by Deiondre van der Merwe
Johnny Cash once sang about wanting a Cadillac so badly that he would steal one part at a time from GM's Detroit plant over several years, and put one together himself. But if Cash had been working for Cadillac in 2020 stealing parts to build a CT6 sedan, he'd never have completed one. That's because after four short years, the CT6 is bidding us adieu and bowing out early, while rivals like the BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class soldier on.
For many, this will surely be a disappointment, as the CT6's Omega platform was the only one capable of utilizing the newfangled Blackwing V8 engine, with 500 horsepower and 574 lb-ft of torque on tap in the Platinum trim. However, an affordable asking price and a spacious cabin, along with striking styling, mean there's life left in the CT6 while it's still on sale, and buyers who are willing to compromise on perceived material quality will be in for a true value-for-money treat.
When the 2020 model year was announced, a slew of updates came the way of the CT6, with fewer engines (the 2.0T and 3.0T engines were dropped) and RWD no longer offered. Heated front seats are now a standard-fitted indulgence along with a power sunroof and a navigation system. Multiple driver assists are also standard now, and include lane keep assist, rear cross-traffic alert and blind-spot monitoring. The mid-level Premium Luxury now enjoys Super Cruise, which is a semi-autonomous drive mode, and a premium Bose Panaray sound system. Production will be ending in January 2020, however, so if you want a CT6, you best get one soon.
The browbeating front end of the CT6 is attributable to a wide stature and a large grille flanked by sharp wishbone-shaped LED headlights with daytime running lights. The rear end of the Cadillac is accentuated by equally sharp taillights, and we can't help but appreciate the traditional round exhaust pipes popping out in pairs on each side. A panoramic sunroof is a standard feature, while the upper pair of trims benefit from illuminated door handles. A set of 19-inch alloy wheels are standard fare on the Luxury trim, while Premium Luxury and Platinum models get 20s in differing designs, the latter with chrome inserts.
Nothing about the CT6 is small, including its attitude. A total length measurement of 205.8 is boasted by the sedan, making it slightly shorter than both the 7 Series and the S-Class. It's a similar story for the 122.4-inch wheelbase. The CT6 is 74 inches wide and stands shorter than both of its main rivals at 58 inches. All of that attitude is heavy, and curb weights range from between 5,070 pounds and 5,617 lbs, substantially heavier than its German counterparts.
Eight exterior paint options are made available by Cadillac for the CT6, and two of them are no-cost options for the Luxury and Premium Luxury trim levels, in the form of Black Raven and Radiant Silver Metallic. The Platinum model gets access to four more no-cost options including Satin Steel, Stellar Black, Manhattan Noir, and Shadow - all metallic hues that cost $625 on lesser models. The two most premium options are available across the range for $1,225 on the Premium and Premium Luxury, and $600 on the Platinum, with buyers able to choose from Crystal White Tricoat and Red Horizon Tintcoat.
With engine options down from four to two, you'll have the choice between a standard 3.6-liter V6 and a menacing twin-turbo V8 - even if the latter comes at the price of both kidneys and a lobe of your liver. The base engine has enough determination to get the 5,000-pound lump of luxury from a standstill to 60 mph in around six seconds, albeit without the fuss of a V8 roar and all the accompanying turbo whooshes present on the V8. The V8 is a work of art - dubbed the Blackwing, a pair of turbochargers combine with the standard all-wheel-drive system to send the heavyweight sedan from 0-60 mph in around four seconds, giving the CT6 serious clout against German rivals. Those wanting even more performance, though, will look towards the CT6-V with even more power on tap, a model we review separately.
Cadillac no longer offers the frugal 2.0-liter turbo as an option for the CT6, and the twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 has also been given the boot for this year's model. We're left with a more than capable 3.6-liter V6 engine that comes standard on the Luxury and Premium Luxury trim levels, but you can opt for a ridiculously potent 4.2 liter V8 that's aided not by one, but two turbos; it lives under the Blackwing moniker and finds a home as standard in the Platinum derivative.
