2020 Cadillac CT4 Review

2020 Cadillac CT4 - Caddy's new CT4 gets big points for driving dynamics.


CT4 is a rear- or all-wheel drive midsize sedan that's all-new for 2020. It effectively replaces the ATS in Cadillac's lineup and joins the equally new CT5 as the brand's only remaining sedans. Like the ATS before, the CT4 seats five, however, it is offered only as a 4-door sedan whereas the ATS was available as a 2-door coupe as well. Competitors to the CT4 include the Audi A3, BMW 2-Series, Genesis G70, Lexus IS and Mercedes Benz A-Class.

As a replacement for the ATS, CT4 actually rides the same 109-inch wheelbase and shares some chassis components, though the new car is slightly longer, narrower and taller. With prices ranging from $34,000 to $46,000, trim levels include Luxury, Premium Luxury, Sport and V-Series. Standard on the Premium, Premium Luxury and Sport is a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder that makes 237 horsepower and mates to an 8-speed automatic. Optional on the Premium Luxury and V-Series is a turbocharged 2.7-liter 4-cylinder that mates to a 10-speed automatic. In the Premium Luxury it makes 210 horsepower and in the V-Series it makes 325 horsepower. All-wheel-drive is an option across the board.

Safety features include forward-collision warning with brake assist, blind-spot monitor with lane-change alert, following-distance indicator, front park assist, forward pedestrian braking, and rear cross-traffic alert with rear emergency braking. The performance-orientated V-Series adds Brembo brakes, magnetic ride control, enhanced traction control, launch control, mechanical limited-slip rear differential and performance suspension.

Notable packages include the Technology Package, which adds air ionizer, digital instrument cluster and head-up display; Bose Premium Audio package, which adds Bose audio system, wireless charging and navigation; Climate package, which adds heated and ventilated front seats and heated steering wheel; Driver Assist package, which adds adaptive cruise control and enhanced automatic emergency braking; and the Driver Awareness package, which adds lane keeping assist with lane departure warning and blind-spot monitoring.

With 237 horsepower on tap, CT4 offers the most powerful base engine in the class. It provides smooth and linear acceleration that most owners will find totally appropriate for the class and price point. It can struggle a bit in passing situations with a full compliment of passengers, though seems more than energetic enough for routine driving. The engine is smooth, though not as smooth as similar offerings in Audi or BMW, and works very well with the 8-speed automatic transmission.

The 2.7-liter four provides a big step up in performance, sadly it's only offered in the V-Series and Premium Luxury. Most peg the 0 to 60 MPH time of around 5 seconds, which is class competitive to "sport" versions of competitors. The engine does have a 2-cylinder mode that's designed to save fuel in low-throttle situations. Activation is imperceptible. On the whole, the engine provides robust acceleration and great passing response and works seamlessly with the slick-shifting 10-speed automatic. It does sound a little rough at startup and in full-throttle acceleration compared to up-level engines in competitors.

EPA numbers for the base engine are 23 MPG city and 34 MPG highway; 2.7-liter numbers are 20 MPG city and 30 MPH highway. In each case, those numbers are comparable to the competition. As is the case with nearly every vehicle in this segment, the CT4 requires premium-grade fuel. In routine suburban commuting expect to average close to the EPA numbers, perhaps a bit higher on the highway.  The large 17.5-gallon fuel tank gives CT4 an impressive highway range that can top 500 miles.

Say what you will about CT4's character, but there's absolutely no denying that it's a thoroughbred when it comes to chassis dynamics. While most competitors offer front-drive biased chassis, the CT4 has a rear-drive platform that oozes composure when the pace quickens. The sharp and direct steering has great road feel and is very precise Brakes have ample stopping power and an easy-to-modulate pedal. Stepping from Sport to V-Series brings a lot of enhanced suspension mechanicals that greatly improve overall capabilities, but even the base model is more athletic than most competitors and will impress when the road gets twisty.

