Pros: Affordable entry point for a Cadillac; engaging steering and handling; Blackwing is incredibly fun
Cons: Lackluster interior; cramped rear seat; small trunk
What the 2023 Cadillac CT4 sedan lacks in space and refinement, it makes up for in value and character. The compact four-door is based on an entertaining rear-drive layout, but also offers all-wheel drive for those who live in the snow belt or just prefer the stability of four driven wheels. It’s good to steer, and its suspension is hard to trip up. But the most exciting prospect is certainly the CT4-V Blackwing, with a twin-turbo V6 that puts it up against larger performance sedans like the BMW M3. The Blackwing even includes a manual transmission as standard.
At its core, the CT4 is an entry-level Cadillac, with which come certain drawbacks, like a cramped back seat and small trunk — not ideal for ferrying a foursome to the golf course. The interior is also not the most attractive or of highest quality, but for a car that starts in the mid-$30,000 range, that’s certainly acceptable. And that price point is also what helps to make the CT4 an attractive purchase. Considering how fun yet comfortable it is to drive, the CT4 could be the perfect choice for a daily-driven sedan.
What’s new for 2023?
Later this year, we’ll see three track-inspired editions of the CT-4 Blackwing: the Sebring IMSA Edition, Watkins Glen IMSA Edition and Road Atlanta IMSA Edition. Don’t get excited about performance upgrades; these are appearance packages. But they will be rare, with only 99 examples of each being built.
Otherwise not much is new. The CT4 and CT4-V get new, extra-cost paint colors: Radiant Red Tintcoat, Silver Metallic and Midnight Steel Metallic. The CT4-V Blackwing gets those, along with Maverick Noir Frost for the Sebring IMSA Edition coming later. It also gets tiny “Blackwing” lettering added to its rear V badge.
We’ve criticized the design and quality of other Cadillac interiors, and although the CT4’s is awfully similar to those, its lower price and market positioning make it far more competitive and, well, palatable. It may not be as expressive as the Mercedes CLA-Class, but for the money, we don’t think you’ll be disappointed. More-expensive models can be optioned with features such as massaging front seats and Super Cruise (late availability).
The infotainment system is controlled by an 8-inch touchscreen with a pair of redundant control knobs better suited to scrolling through playlists, radio stations or other menu functions. One is adjacent to the screen and volume knob, while the bigger one is on the center console. We like this setup quite a bit and appreciate the Cadillac’s system’s clean look and quick responses. The base setup includes wirelessly connected Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, plus Amazon Alexa integration and a choice of USB Type-A and Type-C charging. Upgrades include navigation, multiple Bose audio packages, and exclusive to the Blackwing, an AKG audio system. Wireless charging is added with those.
Like many of Cadillac’s previous sport sedans, the CT4 is a bit of an oddball size-wise for the segment it targets, stretching nearly 9 inches longer than the BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe. However, this doesn’t translate into a comparable interior space advantage because of the CT4’s rear-wheel-drive platform. Instead, things are effectively evened out so that cabin space is similar to the 2 Gran Coupe, Mercedes CLA and Audi A3 in terms of leg, head and shoulder room.
Not only is the CT4’s 10.9-cubic-foot trunk one of the smallest in the segment, it’s one of the smallest found on any sedan. Nevertheless, we managed to fit in just as many pieces of luggage as in the Cadillac CT5 – the bigger sedan had more room left over, but only for a shopping bag or two. Indeed, the days of Cadillac trunks looking like this are long gone.
Cadillac offers its small sedan in three states of tune. The Sport and Luxury models are equipped with a 2.0-liter inline-four good for 237 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. This is the most potent base engine offered in the class. Like all CT4 models not named Blackwing, it comes standard with an eight-speed automatic transmission, active fuel management (can run on only two cylinders to save fuel) and rear-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is an option. EPA-rated fuel economy is 23 mpg city, 34 mpg highway and 27 mpg combined with RWD and 22/31/26 with AWD.
Premium Luxury models get the option of a 2.7-liter turbo inline-four that makes 310 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque. It returns 21/31/25 mpg with RWD and 21/29/24 with AWD.
The CT4-V gets the same basic engine and nearly identical fuel economy figures, but gets a bump up to 325 horsepower and 380 lb-ft. That may seem like a pittance considering the outrageously powerful V models of Cadillac’s past, but GM’s luxury arm has decided to re-jigger its performance hierarchy by eliminating “V-Sport” entirely, shifting “V” down to fill that role, and introducing the range-topping Blackwing models. This positions the CT4-V against the BMW M235i Gran Coupe and Mercedes-AMG CLA 35, which both play in the exact same space with similar power figures. Its fuel economy is 20/29/23 with RWD and 20/28/23 with AWD.
At the top of the range is Blackwing. Its 3.6-liter twin-turbocharged V6 makes 472 horsepower and 445 lb-ft of torque and it has a top speed of 189 mph. It hits 60 mph in just 3.9 seconds with its available eight-speed automatic and 4.1 with its standard six-speed manual. Fuel economy is rated at 15/23/18 with the manual and 16/24/19 with the automatic.
It’s legitimately fun. You can feel the immense strength of the chassis, as well as the impeccable suspension tuning when hustling the car along. You also just feel things. There seems to be less cushion and fewer 1’s and 0’s between you and the car compared to other sport sedans like the BMW 3 Series and Acura TLX. The steering has a lot to do with it: consistently weighted, regardless of drive mode, without too much speed-based adjustment, and genuine feedback filtered through the steering wheel. At the same time, the CT4 seems far more grown up and sophisticated in its engineering than the various front-drivers it competes with on price (Mercedes CLA, BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe).
