The 2021 Cadillac CT4 small luxury sedan is the most affordable way of getting into a brand-new Caddy. In common with cars like the Audi A3, BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe, and Mercedes-Benz A-Class, the CT4, now in its second year, is a gateway to luxury car ownership.
Starting at just under $35,000, the CT4 is priced similarly to the subcompact Mercedes-Benz A 220. Going by the CT4’s size, though, it’s closer to a compact C-Class or a BMW 3 Series.
This Cadillac has engaging driving manners and a standard rear-wheel-drive setup like a true sport sedan. All-wheel drive is optional with any variant. And the regular 2021 CT4 offers two different turbocharged 4-cylinder engines, including a 325-horsepower version in the higher-performance CT4-V.
We say “regular” because, at the time of this review, a CT4-V Blackwing had yet to swoop onto the market. But it should have the kind of power and dynamics that have traditionally made Cadillac’s V cars credible alternatives to BMW’s M creations.
For drivers who spent a lot of time on freeways, the optional Super Cruise hands-free driving system will be intriguing. Cadillac has updated it for this year, so it’s essentially Super Cruise Version 2.0.
Overall, the CT4 is a respectable competitor in this class, but when compared with a rival like the Genesis G70 bringing many more features — including several advanced safety systems — as standard, the CT4’s value proposition starts to lose its luster.
The entry-level Luxury trim answers last year’s criticisms and gains forward collision alert with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection as standard. The Safety Alert Seat is also included. And the programmable Teen Driver key (also standard) is enhanced by a Buckle to Drive function that doesn’t allow the transmission to be shifted out of Park until the driver’s seat belt is fastened.
Apple /zigman2/quotes/202934861/composite AAPL -1.37% CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration is now wireless. The Super Cruise hands-free driving system becomes available. A new configurable 12-inch driver information display joins the options list. A Diamond Sky Special Edition package for the Premium Luxury trim adds special paintwork and exterior elements, perforated leather upholstery, and Brembo brakes.
A new Infrared Tintcoat paint may be applied to any version of the CT4.
$34,390 to $45,890
The basic engine found in the first three CT4 trims is a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder unit making 237 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. The next link in the drivetrain is an 8-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive (RWD) is the default configuration across the range; all-wheel drive (AWD) is available on every CT4 trim level.
The EPA estimates fuel consumption at 23 mpg in the city, 34 mpg on the highway, and 27 mpg in combined driving (RWD) or 23 mpg city/32 mpg highway/26 mpg combined (AWD).
Premium Luxury (but not Sport trim, oddly) is eligible for a turbocharged 2.7-liter 4-cylinder engine that links up to a 10-speed automatic transmission. Output is 310 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque.
The EPA reckons this setup can achieve 21 mpg city/31 mpg highway/25 mpg combined (RWD) or 21 mpg city/29 mpg highway/24 mpg combined (AWD).
The same engine and transmission are standard in the CT4-V, but the engine is tuned to generate 325 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque. Fuel consumption with rear-wheel drive is 20 mpg city/29 mpg highway/23 mpg combined. The only difference with all-wheel drive is that it’s thirstier on the highway to the tune of one mile per gallon.
The 2021 Cadillac CT4 range consists of Luxury, Premium Luxury, Sport, and the higher-performance CT4-V trims.
All-wheel drive costs $2,000 in the three lower trims and $500 in the CT4-V. All vehicle prices include the $995 destination charge.
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Luxury ($34,390) comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights/taillights, keyless entry/ignition, remote start, simulated leather upholstery, leather-wrapped steering wheel, 12-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, 10-way power-adjustable front passenger seat, paddle shifters, dual-zone automatic climate control (with rear vents), acoustic laminated glass, forward collision alert with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection, Safety Alert Seat, and the programmable Teen Driver key with Buckle to Drive.
The infotainment system includes an 8-inch touchscreen, wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration, two USB ports, Bluetooth, satellite radio (SiriusXM with 360L is new this year), Wi-Fi, and an 8-speaker audio system.
Premium Luxury ($38,390) brings 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic on/off headlights, rain-sensing wipers, real leather seating surfaces, 14-way power-adjustable front seats with memory settings, ambient interior lighting, rear parking sensors, universal garage door opener, and a self-dimming rearview mirror.
The optional 2.7-liter engine for this trim costs $2,500.
Sport ($36,690) includes model-specific cosmetic touches like a dedicated grille treatment, rocker panels, and rear spoiler. It also comes with alloy pedals, magnesium paddle shifters, and 18-way power-adjustable front seats with extendable cushions.
CT4-V ($45,890) packs the more powerful version of the 2.7-liter turbo engine, plus a mechanical limited-slip differential, Brembo brakes, rear spoiler, and other aerodynamic additions, Magnetic Ride Control adaptive suspension (RWD only), Performance Traction Management (this same system is in the Corvette), wireless phone charging, rotary infotainment controller, and a 14-speaker Bose surround-sound system.
