by Gerhard Horn
Cadillac might have been in a sort of limbo for the last decade, but a new era has dawned with a new entry point to the range in the form of the Cadillac CT4. It took Cadillac several years to rid itself of that stuffy old-school image, but it managed to do so via smarter styling, improved interior quality, and better packaging. GM's revised Alpha II platform deserves special mention, as it has arguably done the most to transform Caddy's sedan range from humdrum to amusing.
The CT4 is an odd size, and while it technically replaces the old ATS, it now fits in a bracket between vehicle classifications. Larger than subcompacts like the Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class and BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe but smaller than compact sedans like the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class, the CT4 occupies an interesting space where its rear-wheel- and all-wheel-drive drivetrains gives it a dynamic edge over smaller rivals, while its price acts as a distinct advantage over larger competition. Armed with a 237 horsepower turbocharged four-pot, or an available 310 hp from a larger 2.7L unit, the CT4 seems like it wants to target the German establishment on multiple fronts.
For 2022, Cadillac will be making the Super Cruise 1 and 2 packages available on the Premium Luxury and Sport trims, but availability will be delayed, most likely due to the worldwide semiconductor chip shortage. The first bundles the Super Cruise semi-autonomous driving tech with a selection of other features, including a leather-trimmed Super Cruise steering wheel, a surround-view camera, and a 12-inch digital gauge cluster. The second includes all the features of the Super Cruise 1 package, plus the Technology, Climate, Lighting, and Navigation and Bose Premium Audio packages. A new color is also added to the CT4's palette, but it's only available on the Sport trim: Blaze Orange Metallic. Three colors are discontinued: Evergreen Metallic, Dark Moon Blue Metallic, and Velocity Red. The base Luxury trim receives more driver-assistance technology for 2022, notably automatic headlights with auto high beams, lane-keep assist, and blind-spot monitoring. All trims get a wireless charging pad and all models with the 2.7-liter engine lose their audio systems' physical volume and tuning dials on the dashboard.
The most affordable CT4 is the base Luxury derivative with an MSRP of $33,695. From there, it's a significant leap to the Premium Luxury model with the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, which retails for $38,595. The more powerful 2.7-liter engine can only be ordered in Premium Luxury trim, taking the price of the Cadillac CT4 up to $42,495. Last in the trim ladder, the Sport model is only slightly more expensive than the Premium Luxury with the 2.0-liter engine, retailing for $39,795. All-wheel drive adds $2,600 to the Luxury and Sport trims, and $3,200 on the Premium Luxury, but adds the Climate and the Navigation and Bose Premium Audio packages as standard on the latter. These prices exclude Cadillac's destination charge of $1,195.
See trim levels and configurations:
There's both good and bad when it comes to the ride and handling of the CT4. Starting with the good, Cadillac did a marvelous job of tuning the suspension; it feels more sophisticated than previous Caddy sedans, offering an impeccable balance between a firm, communicative ride and the ability to iron out bumps. The RWD is a unique selling point in the segment, though not for the reasons you might think. Yes, it can do the oversteer thing, but we're more thankful for the drive being directed to the back because it allows the front axle to just get on with the business of steering. This, combined with the steering itself, makes for an entertaining ride. Unlike many of its rivals, the CT4 doesn't rely too heavily on a speed-based steering weight. It's consistently heavy and gives loads of feedback.
The only weak point is the lack of character, engine-wise. There are ways to give a turbocharged four-cylinder engine character, but Cadillac seems to have missed the memo. Both engines just sound strained when you push on, devoid of any aural pleasure. It's just… noise.
We understand the new engines are leagues ahead in terms of specific output compared to the older naturally-aspirated V6, but something has been lost in the process.
NHTSA safety ratings are not available at this time.
Cadillac managed to reinvent itself over the last decade. It went from being a bit of a joke to building some of the most engaging driver's cars with spectacular styling. The new generation of sedans builds on these existing positive attributes by adding high-quality interior materials and many standard features. We also like Caddy's strategy of fighting the Germans across two segments. The CT4 retails for more or less (usually less) the same money as the Audi A3 sedan, BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe, and Mercedes-Benz CLA, but compared to these models, you get a bigger car with more standard features. When you look at the overall body length, it's clear that the CT4 also battles with the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class, providing similar power and performance, but for $10,000 less. Admittedly, the cabin is also much smaller than these rivals.
This is the closest Cadillac has ever come to beating the Germans, and we reckon it's good enough for the decision to boil down to personal taste. We can finally say that you can now buy American without having to constantly justify the choice. The Caddy CT4 is a good car. End of discussion.
To us, the CT4 is a driver's car, which is why we'd want the high-output 2.7-liter turbocharged engine. If this engine were available in base trim, it would be a perfect match. Alas, it's only available in Premium Luxury trim, which takes the CT4 into BMW 330i territory. We also find it odd that the Sport trim, which comes with several sporty accessories, can't be ordered with the more powerful engine.
To keep it as fun as possible, we'd stick with rear-wheel-drive. If you live in a cold-weather state, though, the all-wheel drive system is a must. The Diamond Sky Special Edition seems like a worthwhile investment considering how much you get in return, and we'd seriously consider at least the Super Cruise 1 package and a set of 19-inch Gloss Black alloys. All of this brings the total to nearly $50,000. That's deep into 3 Series territory, but a BMW will still cost more if you had to add similar options to it.
Since the Cadillac CT4 sits in between the BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe and the 3 Series in terms of size and price, it's worth comparing it to both. First, the Cadillac looks like a bargain compared to Bimmer's pricing structure. The Cadillac also has more power with the standard turbocharged 2.0-liter producing 237 hp, and the optional 2.7-liter unit pushing 310 hp. In comparison, the 228i produces 228 hp, while the M235i packs a 301 hp punch. The Caddy is heavier, which makes the BMW quicker off the mark. In terms of drivetrain layout, the BMW comes with front-wheel-drive or a FWD-based AWD system, lifeless steering, and a powerful but utterly soulless turbocharged four-pot engine. This is where Cadillac has the upper hand, featuring a more traditional and superior front-engine rear-wheel-drive layout.
Even though the Caddy has a larger body, the BMW is more practical. Its 15.2-cube trunk easily trumps the Caddy's ten cubes. There's more space in the rear of the BMW as well. As we like a more engaging vehicle, we'll take the Cadillac over the BMW. Add the 2.7-liter engine, and spend the rest of the cash left over on gas.
The BMW 3 Series has been the gold standard in this segment for many years, especially from a ride and handling perspective. In terms of performance, even base models can sprint to 60 mph in less than six seconds, easily beating Cadillac's base engine performance. BMW's current 3 Series is geared more toward comfort, but it still has that inherent BMW feel. Like the Cadillac, this particular BMW has a front-engine RWD layout. The 3 Series is also bigger in every direction, most notably when it comes to interior space. An inch or two makes a big difference. The BMW is pricier, but you do get the option of a 382 hp turbocharged six-cylinder.
While the 3 Series remains the segment's default choice, we wouldn't advise against buying a CT4. If nothing else, it's an exciting alternative that you won't have to constantly justify to naysayers. Either one of these would be a great car to own.
The most popular competitors of 2022 Cadillac CT4: