By Peter Perrotta
You always remember your first car.
For me, it was a maroon 1965 Chevy Chevelle sedan. It was a hand-me-down from my dad. There wasn’t anything special about it. It wasn’t a Super Sport on anything like that. Just a plain Jane Chevelle.
It had a straight six engine that burned oil and sounded like a ticking watch while idling.
One day when I was headed to the shore, I pulled into one of those Piney gas stations on the Black Horse Pike with it and the almost toothless gas attendant started fawning over it. He wanted to buy it from me.
I looked around his gas station and saw a graveyard of old American cars that he obviously had bought and was in the process of “hot rodding” or “souping up” – as we used to say.
I politely declined his offer, but came away thinking that maybe this old Chevelle is something special after all.
What happens to most of us, after that first car experience is that – if it’s a positive one – we tend to go back to that same brand or sometimes even that same exact car when it comes time to replace it.
Car makers are keenly aware of this emotional attachment tendency in the car buying process.
That’s why manufacturers and constantly on the prowl to create a successful “entry” level car to their brand. They know that if they can hook you on their cars at an early age then it’s a good bet you will stick with it.
Enter the 2020 Cadillac CT4. A brand new entry into the Cadillac line up this year.
The CT4 replaces the ATS and is slotted just below the CT5. Cadillac offers this new sedan as a possible entry level purchase to its brand, hoping to attract first time buyers and compete with the luxury sedan entry level offerings from Audi, BMW and Mercedes.
I recently spent one week behind the wheel of the new CT4 and came away quite impressed with this new offering, with some slight reservations.
Cadillac offers the new, sleek looking CT4 in front wheel and all wheel drive in four different trim levels: luxury (starting at $33,990); Premium Luxury ($38,490); Sport ($39,590) and the V-Series ($45,490).
The test car I drove for one week was the all wheel drive Premium Luxury model with the option upgraded 2.7 liter turbo engine.
The first thing I noticed about this vehicle when the transport company dropped it off for me was how beautiful its exterior styling is. It really is a sharp looking and stylishly designed luxury sedan.
The second thing I noticed was its paint job. This car is Garnet Metallic, which translates in the real world to an almost chocolately/brown color with a tint of cinnamon. It’s a stunning color and Cadillac must have gone out of its way to use a high quality metallic paint, because this car shined in the rain.
The interior was appointed with a combination cinnamon and jet black leather. The exterior and interior combination makes for quite a handsome package.
Cadillac offers two engine options for the new CT4. The base 2.0 liter turbo charged engine is standard. The powerplant puts out 237 horsepower.
My tester had the upgraded 2.7 liter turbo charged engine that put out an impressive 325 horsepower. The standard automatic transmission with the 2.7 liter engine is a fairly smooth eight speed.
My on the road experience with this new CT4 was quite positive. While it doesn’t afford the driver with the performance oriented drives of the Audi, BMW or Mercedes, this Cadillac has its own unique feel to it.
This CT4 is quite nimble in the handling category, more than capable of providing an exciting driving feel through complicated twists and turns.
It accelerates impressively – especially when you put it in the sport mode – as it is more than capable of making aggressive passes and getting you comfortably on to the interstate.
What makes the ride of this Caddy unique is that while it manages to provide that nimble handling experience, it also affords a quite comfortable ride at the same time. It still exudes that luxurious Cadillac feel to it.
The one area where I thought Cadillac could have done a bit better in is in the dashboard layout, design and composition.
I thought the dashboard configuration and composition was just average. A little bit of an upgrade in this department will go a long way in making this vehicle a grand slam rather than just a one run homer.
Added options to my tester included: $2,500 for the upgraded engine; $2,000 for the all wheel drive drivetrain; $1,700 for the navigation system and a Bose premium audit package; $1,200 for the driver assist package; $1,200 for a climate package; $1,150 for a technology package; $800 for driver awareness package and $625 for that Garnet metallic paint.
The EPA Department of Transportation gas mileage ratings for this new model are 23 miles per gallon overall – with 28 mpg on the highway and 20 mpg in city driving.
The EPA estimates that the annual fuel cost of driving this CT4 is about $2,100, as it uses 4.3 gallons of gas per every 100 miles.
This model was not crash test rated by the government.
Overall, I would say that before you go running to lease or buy one of those fancy European import luxury sedans, give this Cadillac a chance. It just might surprise you.
Peter Perrotta’s On the Road column appears weekly. Comments and questions are welcome. He can be contacted at email@example.com