It’s redesigned, renamed and refined.
What is it about modern luxury that we fall in love with? An intuitive edit of features — what you want but not too much — an absence of clutter, refined but not overly lavish materials, effortless ownership.
These are the thoughts I had as I test drove the 2020 Cadillac CT4, the new and well-done redesign of the Cadillac ATS which has a starting price of $32,000 but came in at $50,000 for the model I tested.
Putting it in drive and heading out, the CT4’s effortlessness is clear, and a delight. The interior is elegant and intuitive, with everything in easy reach and easy to figure out. The old controls and interior designs that made the ATS both distinctive and confusing are gone. Now, every feature looks good and feels familiar.
Accelerating onto the highway is effortless, too. New to this model is a nicely balanced, weightless drive feel. Think of a large door that looks difficult to open, but is a delight when it easily swings open with a gentle push. That’s because it is perfectly balanced; you can open it with a finger. That’s the idea here too: with perfect weight and power distribution across the CT4’s frame, magnetic ride control and ample torque — 350 torque and 310 horsepower — everything from steering and parking to accelerating and braking is effortless.
Inside the CT4 You’ll Find What You Expect From Cadillac: An Elegant Experience
I’ve become a fan of Cadillac’s interiors of late. The design team has taken a pragmatic approach, recognizing what customers want and balancing the need for simplicity with the complicated systems of today’s cars. Technology is front and center in a familiar, simple presentation. The gear selector looks more like what you see in other premium cars and the Bose sound system speakers are thoughtfully integrated into the cabin design.
What wasn’t rethought is the look and feel of Cadillac’s luscious leather seating and trim. The saddle-colored leather isn’t what I would choose but I grew to like it. It feels good and its fragrance envelops you. It just smells like Cadillac.
Technology is big piece of the interior experience and it’s nicely integrated into the design. A large touchscreen sits at the center of the dashboard; it can be controlled with the dial on the center console or by touching the screen— your choice. There’s a home button that lets you get back to the home screen quickly, there are buttons for volume and station selection and quick-select buttons for navigation or media too. There are also dedicated buttons for climate, which is nice to have.
Phones Phones Phones!
There are lots of places for phones, and lots of phone connectivity in the CT4. AppleCarPlay (or Android Auto) pops up instantly when you connect your phone via USB—just connect it the first time you get in the car and you’ll have it automatically every time afterward. I also like that Cadillac added a nice little pocket in the center arm rest for a phone. You can see your phone while it charges or is connected to the USB port while driving.
There are only two USB chargers, one standard and one USB-C fast charger, but there is also a wireless charge pad option (in a cubby under the center console) so you can charge 3 phones at once; there is also a 12V cigarette lighter adapter style outlet in the rear seat.
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All the Smart Tech, Too
I really loved the head up display in the CT4. Not only does it do all the things you expect head up display to do— show you your speed, turn by turn directions if you have the navigation package and other settings like the radio station that is playing, but it will also display safety settings like lane keep assist and adaptive cruise. And, it will display pedestrian detection information; ifsomeone is about to walk into your path, a pedestrian icon pops up in the HUD.
There is a rear seat reminder, standard in all Cadillac models, and a smart key, which I really love: With your key in your purse or pocket you can lock or unlock the car by pushing the button on the door. So simple and so smart.
The CT4 Mystique Explained: Pick Your Power and Experience
With the redesign, Cadillac lowered the price and the horsepower and redefined the V-series, which used to be the track-worth trim. Now, there’s a V-Series edition that is more of a mid-level sport model than a track beast. It adds sport tuning, suspension and details and feels similar to what Lexus does with the F-Sport trim and what BMW does with M-Sport: slightly faster and sportier inspired by the track-bred high-end engine.
And yes, there will be a track-bred edition too: the soon to be introduced Blackwing line will have the higher horsepower — and a larger price tag.
Until then, the CT4 comes in two different engine sizes: the Premium and Luxury trims both offer the 2.0 L 4-cylinder turbocharged 237HP engine; the Luxury and V trims offer the slightly larger 2.7L 4 cylinder turbocharged 310 HP engine.
