Cadillac is taking a bold gamble with the all-new 2020 CT5 midsize sedan. It replaces the groundbreaking CTS, which helped relaunch the company as a serious luxury car contender nearly 20 years ago, meaning it needs to make a big statement.
Fortunately, our test Premium Luxury version has a lot to offer, including striking exterior styling, the most user-friendly GM interface yet, a lot of rear seat room, available all-wheel-drive, and the optional twin-turbocharged V6 that pumps out 335 horsepower, giving it genuine sport sedan performance.
Best of all, it was priced at just $52,155, which is many thousands below comparable European midsize sport sedans. Although a more powerful and more expensive CT5-V version is also available, I think the 2020 Cadillac CT5 Premium Luxury is a smart buy for anyone looking for a serious but affordable luxury road car.
And if you're willing to settle for a less powerful base turbocharged 2.0-liter inline four and rear-wheel-drive, the base CT5 starts at a mere $36,895 with a host of standard features.
It's no secret that Cadillac has struggled since relaunching itself as world-class contemporary brand in 2000. The first models were praised for their aggressive styling and performance models, but faulted for their awkward interfaces and inconsistent interior materials. Company executives and even headquarter locations came and went, but the engineers apparently stayed focused on what deserves to be their best-selling car in years with the CT5. It's no coincidence the company is also boosting its performance image with its successful prototype sports cars competing in the IMSA Weathertech race series.
I personally liked the bold, angular exterior styling of the CTS sedan that was introduced in 2000. The new CT5 is toned down from that attention-grabbing design, but is still attractive enough to attract compliments everywhere I went. Cadillac says the new fastback design is inspired by its cars from the 1940s. It still boasts the trademark Cadillac grill and tail lights, and has just enough creases to keep all of the body panels interesting, especially at the rear end.
The interior is more sophisticated than the car it replaces, especially the well integrated 10-inch display screen that is part of the Cadillac User Experience infortainment system. The materials in our test car were all high quality, and the front bucket heated and cooled leather seats were both supportive and comfortable enough for long trips. Our test version also came with a wealth of upgrades — including a wireless smartphone-charging pad, blind-spot monitoring, driver-seat memory settings, and rear parking sensors — but also several packages that improved the driving experience, such as a Bose premium audio system.
In a week of test driving, I was repeatedly impressed by the smooth power of the twin-turbocharged V6. The 10-speed automatic transmission always seem to be in the right gear, and it accelerated briskly whenever I gave it a little gas — and more than briskly when I gave it a lot of gas, especially in Sport mode. Cadillac claims the Premium Luxury and slightly more expensive Sport model will go zero to 60 in under five seconds, and I have no reason to doubt it. If that's not good enough for you, the twin-turbo V6 in the CT5-V boasts 360 horsepower.
The ride was also impressive. Somehow the CT5 feels both light and solid, with a suspension that strikes the right balance between supple and firm. Unlike some European competitors that I won't name, I never felt punished driving on bumpy roads, of which there are a lot in my home town of Portland. The all-wheel-drive system never lost grip, no matter how aggressively I drove. Although I didn't have a chance to drive in the rain, I always recommend it if available for those who live in the wet Pacific Northwest.
Cadillac deserves credit for continuing to make sedans when some manufacturers are gambling all their chips on crossovers. The 2020 CT5 should be at the top of the shopping for anyone looking for a luxury sport sedan, especially the Premium Luxury version for those who appreciate value.
Base price: $36,895 (Luxury)
Price as tested: $52,155
Type: Midsize sedan
Engine: Twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 (335 hp, 400 lbs-ft)
Transmission: 10-speed with paddle shifters and manual mode
Modes: Eco, Touring, Sport, Custom
EPA estimated mileage: 18/25
Overall length: 193.8 inches
Curb weight: 3,660 pounds (Luxury)
Final assembly: Lansing, Michigan
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