This week we get two popular luxury sedans, starting with the Cadillac CT4. Its base price of only $33K is attractive. This includes a small 2.0-liter turbo engine rated at 237 horsepower.
This anemic offering is intended for car rental fleets and does not inspire an upgraded image being demanded by potential buyers. That is why the optional 2.7 turbo with 309 hp is a superior pick, but we had the top of the line 2.7 with 325 hp. It also comes with a modern 10-speed transmission over the base eight-speed. This will set you back an extra $4K, but it is well worth it. With metallic paint, climate package and other goodies, the end fee is $46K.
In daily commuting, this car has few faults. It is comfortable, handles well and has strong brakes. The cabin is nothing fancy but within the base price class. A leading car publication claimed this CT4 can reach 0-60 mph in a brisk 4.4 seconds, which would be great if it could do it. But there is no way 325 hp is moving 3,800 pounds that quick. I did a complete track test, and 5.8 was the best time, which is what was expected, and brisk enough. The turbocharger provides plenty of low-speed torque, which comes in handy when getting on that freeway ramp. Fuel economy is listed at 20/30 mpg, which is what I observed.
The CT4 is a nice car, although the tab seems a bit stiff when loaded with all the options. Shop for your best deal.
Next up is the Lexus ES 350. Some critics say this is nothing but a dolled up Toyota Camry with higher price tag, and they are wrong. Yes, there has been some platform sharing as well as much swapping of mechanical parts. But it is the end result that counts, and this is one of the better luxury sedans on the planet. The 3.5-liter V6 puts out 302 horsepower and is very smooth and quiet. The eight-speed transmission shifts just fine. The ride, handling and overall build quality are fantastic.
The base price is $39K, but this car is loaded up with everything from the factory. This includes the F Sport pack that has a variable suspension with Eco, Custom, Normal, Sport and Sport+ modes. I was shocked to see we are being charged $1,515 for LED headlights that are often standard on a Toyota! Or $365 for a trunk mat? With navigation, 1,800-watt stereo and other items, the total freight is $54K.
At the end of the week, there were no complaints to register. Fuel economy is listed at 22/31 mpg, and we observed 33 on a highway trip. A good used ES 350 is hard to find because owners want to keep them. We can see why.
Chad Haire, of Phoenix, test-drives vehicles for this feature.