The CT5 replaces the CTS with an Escala-inspired design

The Cadillac CT5 is the company’s long-anticipated replacement for the already iconic CTS. Spotted testing for more than a year now, the CT5 was unveiled in March 2019. Sort of, actually, because Cadillac didn’t spill all of the beans, and it’s planning to tease the vehicle some more until the big unveiling at the 2019 New York Auto Show. In an annoying media campaign that includes more information about the campaign itself than the car, the CT5 broke cover with a surprising design. While the CTS is a traditional three-box sedan with a long deck lid, the CT5 is more of a fastback sedan, with a sloping roof that descends toward the edge of the rear fascia. Needless to say, it’s an interesting approach for an automaker that just axed all four-door sedans save for the flagship CT6. Let’s take a look at what we already know about it in the review below.

Cadillac CT5 Exterior

  • Based on Escala concept
  • Standard LED lights
  • Elegant profile
  • Fastback roof
  • Sporty bumpers
  • Modern looks
2019 Cadillac CT5
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Just like the prototypes we spotted on public roads in 2018 suggested, the CT5 is heavily inspired by the Escala concept.

It has the same wide grille with rectangular inserts and vertical side bumper vents that extend to connect with the wide outlet below. The headlamps aren’t as thin as the Escala’s, but they’re significantly narrower than the CTS’s. The vertical LED bars on the edges of the bumper are similar to those seen on the Escala and the larger CT6.

The CT5’s profile is clean and simple, like most Caddys out there. Things become a bit more interesting toward the back due to the elongated coupe-style roof that almost turns the trunk lid into a tailgate and the long rear windows. The quarter windows sport a sharp triangular shape that also extends toward the deck lid through a thick piece of trim that’s either black or chrome, depending on the model. This is an interesting departure from Cadillac’s traditional, elegant and somewhat boxy sedan designs. It’s a bit unorthodox, but it’s the breath of fresh air I’ve been expecting for some time now.

2019 Cadillac CT5
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More cues taken from the Escala are visible around back, including the integrated trunk lid spoiler and the clean fascia with a mild V design.

However, Cadillac dropped the Y-shaped taillights of the concept car, opting for upside-down L-shaped lights. The bumper retains the usual clean and simple design with a diffuser-like element that incorporates chrome exhaust pipes.

The CT5 adopts the same trim levels as the XT4 and XT6 crossover, so you will be able to choose between Sport and Luxury. The Sport trim, shown in grey, is obviously the slightly more aggressive model, featuring honeycomb bumper grilles, black window trim, and dark-tinted taillights. The Luxury model, shown in red, has horizontal bars in the front bumper, classic red taillights, and chrome trim around the windows.

Cadillac CT5 Interior

  • New interior layout
  • Brand-new tech
  • Standard leather
  • Optional sporty seats
  • Semi-autonomous drive
  • Improved comfort
2019 Cadillac CT5
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We can see a cool two-tone leather upholstery combining light and dark brown

Cadillac did release a photo of the interior, but we only get to see the new electronic gear shifter from the XT6 and the knob that operates the infotainment system. We can also see a cool two-tone leather upholstery combining light and dark brown on the seats and door panels. There’s also wood trim on the center console, a standard feature on the more expensive Cadillacs.

Cadillac didn’t have much to say about the cabin either, opting for a pompous description about how it "blends high tech and high touch for an exceptional blend of control tactility." It did mention that the optional audio system adds Bose Performance Series speakers.

While it would be really cool to find the Escala’s interior inside the CT5, it won’t happen beyond a few details. But the CT5 will get a brand-new layout that should feel sportier compared to the bigger CT6. Following current luxury market trends, Cadillac will probably use big displays for both the instrument cluster and the infotainment system.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see them fitted very close to each other, just like Mercedes-Benz did in the E-Class. Caddy should also go with a small, clean center stack with only a few buttons and knobs. With infotainment systems getting smarter and more complex, buttons are slowly disappearing from the dash, especially in premium cars, and Cadillac needs to follow suit.

