Derek Shiekhi | Nov 12, 2020

Exterior view of the 2020 Cadillac CT5-V

The sport sedan is alive and well at Cadillac. In fact, Cadillac's lineup is totally new for 2020. Its two models have fresh looks, powertrains and technology. Even their names and performance hierarchies are different. The car formerly known as the ATS is now the CT4. The larger CTS has turned into the CT5. Pretty easy to remember, right? Cadillac just replaced a couple of letters with numbers. Simple enough.

But things get tricky when you look at the performance models. The CT5 is the best example to use. Its predecessor was available in three basic forms. The tamer versions were focused more on comfort and luxury. The V-Sport was the entry-level performance model with a twin-turbo V6 that produced 420 horsepower. Then there was the CTS-V, an all-out halo car with 640 supercharged V8 horsepower.

The 2020 Cadillac CT5 has a starting price of $36,895 and is available in four trim levels: Luxury, Premium Luxury, Sport and V. That V doesn't mean exactly what it used to mean, though. Think of it as the modern V-Sport, the new mid-range performance model in the CT5 lineup. The true successor to the CTS-V is the upcoming CT5-V Blackwing, which will offer a manual transmission option, racy carbon fiber seats, lightweight magnesium wheels and enough power to embarrass dedicated sports cars. As of this moment, the CT5-V is the most potent version of Cadillac's midsize sedan. After taking a few minutes to learn the new meaning of the V suffix, I spent a week driving a 2020 CT5-V that Cadillac upgraded with cosmetic, tech and safety features from an MSRP of $47,695 to an as-tested price of $56,305.

2020 Cadillac CT5-V Exterior

See the exterior of the 2020 Cadillac CT5-V

When the CT5-V arrived in my driveway, it was the first one I - and I'm sure many others - had seen in my part of Austin, Texas. Cadillac made it easy for everyone to tell my test car was a sport sedan. The CT5-V's front overhang was short. The bulk of its visual mass was over the back tires, emphasizing its rear-wheel-drive layout. There wasn't an inch of chrome in sight. Instead, Cadillac covered the mesh main and lower grilles, greenhouse trim and rocker panel extensions between the 19-inch wheels in black. The special rear diffuser in the middle of two banks of angular exhaust finishers was the same appropriately named color as the body: Velocity Red.

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2020 Cadillac CT5-V Interior

See the interior of the 2020 Cadillac CT5-V

The CT5-V is what you might call a "'tweener model." It occupies a space in between the regular CT5s and the future CT5-V Blackwing road rocket. Its cockpit reflects that specific position, pairing comfort and convenience features with sporty elements. Among other things, the V Premium Package included the Climate Package, which added a heating element to the steering wheel and upgraded the Jet Black leather seats in the front row with heating, ventilation and a massage function. The V Premium Package also bundled together a 15-speaker Bose Performance Series audio system and navigation running on a 10-inch touchscreen. Hard controls were minimized to the essentials: volume and tuning knobs and a home button. Below those were two rows of hard buttons for the climate, seat heating/ventilation and parking and lane keep assistance controls.

The CT5-V's sportier features were all around, although more subtle. A head-up display, one part of the Driver Awareness Plus Package, showed me my speed, rev count and other important readouts right on the windshield. Short paddles poked out from behind the horizontal spokes on the steering wheel. Metal plates with black rubber ribbing covered the dead, brake and gas pedals. Swaths of glossy carbon fiber-like trim gave the door panels, dashboard and center console a racy look.

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2020 Cadillac CT5-V Powertrain

See the engine of the 2020 Cadillac CT5-V

I felt that same balance of comfort and performance in the CT5-V's on-road dynamics. Cadillac completely reworked its Magnetic Ride Control system, equipping it with new sensors and components, upgraded software and reformulated magnetorheological fluid. According to Cadillac, those improvements enable MagneRide 4.0 to read the road 1,000 times a second and respond to road conditions up to 45 percent faster than the last-generation system.

When I had the CT5-V in its Tour drive mode, it was just as comfortable and pleasant as you'd expect a Cadillac sedan to be. In its Sport and Track settings, the suspension firmed up noticeably, but never stiffened to the point that it felt as if I was being punished for indulging in a quick and fun drive. I could also lock in various vehicle settings in My Mode, which I could access through a rocker switch behind the shifter for the 10-speed automatic. For an immediate change of pace, I pushed the V button on the steering wheel to pull up my custom V Mode settings for the engine, suspension and other components. I opted for Sport for most of them, but chose Track for the exhaust so I could hear its raspy hum at full volume.

Even though the twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6's 360 horsepower and 405 lb-ft were significantly down from the CTS V-Sport's output figures, they were enough to make back road drives fun. Paddle shifts from the single-clutch automatic were respectably swift. When I pitched the CT5-V into curves in Sport mode, it reminded me of its ATS-V coupe cousin, which I tested a couple of years ago. Like the CT5-V, that had a pronounced heaviness to its steering, a heft that seemed more fitting of a muscle car than any car with six cylinders under its hood.

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2020 Cadillac CT5-V Safety

See the safety equipment of the 2020 Cadillac CT5-V

My press loaner had a comprehensive mix of standard and optional safety features. At the base level, it offered the protection of Forward Collision Alert, Front Pedestrian Braking and Lane Change Alert with Side Blind Zone Alert, as well as Rear Park Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. In addition to the useful head-up display I mentioned earlier, the Driver Awareness Plus Package also contained Intellibeam automatic high beams, Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning and more.

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2020 Cadillac CT5-V Overall

See the exterior of the 2020 Cadillac CT5-V


It's still early days for the CT5. Cadillac's new line of sedans is only going to get more powerful as time goes on. To test-drive the CT5-V, the current performance flagship of the range, head to your closest AutoNation Cadillac dealership.

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2020 Cadillac CT5-V Specs


4-door, 5-passenger, FWD


1.6L I4, 122 hp, 114 lb-ft
CVT automatic


31/36 mpg (city/hwy)

NHTSA Safety Rating

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

AutoNation Drive Test Drive Review: ★ ★ ★ ★

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