2021 Cadillac CT5 Review
  • Car Review

2021 Cadillac CT5 Review

By Chris Teague | May 28, 2021

Quick Facts:

Pros:

  • Sharp styling.
  • Infotainment improved over prior model years.
  • Powerful available V6 engine.

Cons:

  • Disconnected driving feel at times.
  • Visibility lacking in some directions.
  • Larger twin-turbo engine only available in top two models.

Vehicle Type: The Cadillac CT5 is a midsize luxury sedan with seating for up to five people.

Price Range: The 2021 Cadillac CT5 ranges in price from $38,190 to $48,990, including destination, but before options or taxes.

Powertrain: The Cadillac CT5 is available with two engines for the 2021 model year.

The standard mill is a twin-scroll turbocharged 2.0-liter engine that produces 237 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque.

The car is also available with a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 that makes 335 horsepower and 405 pound-feet of torque.

V-Series cars see 360 horsepower from the same engine.

All models come with a ten-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive, though all-wheel drive can be optioned in.

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Overview:

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Though many automakers have moved away from coupes and sedans in favor of building larger, more profit-heavy SUVs and pickup trucks, several companies are still forging ahead with new cars. Cadillac is one such brand, and is offering compelling upgrades to its existing cars for the 2021 and 2022 model years. The CT5 carries the torch as Cadillac’s sports sedan after the departure of the CTS, and while its hottest engine is reserved for use in the top two trim levels, the base four-cylinder cars still offer an upscale driving experience. Updates to the car for 2021 include a new Diamond Sky special edition package, an available 12.0-inch digital gauge cluster, and the addition of Super Cruise as an option.

The CT5 is offered in four trim levels: Luxury, Premium Luxury, Sport, and V-Series. Most models come standard with a 237-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, but a twin-turbo V6 is available, producing either 335 or 360 horsepower, depending on the model. All cars get a ten-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive is available over the standard rear-drive configuration. The Cadillac CT5 is aimed at new car buyers that want an upscale, sporty driving experience from an American sedan. It competes with the Audi A6, BMW 5-Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Genesis G70, and Lexus ES.

Overall Score: 7.3/10


Safety Features: 7/10

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The 2021 CT5 hasn’t been crash-tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), but it did receive five stars overall from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Cadillac holds back most advanced safety tech and driver assist features for added-cost options and higher trims. Automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection is standard, but features such as lane departure warnings and adaptive cruise control cost more.

Though some treat it as an autonomous driving feature, Cadillac’s Super Cruise is only a Level 2 feature, which means that it can handle steering, braking, and acceleration for the driver in extremely limited situations. The feature will be available for the CT5 after its launch.


Value: 8/10

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The CT5 is a premium vehicle, so premium pricing is expected, but Cadillac should have done more to equip the car with better standard safety gear. Many other vehicles come standard with a full suite of advanced driver aids, even at much lower price points.

Even without a ton of standard tech, the CT5 manages to keep a reasonable price all the way to the top of its lineup. The rowdy V-Series cars manage plenty of fun and a solid driving experience for less than $50,000.

The CT5’s MSRP helps it compete with German and European luxury sedans, many of which have price tags that can grow into the stratosphere with a few tech and performance options. Cadillac did a good job with positioning from that perspective, but there are better value picks from non-premium brands.


Tech Features: 7/10

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The CT5 comes standard with a ten-inch touchscreen, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth, a 4G LTE WiFi hotspot, HD Radio, SiriusXM radio, keyless entry/start.

Available features include a Bose premium audio system, a head-up display, a digital instrument cluster, a power sunroof, navigation, an automatic heated steering wheel, Cadillac Super Cruise, and wireless smartphone charging.

Older versions of Cadillac’s infotainment system were clunky and difficult to use, but the automaker has greatly improved its interface in recent times. The Cadillac User Experience (CUE) system in the new CT5 is smooth, colorful, and responsive, all of which makes it a pleasure to use when the car is in motion. When equipped with the optional head-up display, the system works with driver assistance systems to deliver timely and responsive alerts.


Practicality: 8/10

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The CT5 isn’t a small car, but its sloping roof can make entry and exit more difficult than it needs to be. That said, passengers in the back seat enjoy generous leg room, and the trunk is large enough to carry several bags or suitcases.

