2020 Cadillac CT4

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Cadillac is trying to keep the sedan’s head above water as a tide of crossover fever rises ever higher.

The rest of GM has already given up. Almost every car sold under the Chevy and Buick labels is no longer sold under either label – leaving almost nothing but crossovers, trucks and the Corvette, which – like the battleship Tirpitz in its fjord – holds a lonely vigil.

But not all is lost – yet.

Cadillac has several new not-crossovers on deck and just arrived, including the new CT4.

What It Is

The CT4 is the successor to the ATS sedan, which has been discontinued.

Like the ATS, the CT4 is a compact-sized, rear-wheel-drive luxury-sport sedan available with all-wheel-drive. Unlike the ATS, the CT4 will not be available with a V6. It’s been deep-sixed, like the Tirpitz.

But a new 2.7 liter four cylinder engine with “dual volute” turbocharging is available that makes about the same power.

The CT4 is also the first other-than-Tesla to offer full self-driving capability, which Cadillac calls SuperCruise.

Prices start at $33,990 for the rear-drive Luxury trim equipped with a turbocharged 2.0 liter engine paired with an eight speed automatic.

Premium and Sport trims are available, in both rear-drive and AWD iterations.

For those wanting V6 performance and four cylinder mileage, Cadillac offers a new 2.7 liter “Dual-Volute” turbocharged four cylinder engine paired with a ten-speed automatic. It produces 309 horsepower in the rear-drive Premium Luxury trim – which lists for $40,990 with RWD and $44,10 with AWD – and 325 in the highest-performance CT4-V, which also gets a limited slip rear differential and standard magnetic ride control.

It stickers for $45,490 with rear-drive and tops out at $46,590 with AWD

What’s New

The CT4 is an all-new model.

What’s Good

Less expensive than Euro-badged competition.

Good-looker.

Drives itself.

What’s Not So Good

Very cramped back seat.

Extremely small trunk.

Catch-22 driverless tech.

Under The Hood

The outgoing ATS came standard with a four and offered a V6. The new CT4 offers only fours – in line with trends away from bigger engines in favor of boosted engines.

The idea being to reduce gas consumption overall without reducing power on demand.

The standard 2.0 liter four with a twin-scroll turbo produces 237 horsepower and uses a  “dual volute” turbo that isolates the exhaust pulses of each of the  engine’s four cylinders, so there’s no lag in between each cylinder’s pulses. The idea being to not only match the power output of a larger engine without a turbo but also to match the immediacy of the throttle response of an engine without a turbo.

The 2.7 liter engine (which GM also uses in its 1500 series truck) makes as much as 325 horsepower (in the “V” trim) which is nearly as much power as the much larger 3.6 liter V6 that was optionally available in the old ATS – and less thirsty.

In part because it’s paired with GM’s new ten-speed automatic. This transmission has multiple overdrive gears on top, reducing revs – and saving gas.

Official EPA numbers weren’t available in mid-Feb. when this review was written but GM expects the 2.7-equipped CT4 to do much better than the ATS V6’s 20 city, 30 highway.

While still getting to 60 in the low five second range.

On The Road

The signature feature of the CT4 is the option to let the car drive itself. Engage the Super Cruise and take your hands off the wheel and your eyes off the road.

Of course, you’re not supposed to do that.

GM – like Tesla – says that the driver must always be ready to “intervene” when the situation demands it and should always be paying attention to what’s going on  – as opposed to what’s on the phone.

Which is fine – and responsible, given that self-driving tech isn’t infallible. But the temptation to leave the driving to the car is there – and probably shouldn’t be, so long as the driver is still expected to be responsible for driving the car.

It’s also at odds with the point of owning a sport sedan, which is supposed to be all about driving. It might be more fun if the self-driving feature had been programmed by a driver – someone who enjoys threading the needle, looking for openings – and exploiting them. But GM’s self-driving system is programmed by a Clover. Or rather, a lawyer. It is set up to accelerate saaaaaaaafely (read, slowly) and will not emulate the wheelman skills of Michael Schumacher.

