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Drew Dowdell

First Impressions: 2020 Cadillac CT5: Comments

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2020 Cadillac CT5-3.jpgThe Cadillac ATS and CTS didn't sell well.  They had great handling and a large selection of engines, but they were hampered by interiors that were cramped for the class and infotainment systems that could confound people.  Sedans are dying, Cadillac gets that too. That's why they are consolidating the ATS and CTS onto a single car called the CT5, released last week at the New York International Auto Show. Rumors have it that the CT5 will start in the mid-30s and Cadillac is insisting that, despite its size, the CT5 is aligned against the 3-series and C-Class. But in doing so, where does that leave the car? Could Cadillac be realigning their cars so they become the largest cars in a particular price class?  It would be a very traditionally Cadillac thing to do. There was a time when Cadillac would brag about having the longest production cars in its class. Even the original CTS was sized like a 5-series but priced like a 3-series.  More on that later. 

2020 Cadillac CT5-4.jpgI'm a lifelong fan of Cadillac.  I want to be excited about the CT5. While I do think the car looks handsome, it doesn't excite me like the CT6 does.  There is no one thing I can put my finger on, not even the black plastic triangle playing the part of a third window.  The car just doesn't command a presence as the CT6 does. And though the overall look of the front is handsome, I get flashbacks of Impala from certain angles. It does look far better in person than Cadillac's or my own photography show.

Inside, Cadillac has upped their game on the quality of the materials, but they phoned the styling in. As some readers have pointed out, it even appears as if some trim pieces have been repurposed from the CTS. There is a large tablet stuck to the dash for the infotainment system, which is thankfully no longer the old CUE system. It looks to be similar in function and layout to those found in GMC's trucks. I have found that system to work well, so I don't see any problem there. A large dial in the center console can control the unit as well, useful if you're wearing gloves.  Capacitive touch buttons have been replaced by real physical buttons. They are well weighted and feel substantial, indeed even Mercedes-like for the HVAC controls.    Cadillac took to heart all of the criticism over their gauges in the previous cars and produced a good looking set of round dials for tach and speedometer with a driver information screen between.  The seats are firm and supportive, getting into position is quick and easy, but they don't 2020 Cadillac CT5-5.jpgmatch the 24+ way seats that Lincoln is offering these days.  Rear seat room has improved dramatically over the ATS, though feels about the same as a CTS.  Cadillac's Precision Control Shift is there.  I've found it annoying to use, but it has a similar operation to the BMW gear control that many people like, so maybe it is just me.  I think Cadillac (and everyone else) should chuck the shifter knob on their cars and go to something more digital.  One piece of technology in the CT5 that I really love is Cadillac's SuperCruise.  I've used SuperCruise to drive from Pittsburgh to New York, roughly 350 miles, and I was only actively piloting the car for about 10% of the time. 

Engines in the CT5 seem to be introductory offers, but there is also room to grow. The base engine is a 2.0 liter twin-scroll turbo producing 237 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. That's a bit light for the class.  The optional engine is a 3.0 liter twin-turbo making 335 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque.  Both engines are mated to a 10-speed automatic with all-wheel drive optional. Both engines also have displacement on demand and can shut down cylinders to conserve fuel in light-load situations.  Cadillac has plenty of room to maneuver here with engines though. For future versions like V-Sport and V-Series, they have the 400hp version of the 3.0TT, or the 420hp 3.6TT, or the new 4.2 liter Blackwing when more performance is called for.  

Overall, this could be a very compelling car starting at $34,995 and being as long as a Mercedes-Benz E-Class. That's where the size issue comes in. Cadillac would have a hard time moving this CT5 if they price it alongside the same size German models. If this is going to be Cadillac's strategy, offer the biggest car for the price, then they need to drum that mindset into the heads of consumers. That takes advertising dollars.  Otherwise, they are just going to be repeatedly compared to vehicles outside of their price class and lose in every comparison test.  The CT6 being priced just $1,000 more than an E-Class leads me to believe this is what they are intending to do.   

Read other First Impressions from the New York International Auto Show below:

First Impressions: 2020 Hyundai Venue

First Impressions: 2020 Lincoln Corsair

First Impressions: 2020 Ford Escape

2020 Cadillac CT5-1.jpg

 

 


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Nice review but I’m still torn on the CT5 which I keep calling the CTS...

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Just now, Matt 967 said:

Nice review but I’m still torn on the CT5 which I keep calling the CTS...

