Cold Midwestern winters are tough for mega-powerful tire-burners. After all, the Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing can blow off its rear tires on a whim even in warm weather on its summer rubber. With reduced traction from both the road surface and the Pirelli winter tires, it’s a matter of surviving rather than thriving. The logbook commentary reflects this, with some suggesting plopping a couple of sandbags in back to get more force on the rear tires and reports of leaving the CT5 parked and taking another vehicle when a big snowstorm hit. Others attributed the fact that it could get around at all as a testament to its outstanding level of steering and chassis communication. Of course, most of the winter the roads are cold but not snow covered, where the CT5 does just fine. But any kind of exuberance behind the wheel—which is all but unavoidable—leads to wheelspin early and often.
Senior editor Eric Stafford pretty much speaks for everyone when he says the Blackwing “stirs up dormant emotions every time I start it up.” A big V-8 paired with a manual transmission has a way of doing that, a combination getting rarer by the day and one we’ll be celebrating long after it’s gone. But the CT5 isn’t all pomp and bluster, which makes it even more remarkable. Despite its bombastic performance, it rides with a sophistication that’s lacking on many comfort-focused luxury barges, and we continue to jot down superlatives regarding its large rear seat and trunk.
Since our last update, we’ve had two services. A 15,000-mile oil change that also called for new wiper blades cost $290. And we went in a couple hundred miles early for the 22,500-mile service because the oil-life monitor was starting to chirp at us. This latest one included a cabin air filter, and the $30 charged for labor to install the $40 filter makes for a jealousy-inducing hourly rate. The total with the oil change was $254, for a grand total of $739 spent on three regular services thus far. The CT5 also prompted us to do an over-the-air update to remedy a recall for the daytime running lights possibly not deactivating when the headlamps are on. Because the CT5 was also prone to wander on the winter-tire setup, we also had the alignment reset at the 15,000-mile service, just to confirm everything is in its place, especially since there have been a couple impacts in its past. But we categorized that $130 charge to the damage-and-destruction category.
There have been a couple reported instances of a grind accompanying a gentle sixth-to-fifth downshift, but it was not repeatable enough to try to have it diagnosed. Otherwise, there have been no new issues.
That most of the last 10,000 miles were spent during winter and a few extended road trips probably explains our average fuel economy ticking down 1 mpg to 16 mpg overall. But spring is here, and the summer tires are going back on this week. Let’s go!
Months in Fleet: 12 months Current Mileage: 22,032 miles
Average Fuel Economy: 16 mpg
Fuel Tank Size: 17.4 gal Observed Fuel Range: 270 miles
Service: $739 Normal Wear: $16 Repair: $50 Damage and Destruction: $5693
While she meant it in a much nobler context, Maya Angelou’s quote “Nothing can dim the light which shines from within” seems to apply quite well to our CT5-V Blackwing. Our feverish praise for Cadillac’s brightest-ever four-door never wavered, although it has taken a couple pauses. Most recently, there was a $5563 monthlong pit stop to repair or replace every major passenger’s-side body panel and various trim pieces crinkled by a kamikaze deer during our second try at initial testing, after the engine self-destructed during the first go.
But, like we said, the light from what is arguably the best sports sedan ever created isn’t easily extinguished. Video maestro Carlos Lago sums up the CT5’s all-around awesomeness: “It’s everything I could hope for or want from a daily-driver sedan: comfortable, bonkers fast, subtle looking, but also childishly loud.” Part of the loudness is that the engine starts with an extra-raspy blip during a cold start, which we enjoy every time.
Our CT5 made the trip to this year’s Lightning Lap and did a few laps of its own at VIR.
To that, we’d add that this car’s sizable trunk makes five-person weekend getaways possible. We don’t understand, though, why there’s a hands-free unlatching feature when the lid can’t power itself open all the way, requiring a hand to complete the task. Our CT5 has gotten out to see more of our corner of the world, traveling to Toronto, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, and Virginia International Raceway for this year’s Lightning Lap, where it did a few laps of its own and earned a track-outline sticker on its rump.
Commenters repeatedly praise the Caddy’s high-speed serenity, comparing notes about how difficult it is to keep the cruising speed below three digits. And, totally unrelated, certainly, they mention the CT5’s lack of range. While the supercharged 6.2-liter small-block V-8 has gained 112 horsepower since the second-generation CTS-V, the fuel tank hasn’t gotten any larger. In fact, the CT5’s 17.4-gallon hold is slightly less than the 18.0-gallon tank in our long-term 2011 CTS-V wagon, a car that inspired similar complaints. We’ve crested 300 miles a few times, and the longer trips have pushed our running average fuel economy up by two miles per gallon to 17 mpg. On highway legs, including our 75-mph highway fuel-economy test, we’ve seen as high as 22 mpg, 1 mpg better than the EPA highway figure, which means that theoretically a run in the high 300-mile range is possible.
