- Good infotainment
- Smooth 10-speed automatic
- Powerful 2.7-liter turbo-4
- Priced right
- No standard AEB
- Monochrome interior
- Cramped rear seats
- Staid exterior
features & specs
The entry-level 2020 Cadillac CT4 sedan presents a value that is quickly eroded by a lack of features standard on other luxury makes.
The 2020 Cadillac CT4 is an entry-level compact luxury sedan meant to entice a new generation of buyers into GM’s luxury brand. It succeeds the ATS but comes at a time when automakers are pulling back on sedans in favor of crossover SUVs. Lincoln no longer offers a sedan, yet Cadillac launched the CT4 and more stylish CT5 for 2020.
The CT4 earns a 6.2 TCC Rating based on the mid-grade Premium Luxury trim. We’d skip the base Luxury trim altogether, and the best powertrain is not even offered on the Sport trim. We haven’t driven the performance-oriented CT4-V. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Longer than the ATS but without much more room, the CT4 speaks Cadillac’s current design language with vertical boomerang lights at all four corners and a grille designed in the shape of the Cadillac crest. But the overreliance of black-on-black interior and an unremarkable body let it blend into a luxury class that defines itself by standing out.
The highlight of the rear-wheel drive CT4 is an available 2.7-liter turbo-4 that can make either 310 horsepower or 325 hp in the CT4-V. It’s paired to a smooth 10-speed automatic transmission and is superior to the standard 237-hp 2.0-liter turbo-4 with an 8-speed automatic. All-wheel drive is extra, but might only be worth it on the CT4-V or in northern states.
Even though the compact sedan cramps rear seat passengers and doesn’t offer much cargo space in the trunk, it comes fairly well-equipped, except for the egregious lack of automatic emergency braking on the base Luxury model.
Standard equipment includes LED lighting, synthetic leather seats, an 8.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and keyless entry and starting. Cadillac’s driver-assistance feature, Super Cruise, will be available in 2021 models.
2020 Cadillac CT4
Indistinct inside and out, the 2020 CT4 feels like a dark sport jacket in that it is only as good as what pairs with it.
Starting from an average score of 5, the CT4 gets a point for an attractive though not eye-catching exterior and an interior that is refined but could very easily be found on a high-grade Chevy. It earns a 6.
The CT4 carries a more traditional look than the fastback shape of the similar but larger CT5. The CT4 is the suit jacket to the CT5’s blazer.
The 2020 Cadillac CT4 is more than four inches longer than its ATS predecessor but has the same wheelbase, making the rear chunkier and the front less pronounced with what appears to be a smaller dash-to-axle ratio. In short, the front wheels don’t appear as pushed to the corners in that sporty way pioneered by the BMW 3-Series. A creased hood dips dramatically at the front, and rectangular LED headlights stretch the face into the corners, where boomerang LED DRLs project motion down the side of the sedan.
It’s a serviceable but stylish suit jacket but if you want something edgier in your Cadillac sedan check out the CT5 blazers or the V-Series sport jackets.
The cabin is dominated by soft-touch materials clad in black on black on black, from the synthetic leather seats to the leather-wrapped steering wheel to the dash and door panels. The black is broken up only by chrome trim bands and subtle but stylish accent stitching. The lower half and the seats can be lightened to beige at no charge on base Luxury models, and possible upgrades on other trims include light or dark shades of red. The 8.0-inch touchscreen commands the uncluttered dash, and a controller dial and drive mode switch panel lead the center console. The console is relatively narrow, thanks in part to an electronic gear shifter.
2020 Cadillac CT4
The largest turbo-4 engine produced today is complemented by an effortless 10-speed automatic transmission.
Two engine choices make all the difference in the 2020 CT4. The rear-wheel drive sedan comes with a 237-hp 2.0-liter turbo-4 and an 8-speed automatic transmission standard on Luxury, Premium Luxury, and Sport trims. We tested the 2.7-liter turbo-4 with a 10-speed automatic that is optional in the Premium Luxury for an extra $2,500 and standard on the CT4-V.