I make that typo all the time. Auto correct switches it back to cts even when I get it right 

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Pricing is key for them.  If they price it like a Lexus ES or Acura TLX But have a better chassis and engine options, I think they can beat those cars.  They probably need this car to start in the $30s to give the salespeople a compelling reason for people to buy it.

And they do have to get away from the Germans with this one.

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This is Mary Barra's GM.  I doubt the CT5 will start much lower than $39,995

The CT5 competes with the E Class and the 5 Series, so pricing will matter but Cadillac does not quite have the brand equity of the E and the 5 to price above those two.  Now a Lexus GS should be the main price target of the CT5.

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55 minutes ago, riviera74 said:

This is Mary Barra's GM.  I doubt the CT5 will start much lower than $39,995

The CT5 competes with the E Class and the 5 Series, so pricing will matter but Cadillac does not quite have the brand equity of the E and the 5 to price above those two.  Now a Lexus GS should be the main price target of the CT5.

But the media people at the show I have listened to are being told by Cadillac that the CT5 competes with a C-class. 

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So Cadillac is saying that the CT5, despite the fact that it 5 Series size, is a 3 Series competitor? How does that work and how does that affect the past statements of there being a CT4 (which was supposed to be the ATS replacement)? What is real and what is not?

 

Also, I agree about the presence factor. The CT6 ( and the current CTS) both have it while this one a mixed bag. 

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5 minutes ago, surreal1272 said:

So Cadillac is saying that the CT5, despite the fact that it 5 Series size, is a 3 Series competitor? How does that work and how does that affect the past statements of there being a CT4 (which was supposed to be the ATS replacement)? What is real and what is not?

 

Also, I agree about the presence factor. The CT6 ( and the current CTS) both have it while this one a mixed bag. 

If they price it in the high $30s I guess it would compete with a Q50, 3-series, TLX, MKX, ES350, S60, etc.  Although the 3-series is a bit the oddball of that group.  

Really what Cadillac should say, it is a mid-size luxury sedan at X price, and not compare it to BMW.  

CT4 might be the size of today's ATS, but like $29,995.  Maybe it will be the size of today's ATS but with a CT6  level interior and cost the same as a CT5.  Who knows.  I don't get why the big car necessarily has to have the best interior, why can't the small car have the best interior and maybe they sell interior vs size and horsepower on CT4.  

Edited by smk4565

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I like the write up. It’s brutally honest. And I do like the holla. (Repurposing trim pieces) so thanks. 

I agree with a lot of what you said. I get the feeling you’re not awestruck by this car. And I’d bet almost no one else is either. 

I like the strategy of selling a larger car than the 3 series etc. this is an advantage that caddy fans would take to like you pointed out. I have a hard time believing this car will sticker at 35 for starters. Like Tesla would either. My reasoning. The XT4 is mostly all above 35k. And the CT5 should price higher.  And GM never keeps prices attractively low.  The current CTs if you look at the actual units at dealers they sticker 55k and up. I don’t doubt the CT5 May have a lot on the lot that is less than that.... I am guessing they will start CT5 at about 42k and up. Most xt4’s on the lot are mid forties for starters so I imagine most ct5’s on the lot will be 46-50k for starters. Maybe the ct4 is what will be 35k.  And will the ct4 have the same 2.0 engine?  Why two models? 

Styling and interiors is what Cadillac needed to solve to have high hopes with this model release and for their brand.  And I don’t think they have got it done here. It’s not a knockout or even a solid double inside and out. In the end I think it will drive well but I think this will be a market wallflower. Sad to say.  Needs a bit more base engine. Needed styling outside. Needed awesome interior (although the GM picture album you posted it looks awesome in those pics inside ).  Needs low price now just to hope to move these I think. Unless the 3.0 is cheap and popular.  My advice for Cadillac is get the incentivized lease programs going otherwise not a lot to go on. Give me a ct6 or another brand. 

Edited by regfootball
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shame they spent money on the interior this time because nobody's gonna be caught dead inside that fugly thing

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Wow, rear seat cushions are about as thick as cork drink coasters.  I hope the foam is plenty dense... chintzy.

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22 minutes ago, Drew Dowdell said:

@regfootball you're right, I'm not awestruck by this car. I have pictures of the ct6 on my wall in my home office. I'd never with the Ct5

I may grow to like the interior but the exterior will still take a long time for me, to warm up to. 

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4 minutes ago, ocnblu said:

Wow, rear seat cushions are about as thick as cork drink coasters.  I hope the foam is plenty dense... chintzy.

Good catch!

