Despite sitting atop the GM pantheon since its inauguration at the beginning of the 20th century, the Cadillac brand can barely keep up with the German luxury trio – let alone Lexus. Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Audi have sold 372,240, 305,685, and 226,511 vehicles in the U.S. market during 2017 respectively. The Japanese, in the meantime, pushed 305,229 Lexuses (Lexi?) during the same period. With 156,440 units sold in the U.S. during the same year, it’s evident that Cadillac has some catching up to do. Despite suffering a decline in sales in the U.S. market, Caddy’s sales still managed to grow by no less than 15.5 percent on a global level. GM’s top division sold 356,467 vehicles worldwide, which is the second-best-selling year in the brand’s 115-year history. This feat simply wouldn’t have been possible without the rapidly-growing Chinese market where Cadillac recorded an increase of a staggering 50.8 percent compared to 2016. They’ve actually sold more vehicles in China than home with the Chinese market sales figure standing at 175,489 units. With MY 2019 lurking just around the corner, it’s now time to analyze the 2019 Cadillac lineup and figure out what’s worth buying and what’s not.
Despite the fact their rivals are working around the clock trying to revise much of their respective lineups, Cadillac is taking a somewhat nonchalant approach for MY 2019. They did announce two new models (one built entirely from scratch), but most of their lineup will carry over unchanged. Until 2020, that is, when Cadillac, too, is planning more substantial portfolio revisions. Until then, though, prospective Caddy buyers will have to make do with what’s currently available. Here’s what to buy and what to stay away from when it comes to Cadillac 2019.
What’s Hot in the New Cadillac Lineup
The upcoming Cadillac XT4 is the first of two entirely new Caddy models unveiled at the 2018 New York International Auto Show. The compact luxury crossover is a no-brainer for the brand – especially considering how the slightly larger XT5 outsells all the rest of Cadillac vehicles combined (excluding the Escalade) by a staggering margin of 35 percent. Although arriving at a somewhat late date, the XT4 is still projected as a future success for the company. After all, the small SUV/crossover segment is by far the most popular and rapidly-growing one in the world. The 2019 XT4 will be based on the GM’s Epsilon II platform and be manufactured at the Fairfax, Kansas plant, whereas the Chinese market XT4 will be produced in Shanghai. It will go on sale in the Fall of 2018 with a starting sticker of $35,790. The company is also promising it’ll be fitted with their new Super Cruise driver-assist tech, but not from the get-go. Instead, the optional advanced piece of technology should arrive at an unspecified later date. It’ll likely warrant an additional $5,000 and at least the second of three available trim levels (Luxury, Premium Luxury, and Sport).
Under the hood of the second Cadillac crossover beats the heart of a 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. Mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission, the luxury compact should be good enough for 237 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. It should also manage up to 27 mpg on the highway thanks to a cylinder deactivation feature. The XT4 should resemble its larger sibling both on the inside and outside. Much of the available equipment will be similar too, despite the XT5’s starting price set at almost $5,000 more. The upcoming XT4 is mostly aimed at younger buyers which is a strategy that Cadillac has been working on for years now. If it ends up selling half as good as the larger XT5, it’ll likely change company’s business model altogether. And it’s safe to assume it will, which creates a prelude for a few interesting years for the Cadillac brand.
2019 CT6 V-Sport
The 2019 CT6 V-Sport is the second Cadillac that’s making its first appearance for MY 2019. This will be the high-performance version of the full-size flagship CT6 sedan, which will go through a minor revision next year. All future CT6 models will sport updated frontal and rear fascias and revamped interiors with new 10-inch touch screens in the middle. Although conventional models also offer the aforementioned Super Cruise semi-autonomous technology, the V-Sport units will make do without them. What’s the point of a performance car if you’re not willing to drive it yourself, anyway?! The best part is; the CT6 V-Sport is just the first in the long line of future performance-oriented Cadillacs.
