Mountain Wheels: Sporty Cadillac CT5-V mixes power with wintertime all-wheel drive
I guess you got to be careful what you ask for when you ask for holiday gifts. This would have been a great spot to talk about the absolutely terrifying new Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat, a 710-horsepower monster to slay all monsters, but I got it with summertime racing tires Monday, Dec. 14, and the vehicle has mostly sat in a garage all week. You’ll hear about it further down the road.
Instead, I’d be asking for the Cadillac that was not the Cadillac we’ll be discussing today.
I would not blame you if you’d literally forgotten that Cadillac still makes regular cars, especially as the ATS/CTS/etc. model scheme of recent history really did get glossed over in North America by a zillion Escalades and midsize SUVs. In China, totally different story, but this is not China.
But we now have a new environment and some great hope on the horizon. This year got me time to drive two new Cadillac sedans: the attractive CT4, which the company hopes will bring back first-time, non-SUV customers, and then the more performance-oriented CT5. Neither was equipped with the new, largely self-driving Super Cruise option, which I actually appreciated.
I got a pretty fancy rendition of the CT5, its V-Series model with an optional, mountain-worthy (but mostly performance-oriented) all-wheel drive system added to the mix.
The car I actually want doesn’t quite exist yet, but it’s going to be insane: The long-awaited Blackwing version of the CT5, which is estimated to provide about 650 horsepower, a manual transmission option and absolute racing superiority, even more fearsome than the old CTS-V.
In the meantime, let’s address this still very intriguing CT5 V-Series, which is a new Cadillac naming scheme for the upper-middleweight, 360-horsepower, 3.0-liter twin-turbo, V-6 rendition of the car; the standard CT5 aims for sporty efficiency with a 237-horsepower, four-cylinder engine. You see how a 650-horsepower variant of the same model might be somewhat more intriguing.
I don’t normally read the glossy car magazines before I do my own reviews, but in this case, they tended to be right about the way to make the sort-of V-version of the CT5 a much more fun experience. I had it in early October, and bone-dry roads on Loveland Pass beckoned. I saw a bunch of new Ford Bronco test vehicles on the trip in and heavily disguised Porsches on the trip back.
With CT5’s 10-speed transmission and an amazingly complicated range of drive modes (plus several secret Track Mode selections, which perilously disable the stability control), the secret was to go for the gusto, and then manually keep the Cadillac in third or fourth gear for the entire trip.
At that point, the car absolutely stopped fighting against you and turned into a relaxed, agile, turbocharged cornering machine. That was a nice way to harness that robust — but not uncontrollable — power, enjoy the racy seating and maybe scare the wits out of some rear passengers, who are gifted with surprisingly ample leg room and tall seating of their own.
The mesh grille and dark aerodynamic accents, plus 19-inch alloy wheels with pearl nickel finishing, all make it a pretty boss-looking ride as well. Yes, the odd upturned bustle in the rear window frame is an effect seen in both Scion cars and the Dodge Avenger, but the overall blackness of the frames makes it all pretty groovy.
Given the car’s performance angle, drivers are able to customize everything from steering effort and the suspension’s magnetic ride control to exhaust note (a stealth mode to save your relationship with the neighbors, if you drive it hard enough). There’s also a snow/ice mode, which will make a winter-tire-equipped CT5 a fun option.
The CT5 V-Series’ base price ($47,695) was pretty close to the option-laden, Premium Luxury edition price of the more Malibu- or Impala-styled CT4 ($49,640). All-wheel drive, upgraded audio, leather seating and safety tech brought the CT5 to $57,680 when all was said and done.
The CT4, the more family/sedate-but-aspirational-lifestyle-oriented model in the lineup, has its own striking styling and decent — but occasionally jolty — power from a 2.7-liter, four-cylinder turbo providing 310 horsepower. The 237-horsepower, 2.0-liter is standard on other models. Mine also had optional all-wheel drive, making it winter-ready as well.
CT4 places its biggest emphasis on retro-futuristic Cadillac style, with huge vertical slashes of headlamps and super sharp edges at all four corners.
It feels a lot more substantial than the old ATS, and its longish hood may strike aficionados of 1960s and 1970s Cadillac style as being a nod to the past. Unfortunately, I found ride quality and the overall driving experience a bit lacking, despite the stylistic flourish.
Andy Stonehouse’s column “Mountain Wheels” publishes Saturdays in the Summit Daily News. Stonehouse has worked as an editor and writer in Colorado since 1998, focusing on automotive coverage since 2004. He lives in Greeley. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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