And this realignment is fair; if you don’t really need all that power and won’t use it, why pay for it? The V-Series, which saw 2019 as its last model year, might have been a little too much fun for regular street driving, though on the track it was purely amazing. And that is what we expect when Cadillac introduces Blackwing; the company still hasn’t said what horsepower and torque of Blackwing will deliver, but the ATS-V clocked in at a thrilling 464 HP (and it came in a stick shift!) so that’s the number to beat.
Related: Step on the Accelerator and Free Your Soul: How an All Girls Driving School with Cadillac V-Performance Academy Changed Me Forever
Why I Can’t Wait for Blackwing
Yes, I’ll go off track here for a minute and share that I can’t wait for Blackwing. Based on the ATS-V (and other V-series models), Cadillac can build a true thrill machine. And, it’s a good investment. The ATS-V, which in 2019 had a starting price of nearly $68,000, still commands a high resale price. I know. I keep checking to see if it’s in my budget.
Until Then, or Instead, CT4 Is a Good Alternative
I drove the 2.7-liter engine with 310 horsepower 450T model and it offered plenty of power and confidence on the road. The effortless balance gave this car more of a glide than a growl, and honestly, in traffic, at the grocery store and when handing it off to a valet or a teen, it feels ample
On the exterior, the redesign includes slim LED headlights and running lights and a chrome strip that frames the diamond-cut grille for a sense of elegance that is carried across the front of the car. I also really loved the monochromatic Cadillac badge on the wheels and the side panels; it’s there if you look for it but it doesn’t get in the way of the overall design.
Something worth noting is that your last drive settings become your default mode. It won’t change to a different drive mode until you use your drive mode selector (located next to the center cup holders) to change it. You can choose between Tour, Sport, or Snow/Ice modes. You can also customize your setting but I didn’t; I prefer Sport mode.
The gear selector puts the car in park automatically if you open the door or turn the engine off. Not something I recommend since it’s good to be in the habit of putting your car in park as you normally would, but a nice safety feature.
What the 2020 Cadillac CT4 Costs
- Base price of the CT4: $37, 495
- 2.7L turbo engine and electronic precision shift 10-speed automatic: $2,500
- All wheel drive: $2,000
- Navigation, Wireless charging, and Bose Premium audio with 14-speaker surround sound: $1,700
- Red obsession tintcoat: $1,225
- Driver assist package with adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, reverse automatic braking: $1,200
- Climate package with heated and ventilated front seats, and a heated steering wheel along with power lumbar support for driver and passenger: $1,200
- Technology package with air purification ionizer, 8” diagonal gauge cluster, and head up display: $1,150
- Driver Awareness plus package adds distance indicator, automatic high beam headlights, lane change alert with side blind zone alert, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, and rear cross traffic alert: $800
- Price of the 2020 Cadillac CT4 I drove with $995 destination charge: $50,265
While I drove the Premium Luxury trim (signified by the 450T on the rear), you do have the option for the entry-level Luxury Trim which starts at $32,995; the Sport trim stars at $38,585. The top trim sportier CT4-V starts at $44,495.
What We Loved
- Acceleration in Sport mode
- Nicely toned, elegant interior
- Bose stereo with embedded speakers
- Monochromatic Cadillac badges on the exterior
- How the headlights curve for better visibility
- Wireless phone charger
- The new rear selector
What you need to know
- Seats 5 but more comfortable for 4
- Rear seats are on the compact side, but still comfortable
- Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, OnStar are standard
- All-wheel drive is not standard, but is available
- Read the owners manual for tips on how the CT4’s advanced safety features work
- There is one 12 volt plug in for rear passengers
- Super Cruise hands-free highway drive system is available but not standard.
It was easy to relax into the CT4’s overall sense of elegance and luxury. When it comes to modern luxury, it’s all you want in a premium sedan: a toned exterior, an elegant interior and a comfortable drive experience with a sporty feel when you need just a little more thrill in your life.
Disclosure: Cadillac provided the CT4 for my test drive; all opinions are my own.