Although there haven’t been any complaints about either the comfort or the finish of the carbon-fiber-backed seats, the nonadjustable headrests hit tall occupants, like six-foot-five yours truly, well below the top of the head. (BMW and Porsche are more accommodating to the tall with their fixed-headrest designs.) The Blackwing’s seats also creak slightly when leaned upon. We’ve criticized the CT5’s interior trim, which is quite lowbrow for a $100,000 anything, and now a couple of stitches on the leather steering wheel have started unraveling. We have been digging the night mode, which dims all dash lights except for a minimalist speedo. This is perhaps an idea swiped from Saab, which had a similar feature called Night Panel.
We’ve also completed our first service that didn’t involve swapping out the entire engine. The oil filter was just $5, while each of the 8.8 quarts of 0W-40 cost more than three times as much, yielding a $195 total.
On the way back from VIR, we had another run-in with a quadruped. This time it was a deer carcass in the middle of the interstate, hidden by darkness until it was too late to do anything but center it under the car. At every stop for the rest of that trip, we were bathed in the rank smell of warm and very bad meat, and the entrails shattered a couple of plastic underbody aero bits and dented the oil cooler.
At least putting on a set of winter tires for Michigan’s cold season should be easy. Right? But just as with our CT4-V Blackwing, we struggled extensively to source tires in the CT5’s sizes. After exhausting all the usual outlets, we found a hodgepodge set at a local Mercedes-Benz dealer. All four are Pirelli Sottozero Serie IIs, but the fronts are Mercedes-spec Winter 270s (and also five years old), while the rears are Porsche-spec Winter 240s. That’s a lot of caveats when shelling out $1830 for tires. We also removed the low-hanging brake-cooling ducts before snow has a chance to do that for us.
The unavailability of tires will hopefully provide sufficient motivation for restraint. There’s so much torque all over the CT5’s tach that this heroic V-8 makes quick work of the standard 305-width Michelin Pilot Sport 4S summer pelts, so you can be up a gear or two and these squishy Pirellis still don’t stand a chance. We are equal parts in awe and in love.
Months in Fleet: 9 months Current Mileage: 14,672 miles
Average Fuel Economy: 17 mpg
Fuel Tank Size: 17.4 gal Observed Fuel Range: 290 miles
Service: $195 Normal Wear: $16 Repair: $50 Damage and Destruction: $5563
It’s been unforgettable since day one: Despite our fully respecting the break-in restrictions, the CT5-V Blackwing forcefully blew off its tires in a fit of wheelspin on its first drive home in our long-term fleet. Sure, the conditions were chilly and wet, but the amount of hooliganism at the ready, even when using well shy of this car’s full 668 horsepower, can almost seem reckless. That is, if the CT5-V weren’t so communicative, predictable, and controllable, making it easy to ease past the limit without losing the handle. But we didn’t yet know the breadth of emotions that Cadillac’s V-8 sports sedan would quickly sear into our memory during this long-term test.
After the CT5-V Blackwing ran with far more expensive four-doors at our Lighting Lap track showdown, and after we named each of Cadillac’s Blackwings to our 2022 10Best list, we ordered up both for a long-term test so we could hang on to some of the best-driving sports sedans ever created for as long as possible.
When it came time to spec, we had to have a manual. The last CTS-V, the CT5-V’s predecessor, went automatic only, but Cadillac righted that wrong with the new car, and 62 percent of CT5-V Blackwing buyers have chosen the DIY gearbox. Our car is a tasteful dark blue called Wave Metallic, which we would have preferred to pair with the $1500 bronze-colored wheels rather than the bronze Brembo brake calipers it has. This car also has the $4100 Carbon Fiber 1 Package of aerodynamic add-ons, black-and-tan leather seats with carbon-fiber seatbacks ($6090), and the $1450 weight penalty that is the sunroof option. Between that sunroof and the iron rotors (versus the carbon-ceramic option), this example weighs 115 pounds more than the first CT5-V Blackwing manual we tested. Not surprisingly, this one ran 0.1 second slower to 60 mph and through the quarter-mile, although 3.7 and 11.7 seconds, respectively, is bonkers for a 4200-pound sedan that can comfortably seat five. At 1.02 g’s, skidpad grip nearly matches that of the Corvette Z51, and the CT5-V’s 143-foot stopping distance from 70 mph beats every C8 Corvette we’ve tested, proof that the Blackwing-spec Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires are considerably grippier than the off-the-shelf versions.