All 2021 CT4 trims are eligible for navigation, wireless phone charging, and the Bose 14-speaker surround-sound system (the last two of which are standard in the CT4-V). Most other options are reserved for the top three trims. These include 19-inch alloy wheels, a head-up display, 12-inch configurable digital driver information display, adaptive cruise control, front parking sensors, rear automatic braking, cabin air ionizer/filtration system, heated steering wheel, heated/ventilated front seats, massaging front seats (Sport and CT4-V trims only), and a sunroof.
Beyond mandatory features like airbags, traction control, and a rearview camera, the 2021 CT4 comes standard with forward collision alert with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection.
To obtain features like blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert and lane departure warning means choosing a Driver Awareness Plus package available with any of the top three trims (which also includes automatic high beams). The Super Cruise hands-free driving system includes adaptive cruise control, a 360-degree camera setup, and a special steering wheel with LEDs to tell the driver when the system becomes active. This is available in the Premium Luxury and CT4-V models.
To be fair, European rivals like the Mercedes-Benz A-Class also charge extra for features like lane-keeping assistance and adaptive cruise control, but the A-Class includes blind-spot monitoring as standard. The Genesis G70 includes all these systems and more for less than a CT4 in Premium Luxury trim.
To date, the Cadillac CT4 has not been crash-tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
The CT4 is enjoyable to drive, well balanced, and with a nicely judged blend of handling and ride comfort. Selectable driving modes further fine-tune characteristics such as throttle sensitivity and shifting. In any mode, the 10-speed automatic transmission that comes with the 2.7-liter engine is a smooth and quick operator.
Another pronounced difference is the suspension. The CT4-V comes with magnetic ride control (RWD only). Switching between Tour, Sport and the CT4-V’s Track mode changes suspension stiffness noticeably.
Cadillac says a CT4 with the 2.0-liter engine sprints from a standstill to 60 mph in a respectable 6.2 seconds. The Premium Luxury’s optional 310-hp 2.7-liter lowers that to five seconds flat. The CT4-V has a bump in power and can zip to 60 mph in just 4.8 seconds, accompanied by a throatier exhaust tone.
The driver’s seat is comfortable and supportive. We especially like the seats with lumbar massage available in the Sport and CT4-V trims. Cabin materials are merely acceptable for this class. The padding in various places is disappointingly thin. The upgraded-for-2021 Cadillac User Experience (CUE) infotainment system is at least satisfyingly responsive, although the 8-inch touchscreen is already looking small compared with rival setups.
The rear seats are also cramped. All three German subcompact rivals can outdo the CT4’s 33.4 inches of rear legroom. The 10.7 cubic feet of trunk space is remarkable only for its stinginess. And this is all despite the CT4’s almost-compact dimensions.
2021 Genesis G70 — Starting at $37,025, only $2,635 above an entry level CT4, this luxury compact sedan has more power, a full set of safety and driver assistance features as standard, a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, and the option of a twin-turbo V6.
2021 Mercedes-Benz A-Class — The A 220 has less muscle than the CT4 (188 hp), but brings style, relative value, and the prestige of the famed Mercedes-Benz badge.
2021 BMW 228i xDrive Gran Coupe — Or there’s the equally desirable BMW /zigman2/quotes/202432319/delayed XE:BMW -0.55% badge on the 2 Series Gran Coupe. This is slightly pricier than a CT4 but has all-wheel drive as standard.
2021 Tesla Model 3 — Tesla’s /zigman2/quotes/203558040/composite TSLA -2.23% smallest offering is still a technological powerhouse and has an all-electric range of more than 350 miles in the Long Range version.
2022 Audi A3 — The A3 skips the 2021 model year as a new generation is being prepared for 2022. For those with the patience and the money, this could be really interesting.
Used Cadillac ATS — Before the CT4 there was the Cadillac ATS, an excellent entry-level luxury sport sedan powered by 4-cylinder or 6-cylinder engines, offering rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, and the choice of an automatic or a manual transmission. A sleek coupe version and the monster ATS-V high-performance model were also in the range.
The CT4 is the smallest and least expensive sedan in Cadillac’s lineup.
The 2021 CT4 sedan is relatively roomy (up front, at least), handles well and has a low starting price.
About 6 inches. And engine options. The CT4 measures 187.2 inches in length, the CT5 is 193.8 inches. The CT5 is also available with a V6.
At General Motors’ /zigman2/quotes/205226835/composite GM -3.03% Lansing Grand River Assembly Plant in Michigan.
The 2021 Cadillac CT4 is at its best with the 2.7-liter turbo engine, which means either the Premium Luxury model or the CT4-V, which has the most power. One cool thing about the CT4 is the availability of the Super Cruise hands-free driving system, which again obliges the buyer to consider the Premium Luxury or the CT4-V.