First Drive: 2020 Cadillac CT5 Blends Comfort and Sport

The luxury brand's newest sedan has numerous strengths, but it’s unclear what it competes against

2020 Cadillac CT5

Update: Since this first drive was originally published in February, 2020, we finished testing the Cadillac CT5.

See the complete Cadillac CT5 road test

Cadillac is reinvigorating its sedan lineup, starting with the CT5. This model essentially replaces the midsized CTS. It will soon be joined by a smaller Cadillac CT4. 

Right out of the gate, the CT5 presents a compelling combination of comfort and performance. It is slightly larger than the Audi A4BMW 3 Series, and Mercedes-Benz C-Class, and depending on the configuration, it can even be more expensive. Yet it doesn't quite align with the next larger class. Confusing the issue even more, the CT5 is a hint shorter than the now-defunct CTS, but it’s about two inches wider and has a roomier rear seat.

The CT5 comes in three trims—Luxury, Premium Luxury, and Sport—with the choice of rear- or all-wheel drive.

The standard powertrain is a 237-hp, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine matched with a 10-speed automatic transmission. The Premium Luxury and Sport versions can be had with a 335-hp, 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6.

More on Luxury Cars

The CT5-V uses a more potent version of that 3.0-liter engine producing 360 hp—a far cry from the 640-hp found in the outgoing CTS-V.

Standard advanced safety systems include Forward Collision Warning, city-speed Automatic Emergency Braking with pedestrian detection, and a safety alert seat that ties in with a driver attention monitor.

If you’re a Consumer Reports member, our initial assessment of the freshened Q7 is available to you here. We have put it through more than 50 tests at the CR Auto Test Center, including those that evaluate acceleration, braking, fuel economy, handling, car-seat fit, and controls. CR members have access to the full road-test results.

If you're not a member, click below to join and access the full review and all of our exclusive ratings and reviews for each vehicle we buy and test.

Our impressions below are based on the CT5 that we bought for testing.

Sign up for CR's Cars email newsletter so we can tell you when we post all of our latest road tests.

What we bought: 2020 Cadillac CT5 Premium Luxury
Powertrain: 237-hp, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine; 10-speed automatic transmission; all-wheel drive
MSRP: $40,695
Options: $11,830. Parking package (rear camera mirror, heated exterior mirrors, automatic parking assist with braking and pedestrian alert); all-wheel drive; Driver Assist and Advanced Security package (adaptive cruise control, high-speed AEB); sunroof; Navigation and Bose Premium Audio package; Driver Awareness Plus package (head-up display, auto high beams, Lane Keeping Assist, Lane Departure Warning); Climate package (heated and vented front seats, heated steering wheel); Lighting package (illuminating sill plates, front cornering lamps)
Destination fee: $995
Total cost: $53,520

CR's Take

The CT5’s place among compact sports sedans seems a little murky. Specifically, depending on how the car is equipped, we’re not sure how the CT5 will compete against the best from Europe. For example, load up a CT5 with options, and you could make the argument that the Cadillac is a BMW 5 Series competitor. Conversely, going easy on the options prices the CT5 closer toward competing with the 3 Series. Puzzling.

Still, the CT5 is quite pleasant to drive. While not as overtly performance-oriented as the CTS or ATS, the CT5 is still taut and agile. It also has much better controls than either of those two cars, and the interior is well dressed. We’ll know more when we complete our formal testing.