Let me quote very strong GM ( taken from Lars Schandorff-Grandmaster Repertoire 7 The Caro-Kann ) :
The famous Panov variation has always attracted aggressive players with White, and it is easy to understand why. With an active pawn move, White immediately creates tension in the centre and shows that he values the initiative more highly than mere positional matters, such as pawn structure. The Panov often leads to double-edged positions where White has isolated queen's pawn in exchange for fluid piece-play and general activity.
Please note the The Panov often leads to double-edged positions... part. I told you this before, and sadly here is the same case : White chooses here whether the struggle will be sharp tactical encounter or quiet strategical "debate".
That being said, let us examine all 3 moves and let us start from
This is not entirely correct, but may be playable. Black struggles to draw by regaining the sacrificed
d-pawn. So far White has pleasant advantage in the main lines, but maybe somebody will invent some novelty that will make Black's play fully equal ( I still have my doubts but who knows... ).
This move gives White lots of options to sharpen the game. He can go into Endgame variation where he has small initiative and better piece placement, or he can go into sharp lines with
6.Bg5. Here lines are very sharp. You can transpose to more solid lines with
6...e6 which may be what you want but be warned that Schandorff still believes White is slightly better there. Playing similar positions as Black, I must agree with him -> these are very tough to play as Black, at least they were for me. He prefers
5...e6, it might be exactly what you look for, but you really need latest theory here. Schandorff says that in the moment of him writing the book ( 2010 ) the Nimzo-Indian plan Karpov invented that starts with
5...e6 lost its appeal. Still, if I were you, I would look thoroughly for these positions as they were solid before. I doubt White can improve the game, so all you will probably need are good opening moves and you will be ready to go! 90% of the time you should be battling against Isolated Queen's pawn which is easier to play as Black... Just "do your homework" first!
I wish I was able to offer you some sample lines with
5...e6 but I have no up-to-date books on that :(