2020 Cadillac CT5-V Review: My Name is My Name
People are dragging his name through the mud on the streets, and in an expletive-filled tirade, he makes it clear he won’t stand for it. For Marlo, reputation is everything.
And so we come to the new generation of Cadillac V-Series cars. Listen to some so-called enthusiasts and they’ll tell you these are offensive machines; this 2020 CT5-V produces almost three-hundred horsepower less than the car it ostensibly replaces, the wild CTS-V. It sullies the name of a performance sub-brand, they’ll say.
But what if V itself is changing? Cadillac isn’t abandoning the ultra high-performance segment, that’s just the domain of the upcoming Blackwing models now. This new V has other, more common targets in its sights: the BMW M340i, the Audi S4, and the Mercedes-AMG C43. Has Cadillac done enough to earn respect in the highly competitive sport sedan segment? It’s got the looks, the performance, and the fun sorted—there’s just one Achilles’ Heel holding it back from running these streets.SEE ALSO: 2021 Cadillac Escalade Review: Ghost Protocol
Sharp new suit
You’ll naturally make your own mind up about the aesthetic changes that mark out the CT5-V from what came before. Overall, we’re fans: it’s a clean, uncluttered look from afar, and easily identifiable as a Cadillac. The blocked-off vents below the headlights and the fake exhaust tips are the biggest offenders from a performance angle. The rear is a little awkward too: the taillights point too many directions, and the trunk sitting proud above them makes the CT5-V look narrow from directly behind. The little step in the window line aft of the rear doors doesn’t do the sweeping fastback profile any favors either.
Despite those nitpicks, the Caddy is a solid-looking car. Gray cars can be boring, but this particular paint has an almost chrome-like look under late-day light, and lots of flake. A sharp set of 19-inch wheels helps bring it all together too.
What’s under the hood
|Engine:||3.0L V6 Turbo|
|Output:||360 hp, 405 lb-ft|
|US fuel economy (MPG):||17/25/20|
|CAN fuel economy (L/100KM):||13.8/9.4/11.8|
|Starting Price (USD):||$48,690 (inc. dest.)|
|As-Tested Price (USD):||$60,395 (est, inc. dest.)|
|Starting Price (CAD):||$51,898 (inc. dest.)|
|As-Tested Price (CAD):||$66,583 (inc. dest.)|
You’ll find no raucous V8 nestled behind the Cadillac crest on the nose of the CT5-V. Instead it’s a turbocharged V6, spitting out 360 horsepower and a stout 405 lb-ft of torque. That’s fully in line with the competition: slightly less ponies than the Germans, but more torque. The CT5-V offers something increasingly rare in the segment, however: the choice of either rear- or all-wheel drive, not only the latter. Our tester is the all-paw setup. No matter which drivetrain you select, a 10-speed automatic handles shifting duties.SEE ALSO: 2020 BMW 330i xDrive Review
Left to its own devices, the transmission sticks to the script of whichever drive mode is selected. It’ll shuffle through gears like a poker dealer in Normal, ever mindful of the all-important fuel economy. It’s too bad, then, that the CT5-V lags behind the competition on that front. The EPA quotes just 20 mpg combined for the AWD version (17 city, 25 highway), some ways off the 25 combined from the M340i xDrive. The Audi and Merc sit between them. Canadian L/100 km figures are 13.8 city, 9.4 highway, and 11.8 combined. We saw a much better 23 mpg (10.2 L/100 km), but we also covered predominantly highway miles during our week with the Caddy.
But you’re buying something in this segment with only a nod to fuel consumption, not a focus, right? The CT5-V’s engine is more than game for some fun. The V6’s wall of torque arrives early, helping it feel quick off the line. Power builds consistently across the powerband too, with a sound that’s more aggressive than you might expect. This is a sweet-sounding V6, and it will urge you to switch over to manual gear control via the wheel-mounted paddles.
The 10-speed responds well at speed, and holds gears for as long as you dare. Low-speed downshifts are occasionally jerky, but otherwise, this a strong powertrain with a broad range.
