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Cadillac

New American luxury sedans are rare. Rarer still are land cruisers with manual transmissions. The 2022 Cadillac CT5 V-Series Blackwing arrived this year, and qualifies for both niche categories with a monster presence and a masterful ride.

It also represents a farewell. When the high-performance machine was unveiled in early 2021 as a 2022 model, Cadillac announced it would be joined by its junior, the CT4-V Blackwing, as the final gasoline-powered V cars made by the manufacturer.

As a last hurrah, congratulations to Cadillac. The CT5-V Blackwing is simultaneously outrageous and fun. The supercharged 6.2-liter V8 engine is mated with a six-speed manual transmission—a 10-speed automatic transmission is optional. The carmaker touts the sedan as having a top speed of 209 miles per hour and as the most powerful production vehicle in its 120-year history.

Cadillacs haven’t resembled their ancient beast-like relatives for years. Expansive styling is gone, replaced by a modern look—a sharp-angled, condensed assembly with a spoiler, meshed grilles, etc. It’s more futuristic than flamboyant. The luxury sedan still carries the Cadillac logo, once the symbol of the gargantuan brand’s beauty. It now represents, especially in the Blackwing persona, a still-prestigious sedan renowned for its power.

Driving a performance-oriented sedan with a six-speed manual transmission begins as simultaneously awkward and joyous. A short, smooth-shifting, 4,123-pound cruiser with a celebratory exhaust growl? Who knew such a vehicle existed?

During long freeway treks, the manual transmission configuration can be forgotten. If a slowdown occurs, beware. A quick downshift is required in the highway cruiser. But why not have more fun?

Likewise, the Blackwing’s quiet, powerful engine can provide trickery; gliding along at speeds far surpassing speed limits is likely and sometimes alarmingly easy. Not much acceleration muster is required.

Even drivers without performance-oriented desires can marvel. What often would be a maneuvering challenge is no longer a challenge. Power at will is a beautiful thing, even for those who don’t thrive on testosterone. Freeway ramp acceleration difficulties? Nope, not in this vehicle.

The top-line CT5-V includes standard features from the three additional less powerful trims. There’s Super Cruise and a hands-free semi-autonomous driving system. The top-level navigation system is superior, and the Bose premium audio package is a music enthusiast’s treat. Multiple additional packages add more driver assistance features such as adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams and lane-keep assist.

On the downside, heavy cars with superior performance are gas guzzlers. The super sedan is constantly thirsty and has a $2,100 gas-guzzler tax. Its fuel costs an estimated $8,250 more during the first five years of ownership than the average new vehicle.

The driving quarters are comfortable and spacious, with the exception of a lower back-seat roofline. Material quality is above average, but not as plush as competitors. Trunk space is adequate, but not the cavernous cargo container offerings of Cadillacs of yesteryear.

What’s a first-year ride like this, already an icon and the last of a kind from a 120-year-old American automobile company, worth? It’s likely an easy choice for Cadillac enthusiasts. But it’s a not-so-wise selection for prudent buyers unimpressed by speed, excess and unbridled fun.  

Facts & Figures

Acceleration: 0-60 mph, 3.4 seconds

Airbags: 8

Fuel economy: 13 mpg city, 21 mpg hwy

Horsepower: 668

Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $83,995

Manufacturer’s website: cadillac.com

Price As Tested: $113,445

Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 4 years/50,000 miles; Powertrain, 6 years/70,000 miles; Corrosion, 4 years/50,000 miles; Roadside Assistance, 6 years/70,000 miles

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