Rise of the Machines: The 2023 Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing
Regular readers are likely getting a strong sense of deja vu right now. And rightly so.
It was just over four months ago that I reviewed the 2022 Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing, also in red (though that one was the last year's Infrared and this one is called Radiant Red, which seems darker, but that could just be the light), with the same interior color scheme. So what's new for 2023? Not much, really. Four new colors (Argent Silver Metallic, Midnight Steel Metallic, Maverick Noir Frost and Radiant Red) and a "Blackwing" badge on the trunk lid that will come late in the model year.
That being the case, what's different between this CT4-V Blackwing and the one I reviewed in August?
This one goes faster.
It has the same 472-horsepower 3.6-liter twin turbo V6. But this one gets from zero to 60 in 3.9 seconds instead of the 4.1 it took the car in August.
And the reason will tick off a whole lot of people.
It has an automatic transmission. This isn't news for a lot of us, but there are still millions of people out there, almost entirely Boomers, who grew up with automatic transmissions (slushboxes, they used to call them) that sapped cars' power and fuel economy. They weren't set up to maximize performance or economy, just to shift gears at certain revs, no matter the conditions of the moment. They're not like that anymore. At least not the good ones, and certainly not the ten-speed in the CT4-V Blackwing, which not only shaves 2/10ths of a second off a 0-60 run, but has an EPA combined city/highway fuel economy estimate of 19 miles per gallon (16 city/24 highway) compared to the manual's 18 (15 city/23 highway). Now, it's okay to sacrifice that speed and efficiency if you prefer the involvement of driving a manual transmission as many of us do, and that's why Cadillac offers the six-speed stick. You'll also save $2,275, since the automatic is optional. But pure and simple, it's better at shifting than we are.
There's been a price increase for 2023---both in terms of base price (up $1,500) and destination (up $400), with the new starting point now $61,890. That money does buy a lot in the way of standard equipment apart from that 472-horsepower engine---adaptive suspension with magnetic ride control, Brembo front and rear brakes, aero ground effects, a decklid spoiler, high-performance suspension, electronic limited-slip rear differential, summer tires, a leather-wrapped performance steering wheel, an eight-inch touchscreen audio system with navigation, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and a 15-speaker AKG Premium audio system, dual-zone climate control and 18-way adjustable power front seats.
Despite that list, there were extra-cost options on our tester---nearly $15,000 worth. The sky cool gray with jet black leather seating surfaces was $4,900. The ten-speed automatic, as I mentioned before, is $2,275. A performance data and video recorder is $1,600. The Radiant Red Tintcoat paint is $1,225. The sunroof is $1,050. GM continues to charge extra for adaptive cruise control, bundling it with enhanced automatic emergency braking and reverse automatic braking in the Driver Assist Package ($900). An air ionizer and head-up display make up the Technology Package ($725). The 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels with satin graphite finish are $600. The Climate Package, which adds ventilation and power lumbar massage to the front seats, is $595. And those Torch Red seatbelts are $400 on their own. All that adds up to an as-tested price for the 2023 Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing of $76,760.
And that price, for that level of performance and content, is not out of line. I've said it before and I'll say it again---Cadillac does itself a disservice by keeping base prices low and making stuff that could and should be standard an extra-cost option. Anyone who's going to buy a CT4-V Blackwing isn't going to buy it without most or all of the goodies our tester has. Except maybe the automatic.
Great car, either way.