On the flip side, the ride isn't overly harsh or busy. In fact, the suspension does an excellent job of softening impacts while still managing to remain firm enough to reduce secondary motions. Of course, the ride grows firmer as you climb the model ladder, but even in the V-Sport is it more than acceptable. Keeping in mind that its summer-rated touring tires shouldn't be used year-round. That said, the availability of all-wheel drive is a huge plus in northern climates.

The inside is where CT4 falls down a bit, compared to competitors. Though certainly not pedestrian, the CT4's interior lacks the upscale flair of the Mercedes-Benz A-Class or the top-grade interior materials of the Audi A3. Still, most surfaces are soft touch and the design is extremely functional. Unfortunately, the center armrest is a one-piece unit that is difficult to open at times. Competitors offer a butterfly design that's a bit more user friendly.

Two extremely legible large dials dominate the instrument cluster, they surround a programmable digital display that, while informative, lacks the polish and harmonious design of those offered in most competitors. Things get a little better as you move over to the center stack where an 8-inch touchscreen interface for the infotainment system sits atop simple controls for the HVAC system and heated seats. Cadillac even offers dials for audio control, a wireless charging tray and a nice NFC connection to help pair Bluetooth devices.

Speaking of technology, Cadillac's CUE system is very easy to operate and nicely incorporates Android Auto and Apple Car Play at no additional charge. The system can be controlled by tapping the screen and longer lists can be scrolled via a twist of the tuner knob -- a very nice touch. Unlike offerings in many competitors, CUE is simple and straightforward and doesn't require a deep dive through the owner's manual each time you want to adjust cabin temperature or change the radio station.

Unfortunately, almost no enhanced safety features are offered on the base model. Indeed, they are optional even on up-level trims. Shame on Cadillac, at a price point of $40,000 enhanced safety features like forward-collision warning and back-up assist should be standard. To be fair, this is the case on many entry-level luxury sedans and crossovers.

CT4's front seats are heavily bolstered and a bit firm, but comfortable nonetheless. They do offer lots of adjustability and can be tailored to most body types. Head and leg room are great in front and outward visibility is quite good. Despite being longer than most competitors, CT4's rear seat offers just adequate room for two adults, with knee and foot space being at a premium. Not unusual for the class and, in the case of the CT4, likely a factor of it's rear-drive chassis that's not as space efficient. Regardless, getting in and out is a snap, thanks to wide-opening doors and a reasonably high roofline.

With just 10.7 cubic feet of trunk space, cargo capacity is unimpressive. Still the opening is wide and the load floor flat. In addition, the rear seats fold to provide additional space. Interior storage is modest with just the center console bin and the wireless charging tray as handy storage areas.

Bottom Line -- At first glance, Cadillac's new CT4 might not seem that impressive. However, spend some time in the driver's seat and your feelings are likely to change. The car will simply win you over with its poised and athletic driving demeanor and the lusty 2.7-liter motor that pulls like a train. As is the case with most offerings in the class, rear-seat room is at a premium and the miniscule trunk might put off some empty-nesters. Still, priced at about $40,000 nicely equipped, you'd be hard pressed to find a more capable sport-luxury compact and you won't have to pay thousands for maintenance.

Mark Bilek

Mark Bilek is the Senior Director of Communications and Technology for the Chicago Auto Trade Association and the General Manager for DriveChicago.com. He is also responsible for developing and maintaining the Chicago Auto Show Web site.

Mark has been reviewing vehicles for more than two decades. Previously, he was associate publisher at Consumer Guide, where he oversaw publication of Consumer Guide Car & Truck Test, Consumer Guide's Used Car Book, and ConsumerGuide.com. He was also responsible for publication of "Collectible Automobile" and various hardcover automotive titles. In 2001 and 2002 he served as president of a Midwest Automotive Media Association. Mark has appeared on NBC TV, ABC TV, Fox News, WGN and MotorTrend TV as an automotive consultant. He hosts the Drive Chicago radio show on WLS 890 AM and was a regular guest on WGN Radio's Steve & Johnnie show. Mark lives in the northwest suburbs with his wife and three sons.