June 10, 2023


Creative living

2020 Cadillac CT5-V Needs a Different Name

6 min read

James LipmanCar and Driver

Let’s clear up some confusion. The Cadillac CT5-V shown here is not the replacement for the fire-breathing CTS-V. It’s best to think of it as a replacement for the old CTS Vsport model, a car that won three 10Best awards from 2014 to 2016. There, that’s out of the way.

Now that your expectations have been adjusted, you won’t be too upset to find that there’s a 360-hp twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6 and a 10-speed automatic transmission driving the CT5-V. There’s also a 330-hp version of the engine powering the new CT5 Premium Luxury model. Premium Luxury versions will get different interior trim, chrome bits on the exterior, less aggressive tires, and a softer suspension.

James LipmanCar and Driver

HIGHS: A relative value, comfortable interior, built by and for folks who value driving dynamics.

The CT5-V’s engine replaces the Vsport’s twin-turbo 3.6-liter V-6. While the CT5 is down 60 horsepower to the old engine, our test car still managed to scramble to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds, just 0.4 second behind the Vsport. We’re willing to forgive a couple of tenths of a second to 60 mph because the CT5-V’s $48,690 base price is an entire Chevy Spark less than the 2019 CTS Vsport’s $62,690 entry point.

Encouraging Execution

Cadillac sees the CT5-V as a competitor to the Audi S4, BMW M340i, and Mercedes-AMG C43, yet it would also lose a drag race to those cars. But straight-line speed isn’t the only measure of a performance sedan. Base versions come standard with GM’s fourth-generation magnetorheological dampers that control the wheels and the body better than before, thanks to the additional feedback from accelerometers at each corner. We noticed that the Vsport’s staggered tire sizes are gone this time around. Every corner has a Michelin Pilot Sport 4S sized 245/40R-19, but the like-sized tires enliven the tail’s propensity to wag. On the skidpad, we found an easily exploited and sports-carlike 0.99 g of grip. But this isn’t just about numbers on a track sheet. Unlike lesser CT5 models, the CT5-V is more engaging and fun to drive than the German competition.

James LipmanCar and Driver

LOWS: Badged a V, that thing on the C-pillar, shouty V-6 sounds.

We’re amazed to find that General Motors’s Performance Traction Management (PTM) is standard in the CT5-V. This is the stuff of Corvettes and track-focused Camaros, but here it is, and it’s not dumbed down. We enjoyed the same adjustability and levels of stability control and traction control intervention for track play. It’s probably completely unnecessary, but it’s also a bit of a secret handshake and nod to lunatics like us who might decide to take one of these 3993-pound sedans to a road course.

Stunning brakes and a nice stiff brake pedal are up to track work. Equipped with the optional performance brake pads, the CT5-V stopped from 70 mph in a short 153 feet. The ride is firm but satisfying, and the structure attenuates even the biggest wheel impacts without much protest and without the basketball-bouncing sound that a C43 sends into the cabin whenever the road turns ugly. Double-paned front-door glass is a nice touch and keeps wind rush from becoming intrusive, although 67 decibels at a steady 70 mph is a bit louder than we expect of modern luxury cars.

James LipmanCar and Driver

Cadillac enhances the engine’s sound through the audio system’s speakers. It’s an honest simulation—what you hear is the growl of a V-6—but it’s also seriously loud. In the system’s most excited mode, stomping and holding the accelerator results in an ear-piercing 92 decibels of ersatz V-6. Even the quietest mode still puts out 86 decibels of noise. It’s a bit too much engine inside, but we’re totally into the exhaust’s snappity-pop salute on high-rpm upshifts.

