The 2020 Cadillac CT4 is here, with an all-turbocharged lineup, optional all-wheel drive, and the goal of attracting the “new generation” of Cadillac customers. Though it’s meant to lead in the new generation of Cadillac sedans to replace the ATS and CTS, it doesn’t do anything that you would call radical, not so much as adopting even a slightly more creative name.
Cadillac, specifically, said the CT4 was developed to “appeal to youthful buyers in the luxury market who may be new to the Cadillac brand.” Kids, Cadillac is coming for ya—using the same approach it’s been using for years.
Cadillac announced details of the new CT4 sedan Thursday, and if you vaguely remember reading about a CT4 before, that was the stupefyingly underpowered CT4-V, meant to be a replacement for one of the outgoing V-Series performance cars but not bringing big enough power numbers to do so. This is the plain CT4, which is meant for even less performance.
The new CT4 will come with an all-turbocharged lineup and standard rear-wheel drive, as Cadillac announced, and AWD will be available on every model. Super Cruise will be available in the 2020 calendar year, as Cadillac says, which means you can pay for it, but it does not specify if it will be limited on trims.
The standard engine is Cadillac’s 2.0-liter, twin-scroll turbo four-cylinder that makes a rated 237 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, and it’ll be paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. There’s also a 2.7-liter turbo, which will be available on the higher Premium Luxury trim of the car and standard on the V-Series. On the Premium Luxury trim, it’ll make 309 HP and 348 lb-ft, while we learned earlier this year that it’ll make 325 HP and 380 lb-ft on the CT4-V. Models with that engine will get a 10-speed automatic transmission.
Inside, the CT4 will get an eight-inch infotainment touchscreen and the ability to do over-the-air updates, as well as an available heated steering wheel and “eight distinct interior color, material and trim options.” Pricing isn’t out, but Cadillac said the car will be available for ordering later this year.
But as decent as Cadillac’s products are, aside from the company’s confounding business ideas and tendency to jump from strategy to strategy—like a new V-Series car that makes only 24 more horsepower than a regular Toyota Camry—it’s odd that the company would try to market this CT4 to “youthful buyers” who may be “new to the Cadillac brand.”
In a basic sense, this car isn’t really a departure from anything Cadillac’s been doing, and that was expected after we saw the CT4-V. It looks like a Cadillac. It’s turbocharged, luxury oriented and will likely be pricey, even if less pricey than the cars it’s replacing, like a Cadillac. It’s a sedan, like Cadillac is known for. It powers the rear wheels, like a Cadillac.
Cadillac seems to have fallen into the “Blah” category, somewhat at its own fault. Some of that is due to high pricing. Some of it is due to a failure to fully compete with the German luxury brands, while also not making its own kind of identity (as you find at, say, Lincoln.) I’d add that it’s also somewhat at the fault of generalized public opinions that it can’t totally control. It’s kind of like the Corvette, before the mid-engine C8 came out: Sure, the product is good, but even in a roaring, 755-HP ZR1, it’s hard not to feel like a middle-aged man. It’s also hard not to feel kind of “Blah” about Cadillac, even if it’s difficult to explain why.
But unlike an engine move in a Corvette, there’s nothing new and daring here that would make the CT4 attract that young and new-to-the-brand audience it so badly wants—even if the product itself seems like a perfectly fine vehicle.
And, while it’s not all Cadillac’s fault that it has to go after new buyers, it probably shouldn’t label the same old, same old as one of its attempts to do so.