Aggressive overhaul of Cadillac
Roseville, CA- Once an American icon whose popularity lasted for half a century, Cadillac has been in decline for more than four decades.
In 2018, Cadillac sadly watched as its U.S. luxury car market share dipped to a dismal 7 percent. That’s a sizable drop from 1980 when the brand’s share of the luxury market was 31 percent.
The oil crisis that turned car buyers against large gas-guzzlers, combined with an influx of strong imports like BMW, Porsche, Mercedes and Japanese luxury brands like Lexus and Acura, all contributed to the Cadillac decline.
Despite its slide, Cadillac is not giving up the fight. Parent owner General Motors has aggressively overhauled its model line, ridding it of two problematic sedans, and replacing them with two new ones for 2020. In addition, earlier this year GM said Cadillac would be its electric vehicle brand moving forward.
Replaces Cadillac ATS
One of the new sedans is the CT4, which replaces the Cadillac ATS. Athletic and handsomely styled, the 2020 Cadillac CT4 is a good entry-level luxury compact that GM hopes can compete against the likes of the BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe, Audi A3, and Mercedes-Benz A-Class.
Part of the GM game plan is having younger folks purchase a Cadillac and keeping them as customers for decades. According to J.D. Power data, 63 percent of compact premium car owners are males. And both the CT4 and the larger CT5 are the bait to attract those young men to Cadillac.
The CT5 is a midsized sedan that replaced the Cadillac CTS. The CT4 and CT5 share the same engine and also possess many of the same interior features. The CT5 has a more luxurious feel, yet the sticker price is $4,000 more than the base model CT4.
The CT4 is available in four trim levels (Luxury, Premium Luxury, Sport, V-Series) and offers a choice of three capable turbocharged engines. It has good fuel economy and provides plenty of up-to-date technology features. Where if loses points is a cramped backseat and lack of standard safety features.
The standard rear-wheel drive CT4 engine is a turbo 2.0-liter, four-cylinder that generates 237 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. An upgrade is the turbo 2.7-liter, four-cylinder that produces 310 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque.
The most powerful of the three engines is the turbo 2.7-liter, four-cylinder that elicits 325 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque. It reportedly goes 0-60 mph in 3.7 seconds
The CT4 delivers strong acceleration and is a pleasing sedan to drive. It has responsive steering, is agile and quick, and braking is firm. For increased safety, CT4 buyers will need to purchase optional equipment. The standard Luxury trim comes with only automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection.
AT A GLANCE – 2020 CADILLAC CT4
- Performance: turbocharged 2.0-liter, four-cylinder, 237 horsepower; turbo 2.7-liter, four-cylinder 310 horsepower; turbo 2.7-liter, 325 horsepower
- Mileage estimate: 23-34 mpg; 23-34 mpg; 20-30 mpg
- Price estimate: $33,000; $44,500
- Warranty: 4 years/50,000 miles; drivetrain: 4 years/50,000 miles; roadside assistance: XX years/60,000; corrosion: 6 years/100,000
There’s plenty to admire about the CT4 interior layout. It’s smart and user-friendly. Cadillac abandoned the ATS model’s mostly touch-sensitive interface and gave the CT4 buttons for its climate control and radio. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, along with two USB and USB-C ports.
There are no complaints with the 12-way power-adjustable front seat and its overall comfort. But space in the CT4 back seat is lacking. It has terrible leg and head room, and having three people of any size in the back seat just doesn’t work. The 10.7 cubic feet in the trunk is also inadequate.
Trying to keep pace with the likes of BMW, Audi, Lexus and Mercedes is no easy chore. Yet that’s what the new 2020 Cadillac CT4 is up against. The CT4 has some fine qualities – most notably its appealing looks and performance – that makes it an improvement over the ATS it replaced.