the standard of the world, in detail

The Complete Cadillac Buying Guide: Every Model, Explained


July 5, 2019 Buying Guides By

Cadillac is General Motors’s top-tier luxury division. The company, based in Warren, Michigan, was founded in 1902 and bought by GM in 1909. Cadillac established itself as America’s premier manufacturer and a byword for grandeur (“the Cadillac of ___”) during the first half of the 20th Century, with a particular emphasis on engine technology. However, poor business decisions in the 1980s and increased luxury market competition tarnished that reputation, leaving the brand somewhat adrift compared to its rivals. These days, GM intends Cadillac to be the spearhead of its push into electric vehicles early next decade.

Traditionally, Cadillac has been associated with the sort of large sedan or coupe one of your grandparents may have driven. The brand sought to shed that image in the 2000s with an emphasis on driving performance, though its SUV lineup has also helped change perceptions of it.

Cadillac’s current model tree is somewhat in flux, as the company expands its crossover presence and dramatically pares down its sedan lineup. Distinctive styling features include sharp, powerful angles on the body and narrow vertical lights.

Cadillac’s nomenclature can be difficult to understand, as it keeps changing. The latest system is simple, alphanumeric, and Audi-like: “XT” is a crossover/SUV, while “CT” designates a car; a one-digit number following corresponds to relative size and market position. However, vehicles that predate that still use three-letter acronyms, like CTS, ATS and XTS. Then there’s the Escalade, which dates back to the company’s full-names-for-models era of the late 1990s. Moving forward, Cadillac will add to the confusion by adding number badges to signify power output; these numbers will be roughly based on a model’s torque output in metric figures.

Cadillac Terminology

Blackwing: A Cadillac-exclusive twin-turbo V8 engine with a “Hot V” alignment that nestles the turbochargers between the cylinder banks. It’s a spiritual successor to the Northstar (see below), and made its debut in the 2019 CT6-V.
CT: “Cadillac Touring.” Used for any new vehicle that is not an SUV.
Northstar: Powerful Cadillac V8 used between 1992 and 2011. Intended to help Cadillac compete with German and Japanese rivals, it was technically sophisticated and well-regarded when running, but prone to expensive repairs.
Super Cruise: Cadillac’s hands-free Level 2 semi-autonomous driving system. It permits the car to steer, accelerate, and brake on its own during certain circumstances, but requires human monitoring.
XT: “Crossover Touring.” It’s an SUV.
V Series: Specially-tuned cars from Cadillac’s performance division. It’s the equivalent of BMW’s M cars and the Mercedes-AMG offerings.
V Sport: A sporty trim level of a Cadillac model that sits below the true “V” cars.

Buying Guide

XT4

The XT4 is Cadillac’s entry-level compact crossover, new for the 2019 model year. It comes with one engine option — a 237-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter — and either front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive. The “Sport” trim, priced similarly to the “Premium Luxury” trim, offers an adaptive suspension. Reviewers have knocked it for being slower and not quite as luxurious as rivals from Mercedes, BMW and others.

Body Style: Crossover

Models:

• Luxury
• Premium Luxury
• Sport

Engines:

• Turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four

Base MSRP: $34,795

XT5

The XT5 is Cadillac’s midsize SUV. It debuted for the 2017 model year and has become Cadillac’s best-selling vehicle, despite not quite matching many other Cadillac vehicles for luxury and performance. It’s longer than the XT4, with more cargo space. It also has a larger and more powerful 310-hp 3.6-liter V6 engine. It can be fitted with FWD or AWD.

Body Style: Crossover

Models:

• Standard
• Luxury
• Premium Luxury
• Platinum (AWD only)

Engines:

• 3.6-liter V6

Base MSRP: $41,695

XT6

The XT6 is Cadillac’s new three-row midsize crossover. Cadillac unveiled it at the Detroit Auto Show in January 2019. It uses the same 310-hp V6 engine as the XT5, the Chevy Traverse and the Buick Enclave. It is available in either FWD or AWD. It is priced just below the Mercedes-Benz GLE 450 4MATIC and the BMW X5, though both have more powerful 3.0-liter inline six engines.

Body Style: Crossover

Models:

• Premium Luxury
• Sport

Engines:

• 3.6-liter V6

Base MSRP: $52,695

Escalade

The Escalade is Cadillac’s full-sized, body-on-frame land yacht of an SUV. The Escalade is in its fourth generation since being introduced for the 1999 model year. It was a choice vehicle for early-2000s hip-hop artists, and remains a popular choice amongst executives and livery drivers. Weighing in at close to three tons, the Escalade is fitted with a 420-hp 6.2-liter V8. It has three rows and seats up to eight passengers. A long wheelbase “ESV” version is available, for a $3,000 premium. Rivals include the Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class, the Lexus LX and the Lincoln Navigator.

Body Style: SUV

Models:

• Standard
• Luxury
• Premium Luxury
• Platinum

Engines:

• 6.2-liter V8

Base MSRP: $75,195

CT4-V

The CT4 will be Cadillac’s entry-level sedan, akin to the Mercedes-Benz A-Class. Cadillac has, thus far, released details of the performance CT4-V. It’s a replacement for the ATS-V, but will be much less powerful. (A more powerful version is expected down the line.) It uses the 320-hp turbo 2.7-liter four-cylinder from the Chevy Silverado, with a 10-speed automatic and a choice of RWD or AWD.

