Cadillac is Putting up the Good Fight
The Cadillac CT5 arrived last year, as a replacement for the CTS; a car that made great strides in being a true competitor to European luxury sports sedans. But now, only a year later, GM is updating the CT5. So, let’s see if it’s enough to keep it relevant in a world of shrinking sedan sales.
As one of the brand’s most sport-minded sedans, the 2021 Cadillac CT5 faces the unenviable task of both upholding Cadillac tradition, as well as going head-to-head against the top European luxury brands.
Attempting to win over buyers of European cars is nothing new for Cadillac. When MotorWeek first went on the air, it was the Seville that was handling that task. This bustle-backed beauty was way ahead of its time with an available diesel engine, power trunk lid, automatic climate, and even an electronic dashboard.
And ironically enough, an available 12-inch virtual gauge display is one of the CT5’s updates for ’21; along with next-gen Super Cruise, and a special Diamond Sky Edition.
Our test car was more shades of gray, dressed in Satin Steel Metallic. The CT5 is actually about 2-inches shorter than the last CTS, yet has 1.4 additional inches of wheelbase. That, along with a more coupe-like profile really improves upon the CTS’ look.
Standard engine, is this 2.0-liter 4-cylinder; its 237-horsepower is actually 31 less than the CTS’. Torque is down even more; 258 is 37 fewer lb-ft. But, if power is a priority of yours, a 335-horsepower twin-turbo V6 is available.
Both come with a 10-speed automatic transmission, and both engines can be optioned with all-wheel-drive; the CT5 does remain rear-wheel-drive based.
We rolled into Mason Dixon Dragway with our all-wheel-drive 2.0-liter, and found it quite eager to get off the line. Good low-end torque, and all-wheel-drive grip, make for a speedy drama-free takeoff to 60 in a respectable 6.7-seconds.
But from there, the transmission let us down. The all-important 1-2 shift took seemingly forever, robing momentum, and then constantly trying to catch up, hitting shifts right when you start making good power. Shifting manually with the paddles helped little. Our best ¼-mile time was right at 15.0-seconds at 93 miles-per-hour.
The total experience is adequate if not thrilling, which is to be expected for a base engine vehicle. And, it did feel very stable going down the track, despite some very strong wind gusts.
The CT5 is well documented for its firm street ride. So, we were surprised that it actually felt a little squishy in our handling course. Still, with traction control turned off, the CT5 really hustled through the cones.
As usual for us, we do wish for a little quicker steering, but the CT5 was quite enjoyable to toss around; with moderate understeer that was easy to balance out by toeing with the throttle. Overall a very pleasant sport sedan driving experience.
Like many of its rivals, the CT5’S luxurious interior looks polished and classy, with excellent materials, but without anything being over-the-top.
Premium Luxury trim sounds exotic, but it’s only one step up from base Luxury; and delivers appropriately to its name with plenty of soft leather, 14-way adjustable front seats, and metallic accents. Higher trim levels are more about ratcheting up the sporty aspects of the vehicle from there.
Unlike recent Cadillac mid-sizers and most European competitors, rear seat leg room is quite good here in the CT5.
We are even happier about the trend back to more actual buttons for routine controls, greatly improving the man machine interface. The standard 10-inch touchscreen works well and is visually appealing. Both wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard. In addition, a Navigation and Bose Premium Audio Package is available.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for a 2.0-liter with all-wheel-drive are 21-City, 31-Highway, and 25-Combined. So our 25.3 miles-per-gallon average on Premium was spot on.
That’s an average Energy Impact Score with yearly consumption of 13.2-barrels oil, with 6.4-tons of CO2 emissions.
Modest pricing is reason enough to keep Cadillac in mind when it comes to your next sporty luxury sedan, with base Luxury trim coming in at only $38,190; Premium Luxury, 3-grand more at $41,990, and even the higher performance V-Series starting at under 50K, at $48,990.
Despite a few ticks, we thoroughly enjoyed our time in the 2021 Cadillac CT5. It’s quite luxurious, has great amounts of space inside to make your family’s life easier, and it’s a bargain. But even all that may not be enough to give it a persuasive edge when it’s getting ever harder to get buyers to consider a luxury sedan in the first place. All four-door makers are facing that same tough task, and we’re glad that Cadillac is putting up the good fight.
Engine: 2.0L 4-cylinder
Torque: 258 lb-ft
0-60 mph: 6.7 seconds
1/4 Mile: 15.0 seconds @ 93mph
EPA: 21 City / 31 Highway / 25 Combined