Balanced handling: more fun than frightening
All the better, then, that Cadillac has paired this peach of an engine with a fun, athletic chassis. Based on an evolution of the Alpha platform, the CT5-V is shorter than the previous CTS, but features a longer wheelbase. That goes some way towards explain the sweet dynamics, but by far the most important ingredient in the recipe is GM’s MagneRide 4.0. The magnetorheological damper system allows the CT5-V to remain relatively loose and limber when it needs to be, like cruising on a smooth highway. Head to a squigglier part of the map and the suspension stiffens up, with the system able to alter the damping rate of the shocks 1,000 per second.SEE ALSO: 2020 Cadillac XT6 Review
This makes the CT5-V incredibly comfortable regardless of road conditions. It also makes it friendlier, more approachable. There’s a good amount of weight to the steering, more than I’m initially used to in modern cars, but it gives you something to lean on in corners, something to trust. The Caddy flatters its driver, making it easy to drive quickly without biting back. Simply put, you’ll want to take the scenic route to the office in the morning.
It also offers a few different settings for things like stability control, throttle, and others. You can pick and choose from them, and set it all to a custom V setting via a button on the steering wheel. There’s also a very well-hidden launch control feature: you’ll need more taps than a maple syrup farm to set it.
Forgettable interior, but lots of features
Here’s the thing though: Cadillac has never really had an issue matching (or even beating) the pack on the dynamics front. Luxury buyers want a rounded experience, and it’s inside the car where the CT5-V starts to lose ground.
First, the good news: it’s a much better space than the CTS. The wheel looks and feels good, and the leather seats are supremely comfortable. The November weather was typically unpredictable—warm enough for no jackets one day, threatening snow the next—so the heated and ventilated thrones were much appreciated.
It’s just so dark in the CT5-V. (Even with the dual-pane sunroof.) Almost everything is black, save for the Bose speakers, some center console buttons, and the orange stitching. The HVAC controls are clearly laid out, so points for that, but they feel cheap to operate. It’s a similar story with the infotainment system: GM’s current OS is easy to understand and operate (yay!), but the fact it looks barely different between this and a Trailblazer chips away at the luxury feel of the CT5-V (boo!). And why, on a sport sedan, is the drive mode selector tucked behind the shifter?
Space for people is good up front and decent in back: legroom isn’t an issue, but the sweeping roofline makes it a tighter fit for talk folks. Space for peoples’ things is a different story: the trunk is just 11.9 cubic feet (337 L), and even though the rear bench is a 60/40 fold-down job, the pass-through is tiny.SEE ALSO: 2020 Genesis G70 Review
On the tech and safety side, our tester comes very well kitted out, with dual-zone climate control, the afore-mentioned heated and vented seats (though only for the front), an automated parking assist, digital rearview camera, and a 360-degree parking camera. Forward collision alert, automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-change warning, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert are all standard. Advanced cruise control is also equipped here: 2021 models will offer Cadillac’s hands-free Super Cruise system as well. It’s a lot of kit for less than $60,000—our tester rings up at $66,583 CDN, including destination—which goes some way to explaining the fine, if forgettable, cabin.
Verdict: 2020 Cadillac CT5-V Review
The Cadillac CT5-V is a good car. I know, that comes across as a little glib, but it’s true. It’s fun to drive while remaining comfortable, and it still looks like a Caddy. The interior may not wow like the German competition (or Genesis), but the CT5-V also offers an attractive starting price of $48,690 in rear-drive form ($51,898 CAD). It’s worthy of your consideration, especially if you’re not planning on shuttling adults around in the back seat regularly.
It may not have the headline-grabbing power figures of yore, but the CT5-V is a more well-rounded sport sedan because of it. And as Slim Charles would say, “the thing about the old days: they the old days.”
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- Sweet-sounding, torquey V6
- Well-balanced, playful chassis
- Good value
- Tight rear seat and trunk
- Poor fuel economy
- Interior lacks wow factor