Smart Yet Drab Confines

A 1.4-inch wheelbase stretch over the CTS goes into the rear-seat legroom, and the new body has larger door openings that make it easier to get in and out. Larger windows help increase the view out while adding to a feeling of spaciousness. The CT5-V’s interior design could use some more love, though. While there are no real misses and the interior is more attractive than the new 3-series’s, the overall shapes and design struck us as Malibu-plus instead of distinctly Cadillac. Lincoln might not be able to build a credible sports sedan, but when you’re inside a Lincoln, you never think about Ford.

James LipmanCar and Driver

Remember the button-less CUE infotainment system that arrived years ago and was born of the hubristic goal of having no buttons in the car? Cadillac appears to have learned from that first iteration, and the CT5 has more than just touchscreen controls. There are buttons for the climate control and seat heaters, a volume knob, steering-wheel control, and, if all else fails, there’s a dial behind the shifter to move through the infotainment menus. Logic and simplicity have prevailed. There’s even a wheel to dim the interior lighting. Nearly every other brand has decided that dimming needed to be completely rethought and hidden deep in some menu. While there are a lot of ways to set up the CT5-V (drive modes, safety systems, and so on), once you get it all settled the car is smart and kind enough to remember how you left it. It sounds like a minor point, but it’s a big deal that it doesn’t revert to some default drive mode or bring back unwanted collision-warning systems every time you start the engine.

Solid Value

As far attractiveness, the CT5 is a mixed bag. Everything behind the B-pillar isn’t what we’d call good. Inspired by the fastback Escala concept, the design loses its way behind the rear door. The Escala is pretty, like an Audi A7. The way the trunk and C-pillar come together on the CT5 is a clunky mess, and the weird trim on the C-pillar resembles smudged eyeliner. It’s not all bad, however. The front end is elegant, original, and distinctive, which is something that rarely happens these days.

James LipmanCar and Driver

We’d just say no to the $1300 Driver Awareness Plus and the $2090 Parking packages because they’re incongruent with a car tailored for drivers who know what they’re doing. It’s money better spent on a performance-driving school or even on something next to useless, like Bitcoin. The right salesman might be able to talk us into the $4190 Premium package since it adds the strong and clear Bose Performance audio system, heated and cooled seats, and the larger 8.0-inch touchscreen with navigation, even though we’d probably only use Apple CarPlay or Android Auto and Waze for directions.

Although it’s only 16 years old, Cadillac’s V-series moniker has taken on as much meaning in the enthusiast community as Mercedes-AMG or BMW’s M. The V-badge has been something reserved for the hardest-core Cadillacs, the cars built to bring German-car customers into the fold while simultaneously scaring away DeVille-seeking blue hairs. While we’re still waiting for Cadillac to introduce an even hotter CT5 with a supercharged V-8, the CT5-V with a handful of options and a price just over $50,000 is a terrific value for drivers who remember the great German cars of the recent past and who are bored by the latest German efforts.


Car and Driver




2020 Cadillac CT5-V


front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan


$61,640 (base price: $48,690)


twin-turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 24-valve V-6, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injection

182 in3, 2990 cm3

360 hp @ 5600 rpm

405 lb-ft @ 2400 rpm


10-speed automatic


Suspension (F/R): struts/multilink

Brakes (F/R): 13.6-in vented disc /12.4-in vented disc

Tires: Michelin Pilot Sport 4S ZP, 245/40R-19 94Y TPC


Wheelbase: 116.0 in

Length: 193.9 in

Width: 74.1 in

Height: 57.2 in

Passenger volume: 99 ft3

Trunk volume: 12 ft3

Curb weight: 3993 lb


Rollout, 1 ft: 0.3 sec

60 mph: 4.8 sec

100 mph: 11.5 sec

130 mph: 21.5 sec

Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 5.5 sec

Top gear, 30–50 mph: 2.8 sec

Top gear, 50–70 mph: 3.3 sec

¼-mile: 13.3 sec @ 107 mph

Top speed (mfr’s claim): 168 mph

Braking, 70–0 mph: 153 ft

Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.99 g


Observed: 18 mpg


Combined/city/highway: 21/18/26 mpg