Although the CTS-V remains the most powerful Cadillac currently available, the CT6 V-Sport doesn’t fall that far behind. It’s generating a more than healthy 550 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of twist thanks to an all-new 4.2L twin-turbo V8 designed especially for the occasion. The engine is hand-crafted at the Bowling Green Kentucky Corvette plant and was designed from a blank slate. Turbos sit atop the block between the heads in order to reduce the lag in as compact a package as possible. The engine will be tied to a new 10-speed automatic gearbox and mandatory all-wheel drive as far as the V-Sport goes, but non-V-Sport models will also benefit from it. The difference is, they’ll make “only” 500 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque there. The beast of an engine naturally mandates a stiffer suspension, a mechanical limited-slip differential, 20-inch wheels wrapped in performance tires, and four-piston monoblock Brembo brakes. All this will certainly come with a high price tag, but we’ll have to wait a bit more before we find out how much exactly it’ll cost.
Despite the current iteration being introduced in 2016, the Cadillac CTS-V is still the most powerful and henceforth the hottest Cadillac car around. The modern-day “velvet hammer” starts from $86,500, which also makes it one of the most expensive Cadillacs around. It helped shape the new generation of American performance cars by restoring faith in their quality as soon as it was introduced back in 2004. The modern-day BMW M5 and Mercedes-Benz AMG E 63 owners have the CTS-V to thank for possessing such refined and powerful cars. Who knows where they would have been hadn’t it been for the CTS-V to push them to their limits. More refined and technologically advanced or not, both German cars still sport less power than the CTS-V.
Practically a four-door Corvette Z06, the Cadillac CTS-V packs 640 horsepower and 630 lb-ft of torque thanks to the same 6.2L supercharged V8 LT4 mill found in the Z06. Paired with an eight-speed automatic gearbox which sends all that power to the rear wheels, the CTS-V is capable of maxing out at 200 mph and accelerating to 60 mph from a standing start in less than 4 seconds. It also comes with Michelin tires, Magnetic Ride Control, Brembo brakes, and an optional carbon fiber aero kit that allows the extra grip and squeezes a bit of extra performance out of its 4,000 plus pound body. Until the Cadillac CTS goes into retirement in 2020, the CTS-V is a car worthy of every consideration.
Of those 156,440 Cadillacs sold in the U.S. in 2017, 68,312 were XT5s. It didn’t take the mid-size crossover long to become the best-sold Cadillac vehicle. The XT5 has achieved that in its second year (first full year) on the market. Despite the fact that the smaller XT4 is joining the lineup for MY 2019, as mentioned above, the XT5 should continue putting up stellar sales figures and carrying the brand on its shoulders. The facelifted Cadillac XT5 will don a new corporate grille showcased on the Escala concept car. The interior will also go through a slight revision, but overall, the new XT5 won’t stray too far from the path laid by the original model.
Arguably the biggest issue with the Cadillac XT5 is the crossovers’ powertrain lineup. Or the lack of one for that matter. Only a 310-horsepower 3.6L V6 can be ordered with one at the moment, but a more efficient turbo four would be a move in the right direction. Or, it would have been prior to the aforementioned XT4’s announcement. Since the turbo four in the XT5 would practically render the XT4 redundant, a 400-hp 3.0L twin-turbo V6 and the V-Sport badge would be the next pertinent move. Will that be the case? That remains to be seen. Until then, a refreshed XT5 that’s in-tune with the new Cadillac corporate design language should be more than enough for a few more successful years.
The large XTS is one of three current Cadillac models that’ll cease to exist come 2020. Considering they’re planning on replacing it with the upcoming CT5 sedan, the Cadillac brass won’t be spending their resources trying to improve a model that doesn’t really have a future. Moreover, the XTS lacks the firepower that its direct competitors often have in spades. Yes, the most recent addition to the lineup, the XTS V-Sport, does generate 410 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque, but that’s still below-par for a modern full-size luxury car. Instead of the mentioned V-Sport twin-turbo unit, most XTS models are offered with a conventional 3.6L V6 making 304 hp and 264 lb-ft of torque. Although powerful enough for most people, the average luxury car buyer still expects more. Especially from an engine that doesn’t shine in the fuel economy department either.
