: 10-speed automatic
Market position: To compete in the luxury-car field, automakers must offer current and prospective buyers a range of technologically advanced sedans with styling to match. This is Cadillac’s challenge and its opportunity with the CT5.
Points: New styling results in an attractive piece of eye candy. • Interior makeover is straightforward and conservative in appearance. • Range of turbocharged engines provides something for everyone. • Cadillac’s optional Super Cruise semi-autonomous driver assist is one of the most advanced systems of its type available.
Driver assist: Blind-spot warning with backup alert (opt.); active cruise control (opt.); emergency/pedestrian braking (std.); lane-departure warning (opt.)
L/100 km (city/hwy) 10.4/7.3 (2.0); Base price (incl. destination) $42,000
BMW 330i xDrive
Base price: $52,300
The gold standard in premium sedans is the one that other automakers shoot for.
Audi A4 Quattro
Base price: $48,300
Good looking and sporty AWD model can be had with up to 354-h.p.
Base price: $48,500
AWD Sedan, coupe and convertible offer plenty of style and performance.
-written by Malcom Gunn, Managing Partner at Wheelbase Media