2016 Cadillac CT6
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By the time the CT5 arrives, Cadillac should develop a new entertainment system

The seats should be pretty comfortable even in standard trim, but the more expensive models will get heavier bolstering on the options list. Leather could be standard, with Alcantara available for inserts. The CT6-V could get a full Alcantara seats. The rear compartment should provide ample legroom. A four-seat layout is possible for improved comfort, but the five-seat configuration should remain standard.

Tech-wise, the CT5 will benefit from a few new systems. Upon launching the Escala, the brand talked "new designs for connectivity and control, providing a prototype for the user experience in development for future production models." Details are scant, but the system features a central control module that enables the driver "to execute tactile commands across the spectrum of connectivity functions," but also includes the more familiar voice and gesture control technology.

Cadillac also needs to improve sound insulation, visibility, and more importantly, the quality of the solid materials. The CTS didn’t get the best reviews in these departments, and Caddy needs to up the ante in order to catch up with Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Audi.

Cadillac CT5 Performance

  • 2.0-liter four-cylinder
  • 3.0-liter V-6
  • More than 420 horsepower
  • Solid performance
  • 10-speed automatic
  • Hybrid drivetrain possible
2019 Cadillac CT5
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The CT5 will feature a 2.0-liter four-cylinder as standard and an optional 3.0-liter V-6

Cadillac confirmed a few details we already knew about the CT5. For starters, it will ride on GM’s Alpha platform. Introduced in 2013 in the ATS, it was adopted by the CTS in 2014 and by the Chevrolet Camaro in 2016. These underpinnings not only allow rear- and all-wheel-drive setups, but can also host a wide array of engines, ranging from small-displacement four-cylinders to the big 6.2-liter V-8.

But don’t get very anxious about that V-8 engine just yet. For the time being, the CT5 will feature a turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder as standard and an optional twin-turbo, 3.0-liter V-6. The four-banger cranks out 265 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque in the CT6 and could carry over with similar specs to the CT5. This model will probably come in a rear-wheel-drive setup only.

More power will come from the twin-turbo, 3.0-liter V-6. Cadillac is dropping the 3.6-liter V-6 from the CTS and opting for the smaller unit in the CT6. The big sedan comes with 404 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of twist in the this setup but the CT5 could be a bit more powerful. The outgoing twin-turbo 3.6-liter V-6 generates 420 horsepower and 430 pound-feet in the CTS and Cadillac probably wants to at least match that rating.

2019 Cadillac CT5
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There will be a range-topping, performance-oriented model with a V-8 engine

Both units will mate to a 10-speed automatic transmission as standard. This gearbox replaced the old eight-speed automatic from the CTS.

Should the CT5 also feature a hybrid model at some point, expect it to pair the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine to a couple of electric motors. With each motor likely to generate 100 horsepower, total system output should be of at least 300 horsepower and in excess of 400 pound-feet of torque.

Finally, there will be a range-topping, performance-oriented model. Spotted in 2018 with a bulged hood and the more aggressive bumpers, this version could be called the CT5-V or the CT5 V-Sport. But badge aside, it will feature Cadillac’s new 4.2-liter V-8 engine. Introduced in the CT6 V-Sport, the twin-turbo unit uses a "hot V" configuration that eliminates turbo lag and cranks out a whopping 550 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of torque. The engine could deliver more in the CT5, but 550 horsepower is nothing to scoff at given that the CT5 will be smaller and lighter.

This model should be powerful and fast enough to give the BMW M5 and the Mercedes-AMG E63 a run for their money.

Cadillac CT5 Pricing

2019 Cadillac CT5
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Pricing for the CT5 should be a bit higher than the outgoing CTS. The sedan retails from $46,495 in base trim, so the new four-door could come in at around $48,000 before options. The performance CTS-V model, on the other hand, is significantly more expensive at $86,495. Expect the CT5-V to arrive at around $90,000.

