opinionated at any speed

Cadillac CT5 Premium Luxury

Wed, 11/25/2020 - 8:30pm

The CT5 is a new Cadillac, aimed directly at the BMW 3-Series, the C-Class Mercedes-Benz, the Alfa Romeo Giulia, Acura TLX and the many others of that ilk. It was conceived as Cadillac’s sports sedan, an important benchmark to the Young Executive demographic, and it hits that target not in the bull’s-eye but somewhere out near the edge of the 9-ring. 

Detroit is still focused on delivering price first. It believes that it’s good to be able to brag that your new luxury sports sedan starts at a low, low, $37,990, but the trim level that anyone would really want—the one that is (almost) luxury and sporting—starts at $43,000 and our car, with the full menu of add-ons, costs $56,795. And at that it’s not a top-end, 360-horsepower CT5-V.  

No, our CT5 Premium Luxury (isn’t that redundant?) has to get by with just 335 horsepower. It shares the V-model’s 10-speed automatic transmission, but our car gets all-wheel drive, which we always prefer. It’s not remarkably quick (and we can imagine what the base 4-cylinder CT5 feels like, with 98 fewer horses), but it’s quick enough, at least until the Europeans get out their stopwatches.

The Premium Luxury handles everyday driving crisply, but I suspect that a banzai run down a mountain road would call for the V-model’s adaptive suspension and limited-slip rear differential.

The Premium Luxury cabin is almost posh. Cadillac has gotten away from its chrome-plated plastic fetish, but there’s still the tendency (surely driven by the accounting dept.) to surround the nice leather and switches with plastic from the low-rent side of General Motors’ parts bin. 

There are gadgets galore, naturally. Many, such as the Driver Awareness Plus package, are nice to have; a few are just annoying. The electric door handles, for example, require more careful hand placement than ordinary mechanical latches do, and the electronic gearshift lever too can get bollixed up if the driver doesn’t move it precisely. (As Ferdinand Porsche supposedly liked to say, “Change is easy. Improvement is far more difficult.”) And, hey, no electric trunk lid? Well, at least it’s a looker. 

Silvio Calabi has been reviewing cars since Ronald Reagan removed the solar panels from the White House. He lives in Camden.