We only tested the 2.7-liter, and it provides the basis for our high rating of 8 out of 10. With its potent but efficient turbo-4, it can hit 60 mph in under 5 seconds, according to Car and Driver, and has an effortless 10-speed automatic transmission for two points on our scale that starts at 5. We add another point to get to an 8 overall for a ride that is comfy while cruising but can be tightened up for more spirited cornering.
The largest gas turbo-4 on the market delivers gobs of power while still remaining fuel efficient thanks in part to a fuel management system that shuts down two of the four cylinders during highway cruising. This massive turbo-4, which is also used in the Chevy Silverado, features a dual-volute turbocharger that’s even more responsive at lower engine speeds than other twin-scroll turbos on the market. At cruising speeds and in need of a quick move to jump ahead of a merge, nearly all of the torque is delivered in less than two seconds, according to GM. In short, this engine makes the CT4 quicker without compromising efficiency around town.
In Premium Luxury, the 2.7-liter turbo-4 is tuned to make 310 hp and 350 pound-feet of torque; in the more performance-oriented V-Series, it makes 325 hp and 380 lb-ft starting at 1,800 rpm.
The 10-speed automatic paired to this engine is equally impressive. Under normal acceleration it flicks between gears imperceptibly but predictably, staying comfortably in the 2000-3000 rpm range. A happy, seemingly chipper turbo whir accompanies the engine noise. At cruising speed, it quiets and can drop to just above 1,000 rpm, with 9th and 10th gears for long-range cruising. Put it into Sport mode and jump on the throttle, and the rpm needle stays vertical between the 4,000-5,800 rpm range until you lay off the gas. The ability to accelerate is ever present, with massive torque on demand at any point. It tempts you to make passing moves without passing anything except triple digits on the speedometer.
Surely the handling is optimized in the V-Series with the adjustable and adaptive suspension GM calls Magnetic Ride Control, but the MacPherson front struts and independent rear suspension do a good job of cushioning the ride from highway imperfections in other CT4s. There is some roll on exit ramps that made us long for the V-Series. Feedback from the electronic steering is true, with inputs leading to corresponding reactions from the wheels, and the chunky, leather-wrapped steering wheel has a good heft.
All-wheel drive is an interesting proposition if you are considering this car by committee. If your partner wants the assured traction of all-wheel drive even though you want the performance kick out of a proper rear-wheel drive car, the best compromise might be to upgrade to the CT4-V. All-wheel drive is $2,600 more on Luxury or Sport trims, and $3,200 on Premium Luxury with the 2.7-liter. It’s only $1,100 more on the CT4-V. At that point, if AWD is a must, the CT4-V is the bargain.
Significant others might see right through that value proposition but love is blind, it has been said.
2020 Cadillac CT4
Comfort & Quality
A spacious front seat gives way to tight confines in back and in the trunk.
Starting from an average score of 5, the CT4 gets docked a point for its cramped rear seats and inability to fit five passengers, but earns that point back for a solid fit and finish. It’s a 5 for comfort.
Skip the misnamed Luxury trim to get eight-way power adjustable front seats on the Premium Luxury trim with two-way lumbar support in firm but comfy sport bucket seats.
The 60/40-split rear folding seats open up some much needed room to expand upon the trunk’s tiny 10.7-cubic feet of cargo volume. We could barely fit two carry ons, a large duffel bag, and a small cooler for a weekend away for two. A handbag and backpack rode in the back seat.
A 6-foot-2 passenger squeezed into the rear seat behind the 5-foot-10 passenger riding shotgun, who moved the seat up to its furthest position. Ride share drivers, look elsewhere; ride share users, request another car. Hauling passengers is not the CT4’s forte.
But the cockpit is spacious enough, and the sleek black finish is sharp without being flashy. Soft touch materials on the dash, doors, seats, steering wheel, and armrest provide an understated sense of luxury.
2020 Cadillac CT4
The 2020 Cadillac CT4 lacks official crash-test data but its lack of standard safety feature is suspect.
The 2020 Cadillac CT4 hasn’t been crash-tested by the NHTSA or the IIHS, but the lack of standard safety features such as automatic emergency braking will preclude it from any Top Safety Pick possibilities. Without crash-test ratings, we can’t give it a score for safety.