But those numbers didn’t come easily. The supercharged small-block V-8 that powered our car for its first 1700 miles didn’t survive the initial test session. After about 15 standing-start acceleration runs, the V-8 started misfiring dramatically, and the Caddy left on a tow truck. Somehow, combustion got too lean on the even bank, which led to cylinder scoring and necessitated a heart transplant. We’ve outlined the carnage and findings from a teardown of that engine once it made its way back to GM in a separate story.
Roughly six weeks later, the CT5-V was back, and we started a second 1500-mile stint of restraint to break in the new V-8—keeping engine speeds below 4000 rpm, no wide-open throttle or constant vehicle speeds. The engine swap was covered under warranty, although we got charged $50 for fuel used to test the new engine after it was installed.
Back at the track a second time, the CT5 was all bellow and zest, turning in the acceleration times mentioned above. Just when we were thinking all was right once again in CT5-V Blackwing land, a cluster of deer appeared during one of our final runs, and one ran into the CT5’s flank, primarily damaging the passenger’s-side rear door.
If you thought that was unlucky, the very next day our long-term CT4-V Blackwing went to the track, where it startled one of the birds feasting on the fresh kill. The bird then swooped straight into the A-pillar of the lesser Blackwing, which was going 100-plus mph.
What are the odds?
Months in Fleet: 5 months Current Mileage: 5937 miles
Average Fuel Economy: 15 mpg
Fuel Tank Size: 17.4 gal Observed Fuel Range: 260 miles
Service: $0 Normal Wear: $0 Repair: $50
2022 Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing
Vehicle Type: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan
Base/As Tested: $84,990/$100,160
Options: tan and black semi-aniline leather seats with carbon-fiber seatbacks, $6090; Carbon Fiber 1 package (front splitter, front wheel-well deflectors, trunk spoiler), $4100; performance data/video recorder, $1600; sunroof, $1450; parking package (rear camera mirror, hands-free trunk release, rear pedestrian alert), $710; Wave Metallic paint, $625; bronze brake calipers, $595
supercharged and intercooled pushrod 16-valve V-8, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injection
Displacement: 376 in3, 6162 cm3
Power: 668 hp @ 6500 rpm
Torque: 659 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm
Suspension, F/R: struts/multilink
Brakes, F/R: 15.7-in vented disc/14.7-in vented disc
Tires: Michelin Pilot Sport 4S
F: 275/35ZR-19 (100Y) TPC Spec 3162
R: 305/30ZR-19 (102Y) TPC Spec 3163
Wheelbase: 116.0 in
Length: 194.9 in
Width: 74.1 in
Height: 56.5 in
Passenger Volume: 99 ft3
Trunk Volume: 12 ft3
Curb Weight: 4207 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS: NEW
60 mph: 3.7 sec
100 mph: 7.9 sec
1/4-Mile: 11.7 sec @ 124 mph
130 mph: 12.8 sec
150 mph: 18.4 sec
Results above omit 1-ft rollout of 0.3 sec.
Rolling Start, 5–60 mph: 4.3 sec
Top Gear, 30–50 mph: 7.2 sec
Top Gear, 50–70 mph: 6.0 sec
Top Speed (C/D est): 205 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 143 ft
Braking, 100–0 mph: 302 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 1.02 g
C/D FUEL ECONOMY
Observed: 16 mpg
75-mph Highway Driving: 22 mpg
75-mph Highway Range: 380 mi
Unscheduled Oil Additions: 1 qt
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/City/Highway: 15/13/21 mpg
4 years/50,000 miles bumper to bumper
6 years/70,000 miles powertrain
4 years/50,000 miles corrosion protection
6 years/70,000 miles roadside assistance
1 year/1 visit scheduled maintenance
Director, Vehicle Testing
Dave VanderWerp has spent more than 20 years in the automotive industry, in varied roles from engineering to product consulting, and now leading Car and Driver‘s vehicle-testing efforts. Dave got his very lucky start at C/D by happening to submit an unsolicited resume at just the right time to land a part-time road warrior job when he was a student at the University of Michigan, where he immediately became enthralled with the world of automotive journalism.