Once heralded and accepted as the standard of the world — albeit self-proclaimed — Cadillac now finds itself struggling for relevance in a world in which standards have changed.
Pundits attribute the marque’s difficulties to branding issues and the lack of a unique selling position. And, as much as I enjoyed driving the 2023 Cadillac CT5 V, I have to admit those allegations do have some validity.
Handsomely styled, nicely equipped and undeniably fun to drive, the 2023 Cadillac CT5 V strives to make up for the lack of performance potential its entry-level models lack. In other words, if you want crisp handling, quick acceleration and just plain driving satisfaction, you’re locked into buying either the CT5 V or its 200 mph-capable Blackwing counterpart.
Either of those cars is quite capable of keeping pace with the highest-performing models from its direct competitors. However, that’s also kind of the problem here. The Cadillacs are like, “Hey, we can do that too!” as opposed to, “We can do all they do — and more besides!”
Thus, if you aren’t pre-disposed to buy a Cadillac performance sedan, the odds of you straying away from Audi, BMW or Mercedes to get a Caddy, are pretty low — and that’s a problem Cadillac has yet to resolve once and for all.
Now, with all of that said, the 2023 Cadillac CT5 V with which I spent a week drives beautifully in most regards and is more than capable of holding its own in every driving situation.
Regardless of the angle from which it is viewed, the Cadillac CT5 V is a strikingly handsome car. Back in 2001, in an effort to attract a younger customer, the marque invested some $4.3 billion into a program that ultimately came to be known as “Art & Science”.
The first model to emerge from this effort was the 2003 Cadillac CTS, the styling vestiges of which can be seen in the CT5 to this day. Wholly embracing linearity as its fundamental styling element, that first CTS—and this CT5—are all about crisp straight lines, with a few bulges here and there to infer performance potential.
The look manages to be both low key and dynamic, which is a difficult feat to manage. Cadillac loyalists knew what it was right away, saying, “That’s a nice-looking Cadillac you’re diving this week Lyndon.” Problem is those people were in their 60s and 70s. Meanwhile, the young woman working the In-n-Out drive-through (double-double, protein style, with grilled onions—thankyouverymuch) said, “Nice car, what is it?” When I responded, “Cadillac,” she said, “Oh …” as if I’d just told her Taylor Swift lips-synchs in concert.
My first impression of the CT5 V’s interior treatment was colored by the fact that I’d traded it for the Range Rover Sport Autobiography, on which I reported here Aug. 7. Tasked with following that and the Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 I covered the week prior, was like asking a moderately talented comedian to follow Dave Chappelle.
Taken on their own, they’re likely to elicit some laughs. However, following a master storyteller like Mr. Chappelle — well, that’s another matter altogether.
I’m saying that to say the CT5 V’s interior left me a bit cold upon first contact. The design struck me as being somewhat austere. Moreover, the materials choice mix was less than what I deem premium. The leather upholstery was nice enough, as was the color-contrasting French stitching. However, the pairing of inexpensive looking trim pieces alongside that leather sabotaged the overall effect.
Conversely, as my residual memories of its predecessors faded over the course of the week, I came to appreciate the simplicity, ergonomic soundness and wealth of features the Cadillac CT5 V offered. Further, the Caddy’s passenger accommodations were comfortable, with generous storage and legroom at all seating positions. Ingress and egress were commendable too.
Here again, the Cadillac would have been more impressive as an opening act. My first impression of the twin-turbocharged V-6 was skewed by its coarse nature. Let’s just say smoothness isn’t its long suit.
However, once I found a good twisty road and ran the CT5 V vigorously in the 10-speed automatic transmission’s lower gears, the 360-horsepower, 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V-6 happily demonstrated its generous propensity for delivering acceleration — and exhilaration.
Direct injected, the aluminum powerplant spins up to its redline without hesitation, anywhere in its rev range. What’s more, the engine pulled strongly, even from low revs — which makes perfect sense when you consider it provides 405 pound-feet of torque at 2,400 rpm.
Safety and Technology
Here’s where Cadillac has something going for it that Audi, BMW and Mercedes can’t touch. Super Cruise is straight fire y’all. Under the right circumstances, a Super Cruise equipped Cadillac CT5 V delivers the closest thing to a self-driving experience I’ve seen anywhere — save Tesla.
Once you’re on the highway, you can tell the Super Cruise system the maximum speed at which you’re willing to travel, sit back and chill. It does the rest, including changing lanes to pass slower moving cars and moving back into the lane it vacated once the pass is complete — if that lane is clear.
Granted, it’s an option for which Cadillac will want you to break off $3.7k, but it’s absolutely worth it if you do a lot of highway driving,
That the rear-wheel drive 2013 Cadillac CT5 V is a driver’s car of the first order is indisputable. Its reflexes are sharp, and the Cadillac responds to your commands with the adroitness of a Golden Retriever in duck hunting season.
You will absolutely enjoy hustling a CT5 V along a back road — particularly a curvaceous one. Throttle response is good, braking is resolute, body motions are well controlled and turn-in is sharp.
And yet, when you’re just doing day to day shuttling, the CT5 V relegates its performance tendencies to your desire for comfort and behaves accordingly.
The duality of the Cadillac’s nature is truly endearing.
2023 Cadillac CT5 V-Series Specifications
|Dimension||Dimensions: L: 193.9 inches/W: 74.1 inches/H: 57.2 inches/Wheelbase: 116 inches|
|Powertrain||3.0-liter twin turbocharge V-6; 10-speed automatic transmission, RWD|
|Fuel Economy||18 mpg city/27 mpg highway/21 mpg combined|
|Performance Specs||360 horsepower and 405 pound-feet of torque|
|Price||Base price: $50,495; As tested: $58,905 including $1,195 destination charge|
|On-Sale Date||Available now|
I know I’ve done a lot of criticizing here and I really don’t want you to go away with the impression that the 2023 Cadillac CT5 V is not a happening ride.
It’s a perfectly lovely car.
The only problem is it’s also in a race in which the leaders are absolutely crushing it in terms of their brilliance. What’s more, they are similarly priced, which gives Cadillac yet another hurdle to clear. Were the CT5 V considerably less expensive than its competitors it would have a more strongly defining hook upon which to hang its crest-emblazoned ball cap.
But that simply isn’t the case.
However, in addition to the brilliance of Super Cruise, there is another area in which the Cadillac outshines its Teutonic rivals. The CT5’s warranty coverage surpasses that of the Germans’. In fact, its powertrain warranty bests the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class by two years or 20,000 miles.
2023 Cadillac CT5 V-Series — Frequently Asked Questions
Is the CT5 V worth it?
It’s a competitive proposition in its price range. The car delivers sharp handling and a strong feature set. The optional Super Cruise system even permits hands-free operation on multilane highways.
What does the “V” stand for in the Cadillac CT5 V?
The “V” in CT5 V signifies the cylinder configuration of its engine, as well as the velocity it delivers.
What are the changes to the 2023 CT5 V?
The CT5 goes into 2023 basically unchanged—save for three new color choices; Radiant Red Tintcoat, Argent Silver Metallic, and Midnight Steel Metallic.