Body Style: Sedan

Models:

• CT4-V

Engines:

• Turbocharged 2.7-liter inline four

Base MSRP: $TBD

CT5

The CT5 will be Cadillac’s new midsize sedan for the 2020 model year, replacing the CTS. The sedan’s fastback-esque shape either harkens back to classic Cadillac vehicles (if you work for Cadillac) or serves as a concession to modern trends. The base engine will be a 2.0-liter inline four making 237 hp, with a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 making 335 hp as the upgraded option. It will have a 10-speed automatic transmission and offer either RWD or AWD.

Body Style: Sedan

Models:

• Luxury
• Premium Luxury
• Sport

Engines:

• Turbocharged 2.0-liter four cylinder
• Twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6

Base MSRP: $TBD

CT5-V

The CT5-V is a performance variant of the CT5. It will go on sale in 2020. It uses a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 making 355 hp. It will have a 10-speed automatic, paired with either RWD or AWD. This model only gets a 20-hp bump from the standard CT5, and is a long way off the 640-hp CTS-V. It suggests Cadillac will follow the example of Mercedes with AMG and accept a far broader definition of what constitutes a “V” car for sales purposes. A more powerful version, possibly using the Blackwing V8, is expected down the road.

Body Style: Sedan

Models:

• CT5-V

Engines:

• Twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6

Base MSRP: $TBD

CT6

The CT6 is one of Cadillac’s full-size luxury sedans. It became the de facto flagship model when Cadillac cancelled plans for a larger CT8 sedan. The CT6 debuted for the 2016 model year. Currently, buyers can choose between a 3.6-liter V6 making 335 hp and a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 making 404 hp. For 2020, buyers will choose between the 3.6-liter V6 and the 4.2-liter “Blackwing V8” making 500 hp. All CT6 models are AWD. It is the only Cadillac currently available to offer the acclaimed Super Cruise system.

Cadillac is also building a CT6-V model with the 550-hp, 627-lb-ft Blackwing V8 and performance upgrades. The U.S. allotment of 275 cars sold out within a matter of hours when it went on sale in January.

Body Style: Sedan

Models:

• Premium Luxury
• Sport
• Platinum
• CT6-V

Engines:

• 3.6-liter V6
• Twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6
• Twin-turbocharged 4.2-liter “Blackwing” V8

Base MSRP: $62,595

CTS

The CTS is Cadillac’s outgoing midsize luxury sedan. Its production run will end after the 2019 model year. The Standard trim has a 268-hp 2.0-liter turbo and RWD. The Luxury and Premium Luxury trims upgrade to a 3.6-liter V6 with 335 hp and AWD. V-Sport and V-Sport Premium Luxury trims get a twin-turbo 3.6-liter V6 bumped up to 420 hp and 430 lb-ft.

Body Style: Sedan

Models:

• Standard
• Luxury
• Premium Luxury
• V-Sport
• V-Sport Premium Luxury

Engines:

• Turbocharged 2.0-liter inline four
• 3.6-liter V6
• Twin-turbocharged 3.6-liter V6

Base MSRP: $46,995

CTS-V

The CTS-V is a high-performance version of the CTS, also being phased out after the 2019 model year. Intended to be Cadillac’s slightly cheaper retort to the BMW M5 and the Mercedes-AMG E63, it uses a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 producing 640 hp and 630 lb-ft. It can accelerate from 0-60 mph in 3.7 seconds and reach a 200-mph top speed. The current third-generation lacks both the six-speed manual transmission and the wagon body style found in the second-generation version that remains popular with collectors.

Body Style: Sedan

Models:

• CTS-V

Engines:

• Supercharged 6.2-liter V8

Base MSRP: $86,995

XTS

The XTS is a full-size luxury sedan that will end production after the 2019 model year. The base engine is a 3.6-liter V6 with 304 hp. The V-Sport Platinum has a twin-turbo version of the 3.6-liter V6 with 410 hp. Standard trim models are FWD, while V-Sport Platinum models have AWD. Other trims can choose between FWD and AWD.

Body Style: Sedan

Models:

• Standard
• Luxury
• Premium Luxury
• Platinum
• V-Sport Platinum

Engines:

• 3.6-liter V6
• Twin-turbocharged 3.6-liter V6

Base MSRP:$46,895

ATS

The ATS is Cadillac’s sporty compact coupe. (It was previously also available as a sedan.) It was the North American Car of the Year when it debuted for the 2013 model year. It will be discontinued after 2019. Buyers have two engine options, a 2.0-liter turbo (272 hp) and a 3.6-liter V6 (335 hp). The ATS can come in RWD or AWD. Cadillac eliminated the manual transmission option for 2019.

Body Style: Coupe

Models:

• Standard
• Luxury
• Premium Luxury
• Premium Performance

Engines:

• Turbocharged 2.0-liter inline four
• 3.6-liter V6

Base MSRP: $38,995

ATS-V

The ATS-V is a performance edition of the ATS. It will be discontinued after the 2019 model year. It uses a twin-turbocharged 3.6-liter V6 making 464 hp. It can accelerate from 0-60 mph in 3.8 seconds and reach a top speed of 189 mph. It is RWD and can be fitted with an eight-speed automatic or a six-speed manual.

Body Style: Coupe

Models:

• ATS-V

Engines:

• Twin-turbocharged 3.6-liter V6

Base MSRP: $67,795

The Complete BMW Buying Guide: Every Model, Explained

grey_placeholder

A comprehensive guide to all the cars, crossovers and SUVs BMW sells in the United States. Read the Story

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.