Test Drive Notes Library
- Looks. This is certainly one of the best looking Cadillacs to come along in some time. The exterior is athletic and premium, while avoiding the extremism of Cadillac’s awkward adolescent all-angles era. It’s well-proportioned and nicely designed, with small overhangs and a modern, fast-back style slope at the back.
- Power. Our CT5 came with the optional 3.0 liter V6 turbo, which produces 335 hp (the base engine is a 2.0 liter 4-cylinder, 237 hp). It’s certainly plenty for this car — any car really. The smooth, 10-speed automatic transmission is invisible around town, but sometimes feels a little sluggish when asked to downshift suddenly, especially at highway speed.
- Handling. This is not your grandpa’s Cadillac. Cadillac has embraced European style handling, and so float is minimal and roadholding is good. The steering feels heavy, which would have made grandpa complain, but we won’t. In day to day driving, the handling is excellent.
- Interior. It’s pretty sumptuous inside. Granted, our CT5 came with an $8,000 “premium package” that included a bunch of interior upgrades. The options brought the overall price up to nearly $60K, from a base just over $40K. Get the 4-cylinder engine and cut back on a few extras, and expect to pay about $50,000. Regardless of engine, it’s also roomier inside than several of what Cadillac hopes will be its direct competitors; the Audi A4, BMW 3-Series, and Mercedes C-Class. Front seats, with the Premium Package, are very comfortable, and nearly infinitely adjustable. Rear seats passengers will find good room, except for those with updos.
- Most safety standard. As long as you avoid the base trim level, pretty much everything except highway-speed automatic emergency braking comes standard. You’ll need to order the adaptive cruise to get highway speed AEB, and order off the options menu for lane keeping assist and the head-up display.
- Improved infotainment. Cadillac’s Cue system was widely panned. Well, they’ve been working on it. Hard. First of all, the volume button is back. Praise be. And the infotainment interface is pretty much as logical as you’ll see anywhere now. You have the option of a rotary dial between the seats, or the ole’ fingers on the touch screen. A rotary dial that toggles in each direction would be one more improvements they could make. Apple Car Play and Android Auto are also options.
- Phone holder breakthrough. Upscale cars are increasingly adding wireless phone charging, which is great. No cables. But only Cadillac, so far, has created the perfect resting space for the wirelessly charging phone. It’s a small holder, slanted slightly backwards, sitting towards the front of the center console. It’s easy to see the phone should you need to take a glance, and more importantly, easy to notice it, so you remember to take it with you when you park. And it charges wirelessly without taking up all the space of a flat pad. Call the Nobel committee!
- Really clear rear view camera. In general, cameras and screens are getting better, but the CT5 provides a particularly large, clear view of what’s behind you when you need it.
Test Drive Notes Library
- Suspension not quite premium. Around town, the CT5 is both comfortable and sporty. It’s firm enough to be enjoyable to drive, and supple enough to absorb the worst of the road. But when we pushed it a bit, it seemed to hit its limits. Several times on the highway, when going over things like frost heaves, the CT5 seemed to nearly bottom-out. Putting it in Sport mode firmed things up, but not in a way we’d want to spend hours on a long trip.
- Engine sound. Like we said, there’s plenty of power. But the sound of the V6 is a bit coarse. That may be intentional by Cadillac, to add some “sporty” feedback to the experience. Or it could just a be coarse sounding engine.
- Mileage. Woofa.The EPA says you can hit 21 overall. We got 16.
- Small rear view mirrors. Cadillac went for style here over function, and the rear view mirrors look sleek and stylish, but are on the small side.
Get the Car Talk Newsletter