The bigger engine adds nearly $40,000 to the final asking price though, so the extra power comes with a bigger sacrifice than fuel economy. The naturally aspirated V6 manages 335 horsepower and 285 lb-ft of torque while providing an attractive melody, but is less powerful than rivals with smaller engines, thanks to their turbos. The unforgiving Blackwing powerhouse crunches out 500 horses and 574 lb-ft of torque. Both engines are mated to a ten-speed automatic transmission that makes rifling through gears a quick and slick affair. Smoothness is a given for the most part, but once in a blue moon, a hint of hesitation is present when trying to find the right gear.
There are bonus points to be earned in the full-size luxury sedan segment for vehicles that can handle and thrill as much as they can simply waft down the road with complete grace. That's where the CT6 claws back at German rivals, and with the demise of the Jaguar XJ, it's now hands-down the most exciting luxo-barge for the driving enthusiast.
Don't let the pared-back engine lineup and excessive weight fool you, the CT6 can handle, and it feels damn good while doing so. The BMW 7 Series and Mercedes S-Class tend to float down the road, and even with adaptive dampers placed in sportier settings, they still feel barge-like. Not so with the CT6, which is perhaps a little too firm to be a true contender for the title of Comfort King, even with its own set of adaptive dampers. But that means its tied down, and the razor-sharp steering and wonderfully taut body control mean the CT6 turns in with alacrity and maintains composure under duress. Unfortunately for Caddy, that's not what your traditional S-Class buyer is looking for, so the CT6 will never appeal to the usual shopper in this segment.
As expected, neither of the two engines are friends of the environment. This is especially true for the Blackwing V8 that's likely to have birds falling out of the sky behind it, and by contrast, the 3.6-liter V6 is an absolute eco-warrior. The standard engine has EPA estimates of 18/27/21 mpg city/highway/combined and falls rather far behind the BMW 740i's 22/29/24 mpg figures. The optional twin-turbo 4.2-liter V8 guzzles gas, unsurprisingly, and carries EPA estimates of 14/25/17 mpg. When the 19.2-gallon fuel tank is full, the V6 will manage just over 400 miles of range, while the V8 brings this figure down to just under 330 miles.
The interior of the sedan is dominated by clean lines and simplicity, but the cabin experience of the CT6 falls behind the class-leading interiors of both of its rivals from BMW and Mercedes-Benz. The design team at Cadillac had good intentions when it chucked different types of leather and trim inserts into the interior of the sedan, but the inside of the CT6 shows clear evidence of less premium materials than those used by rivals. One of them is the material used for the dash in the Luxury trim, which seems more suited to a lower segment and a car wearing a golden bowtie instead of the Cadillac shield. The rest of the interior also tends to lose marks in key aspects with seats that aren't supportive enough to truly compete with its more expensive competitors, and a limited amount of rear passenger space.
The large luxury sedan segment thrives on the principle of big numbers when it comes to passenger space - more often associated as being vehicles in which the back seats take priority over those up front. Looking purely at the numbers, the CT6 doesn't exactly perform poorly, especially with 40.4 inches of rear legroom and 38 inches of rear headroom, but the BMW 7 Series does four inches better in terms of space to stretch out, highlighting the CT6's lack of class-leading rear space. The front perches offer nearly as much space as the rears though; although the problem with the foremost seats is that what they offer in terms of space, they lack in lateral support. Nevertheless, they offer enough comfort for long trips and boast 14-way power-adjustability that do well to aid the driver's visibility. And, if that isn't enough, 16- and 20-way power-adjustable front seats are available, too. The front seats also offer heating as standard. Additionally available ventilated seats can be opted for along with massage seats. Regrettably, the rear seats don't offer the kind of adjustability offered by rivals, and while the CT6 still seats five, those five will be happier in the cabin of a 7 Series.
A host of different trim inserts and upholstery options are available for all three CT6 models. Starting with the Luxury, two no-cost leather upholstery options of Jet Black or Sahara Beige with Jet Black accents are available. This model comes standard with black trim inserts. The Premium Luxury offers the same color options as the base model, but with Chevron perforated inserts, and it gets the addition of Dark Auburn leather upholstery with Jet Black accents. Wood inserts make their way onto the dashboard and steering wheel as well as the door cards of this mid-spec trim. On the range-topping Platinum derivative, Jet Black semi-aniline leather upholstery is standard, along with the option of semi-aniline leather in Very Light Cashmere with Maple Sugar accents, although both options come with darker wood inserts that are also added to the center console.