The last Cadillac XTS before the MY 2020 CT5 switchover will continue offering a spacious back seat, a large trunk, and a plethora of available optional tech features. In that regard, the XTS is a fine choice for most luxury sedan buyers. It’s also more affordable than its corresponding German competitors. The question is whether it’s worth buying one at this particular moment, with its replacement already announced? The answer is not for me to give. It’s up to you to decide.
Although we’ve listed the CTS-V as one of the 2019 models you should consider buying, the rest of the lineup is something you might want to stay away from. The high-octane CTS-V is quite simply that once-in-a-while type of car. Although the rest of the conventional Cadillac CTS offering isn’t as prolific as the 640-horsepower 4-door Corvette of sorts, it’s not that bad either. Thing is, the CTS is the second of the three that are being replaced by the upcoming 2020 Cadillac CT5. Shopping for a car that’s getting the ax the following year is simply a move bereft of any future-wise strategy.
While it still lasts, the Cadillac CTS (not counting the CTS-V) offers a trio of engines. A 268-horsepower 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder sits at the bottom of the range, whereas the middle ground is reserved for a 335-horsepower 3.6L V6 mill. In a somewhat confusing manner, the top-of-the-line non-V model is actually called the V-Sport, and it packs a 420-horsepower 3.6L twin-turbo V6 engine under its hood. Although quite powerful, that’s still far from the CTS-V LT4’s whopping 640 ponies. Guess the upcoming CT5 will have some big shoes to fill. And plenty of engines to consider as options when it finally arrives.
The last of the recently retiring trio is the smallest of the lot ATS. Available as both a coupe and sedan, the Cadillac ATS is getting ready to bow down from the stage after spending only seven years on the market. During that time, it changed platform once and received a few cosmetic updates in the process. Being the smallest of the three, the ATS will leave a void in Cadillac’s lineup that the larger CT5 won’t be able to fill. The Cadillac brass is likely already working on an additional model or two beside the CT5 sedan, but they won’t see the light of day prior to MY 2021 at the very least.
The conventional Cadillac ATS engine lineup consists of a 272-horsepower 2.0L turbo 4-cylinder and a 335-horsepower 3.6L V6. The ATS-V, as expected, utilizes a twin-turbo version of the 3.6L V6 mill that’s capable of putting up as much as 464 hp and 445 lb-ft of torque. Yet again not as powerful as the CTS-V, but it’s no slouch either. Especially considering the ATS’s petite nature. Although it’s inadvisable buying a model that’s set for a dismissal, the new Cadillac ATS is also your last chance to get your hands on a new compact Cadillac for a foreseeable future, so go figure.
The fourth-generation Cadillac Escalade was first unveiled in late 2013 as a 2015 model. Although the largest Cadillac vehicle currently available hasn’t been updated since, the company isn’t planning on addressing the issue during MY 2019. Instead, they’ll switch to an all-new Cadillac Escalade in 2020. The reasoning behind such a decision is actually a delay in production caused by the switch from solid axles to independent rear suspension. This move should make the new Escalade even more cushioned while making it similarly executed as the recently introduced fourth-generation Lincoln Navigator at the same time. It should also push its price even higher up, but probably not by the full extent of the independent suspension’s price.
The new Cadillac Escalade should also be equipped with the new 4.2L twin-turbo V8 from the Escala Concept. An engine that’s already booked its first gig in the above mentioned CT6 V-Sport where it’ll develop a whopping 550 horsepower. Since the Escalade won’t be allowed to don the V-Sport badge, its own version of the new V8 will likely make “only” 500 horsepower. But that’s all MY 2020 and beyond talk. The Cadillac Escalade will remain basically unchanged and its 6.2L naturally aspirated V8 currently makes 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque. More than plenty even for a behemoth such as the Escalade, but then again, the more the merrier…not to mention the better fuel economy that comes with downsizing. In conclusion, it’s definitely better to skip on the 2019 Escalade and wait for an updated model that comes a year later.