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    Two Sedans to Personalize

    By Philip Ruth–

    “Okay, let’s be clear about what you really want here.” That’s a sentence I say to my clients ad infinitum, as we parse out the ad hype and their own biases to select a vehicle that really resonates with them. 

    It’s not an easy task, because brands carry lots of baggage. BMW and Cadillac are prime examples: BMW drivers have developed a folklore on being aggressive, and Cadillac’s uphill battle to appeal to younger buyers remains an existential threat to this storied GM division. 

    Only after some driving can you get a sense of whether a vehicle truly suits you. That became ever clearer after a back-to-back sampling of the BMW 228i xDrive Gran Coupe and Cadillac CT5 Premium Luxury—each of them has their own particular appeal. 

    They’d better at these prices: the compact BMW was a hair under $49,000, and the mid-sized Cadillac’s sticker swelled in sight of $60,000, after adding almost $18,000 in options. This points to the personalization that’s available as prices climb. 

    Noteworthy on the BMW was the $4,000 M Sport package, with tweaks inside and out for a sportier look and feel. The Cadillac’s $8,330 Platinum package includes massaging lumbar supports for both driver and front passenger. Both give lots of opportunities to spend handsomely on making them your own. So, then it comes down to which choices will expand the appeal inherent in each car—the elegant and businesslike BMW, versus the extroverted and glitzy Cadillac. 

    These are old descriptors for the two brands, but here in 2020 they still ring true. Both have pleasing exhaust notes, with a low baritone on the BMW complemented by a tinge of snarl with the Cadillac. Both tested cars had all-wheel drive, and at about 3,800 pounds, the Cadillac has close to 300 pounds extra. 

    You’d think that would actually add up to more, because again true to its reputation, the Cadillac has an uncommonly long measurement—the wheelbase, in this case, which stretches to 116 inches. That’s the distance between the wheels of a late-’70s Caprice Classic. One result is that rear legroom is a palatial 37.9 inches, like the Caprice’s. The BMW’s 34.4 inches is in line with other compacts. 

    Both are memorably engaging to drive. The BMW’s 228-horsepower, twin-turbocharged four-cylinder smoothly scrolls out its power, and handling is poised and ready for more. The Cadillac’s 335-horsepower V6, also a twin-turbo and a $3,500 option, is more of a hungry beast, with constant reminders that more thrust is at the ready. 

    Inside, the BMW accents the instrument panel with choices of trim, and the “Mocha” leather trim lent a relaxing ambience. The Cadillac’s “Sedona Sauvage” leather had a similar effect, and its feature-filled dash could be seen from space. Extra kudos to the center screen’s instant response to the remote controller. 

    So, would you really want either of them? Since they have their own distinct approaches, it probably wouldn’t take long for you to know. 

    Philip Ruth is a Castro-based automotive photojournalist and consultant with an automotive staging service.

    Published on November 5, 2020