As the sole American offering in a European-dominated segment, the 2021 Cadillac CT4 has a lot to prove. Luckily, its sharp styling matches its playful driving demeanor, and the CT4 serves as a desirable entry-level Caddy that doesn’t ignore the wants and needs of enthusiast drivers. Two turbocharged four-cylinder engines are on offer: A 237-hp 2.0-liter comes standard, but we’d recommend the optional 309-hp 2.7-liter mill. Buyers looking for even more performance should hold out for the CT4-V Blackwing (reviewed separately), which debuts for 2021. Unfortunately for Cadillac, the CT4’s somewhat down-market cabin doesn’t quite hit the same target as entry-luxury compact cars such as the BMW 2-series Gran Coupe and Mercedes-Benz A-class.
What’s New for 2021?
The CT4 enters its second year on the market with a few upgrades, namely a newly optional 12.0-inch digital gauge display and an available Diamond Sky Edition package. The latter adds a lower body kit, Brembo brakes, model-specific wheels, an aluminum-trimmed center console, and two-tone leather upholstery, among other things. Cadillac has also made previously optional driver-assistance features—such as automated emergency braking and pedestrian detection—standard and added a Super Cruise semi-autonomous driving mode as an option.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Buyers can choose between two turbocharged four-cylinder engines: A 237-hp 2.0-liter powers the base Luxury and mid-range Premium Luxury and Sport models, while a 2.7-liter is optional in the Premium Luxury and standard in the CT4-V. It makes 309 horsepower in the former and 325 horses in the latter. The smaller of the two engines is paired to an eight-speed automatic while the larger four gets a 10-speed. Rear-wheel drive is the standard arrangement and rare in this segment. Rivals such as the Audi A3, BMW 2-series Gran Coupe, and Mercedes A-class are all based on front-drive chassis. The CT4 offers all-wheel drive on all models as an option. We’ve driven the CT4-V and found it to be athletic, eager, and quick, although we would have preferred more refinement from the 10-speed gearbox. Even in this sportiest guise, the Caddy’s suspension handles potholes without punishing occupants and delivers sharp, rewarding handling that any car enthusiast can appreciate.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
Both of the CT4’s turbocharged four-cylinder engines provide decent fuel economy. Rear-wheel-drive models with the 2.0-liter are rated as high at 23 mpg city, 34 mpg highway, and 27 mpg combined. Opting for all-wheel drive drops the highway number by 2 mpg and the combined number by 1. The more powerful 2.7-liter engine is less efficient but not by much, with the rear-drive model coming in at 20 mpg city, 30 mpg highway, and 24 mpg combined. The CT4’s key rivals—the Audi A3, the BMW 2-series Gran Coupe, and the Mercedes-Benz A-class—all boast similar fuel-economy ratings.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Inside the CT4, Cadillac has wisely switched to a more user-friendly control setup versus the largely touch-sensitive interface found on the ATS. Although the interior design and the quality of the materials at first appear attractive, they are ultimately unremarkable. Cabin space is tight for adults, especially in the rear seats, but Cadillac makes several luxury features standard even on the base trim, including 12-way power-adjustable front seats and dual-zone automatic climate control. Moving up through the range provides more desirable features, such as leather upholstery, magnesium paddle shifters, ambient interior lighting, and memory settings for the driver’s seat and exterior mirrors.
Infotainment and Connectivity
All CT4s come with an 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen with the latest CUE software. The Apple CarPlay and Android Auto interfaces come standard, as does an onboard Wi-Fi hotspot. Cadillac offers navigation on all models. It comes bundled with a wireless smartphone charging pad and a 14-speaker Bose stereo system that replaces the car’s standard eight-speaker arrangement.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have published crash-test results for the CT4. Cadillac offers a host of driver-assistance features, but few are offered as standard, a curiosity given mainstream small cars such as the Toyota Corolla and Mazda 3 offer such features gratis. Key safety features include:
- Standard automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection
- Available lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist
- Available adaptive cruise control with a semi-autonomous driving mode