Cadillac CT5 Competition

BMW 5 Series

2017 BMW 5 Series
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The CT5 will against stiff competition, starting with the BMW 5 Series, which was redesigned for the 2017 model year. Sportier on the outside and rolling on lighter underpinnings, the 5 Series is a good example of how a premium sedan should look on the inside. It’s also equipped with the company’s latest tech and comes with optional driving assist features that turn it into a semi-autonomous sedan. You can order the 5 Series with a wide variety of engines, starting with the 2.0-liter four-cylinder in the 530i. The mill cranks out 248 horsepower and 258 pound-feet and can be had with an AWD system. Next up is the 540i, powered by a 3.0-liter inline-six that delivers 322 horsepower and 332 pound-feet. More oomph can be had with the M550i xDrive model, powered by a 4.4-liter V-8 that’s good for 456 horsepower and 479 pound-feet. On the diesel front, BMW offers the 540d, which gets its juice from a 3.0-liter inline-six rated at 316 horses and 502 pound-feet. You can also get a hybrid model. It’s called the 530e iPerformance and marries the 2.0-liter four-cylinder to an electric motor for a total output of 248 horsepower and 310 pound-feet. Finally, the M5, which will compete against the CT5-V, gets a whopping 592 horsepower and 553 pound-feet from a beefed-up 4.4-liter V-8. Pricing for the 5 Series starts from $52,650, while the M5 retails from $102,600.

Read our full reviews of the BMW 5 Series and BMW M5.

Mercedes-Benz E-Class

2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Although a bit older than the 5 Series, the E-Class remains one of the best options in this segment and it was the first midsize to feature semi-autonomous drive. Heavily based on the bigger S-Class, the E-Class looks far more elegant too, but it gets a sporty vibe once the optional AMG packages are added on. The interior is both dramatic and elegant, blending styling features from both the S-Class and the AMG GT sports car. Engine options are just as diverse as the 5 Series’, but unlike BMW, Merc doesn’t offer diesels and hybrids in the U.S. The range begins with the E300, powered by a 2.0-liter four-pot rated at 242 horsepower and 270 pound-feet. Next up is the E400, which uses the larger 3.0-liter V-6 that generates 328 horses and 350 pound-feet. Next in line is the AMG E53, a brand new option that uses a 3.0-liter inline-six and a mild 48-volt hybrid system. Total system output sits at 451 horsepower and 380 pound-feet. Moving into high-performance territory, only the range-topping AMG E63 S is available in the U.S. In this model, the twin-turbo, 4.0-liter V-8 pumps out 604 horsepower and 630 pound-feet of torque. Pricing ranges from $52,950 for the E300 to $104,400 for the AMG E63 S.

Read our full stories on the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and the Mercedes-AMG E63.

Conclusion

2019 Cadillac CT5
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Cadillac’s sedan lineup is getting pretty thin with the ATS and XTS on their way out, so the CT5 needs to arrive as soon as possible in order for the premium brand to remain relevant in this market. Fortunately, the CT5 is almost ready to go into production and it should be a pretty good choice design- and drivetrain-wise. However, Cadillac needs to make big improvement inside the cabin, as the CTS suffered from many drawbacks compared to the competition. Material quality wasn’t exactly on par with the German sedans, while legroom and headroom needs to grow. If Cadillac manages to fix these issues and give the CT5 better dynamics in the lower trims, the sedan might finally start the revolution that the American brand is dreaming about for years.

  • Leave it
    • Not a lot is known right now
    • Tough competition from BMW, Mercedes, and Audi

Further reading

2019 Cadillac CT5 Exterior Spyshots
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2020 Cadillac CT5 Spied For The First Time

2017 Cadillac CTS High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2017 Cadillac CTS.

2016 Cadillac CTS-V High Resolution Exterior
- image 599734

Read our full review on the 2017 Cadillac CTS-V.

2015 Cadillac ATS Sedan High Resolution Exterior
- image 559232

Read our full review on the 2017 Cadillac ATS.

2016 Cadillac ATS-V Sedan Exterior
- image 578307

Read our full review on the 2017 Cadillac ATS-V.

2016 Cadillac Escala High Resolution Exterior
- image 685455

Read our full review on the 2016 Cadillac Escala Concept.

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