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2 minutes ago, ocnblu said:

Wow, rear seat cushions are about as thick as cork drink coasters.  I hope the foam is plenty dense... chintzy.

They probably had 20,000 rear seats that they bought for Malibus then cut production and never use the so they ended up in the CT5.  

This car may have some flaws, but we don't know the price yet, if it is like $37k, then this is Nissan Maxima money, which then this doesn't look so bad.

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 To the rear seats... How do they feel though? How does the material feel? Is the seating arrangement up to snuff? The video reviews I've seen say nothing negative about the rear seat. Also.. from what I saw.. the materials are carried over from the CTS.

Lastly.. pricing is to be between where the ATS was, $36K sedan/39K COupe and the CTS which started at $47K.. which means it will most likely be in the $43K range

 

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While the CT5 does not carry the presence of the CT6 and I will attribute this to the over kill use of the Coupe design plus shaving here and there, the bigger reason is public perception of cars which is dying as folks move to trucks and SUV/CUVs in replacement of cars.

Honestly, Cadillac could kill off a CT4, no need, just keep the CT5 and CT6 and upgrade the interiors and keep it best in class. Luxury does not need anything below the CT5 / low $30K to $20 K line when you have Buick and Cheverolet. Focus on world class with best ATP's.

Then pour the rest of the money into the CUV / SUV lineup and focus on EVs.

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Dfelt wants Cadillac sales to tank even further.  "focus on EVs" LOL indeed.

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1 hour ago, ocnblu said:

Dfelt wants Cadillac sales to tank even further.  "focus on EVs" LOL indeed.

One day, once Lithium Ion batteries are replaced with much better ones, the question will be, "Who wants a ICE car when a BEV is so much better and more convenient?"

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3 hours ago, ocnblu said:

Dfelt wants Cadillac sales to tank even further.  "focus on EVs" LOL indeed.

Sales cannot tank when they barely exist conservative padawan!

Cadillac has an opportunity to focus on quality with ATP over volume while they build superior EVs.

The whole focus here is that Solid State batteries which are moving from R&D into production by Dyson, Panasonic, Toshiba, Samsung, MIT - Ionic Materials have the benefit of doubling energy density in up to half the package size.

Example of this is the 200 kWh battery pack Tesla is putting in the Roadster 2.0 that is 310 miles of range, drops almost to half the weight and yet gets 620 miles of range with Solid State batteries and no rare earth metals.

Li_Ion_vs_Solid_State.png

There is also the advanced research that has gone on by PNNL here in the PNW that is using a Solid State Lithium battery as a mid step to the Crystal Polymer solid state battery that Dyson, Samsung and Ionic Materials are developing into commercial cells. 

The PNNL uses existing Lithium and unlike current batteries where cells start to decay after 100 cycles of fast charging, these new solid state Lithium batteries can handle 700 fast charging cycles before decay even starts. Far longer battery life than most are used to having and again without rare earth Cobalt.

https://www.machinedesign.com/motion-control/solid-state-batteries-evs-key-long-distance-driving

Toyota and VW both have moved into early production runs of their new Solid state batteries that also have the benefit of NOT loosing charge or capacity in extreme heat or cold. Right now their batteries can go from -50 to 212 with no degradation or explosive issues like a liquid Lithium battery does.

https://www.autoevolution.com/news/batteries-lithium-ion-or-solid-state-126772.html

Again, with Green energy, solid state batteries and much less maintenance, the future is EV for the bulk of society.

FOR ANYONE interested in reading on solid state versus traditional liquid Lithium, this is an excellent short read that covers it well. Current for where we are at:

https://www.lithium-battery-factory.com/solid-state-lithium-ion-batteries/

Best thing is Toshiba goes into commercial production this spring for their Solid state battery for cars where you get 320 Kilometers in 6 minutes. 

For those that can only do US standard is that equals 198 miles in 6 min, the large battery is 396 miles of range in 12 min. Range and recharge anxiety solved!

 

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What Tesla Roadster?
- - - - - 
Much like a new model's sales peak (because it's new!!), it might be prudent to watch EV sales going forward. Tesla's 61% sales collapse from Q4 to Q1 is not a mere blip.

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9 hours ago, balthazar said:

What Tesla Roadster?
- - - - - 
Much like a new model's sales peak (because it's new!!), it might be prudent to watch EV sales going forward. Tesla's 61% sales collapse from Q4 to Q1 is not a mere blip.

 

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16 hours ago, ocnblu said:

Dfelt wants Cadillac sales to tank even further.  "focus on EVs" LOL indeed.