It keeps pace with the ebb and flow. It slows down if the car ahead does. It maintains your lane. All the while, you’re supposed to pay attention – and be ready to “intervene.” Which makes the passenger seat the best place to be in this car, since you can at least text or take a nap without being guilt-tripped – or sued, if the car drives itself into another car.

Better to just drive the thing yourself. Which you’ll probably want to do, because it’s a snappy little thing – with the power going to the right wheels – and even though you can’t get more than a four, the optional four makes up for its lack of cylinders with almost-V8 torque (380 ft.-lbs. in the V) which is almost 100 ft.-lbs. more torque than the ATS’ optional V6 put out (285 ft.-lbs.) and it puts it out at 1,800 RPM rather than 5,800 RPM.

Without any lag.

Unless you’re stopped – and ASS has cut the engine off. Then there is a slight lag . but it’s not because you’re waiting for the boost to build. You wait a moment for the engine to start. It’s not a long moment, but it’s just as perceptible as turbo lag but far more annoying because it re-establishes what “dual volute” (and twin scroll) turbocharging has pretty much gotten rid of.

And for what? An ASS-addled car might go an additional mile or maybe even two on a gallon of gas courtesy of ASS. Who cares? A gallon of gas costs less today in real terms than it did back in 1965 and people who spend $40k on a luxury-sport sedan are probably not going to get excited over a 1-2 MPG gain when it costs them time and annoyance.

The CT4’s ASS is relatively smooth but that is like a relatively painless novocaine shot at the dentists. It’s much smoother to just leave the engine running.

And quicker.

If ASS were optional, it’s probable almost no one would freely buy it. That ought to beg a question which Cadillac – and the rest of the car industry – should be asking about ASS, instead of offloading a regulatory compliance annoyance onto its customers and marketing it as a “feature.”

GM’s magnetic ride suspension, on the other hand, is superb. It was originally developed for the Corvette, which gives you some idea. Like no-lag turbo-boost, it delivers that mesmeritic combination of track-day firmness and luxury-car compliance, in moment-to-moment seamlessness. The faster you drive, the firmer it gets. Dial it back, and the ride does, too.

At The Curb

Looks aren’t the problem here.

Space is.

The CT4 is a great-looking car that’s probably too small a car for many. Though it’s significantly larger on the outside than the outgoing ATS – which was 182.8 inches long overall vs. 187.2 inches long for its almost-mid-sized replacement, it’s just as small inside as its predecessor.

Leg (and head) room for the driver and front seat passenger isn’t a problem but the backseat has only 33.4 inches of legroom (slightly less than the ATS’ 33.5 inches) and headroom back there is almost two inches less than up front (36.5 inches).

That plus a 10.7 cubic foot  trunk makes this fun-to-drive sedan as impractical as a fun-to-drive coupe.

But with an extra pair of doors.

All trims come with a much-larger (8 inch) LCD touchscreen in the now-common “floating tablet” style on the top of the center stack. It’s easier to use than the ATS’ now-dated Cadillac User Experience system. But how long will it be before this system becomes dated in its turn? This is a generic problem with touch-screened new cars. We replace our phones and laptops every two or three years; maybe five at the outside – because the pace at which tech advances obsolesces tech at a rate that is unprecedented.

It is “no longer supported” – or it just stops working – and isn’t worth fixing. That’s ok with a phone or laptop that costs a a couple hundred bucks. But when it’s a car that costs $40,000 bucks?

GM says the CT4’s tech is designed to be updatable “over the air” – but the hardware will be fixed in situ.

The years ahead will be . . . interesting.

The Rest

One area where the CT4 is smaller that’s not a problem is its price. The car’s starting MSRP is almost $7k less than the starting price of the old ATS and even the loaded CT4-V starts out almost $20k less than the old ATS-V.

The ATS was  too small – and too expensive.

Its replacement isn’t as expensive – and that may just make up for its smallness.

And performance may be made up for in 2021, when a Blackwing version will reportedly become available. This one will resurrect the V6 – and turbocharge it.

But don’t expect it to be inexpensive

The Bottom Line

If you’re sick of crossovers (and FWD cars) Cadillac’s got something else for a change.

