Cadillac’s commitment to sedans remains strong with new CT5

Fifty years ago, the entry-level Cadillac product was a modestly equipped, but very much full-sized, sedan badged “Calais”. Thirty years ago, it was a chrome-faced, V-6-powered take on the Chevrolet Cavalier called “Cimarron”. In the decades since, the Standard Of The World has relied on the angular CTS and, more recently, ATS sedans as the brand’s most attainable entry points. Each new take on this formula has been accompanied by considerable fanfare and much talk about world-beating performance—but the customers have never materialized in the expected numbers.

Which is not to say that Cadillac isn’t doing entry-luxury business, because they are—it’s just happening on the SUV side of the showroom. As a belated recognition of that fact, the wildly-popular XT5 crossover was just joined by a smaller XT4 sibling. Cadillac, like the market leaders at Lexus and the crosstown rivals at Lincoln, now pays the bills with leather-lined high-riding wagons.

Consider the CT5, which debuts today at the New York Auto Show, as a mildly hedged bet against the eternal popularity of Lexus RX and its competition. The fastback-shaped sedan’s silhouette hit the Internet last month, but the precise details have been fuzzy—until now. To begin with, this compact sedan isn’t all that compact. Wheelbase is 116 inches, and overall length sits between Camry and Avalon at 193.8 inches. Rear-wheel-drive is standard, with AWD optional.

Cadillac CT5 taillight
Cadillac CT5 wheel detail

Cadillac CT5 steering wheel

Power will come from the 237-horse two-liter turbo four, with an optional three-liter turbo V-6 making a stout 335hp and 400 lb-ft. There’s one transmission, a ten-speed automatic. The model range is extensive, with three primary levels and a Platinum package optional on the top two. A full suite of driver aids is available, with Cadillac’s SuperCruise tech as the optional cherry on top. A Sport model offers aggressive visual styling and Brembo front brakes.

Absent a massive change in customer preference, will the CT5 change the game in Cadillac showrooms? History suggests it won’t; both the Calais and the Cimarron were outsold by “proper” Cadillacs higher up on the food chain. Don’t look for this handsome, if slightly busy-looking, sedan to conquer too many XT4 or XT5 buyers. Which is a shame, because this promises to be a rapid, composed, and feature-filled take on the entry-luxury sedan.

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