While sedans have struggled recently against the upward SUV/truck sales trend, Cadillac’s 2021 CT5 mid-size sport sedan has not only turned heads, but has increased sales more than 30% in the first three months of 2021.
New options for this year include a semi-autonomous driving mode, an upgraded Diamond Sky Metallic Edition that show cases redesigned interior and exterior elements, and a new 12-inch digital gauge display.
A spacious cabin, top NHTSA crash safety rating, overall stylish good looks, competitive base pricing, and a richly-loaded ergonomic infotainment system are among the competitive selling points for the four-door, five passenger CT5.
In an overall rating, JD Power ranked the 2021 CT5 first choice above Lincoln MKZ, Kia Stinger, Lexus ES, and Acura TLX – a strong endorsement.
Our test-drive was the CTS Premium Luxury, which is one level above Luxury and below other trims such as Sport and V-Series. It was outfitted with six options for a total of $6,165 including all-wheel drive, navigation and audio package, extra climate controls, satin steel metallic paint, convenience lighting, and a driver awareness package.
However, we were disappointed to not have the active dynamic cruise control option – a strong driver safety aid – and the overall need to add in pricey options to obtain the rich comfort, style and performance Cadillac is known for.
A monochromatic, stylish profile flashes chrome on door handles, dual exhaust, window surrounds and rear badging with a chrome stripe.
Our test ride was powered by the standard 2.0-liter 4-cyclinder engine with more than a hundred less horsepower than the optional 3.0-liter V6 turbo engine.
The ride was smooth in any of the four drive modes (Tour, Sport, Snow/Ice or My Mode) on 18-inch all-season self-sealing tires (there is no spare) and McPherson front strut and five link rear suspension to rapidly adjust wheel rotations. Handling was average compared to similar vehicles.
A stop/start feature to increase mileage was clunky at times.
Our safety assist tech included a new buckle-up command before allowing the driver to shift gears, a rear seat check warning message, lane assist/lane departure rumble seat alert, teen-driver settings, blind spot detection, cruise control, emergency braking, rear traffic alert and camera assisted parking.
Steering wheel mounted paddles added acceleration zip when needed.
The roomy cabin boasts plenty of storage spaces and four USB ports, heated/cooled comfortable bucket front seats, ample rear seating for adults, wireless charging for 4G cellphones. In addition, the 10-inch dashboard touchscreen was easily controlled with a rotary dial that uses Cadillac’s latest CUE infotainment system included easy-to-reach buttons, switches, and knobs.
Included with the CTS is a first-year free maintenance visit.
At a Glance
LIKES: Comfort, ride, looks, highway mileage range, infotainment, spacious cabin
DISLIKES: Need for options, no spare tire, clunky start/stop
BOTTOM LINE: Cadillac still carries cache as a domestic producer of luxury vehicles
Fact File: 2021 Cadillac CT5 Premium Luxury Sedan
2.0-liter, I-4, DOHC, direct injection
237-hp at 5,000 rpm
258 lbs.-ft. at 1,500-4,000 rpm
10-speed automatic/manual paddles
21 mpg city/31 mpg hwy
17 gallons, premium recommended
0 to 60 in 6.6 seconds
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Tom Crosby has written more than 1,000 automotive reviews and is a retired Vice President of Communications for AAA Carolinas. He has seen dramatic changes in the automotive industry over the past 25 years and ponders the advent of self-driving vehicles, electric-only vehicles, sophisticated in-car telematics, and the financial challenges facing automotive manufacturers in an increasingly congested worldwide market.