The CT6's trunk space offering is in the middle of the ranks, and the rearmost part of the sedan offers 15.8 cubic feet of real estate. This figure is bested by the BMW 7 Series' offering of 18.2 cubes, but the Cadillac manages to beat out the Mercedes-Benz S-Class' 12.3-cube allotment. The rear seats don't have the ability to fold, but they have a rear pass-through. The BMW may offer more space, but the CT6's offering is enough to hold around six carry-on suitcases inside the trunk, meaning it'll serve you well if you're regularly jet-setting or on your way to the golf course.
Internal storage is much of a muchness for cars in this segment, with cupholders for four occupants, sizable door pockets, front console storage, a glovebox, and a fairly large cubby beneath the center front armrest.
The CT6 comes well-equipped in terms of standard features on all three trim levels, and the base model gets nearly all of the features offered by the top of the range Platinum trim. A panoramic sunroof, remote start, keyless entry, and push-button start are standard features. These are joined at a base level by a multifunction leather-clad steering wheel, 14-way power-adjustable heated front seats, and dual-zone climate control, while the Premium Luxury is upgraded with a heated steering wheel, quad-zone climate control and 16-way adjustable front seats, as well as a 12-inch digital instrument cluster and head-up display. The Platinum receives 20-way power-adjustable seats. Standard driver-assist features are certainly commendable and at a base level, they include automatic emergency braking, pedestrian monitoring, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, and cross-traffic alert both in the front and the rear, as well as blind-spot monitoring and standard cruise control, although from the middle trim this becomes adaptive. The most notable driver assist is Super Cruise feature, which offers semi-autonomous driving abilities on highways, touted as the next step forward in autonomy for the Cadillac brand.
We detested the old trackpad that was found on the CT6 of yore, but we haven't had to worry about that since 2019, thanks to the addition of a much more efficient click wheel. The infotainment system is still too multi-layered and is about as easy to understand as quantum physics, but once you're exposed to it over a long period, you'll learn the tech ways of the Caddy. A standard 10.2-inch touchscreen comes standard on all trim levels and enables Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Bluetooth streaming. Audio is brought to life via an eight-speaker Bose sound system in base form, but stepping up to either of the upper trims sees the inclusion of a premium 34-speaker Bose Panaray sound system. A 4G Wi-Fi hotspot is standard on all trims, while with the upgraded sound system you also receive two ten-inch rear displays with two sets of wireless headphones, dual USB ports, and an HDMI input.
J.D. Power gives the 2020 Cadillac CT6 a score of 80 out of 100, but despite this relatively high rating, this year's model has already suffered a recall for faulty tire pressure sensors. The 2019 model was the victim of two recalls, too, relating to the turn signals not deactivating automatically and inadequate retractors for the rear seatbelts. Cadillac offers a basic warranty that is valid for four years or 50,000 miles and a six-year/70,000-mile drivetrain warranty. Roadside assistance is also standard for either six years or 70,000 miles, whichever comes first.
Neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS has officially rated or crash-tested the CT6, but its extensive safety list does well to quell concerns.
One of the things that the CT6 excels at is its superb standard suite of safety features, with little left to the options list in most cases. It includes both traditional and modern features, including the usual grouping of a rearview camera, ABS, teen driver system, and park distance control along with an eight airbag system that includes dual front, front side, front knee and side curtain airbags. The CT6 also comes with automatic emergency braking, lane keep and lane departure warning, pedestrian monitoring, front and rear cross-traffic alert, and blind-spot monitoring. Cruise control is also standard, and is upgraded to adaptive cruise control in the mid-range trims. The Super Cruise semi-autonomous driving feature is also installed.
The Cadillac CT6 paints a very tempting picture: a very large and attractive luxury sedan that's over $30,000 more affordable than its direct peers. Money talks, but so does a premium cabin and comfortable ride. The CT6 has missed the mark on both of these fronts, and while the latter may be in favor of tied-down driving dynamics that are wonderful to experience, we fear Cadillac's missed the mark entirely when it comes to what buyers in this segment are looking for. While that's all fine and well when you consider the substantial cost saving of a base model CT6, the engine you really want is the Blackwing V8. But this bumps the price up substantially, and when you're asked to pay S-Class money for the CT6, the rest of the package just doesn't hold up.