And you want them to stay stuck in the past. You should have been born in the late 1800s so that you tell folks like Henry Ford and their ilk how no one wants gas powered cars when we already have a abundance of horses available. 😁

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^ Except internal combustion vehicles took off FAR faster than EVs have done over the last, well to be honest; efforts go back to the 1970s [if you push the whole early 1900s EV market off to one side].

RE the Tesla Roadster : I'm not seeing it on the Tesla site; available to build & price. Perhaps those vids were taken before Elon shot it into space. ;)

Edited by balthazar
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    • By Drew Dowdell
      QUARTER 4 (CALENDAR YEAR-TO-DATE) JANUARY - DECEMBER   2019 2018 %Change Volume   2019 2018 %Change Volume   Cascada 77 743 -89.6   2,535 4,136 -38.7   Enclave 10,143 14,420 -29.7   51,156 49,647 3.0   Encore 28,497 23,326 22.2   102,402 93,073 10.0   Envision 8,380 7,535 11.2   33,229 30,152 10.2   LaCrosse 463 2,118 -78.1   7,241 15,527 -53.4   Regal 1,514 3,110 -51.3   10,363 14,118 -26.6   Buick Total 49,074 51,257 -4.3   206,929 206,863 0.0   ATS 83 831 -90.0   1,134 10,859 -89.6   CT5 43 0 ***.*   43 0 ***.*   CT6 2,276 2,398 -5.1   7,951 9,668 -17.8   CTS 966 2,442 -60.4   6,965 11,219 -37.9   Escalade 8,889 9,573 -7.1   35,424 36,872 -3.9   XT4 8,895 7,573 17.5   31,987 7,785 310.9   XT5 11,168 13,582 -17.8   49,879 60,565 -17.6   XT6 7,169 0 ***.*   11,559 0 ***.*   XTS 1,062 5,063 -79.0   11,304 17,727 -36.2   Cadillac Total 40,551 41,462 -2.2   156,246 154,702 1.0   Blazer 23,008 27 ***.*   58,115 27 ***.*   Bolt EV 3,307 6,212 -46.8   16,418 18,019 -8.9   Camaro 11,474 11,135 3.0   48,265 50,963 -5.3   Colorado 25,484 30,004 -15.1   122,304 134,842 -9.3   Corvette 3,491 3,910 -10.7   17,988 18,791 -4.3   Cruze 2,699 32,955 -91.8   47,975 142,617 -66.4   Equinox 92,092 98,239 -6.3   346,048 332,618 4.0   Express 16,652 22,543 -26.1   77,457 81,239 -4.7   Impala 9,545 12,604 -24.3   44,978 56,556 -20.5   LCF 1,273 940 35.4   4,495 2,810 60.0   Malibu 34,314 37,084 -7.5   131,917 144,542 -8.7   Silverado HD 36,704 34,222 7.3   131,953 142,632 -7.5   Silverado LD 124,619 126,950 -1.8   438,686 442,943 -1.0   Silverado MD 2,018 6 ***.*   4,961 6 ***.*   Sonic 3,339 2,765 20.8   13,971 20,613 -32.2   Spark 11,016 5,174 112.9   31,281 23,602 32.5   Suburban 10,242 15,200 -32.6   51,928 60,633 -14.4   Tahoe 21,086 24,679 -14.6   101,189 104,153 -2.8   Traverse 33,631 39,536 -14.9   147,122 146,534 0.4   Trax 33,039 22,378 47.6   116,816 89,916 29.9   Volt 370 5,063 -92.7   4,910 18,306 -73.2   Chevrolet Total 499,404 531,985 -6.1   1,958,925 2,036,023 -3.8   Acadia 19,471 25,128 -22.5   99,429 88,621 12.2   Canyon 6,525 8,219 -20.6   32,825 33,492 -2.0   Savana 3,136 2,905 8.0   24,226 19,684 23.1   Sierra HD 18,228 16,550 10.1   59,871 60,389 -0.9   Sierra LD 50,494 50,762 -0.5   172,452 159,165 8.3   Terrain 28,060 31,595 -11.2   101,470 114,314 -11.2   Yukon 20,966 25,366 -17.3   74,673 80,784 -7.6   GMC Total 146,880 160,525 -8.5   564,946 556,449 1.5   GM Vehicle Total* 735,909 785,229 -6.3   2,887,046 2,954,037 -2.3                     78 selling days for the QUARTER 4 this year and 77 for same QUARTER last year.  
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