The base Luxury model defies its name when it comes to standard driver-assist systems. Aside from mandatory airbags and a backup camera, there are none, and shoppers don’t have the choice to option them.
From a company that makes one of the most advanced hands-free driving systems in Super Cruise, which is due on 2021 models, Cadillac’s absence of standard automatic emergency braking makes the Luxury trim pointless, in our book.
CT4 Premium Luxury and Sport come with the basics, such as automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, and a vibrating seat when potential trouble is detected, but then Cadillac expects you to pony up for features most luxury automakers include as standard, such as adaptive cruise control and active lane control.
2020 Cadillac CT4
Starting under $34,000, the 2020 Cadillac CT4 is a relative luxury bargain.
Cadillac learned from the mistakes of the ATS and CTS by equipping the 2020 CT4 with plenty of standard features at an impressive starting price of $33,990. That’s taking a page from the Genesis playbook. No fool, Cadillac takes a separate page from the Germans by offering options and packages that can easily total more than $50,000 in the top CT4-V.
What is luxury if not the freedom to spend money where you want, how you want? The CT4 is a good value with plenty of standard features and an easy-to-use 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system that combine to bump it to a 7 out of 10 for features on our scale.
Yet some of the CT4’s packages and options might make the customer feel like a fool.
Available in Luxury, Premium Luxury, Sport, or V-Series, the CT4 starts off fairly well-finished, with synthetic leather seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a digital instrument cluster, an 8-inch touchscreen, two USB ports, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, keyless entry and starting, and remote starting. On the outside, it has 17-inch alloy wheels and LED headlights and taillights.
Yet, as pointed out in the Safety section, basic safety features such as automatic emergency braking can’t even be optioned on the base Luxury trim. That alone compels us to turn our heads and consider leaving the showroom, virtually or otherwise.
But the 310-hp 2.7-liter turbo-4 with the 10-speed available on the Premium Luxury compels us to think twice. It’s not available on the Sport, and is only a $2,500 upgrade over the 2.0-liter turbo-4 to start at $38,490. That combo is our recommended pick.
Standard equipment on Premium Luxury includes leather upholstery, 8-way power-adjustable front seats, and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection. Bizarrely, there is a gap indicator that appears on the instrument cluster, as well as a steering wheel button to activate it. That is the exact same gap indicator GM puts on vehicles with adaptive cruise control, which is extra. Cadillac says it’s to set the sensitivity for the forward-collision alert warning. Confusion comes free.
The top of the 2020 CT4 lineup is the CT4-V for $45,490. It doesn’t come standard with heated seats, either, unless you opt up for all-wheel drive, then Caddy throws in heated seats and a heated steering wheel.
Otherwise the upgrades are performance-based, with more thickly bolstered sport seats with 18-way power adjustments, a thicker steering wheel, 18-inch wheels with summer performance tires, a rear spoiler, Brembo front brakes, an electronic limited-slip rear differential, launch control, and GM’s Magnetic Ride Control adaptive and adjustable suspension.
Pick any color other than black or white, add a package, and the 2020 CT4-V eclipses $50,000. The CT4 has a 4-year/50,000-mile comprehensive warranty with a complimentary first scheduled maintenance.
2020 Cadillac CT4
The 2020 Cadillac CT4 is more efficient than its predecessor but it doesn’t beat its German rivals.
A pair of turbo-4 engines and a more-efficient 10-speed transmission improve fuel economy ratings over the Cadillac ATS, and make the CT4 more competitive with other luxury compact sedans despite the absence of an electrified powertrain option.
The 2020 CT4 earns a middling 5 out of 10, based on the more-efficient 2.0-liter turbo-4 with an 8-speed automatic and premium gas. With rear-wheel drive, it gets an EPA-rated 23 mpg city, 34 highway, 27 combined, same as the Volvo S60.
The larger 2020 BMW 330i leads the pack with 26/36/30 mpg, followed closely by the 2020 Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C Class. The Genesis G70 trails the pack at 22/30/25 combined.
The 2020 CT4 with the 2.7-liter turbo-4 and 10-speed automatic gets 20/30/24 mpg with premium gas. All-wheel drive lowers fuel economy by 1 mpg combined with either engine.