How Does The 2020 Cadillac CT4-V Stack Up Against The Ford Mustang EcoBoost And Chevrolet Camaro Turbo?
Turbocharged four-cylinder engines are the new small block V8s when it comes to domestic muscle cars. Don't believe us? General Motors, Ford, and even Chrysler are currently putting out turbo 4's that produce more horsepower and torque than what was found in a base Mustang, Camaro, or Challenger way back in the glory days of cubic inches and bias ply tires.
That being said, not every current turbocharged car from Detroit offers the same type of driving experience. Each automaker has its own take on what enthusiasts are looking for from an entry-level automobile, balancing speed, power, and efficiency in a bid to be everything to everyone.
The newest entry into the turbo muscle world wears a badge that might surprise more than a few fans of American iron. The 2020 Cadillac CT4-V marks the first time that the luxury brand has built a high performance car with four-cylinders under the hood, and while it might not a full-on V machine like the upcoming Blackwing is slated to be, it's still one of the most powerful cars in its class.
How does the Cadillac CT4-V stack up against the Ford Mustang EcoBoost 2.3L High Performance Package and the Chevrolet Camaro Turbo? We compare this trio of turbo four-cylinder choices to see which one reigns supreme.
2020 Cadillac CT4-V
First, let's get the numbers out of the way: the 2.7L unit under the hood of the CT4-V churns out 325 horsepower and 381 lb-ft of torque, making it the king of our comparison for the latter figure, and just a few ponies behind the Blue Oval's pony for the former. The secret weapon offered by the Cadillac, however, is available all-wheel drive, which might knock the car's 0-60 time down to just under 5 seconds (from 4.5 for the rear-wheel drive model), but which improves wet-and-slippery traction (a limited-slip rear differential is also offered).
This engine hails from an unlikely source, as it was originally developed for the Chevrolet Silverado full-size pickup. Despite featuring a different intake and a number of other unique details when pulling Cadillac duty, there's no mistaking that down-low torque focus that makes the CT4-V feel very fast but at the same time not all that exciting as the revs climb.
There's also a lack of engagement between the driver and the car due to its 10-speed automatic transmission. Sure, you can paddle shift, but with so many gears to cycle through it's often a guessing game as to which one is the right one, and by the time you've repeatedly clicked down or up it's too late to really be all that effective.
All of that aside, however, the CT4-V provided the best all-around performance experience of the group. It's a planted, well-balanced sedan that is fast enough to be fun, even if it does stop just short of being truly entertaining. With magnetic ride control available to rear-wheel drive models (but sadly, not with all-wheel drive), handling is also excellent, and certainly in keeping with similarly-priced German sport sedans.
You'll pay $45,000 for the most affordable version of the Cadillac, which is a stretch above Mustang and Camaro territory, but neither of those models have an interior to match that of their premium rival, nor can they provide the same kind of four-seasons fun.
Ford Mustang EcoBoost 2.3L High Performance Package
Ford offers a pair of EcoBoost turbo four options for the Mustang, and if you're a gearhead the 2.3L High Performance Package is the one you want. Borrowing its engine from the defunct Ford Focus RS, it delivers 332 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque, but more importantly it offers a wider powerband than the standard EcoBoost model. This makes it a bit more interesting at the top end when running through the gears of its six-speed manual transmission.
If you opt for its 10-speed autobox, a launch control system surges the car to 60-mph in 4.5 seconds, matching the Cadillac.
The 2.3L High Performance Package is also responsible for introducing much of the Mustang GT's go-fast gear, including its suspension, similar tires and wheels, and access to the Handling Package, which features magnetically-controlled shock absorbers and a limited-slip rear differential. The car looks the part, too, what with its GT-inspired body kit.
As a whole, the beefier EcoBoost lacks the fun factor of the Mustang's 5.0L V8, but it does appeal to those who plan to regularly take their coupe to the track yet find themselves on a tighter budget. It's a less dramatic take on the muscle car concept, but one you'll still be asked to pay $5k more for over the entry-level Mustang's price (with the total approaching $37,000 for a well-equipped model with the Handling Package).
Chevrolet Camaro Turbo 1LE
The Chevrolet Camaro Turbo 1LE offers the most exhilarating chassis of this turbo four trio (sharing a modified version of its platform with the heavier Cadillac). If only its engine were able to keep up.
The 2.0L turbo found in the Camaro is good for 275hp and 295 lb-ft of torque, making it the pokiest of the bunch. While this is a respectable level of grunt, it's unusually distributed, requiring 3,000 rpm to tap into the bulk of its power with only a narrow band to play in before you're hitting up against the no-fun zone of 5,400 rpm (where you'll start to see diminishing returns on your revs). A short-throw six-speed manual is the only available transmission, which is a good thing as it allows you to judiciously pick your shift points to match the somewhat peaky Chevy engine.
Everything else about the car, aside from the poor visibility that is endemic to every modern Camaro, is excellent. Most of the suspension is shared with the Camaro S, but it also gains major cooling upgrades for the drivetrain as well as a limited-slip differential and launch control. Brembo brakes round out the package's major highlights.
The Camaro Turbo 1LE is cheap—you can snag one for about $30k, and that's a couple grand less than a basic 2.3L High Performance Package in the Mustang—but spend a few more bucks and get the V6, a choice you simply don't have in either the Cadillac or the Ford.
More From Driving Line
- Want more details on Ford's latest pony car? Check out our full review of the 2020 Ford Mustang EcoBoost 2.3L High Performance Package.