And, we should mention, all of the above applies to a CT4 Premium Luxury we tested. The CT4-V steps things up even further, especially when equipped with the optional MRC 4.0 suspension. The Blackwing is about as perfect as a (sub)compact sport sedan can feel while also offering a luxurious ride on the street. The manual gearbox shifts beautifully and includes rev-matching, no-lift-shift, launch control and line lock features for those looking to extract every ounce of performance from their cars.
If there’s a performance letdown, it’s the four-cylinder engine selections. Both are rather gravelly and hardly the silky-smooth mills offered by BMW or Acura, in particular. The upgrade 2.7-liter’s turbo also has a noticeably whistly waste gate. There’s certainly no arguing about performance, though. The base 2.0-liter is perfectly competitive, while the 2.7 will genuinely impress in either of its available outputs.
We’re also big fans of the 10-speed automatic transmission. It capably does its job without fuss in normal everyday driving, but when in Sport mode, the car detects when you’ve started to drive enthusiastically and automatically engages a further performance-oriented algorithm (it actually alerts you to this in the gauge cluster). Lower gears remain selected to keep revs highs and downshifts are perfectly timed and executed when braking into turns. Few automatics do a better job.
Also, Cadillac added its Super Cruise hands-free highway driving assistance technology to the menu. As far as advanced driver assistance systems go, this is probably the best. You can read about what it’s like to cruise down the highway, automatically changing lanes with your hands off the wheel and feet off the pedals in our review of the Cadillac Escalade with Super Cruise. GM keeps improving this tech, which now works on over 400,000 miles of North American roads.
What other Cadillac CT4 reviews can I read?
Revisiting the high-performance version of the CT4 leaves us still madly in love. Despite its performance positioning, we even think it makes a great, comfortable daily driver — except in the snow.
The Blackwing elevates the CT4-V to something more akin to the ATS-V of old. Conclusion: this, right here, is the compact Cadillac we’ve been waiting for. Byron, the author of that review, even ended up buying one.
Driving the CT4-V felt awfully similar to the CT4 Premium Luxury 450T.
It’s not really a big trunk, but then, its competitors’ aren’t either. The trunk hasn’t grown since this test, but a 2023 model we recently drove didn’t have any quality issues with the gooseneck hinge.
Our first test of the CT4 with the 2.7-liter turbo.
This was our first time in the upgraded performance version of the CT4. We were impressed, and hard-pressed to find fault with it, other than that we would have liked even more performance. Cadillac has since remedied that with the tremendous CT4-V Blackwing.
The “Luxury” model represents the entry-level CT4. Standard equipment includes 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights and taillights, power front seats (12-way driver and 10-way passenger; both with power lumbar adjustment), leatherette upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, an 8-inch touchscreen interface, wireless connected Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. and an eight-speaker sound system.
The Premium Luxury adds some key features upgrades to live up to its “Premium” name, including driver assistance tech, but the main pickup (and reason to get it) is its 2.7-liter engine. The Sport is positioned as an alternative to the Premium Luxury for those who prefer a more youthful, performance-oriented style. It’s still offered exclusively with the 2.0-liter engine, but includes blacked-out trim, unique wheels, and sport-themed interior surfaces and accents.
The CT4-V is the entry-level performance trim. It comes standard with the enhanced 2.7-liter engine and adds a mechanical limited-slip differential, bigger brakes, Magnetic Ride Control 4.0 and V-specific wheels. Both summer and all-season tires are available. And then there’s Blackwing. Standard equipment at this level includes everything on the CT4-V, plus the bigger engine, standard summer-spec tires, and of course, the manual gearbox. A performance data recorder and exterior carbon fiber aerodynamic components are also available.
The Track Editions of the Blackwing coming later in the year include some appearance upgrades, like the Cadillac Racing Mondrian on the hood and doors, an IMSA logo on the front splitter and rear spoiler, and Carbon Fiber 1 and 2 packages as standard. Inside, you get a 3D-printed medallion on the gear lever, a “Collector’s Series” plate with the VIN on it on the B-pillar, a sill plate that spells out the specific track that your special edition is named after, plus some color and trim options unique to the Track Editions.
There are quite a few available options, most of which are bundled into packages. Below you’ll find the base prices for each trim, including the $1,395 destination fee, and Autoblog has the full pricing, specs and feature breakdown for the CT4 and CT4-V (including the Blackwing).
- Luxury RWD: $35,790
- Luxury AWD: $37,790
- Premium Luxury 2.0 RWD: $40,690
- Premium Luxury 2.0 AWD: $42,690
- Premium Luxury 2.7 RWD: $45,790
- Premium Luxury 2.7 AWD: $47,790
- Sport RWD: $41,890
- Sport AWD: $43,890
- CT4-V RWD: $47,990
- CT4-V AWD: $48,490
- CT4-V Blackwing (RWD only): $62,390
- CT4-V Blackwing Track Editions: $TBD
The 2022 Cadillac CT4 Luxury model comes with no advanced safety systems standard, though forward collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking are standard on all other trim levels. The Driver Awareness Plus package adds lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic warning. The Driver Assist package adds an enhanced emergency braking system that operates at higher speeds as well as in reverse. Adaptive cruise control is included with that package.
Cadillac’s Super Cruise semi-autonomous highway driving system is now available in the CT4. It combines adaptive cruise control with lane-centering steering and automatic lane changes to allow you to drive hands-free on over 400,000 miles of roads in North America. Super Cruise features a driver-facing camera that monitors you to make sure you’re watching the road, and messages on the instrument panel and a light bar on the top of the steering wheel let you know when it’s working, and when you need to resume control of the wheel.
The CT4 had not been crash tested by a third party at the time of this writing.