The most affordable way of entry into the CT6 lineup is the base-level Luxury trim that has an MSRP of $58,995. Its price point is way below that of the BMW 7 Series and the S-Class Sedan's $97,250 asking price. At mid-level, the Premium Luxury has a starting price of $74,495, considerably higher than the base model. The top of the range Platinum trim boasts a twin-turbo V8, but this comes with a much heavier MSRP of $96,495. A $995 destination fee is applicable to your purchase of any CT6 model.
The 2020 Cadillac CT6 range comprises three trim levels: Luxury, Premium Luxury, and Platinum. Two different engines are found across the range, with the first two trims getting a naturally aspirated 3.6-liter V6 as standard, and the Platinum getting a twin-turbocharged 4.2-liter V8. Both engines are mated to a ten-speed automatic gearbox and all three trims come standard with all-wheel-drive.
At base level, the Luxury model comes with 19-inch wheels, the Premium Luxury with the two upper trims receiving 20-inch wheels. All trims come with a panoramic sunroof and remote start as well as keyless entry, push-button start, and a multifunction leather-clad steering wheel. The Luxury model further incorporates dual-zone climate control, and 14-way power-adjustable heated seats. A 10.2-inch touchscreen enables Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and Bluetooth streaming that's brought to life further by an eight-speaker sound system. Standard safety features are inclusive of a rearview camera, ABS, teen driver system, and park distance control.
The Premium Luxury adds ventilation to the front seats, along with 16-way power-adjustability. A heated steering wheel is also added with quad-zone climate control. It also features a digital instrument cluster, adaptive cruise control and a head-up display. Safety features on this model include Super Cruise semi-autonomous driving, pedestrian monitoring, front and rear cross-traffic alert as well as automatic parking assist.
Added to the Platinum model is a twin-turbocharged 4.2-liter V8 along with bigger brakes, while 20-way power-adjustable front seats with ventilation and a massage function are also added.
For the Luxury and Premium Luxury, the Exterior Accent Package adds 20-inch wheels and a sporty rear spoiler for $3,995. The Premium Carpet Package adds a carpeted trunk mat and carpeted floor mats for $410.
With the trim lineup slashed to just three models for the new year, our pick of the simplified litter would be the mid-spec Premium Luxury as it adds a significant amount of extra features over the base model, and offers a more luxurious experience, thanks to the addition of a digital instrument cluster and quad-zone climate control. Adaptive cruise control and a head-up display are also added to the trim. We think it's the best CT6 of them all because it offers more convenience over the Luxury models, but avoids the exorbitant asking price and bigger fuel bills that accompany the Platinum model.
Given their similar DNA, the CT6 and the CTS look quite similar, too. However, the CT6 gets sharper, more attractive exterior styling and a far better interior over its more affordable relative. The CT6 also offers more power at a base level, but the CTS gets far better fuel economy estimates from the EPA. It's likely that shoppers who are seriously looking for something like the CT6 will turn a blind eye to the CTS, as it's not nearly as premium, occupying the smaller midsize segment. The inside of the CTS feels outdated against the CT6 and the more affordable Cadillac offers less space, as well. Its trunk is also smaller than the already small trunk in the CT6, again showing the weak point of the smaller sedan. While it might be fun to drive, the CTS has had its day, and the newer CT6 is the better buy - well worth the extra price premium.
The CT6 sedan has effectively taken the place of the XTS in the Caddy lineup, and as the newer development, its virtues shine through proudly. Not only is it packaged better with more interior space than the XTS, but the exterior design is better resolved as well. Throw in a pair of exciting engines (the XTS gets the same base V6 and a twin-turbo version with 410 hp) and the CT6 quite simply leaves the XTS for dead. Cadillac hasn't always hit the nail on the head when it's come time to replace aging models, but this time around, the CT6 is a clear winner.
Check out some informative Cadillac CT6 Sedan video reviews below.