Got a question about cars, Libertarian politics – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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16 COMMENTS

  1. Nice review. I’m sure a competent car despite the economy airplane size back seats. But jeez whats there to get excited about here. Not the stylimg for sure or very likely the driver experience that wrap you up in semi-claustrophobic cabins. Eh well

  2. “and the Corvette, which – like the battleship Tirpitz in its fjord – holds a lonely vigil.” Excellent analogy!

    • so much effort put into killing fellow white christians. the world wars is when western civilzation came utterly apart, Now you have somalians stabbing little white girls to death in british parks and no one says anything

  3. What a boring piece of shit. Cadillac used to stand for quality AND advanced engineering. Cadillac built cars like my ’71 Eldorado Convert: 19 feet long, 7 feet wide with 500CI pumping 400 HP “because we can”. It’s the ultimate fuck you to the knee jerk libtards who even in ’71 resented “excess” (as they defined it). These shoe box underpowered cars for midgets are obnoxious desecrations of an American Standard: Unlimited luxury for the ones who wanted it and would pay for it.

    GM was all the better for making such cars. Ditto the Pontiac and Buick performance divisions. Same for Chevy Racing. All that engineering that went into cutting edge power, style, handling and sex appeal made GM a great company. Now it’s Government Motors and I became a Ford man. Fuck you GM. You could have been a contender.

    • Couldn’t agree more Auric. To me, Caddy should build a f’u 19ft long car again. The CT6 is very nice but way overprice for me and I think it’s stopping production soon. I was a fan of Park Ave’s and DTS’s, but that was before I learned about the difference RWD makes, wow, and it does.
      I am at least happy that these new CT4 and CT5 exists though. I will look/drive the CT5 but I’m already guessing that it will have the same ‘too narrow’ problem that chassis had when I owned an ATS.
      I was holding out hope that Chevy was gonna bring over the new SS in the long wheelbase version that the cops got, but it is gone now too.
      My family (once all GM) doesn’t own any GM’s anymore, except a beater farm truck.

  4. A four-cylinder Cadillac that looks like a Toyota? No thanks, even if I had the cash for one. Yes, I know about how much power the blown four-banger makes. It’s still no sale – if I were able to spend that kind of dough on a car I’d rather have a nice 400-500 cubic inch V8.

    • I agree. Unfortunately, I don’t think there is any big v8’s left except for the 5.7L and 6.4L in the Charger/Challenger/300. Even the mightly S-class now comes with a 4.0TT V8. I think BWM’s hammers are similar. ohh, GM’s 6.2L is great applied right, to bad they’re all in smaller cars. Ford’s biggest I think is the 5.0 in cars, but it’s pretty darn good.
      You can get the 6.4L in a charger for somewhere in the $40’s, pretty hard to beat.
      Reminds me of the mad max movie again “is that a v8?”

    • Wow, the Cadillac Cimarron III, no thanks, Government Motors. Originally a dressed up Cavalier, then a fancy Vauxhall, and now this. Hey GM??? Three strikes, you’re out!!!

  5. In this market segment, who can they possibly think is going to buy this car?

    Mid pack performance. Probably bottom of the barrel build quality and reliability. And laughably lacking in prestige. An optioned up Honda Accord offers more status. Recent small Mercedes are surprisingly cheap (in both senses of the word,) but still blow this Caddy into the ditch.

    The CT4 is the entry level luxury sedan to which no buyer will aspire.

    • Can’t say I disagree with you (for the masses). The new Accords look great and are bigger than ever, very nice. However, they are still FWD, and I personally will not own a FWD car. My wife won’t either, nor will my son, maybe my daughter would, but we are all currently in RWD vehicles.
      Same with the nice MB A-class, they are FWD.
      And I disagree with you that they/A-class blows the caddy into the ditch, if you mean by performance, I’ve driven both. The A-class is no performance sedan w/FWD. C and E class are but only with up trimmed engines, but they are more expensive than these caddys now. And if you push the RWD MB with AWD, as most of them have, they suffer greatly, I’ve done it.
      I have my reservations about the CT4/5 and older ATS/CTS, but they handle and perform better than most (w the better 3.0TT engine). I am no fan of any 4cyl, but all of them have them now and they are just to keep up with the Jone’s and try and meet CAFE.
      BTW, I priced out a CT5-V with the 3.0TT pretty loaded up and it came in at $54K, not bad compared to what it used to be. And I would easily say it would be better than my wife’s old E350 that was $56K 4 years ago.
      IMO, if GM/Caddy hasn’t lost too much of their faithful already, these new CT4/5’s will do well for them.