Interior storage spaces are plentiful and are located intuitively for small items like cell phones and purses.

The CT5’s available all-wheel drive makes it an excellent year-round vehicle for people who live where the weather can turn nasty for large portions of the year. That, combined with more than decent cargo space and passenger accommodations should make the car a compelling choice.


Styling & Design: 7/10

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The CT5 is sharp, inside and out, and oozes style. Its lines are clean, and serve to stretch the car’s profile, making it look longer and lower than it really is.

Inside, the CT5’s cabin layout is intuitive and comfortable, but there are more cheap plastics and hard-touch surfaces than there should be at its price point. The front seats are widely adjustable, allowing for a comfortable driving position, but outward visibility is lacking no matter the seating position.

The decision to mix in physical controls with virtual on-screen controls was a smart one, because the most used and most important settings can now be found with a physical button.

Higher trim levels get upscale accents inside, such as open pore woods and cool metals, all of which add to the CT5’s premium feel.


Driving Experience: 7/10

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Out of the box, the CT5 feels larger than it is, and the four-cylinder engine lacks the power to provide any real thrills on the road. The car is tuned for comfort, which shines through with more body roll and less precision in steering, especially at higher speeds.

The available 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine is a much more suitable companion for the CT5, and becomes even better in V-Series cars, where it gets an extra 25 horsepower. The ten-speed automatic transmission is smooth and finds its gears quickly, and the larger engine provides more than adequate boost for jetting around town or scooting up to highway speeds and beyond.

The V-Series car gets adaptive dampers and a limited-slip differential, both of which give the CT5 a legitimate and much-needed boost to performance and handling.


Fuel Efficiency: 7/10

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When equipped with the 2.0-liter engine and rear-wheel drive, the CT5 is rated at 23/32/26 mpg city/hwy/combined. All-wheel drive shifts those numbers down a bit, to 21/31/25 mpg.

With the turbocharged V6 engine, the CT5 returns EPA-estimated fuel economy numbers of 19/28/22 mpg with RWD and 18/26/21 mpg with AWD.

The CT5’s fuel economy is on par with others in its segment, but there are a few standouts. Innovative features such as active grille shutters help it eke out a few more mpg, but some competition does it better. The Lexus ES offers up to 44 mpg on the highway and the BMW 5-Series edges out the Cadillac by one mpg in some categories.


What’s it Going to Cost Me?

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The base 2021 Cadillac CT5 Luxury has a starting price of $38,190, which includes a $1,195 destination charge. Standard features include a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, a 10-speed automatic transmission, rear-wheel drive, keyless entry and start, Cadillac’s ride and handling suspension, automatic vehicle hold, an electronic parking brake, a 10.0-inch touchscreen, voice recognition, three USB ports, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, NFC capabilities, a teen driver mode, a nine-speaker audio system, SiriusXM radio, HD Radio, an SD card reader, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, remote start, dual-zone climate controls, 18-inch wheels, and automatic emergency braking.

The CT5 Premium Luxury starts at $41,990 after destination, and come standard with leather upholstery, four-way power lumbar supports, wireless device charging, rear park assist, lane change alerts, and blind spot monitoring.

The CT5 Premium Luxury can also be outfitted with the available V6 for a starting price of $45,290 after destination.

The CT5 Sport starts at $42,990 after destination, and comes with a mechanical limited-slip differential, leatherette upholstery, sport pedals, a leather-wrapped thick rim steering wheel, 19-inch wheels, black exterior trim, and an LED reflective windshield collision alert system.

The CT5 V-Series starts at $48,990 after destination, and comes standard with a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6, magnetic ride control, performance suspension, an electronic limited-slip differential, 19-inch wheels with summer tires, forward collision alerts, front pedestrian braking, rear cross-traffic alerts, a safety alert seat system, and a rear seat reminder system.

If it were our money buying a new CT5 today, we would opt for the mid-level Premium Luxury trim with all-wheel drive. Even with the smaller engine, the Premium Luxury trim adds desirable features like leather upholstery and blind spot monitors. The trim also keeps the price at a reasonable level.


More Photos

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