2023 Cadillac CT4 Sport Review

Kyle Patrick
by Kyle Patrick

Love It

Leave It

Tidy dimensions

Lackluster cabin

Great driving feel

Options drive up price quick

Nothing else like it anymore

Lacks the brand kudos

Is it right to laud something simply for being the last of its kind?

Here at the precipice of Major Change in the automotive world, it can feel like every new internal-combustion model is its own end-of-line. The market’s last V8-powered compact sedan. A brand’s final manual transmission. Another marque’s send-off before an icon goes all-electric.

Even the Cadillac CT4 got its own superlative, as the vaunted CT4-V Blackwing (and CT5-V Blackwing) became the last gas-powered V-series models from the American brand. But even the whole CT4 family is unique: nobody else does a rear-biased four-door this small anymore. Does that mean even a 2023 Cadillac CT4 Sport, with the entry-level engine, is worth celebrating?

I’m here to argue that yes, yes it is.

What’s new?

Not much, if I’m being honest. Since the CT4 debuted as a replacement for the ATS in 2020, the small sedan has rolled along more or less the same. But we’d only ever driven the hot models: the torque-tactic CT4-V and the track-ready Blackwing. While many of the CT4’s competitors share similarly-sized turbo-fours in their engine bays—hello, Audi A3, Mercedes-Benz CLA, BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe—none send their power exclusively to the rear axle.

And, uh, neither does this CT4. Yes, this tester has the all-wheel drive option box ticked, splitting its 237 horsepower and 258 pound-feet between both axles. Adding AWD ups the weight (by 154 pounds / 70 kilograms) and dings fuel economy, but folks in the snowbelt might appreciate the added sure-footedness. Despite the name, the Sport trim doesn’t offer the option of the larger 2.7-liter motor found in the Premium Luxury, which is itself a detuned version of the CT4-V’s heart.

Buyers get that familiar, angular styling regardless of trim. The Sport presents a unique face to the world, with a subtler mesh grille, more pronounced chin spoiler, and various bits of black trim. Cadillac tops it off with a subtle trunk lip spoiler and handsome split-five-spoke 18-inch alloys. It's handsome, especially in this blue metallic paint with matching calipers.

Get to the good part

I had to put a lot of miles onto the CT4 across two days. It was a whirlwind tour: part torrential downpours, part perfectly clear skies. It did the entry-level luxury stuff well: a composed, comfortable ride, minimal noise intrusion, smooth shifts from the eight-speed automatic box. Set the adaptive cruise control—no Super Cruise, boo—move over to the right lane, and the CT4 gobbles down miles. A passing grade, then.

What elevates the Sport to honor student status is its attitude on backroads. Pop over to Sport Mode and the well-weighted steering gains an additional level of resistance. The transmission and throttle both become keener, providing a solid shove that belies the CT4’s quoted power and weight figures. It doesn’t sound great, the 2.0-liter, but a) none of ‘em do, and b) I never found it lacking for passing opportunities .Huck the CT4 into a corner and the sedan has a sweet balance. There isn’t enough power here to go hooligan, but that’s not the point: smooth, composed efficiency is. Play with the wheel-mounted paddles and the eight-speed responds quickly and accurately. Apparently this CT4 weighs over 3,620 lb (1,642 kg), but I’d swear someone applied a 10-percent discount.

And the brakes! The upgraded Brembo front setup is strong in power and feel, from the moment your foot brushes the pedal. I drove the CT4 the same week as the 2023 Nissan Z and that sports car could learn a thing or three from this “entry” sedan.

I pulled off surprising economy figures, too. The official figures are 22 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway (or 10.5 and 7.6 L/100 km in Canuck-speak). The combined figure is 26 mpg (9.2 L/100 km). I averaged 29.4 mpg (8.0 L/100 km); admittedly highway-heavy, but still better than the quoted figure for the rear-drive model. The Sport does drink from the premium pump, though.

Solid but unremarkable cabin

Don’t get it twisted: the CT4 isn’t a perfect proposition. For starters, that back row is tight, with less legroom than you’ll find in any of the Germans (but more headroom than all but the Audi). The thick C-pillars and small sunroof don’t help with any feeling of spaciousness, either. If you regularly need second-row space for adults, the CT4 ain’t it.

Material quality isn’t going to worry the folks in Ingolstadt or Stuttgart, either. The use of chrome and wood-like textures is nice and restrained, and the orange contrasts are a welcome touch in a sea of black. But the plastics along the dashboard and especially the door panels are a little low-rent. Same goes for the flimsy buttons dotting the center console.

I do like the supportive driver’s seat, which features 18-way power adjustability and kept numb-butt at bay even after six hours on the road. The digital instrument panel is great, too: not the flashiest of designs, sure, but crisp and no-nonsense, it’s about as timeless as a screen can get. The head-up display is useful, as well. I’d have to sample the regular sound system to know if the 14-speaker Bose setup is truly worth it; I don’t see a need for the native navigation it comes with, since smart phones exist.

The ol’ GM infotainment setup is starting to feel dated; even a prospective buyer commented on the size. But it works without issue, is still relatively speedy in response time, and accepts wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Every CT4 includes safety assists such as automated emergency braking, front pedestrian braking, a teen driver mode, and GM’s rumble-warning seat (so no intrusive cabin beeps). The Sport and Premium Luxury ladle on adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, lane change alert, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, auto high beams, and an upgraded automated emergency braking system. Super Cruise is available as a pricey ($3,700 / $4,290 CAD) option on those latter two trims, and requires a subscription. It’s still an industry leader, and unique in this segment, but that’s a big chunk of change.

Priced to move

In America, Cadillac kicks off the CT4 lineup with the CT4 Luxury RWD at $35,790 (including destination). The Premium Luxury is next at $40,690, and the Sport for $1,200 above that. The Premium Luxury 2.7L lists for $45,790. Adding AWD is another two grand.

Cadillac’s littlest sedan is an even better deal in Canada. It starts at $41,898, and the jump up to either Sport or Premium Luxury is just $3,700 CAD. The AWD upsell is $2,200 CAD north of the border.

This tester has a whole heap of boxes ticked that take its as-tested price to $52,865 ($57,943 CAD). My ideal setup would ditch the AWD, Nav-and-Bose, sunroof, and Satin Graphite wheels; it’d save $5,050 ($5,290 CAD) and still have more creature comforts than the dynamically similar (but even more cramped) BMW 230i I tested earlier this year. I’d sacrifice the supposed badge kudos for a better all-rounder.

Verdict: 2023 Cadillac CT4 Sport Review

It’s easy to look to the headliners for the end of the internal combustion era. But the 2023 Cadillac CT4 Sport proves there’s worth at the mere mortal end of the trim walk, too. So long as you don’t go checkmark happy with the options list—nor mind a merely meh cabin design—this is a stylish, fun-to-drive everyday sedan. Get ‘em while you can.

Become an AutoGuide insider. Get the latest from the automotive world first by subscribing to our newsletter here.

Kyle Patrick
Kyle Patrick

Kyle began his automotive obsession before he even started school, courtesy of a remote control Porsche and various LEGO sets. He later studied advertising and graphic design at Humber College, which led him to writing about cars (both real and digital). He is now a proud member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC), where he was the Journalist of the Year runner-up for 2021.

More by Kyle Patrick

Join the conversation