      • sorry, mistake above, I priced up what they call the Premium Luxury which is now avail. with the 3.0TT, which is a big improvement over the CTS options before.
        The CT5-V is not much more, I think $58?

        • Chris, I respect your strong preference for RWD, and unwillingness to own a FWD. Similarly, I would never own a car with CVT.

          But let me re-state my original point……if you were in the market for a four door entry level luxury sedan priced between $55K and $60K, is this Caddy the one you would end up buying…..really?? I doubt that many others will either.

          • Your are correct Mike, most will not buy the caddy, however I think the new units with a much lower price will attract some old faithfulls. Just the fact that you can now get a decent engine (3.0TT) in a lower trim level now has got me interested at least to look at them, and the V (would have been called V-sport prior) is so much less expensive, it’s not that much a stretch. Granted I don’t like the turbo issue either, but as mentioned before, there are very few older school V8’s left on the planet (new).
            For 55-60 for the CT5-V I would probably buy it over the others, because most likely the others all are 4cyl. high strung turbo’s, so the caddy seems to have an advantage here. I would have to drive it first to see if they fixed the small cockpit feel the prior units had. And of course it would have to be avail. in RWD-only. They say they make one, but it is a rare bird to actually find one in the NE. And then becomes the other old GM issue of if you can actually order it. Barring all that, it’s still a stretch for me to spend 10K+ more than my current favorite ride, Charger/300 5.7 RWD-only (BTW still non turbo, non DI). Time will tell.
            Thx.

  6. I am still kicking myself over not buying a 2007 CTS-V I looked at a few year ago. It was only $14K asking, low miles and mint.

    Now I can’t find one anywhere near me for less than $20k with many more miles on them.

    Really liked the simple 400HP normal aspirated engine and simple shocks. The newer blown ones are nice but the $500 shocks and over complicated engine is not for me. Plus the prices of them are insane.

    • The last CTS-V (2019) was $86K to start, and was a fire-breathing monster.
      I could never justify that much for that car. And at 86K there are many other better options, IMO.
      The new CT5-V is much more realistic for most buyers, at $58K to start, but it’s not the 6.2L fire-breathing monster, instead it has their pretty nice 3.0TT. They will sell a lot more of these than prior.
      So Caddy has numbed down the meaning of V, whereas prior, decent engined cars were called the V-sport.
      They’ve changed things, which isn’t a bad thing I guess? Some are saying if the fire-breathing monster comes out it might be a V-Max?

  7. Thanks for the review Eric. I am always very interested in anything that is avail. in RWD-only. As a current GM-hater, I have to admit I think Caddy did a good job on the new CT4/5. Especially lowering the prices, a lot.
    My first sedan in 15 years (always had trucks) was a used ATS rwd stick a few years ago, and man was that car fun and a joy to drive. Unfortunately, as you mentioned, it just wasn’t practical enough. “hey let’s take the ATS to pittsburg?” wife “aaaah no, how you gonna fit your son in the back when we get there”.
    I would then say someting smart like, screw him let him walk. hahaha……..
    And the minuscule trunk was made even smaller by me when I put a full size spare in the back cause it didn’t come with one, not even a donut. No way I’m driving in the NE without at least a donut.
    Does the CT4 have at least a donut now?
    How was the cockpit size? Another complaint of mine on the ATS was the cockpit literally felt like I was in the cockpit of a F/A-18, which is great when playing with it, but was not comfortable on drives over 2 hours.

    I am more interested in the CT5 and CT5-V (cause they are bigger, and a 3.0TT is avail!), as it looks like it also may be better than the CTS it replaces, and a lot less expensive as well. At least this could end up being an option if FCA gets rid of or drastically changes the 300/Charger.
    Thank you.

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