The Cadillac CT4-V was very much designed to be a driver’s car, but it can drive itself … some of the time.
The compact sports sedan is available with the latest version of Cadillac’s Super Cruise highway driving system, which provides hands-free lane-centering adaptive cruise control.
Super Cruise uses high definition cameras, ultrasonic sensors and radar to keep an eye on its surroundings, while hyper-accurate GPS maps help position it on the road.
It now works on over 400,000 miles of certified roads across North America and can also check for traffic and change lanes at the flick of the turn signal or automatically if there is a slower car in front of it.
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Drivers need to pay attention to the road ahead for it to operate, and a facial recognition camera that can tell if they are alert with their eyes open ensures that they are. Additional capabilities may be added in the future, but Cadillac is launching a new Ultra Cruise system with the $300,000 Celestiq that adds Lidar and will eventually be able to handle 95% of the driving on all types of roads, according to the automaker.
I took the CT4-V for a ride down the length of the New Jersey Turnpike and back, about a four-hour trip, with surprising results.
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During the entire journey, the system only asked me to take back control twice, once in each direction as we were passing through a major construction zone, which it was aware of through map updates. It lets you know it is engaged with a green light bar across the top of the steering wheel that starts blinking red when it is your turn to drive for a bit.
The data is refreshed “regularly” according to Cadillac, though it will not specify exactly how often that is. Nevertheless, when the car encountered a few temporary construction projects that were on the sides of the highway it merely informed me they were there on its digital dashboard, but kept going like it was no big deal.
There was also light rain along the way and heavy traffic, through which it performed dozens of lane changes without any excitement. It also dealt well with other cars cutting it off, even from the right.
That happened a few times because it can be a bit of a left-lane bandit, not returning to center immediately after making a pass. It never really became clear what the strategy for that is, but it is something that might need a little work. The car also does not have any idea where it is going, other than straight ahead, so you need to take control at splits and exits, which goes back to the paying attention thing.
At first, that makes it seem like it might be redundant. What good is it if you have to be ready to jump into action if something goes wrong as if you have a child sitting on your lap steering, like in the old days? But the level of confidence it instills quickly becomes apparent, and it takes the edge off a long haul, leaving you free to get in some quality air guitar practice during otherwise wasted time.
Super Cruise is nominally priced at $2,500, but only available in the CT4-V as part of either a $3,700 or $8,100 options package. After three years, you have to pony up $25 monthly for a data subscription to keep it working.
That is not a big hit on a $100,000 Cadillac Escalade or GMC Hummer EV, which use the same tech, but the CT4-V starts at $47,690, so Super Cruise’s value really comes down to how boring your daily commute or road trip is. But the CT4-V is not boring at all. The sporty model sits in the middle of the CT4 lineup, which is bookended by the entry-level 237 hp $35,790 Luxury and the high performance 472 hp $62,390 CT4-V Blackwing.
Its turbocharged 2.7-liter four-cylinder is rated at 325 hp, and it gets suspension, brake and tire upgrades to make the most of it. The CT4 is based on the same platform as the Chevrolet Camaro and comes standard with rear-wheel-drive, but all-wheel-drive is just a $500 option.
The interior is dressed appropriately for the price, but has a snug rear seat compared to aspirational competitors like the BMW 3-Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Its infotainment touchscreen is also small by today’s standards, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Most controls are still operated using the many toggles, buttons and knobs provided below it. The car’s cameras also provide a 360-degree parking view and can be used to record while driving or if the car is disturbed.
Rear-wheel-drive cars are equipped with a computer-controlled suspension system, but the all-wheel-drive CT4-V I tested does not get it. It was not much of a loss, as the ride quality is outstanding. I ended up covering over 800 miles in it and was no worse for wear. The bucket seats have adjustable thigh extensions and deep side bolsters for when the road starts to wind.
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The CT4-V is plenty of fun when it does. A V button on the steering wheel sets the throttle, transmission and steering it their most aggressive modes to enhance the experience. With 380 lb-ft of torque, it is good for a sprint to 60 mph in under five seconds, and the power is perfect for a car this size. Even the all-wheel-drive model handles like a rear-wheel-drive car that is ready to drift until it needs the extra traction up front. Fuel economy is rated at 20 mpg city and 28 mpg highway, but I averaged over 30 mpg on my cruise through Tony Soprano land.
Getting this much power and performance in a European car will cost about 10 grand more. While that might come with another degree of luxury and slightly less gruff engine than Cadillac’s, the Michigan-made CT4-V does not leave you wanting for much more. But it may leave altogether soon.
The CT4 is one of a trio of four-door “cars” General Motors still sells in the U.S., along with the CT5, and Chevrolet Malibu, and all their days are numbered as the brands shift toward SUVs and electrification.
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Enjoy driving them while they last. Or in the case of the CT4-V, not driving them.
It’s a fun ride either way.
2023 Cadillac CT4-V
Base price: $47,690
As tested: $57,790
Type: 5-passenger, 4-door all-wheel-drive sedan
Engine: Turbocharged 2.7-liter inline four-cylinder
Power: 325 hp, 380 lb-ft torque
Transmission: 10-speed automatic
Fuel economy: 20 city/28 hwy.