Replacing the CTS with an Escala-inspired design

Having launched the CT6 in 2016, Cadillac is now working on replacing the other two sedans in its lineup. The five-year old third-generation CTS will be replaced in 2019, while the ATS nameplate, which has been on the market for only six years, will be phased out altogether after 2018. Both the CTS and ATS will be replaced by the CT5, with a smaller CT4 to be added in the future. While the latter is still a mystery, the CT5 was already spotted testing in the wild and it’s based on the Escala concept.

Rolled out on public roads in early 2018, the CT5 is very similar to the CTS as far as size goes, but it’s quite different by design. Not only sportier and more modern, it also has a new body style. While the CTS is a full-fledged sedan, the CT5 borrows the fastback layout of the Escala concept. With sedan sales dropping fast, it’s not surprising that Cadillac is going forward with a more streamlined body. The CT5 should break cover in late 2018 or early 2019. Meanwhile, let’s discuss what we already know about the upcoming sedan in the speculative review below.

Continue reading to learn more about the Cadillac CT5.

Cadillac CT5 Exterior

- * Based on Escala concept
- * Standard LED lights
- * Elegant profile
- * Fastback roof
- * Sporty bumpers
- * Modern looks

2019 Cadillac CT5 Exterior Spyshots
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Despite the camo, we can see that the front grille is very wide, just like on the concept car

The prototype we spotted testing earlier in 2018 didn’t show us too many details, as the thick camo left only small parts of the lights, grille and bumpers out in the open. However, it’s pretty obvious that Cadillac used the Escala as inspiration.

Despite the camo, we can see that the front grille is very wide, just like on the concept car. The mesh isn’t the same, as the prototype sports thin horizontal slats instead of small, rectangular inserts, but this is one detail that depends on trim. The headlamps are different though. While the Escala has really thin lights at the top, the prototype has thicker units with small LED spots toward the grille and bigger lights at the corners. It appears as if the car also has vertical lights on the sides, just like the Escala and the CT6, but they’re well covered.

The hood is also notably different from the Escala’s. The lid sits flush with the edges of the fenders on the concept, but it raises a couple of inches above the beltline on this prototype. The test car also features a big bulge in the middle, but this is because we’re looking at a higher performance model, likely with a "V" badge. The regular CT5 will have a less aggressive hood.

2019 Cadillac CT5 Exterior Spyshots
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Moving onto the sides, we can notice that Cadillac retained the fastback look of the Escala

Moving onto the sides, we can notice that Cadillac retained the fastback look of the Escala. The CT5 has a coupe-style roof and a short, sloping deck lid that ends in a spoiler integrated into the edge of the trunk lid. The side panels seems featureless except for the pronounced beltline, which should give the CT5 an elegant look.

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, don’t expect the camo to hide the Y-shaped taillights of the concept car. While the light will probably extend onto the fenders, they won’t be as radical and will have a milder, more elegant design. The bumper should be clean and simple on the regular models, but it will get an aggressive diffuser and a quad exhaust pipe layout on the CT5-V model.

Cadillac CT5 Interior

- * New interior layout
- * Brand-new tech
- * Standard leather
- * Optional sporty seats
- * Semi-autonomous drive
- * Improved comfort

2016 Cadillac CT6
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Following current luxury market trends, Cadillac will probably use big displays for both the instrument cluster and the infotainment system

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

A tall and wide center console will set the front seats apart for a sporty vibe. 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 CT6 will benefit from a few new systems. By the time it arrives, Cadillac should develop a new entertainment system. 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

- * Gas and hybrid options
- * High-revving V-8
- * Up to 550 horsepower
- * Solid performance
- * Good fuel economy

2016 Cadillac CT6
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The midsize sedan should borrow its engines from the bigger CT6

It’s not yet clear what engines we will find under the hood of the new CT5, but the sedan should borrow them from the bigger CT6. The full-size is available with a variety of drivetrains, including a four-cylinder, two V-6s, a V-8, and hybrids.

The base model should arrive with a turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder mill. This unit 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 familiar 3.6-liter V-6. Rated at 335 horsepower and 284 pound-feet in the CT6, this mill can be had with an all-wheel drive system. The range-topping model will also draw juice form an engine taken from the CT6. Much newer than the 3.6-liter unit, the 3.0-liter V-6 uses a pair of turbos to deliver an impressive 404 horses and 400 pound-feet of torque.

The high-performance model will use Cadillac’s new 4.2-liter V-8 engine

Should the CT5 also get a hybrid model, expect it to pair the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine to a pair 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 back in February with the 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 use 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

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.


2019 Cadillac CT5 Exterior Spyshots
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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
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Read our full review on the 2017 Cadillac CTS-V.

2015 Cadillac ATS Sedan High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2017 Cadillac ATS.

2016 Cadillac ATS-V Sedan Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2017 Cadillac ATS-V.

2016 Cadillac Escala High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2016 Cadillac Escala Concept.

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Read more Cadillac news.

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