Ask the Best and Brightest: New Cadillac CTS-V or Used BMW M5?

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
ask the best and brightest new cadillac cts v or used bmw m5

More Janus-like indecision from a member of our Best and Brightest who’s torn between two lovers, feeling like a fool. “Jack” wants to buy American (whatever love is). And like many of us, he suffers from some sort of right brain/left brain; head/heart deal. So, he made a list:

Pros for the CTS-V

1. Helping out Joe Six Packs up there in Lansing and at all the parts companies across the country. I’m not a jingoist, but I’ve asked that Detroit build a car that’s competitive—and they have. And in a tie, I’m cheering for my fellow Americans.

2. The absolute best new car value for money in the over $50,000 category with respect to performance.

3. New car smell and complete control over the hoonage that I’d inflict on my car.

Cons against the CTS-V

1. I don’t like the glossy, piano-finish trim of the interior. Would rather have the standard CTS interior.

2. Problems noted on various forums about various fit/finish issues (e.g., squealing navigation display, interior creaks and rattles, exposed harness wires, etc.)

3. Hit-or-miss dealer experiences.

4. A new CTS-V will probably depreciate faster than a similarly-priced used M5.

Pros for the M5

1. The current M5 is the culmination of years of BMW M development.

2. iDrive (yes, I like it) and the nearly infinite customization of my driving experience.

3. The “M button.” No one really needs 500+ horsepower on tap constantly. So it would be nice to limit my horsepower and fuel to “only” 400 hp.

4. Random little extras available on an M5, like the head-up display, push button keyless start (as opposed to the CTS-V’s column keyless start).

5. BMW/German leather and seats seems to hold up very well over the years. Past experience tells me that American seats/leather don’t hold up as well (pet peeve).

6. BMWs are really comfortable (seat firmness, seating position, visibility, etc.) on extreme long distance drives.

7. International admiration for the M5 as the ultimate performance sedan. The day I see CTS-Vs around the world is the day that GM has come of age.

Cons against a used M5

1. I have no idea on the hoonage inflicted on the car.

2. BMW drivers tend to be a bit on pretentious side.

3. That intangible feeling that I can’t trust BMW for years to come.

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2 of 75 comments
  • Energetik9 Energetik9 on May 07, 2009

    A few counter points-- It's flawed logic to argue that a modern American car will become a classic in the same manner as older generations. Not to mention, we’re talking a 15-20 year window on the small chance that logic might be true. Who keeps cars that long? Just because a car is used, don't automatically assume that it was abused.....and if it was abused don't assume that it caused irreparable harm to the car. Finally, how about buying a used CTS-V. You can get them in the low $30K range with less than 15,000 miles if you really want one. That way at least you’ll be insulated from the depreciation hit your going to take. I just saw one with 20K miles for $26K. How much did they sell for new? For what it's worth, my grandfather really enjoys his Cadillac too. Overall it's up to you, you have to drive it every day.

  • ThePenaltyofLeadership ThePenaltyofLeadership on May 07, 2009

    Interesting that "the company that makes it is going out of business" isn't among the cons. As to the cars themselves, after owning five BMW's dating from the eighties to the naughties, I'd leave off the "German leather" factor; the interiors on my cars haven't held up particularly well at all. They've all had some form of characterful deterioration ranging from cracked dashboards to shredded seat pockets to various plastic thingies liberating themselves from their German masters' efforts at domination. If the M5 you're thinking of is equipped with the SMG transmission, then I cannot countenance your purchase. I know it has its fans, but sadly, their opinions are in error. It renders the car undriveable. Next, sound systems. Yes the M5 contains many wonderous marvels of science, but it absolutely will not rock. No BMW ever has or will. Forget the upgrade. It won't sound any better. I haven't driven the CTS, but based on the many domestics I have rented over the years, they always sound better than what I'm driving at home. Lastly, there's sex appeal. Here in the Bay Area at least, BMW's have none whatsoever. M5's are as common as tweets. Maybe that's a good thing, maybe it isn't. But the Caddy will be noticed, the Beemer won't. All things being equal, I'd prefer a car that has interior bits that stay put, makes music musical, and has looks that get looks. But all things are never equal. Each of my BMW's was purchased after an exhaustive examination of the competition. The Beemer always drove best. If Cadillac has produced a car that drives better than an M5 (properly equipped of course with the correct transmission), then by all means buy it, either now or next month at the liquidation sale. But somehow I doubt it.

  • ToolGuy Last ad: Is that The Dude doing the voiceover at the end? 😉
  • ToolGuy Nice paint!!Too young to die.
  • David S. For a single quarter, only ninth best-selling (estimated?) of 2022. Maybe ICE vehicles would sell at a similar rate if the government paid people to buy them too?!
  • Dukeisduke I don't like how they've changed their nameplates and font from the Star Trek-ish LEXUS, to L E X U S, kinda like VW's lettering on the back of the T A O S, or those stick-on letters you can buy at the parts store that people use to their own names on the back of their cars.
  • Dukeisduke So, the screen goes blank for two-tenths of a second, every once in a while - what could go wrong?