Standing out in today’s luxury CUV/SUV market is more challenging than ever before. Many manufacturers have expanded their model range to suit the escalating demands of consumers and Cadillac is no different. The resurgence in the brand’s popularity is thanks in part to the SRX model, Cadillac’s best-selling model in North America. While the latest generation of the “baby Escalade” was a crowd pleaser, the long-awaited replacement badged as the XT5 is a fashionable step in the right direction. This new crossover boasts a dashingly elegant design, light-weight construction, nimble handling, and an interior that is both roomier and luxurious – albeit minimalistic.
Exterior // Rating: 8/10
There’s no denying that the XT5 is beautiful. The dated edgy-box design language of past Cadillac generations has since been replaced with a more organic one, while still retaining the signature hard character line on the side profile. The front fascia is mesmerizing and well tailored with hints of chrome and that unmistakable statement piece of a grill that Cadillac is known for. Incorporating both luxury and sportive design elements throughout, it’s these details that make the XT5 visually stand apart from its stale (SRX) predecessor and the competition. Appealing to both young professionals and the mature driver, there’s no doubting that heads will turn at the sight of it cruising down the main street.
Interior // Rating: 7.5/10
Inside the cabin, it’s hard not to feel as if you’ve time-warped into the future – given the minimalistic design. This particular Platinum-trim model is equipped with comfortable stitched-leather seats, dark headliner, and carbon fiber dash trim. Overall the seats are comfortable and supportive, with the front pair offering heat/ventilation, lumbar support, and seat-extenders. Despite its short stature, the XT5’s cabin is roomy with sufficient room for even the tall folks in the back. Thankfully the rear seats recline and slide back should more headroom be required.
As for the interior’s fit and finish, the XT5 is fairly solid although not perfect. Some material choices and fitment are questionable, thankfully they’re below one’s sight-line. All the usual touchy-feely items are good as are the placement of cup holders, shifter, and the unique compartment below the infotainment system. Tucked at the center console is a charging station with two USB ports and wireless charge capability. It’s a great place to charge and store one’s phone while driving, but still be within eye-sight should it be needed.
One point which should be addressed is that of Cadillac’s electronic shifter. Although it looks beautiful, it is truly frustrating in use as it functions with the push of a button and movement of the shifter. Despite using it countless times and trying to love it, there’s nothing intuitive about it or a real benefit over a conventional shifting mechanism – even in Sport mode.
Features & Infotainment // Rating: 7/10
The infotainment center of the new XT5 is both sleek and minimalistic. Providing the info and media controls on the 8″-diagonal screen is Cadillac’s CUE system as well as navigation. For music, there’s many choices with the usual of FM/AM, XM satelite radio, and plenty of USB / auxiliary ports to plug into. Also with the CUE is an enhanced voice recognition system with phone integration – Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Unlike other display systems, this XT5 is very much a button-less one. An example of this is the volume controls that are touch-sensitive with a swipe to the right to raise the volume or left to lower it. The climate controls are also kept minimal with only a few buttons / toggles to manage, the rest being touch-sensitive. Position of the display and controls need improvement as they are a tad more than arm’s reach and with the lack of tactile-buttons, it makes it tricky to use and get used to.
Drivetrain // Rating: 8/10
Powering this new Cadillac is General Motors’ tried, tested, and true 3.6-liter V-6 engine putting out 310-horsepower and 271 lb-ft of torque. The engine is paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission that makes the XT5 no slouch, but also not a prize-winning fighter amongst its competitors. The transmission struggles during downshifts and lacks refinement with its coarse shifts throughout the range, something not expected from a new-gen Cadillac. For sportive driving, there is a Tap Shift mode on the shifter and the more common paddle-shifters behind the steering wheel.
Drive // Rating: 8/10
Driving the XT5 in a combination of city streets and highways is a true pleasure. It’s fairly responsive for a luxury SUV with a comfortable ride quality, if anything it’s mild mannered. Although it lacks crisp steering-wheel feedback and a sportive nature from the suspension, it does the daily commute perfectly. During overtaking maneuvers, the 310hp engine was sufficient in getting the job done while credit must be given to the superb all-wheel-drive system. Regardless of road condition, its electronically controlled rear differential does a great job of distributing the torque (up to 100%) and maintain traction at all times. Very little understeer was felt during aggressive cornering, inspiring confidence behind the wheel even if it’s weight is just shy of 4,000lbs. Although the XT5 will surely be used as a daily people-mover more so than a weekend luxury cruiser, the fact that it can be subtle on the road and well balanced under various traction conditions speaks volumes as to the direction in Cadillac’s AWD system technology.
Conclusion // Overall Rating: 7.7/10
Our #TestDrive Cadillac XT5 AWD Platinum is the flagship of this model and specs range, priced at $71,300 (CAD), with the front-wheel-drive base model starting at $45,200. There’s no doubting that the XT5 is elegant, both inside and out. The V6 powerplant is fitting, even with its less-than-favourable transmission. Out back there’s plenty of room in the hatch for gear or shopping bags and that’s without any rear seats being moved. Although this model was equipped with the latest tech like the touch-sensitive controls and driver aids (automatic braking, park assist, lane assist system, back-up camera, etc), they aren’t a necessity for most commuters. The new XT5 might be a bit on the pricey side from other offerings in the luxury CUV/SUV segment, but if you want to stand out in a crowd of German sheep this is the easy choice.
- Beautiful exterior styling, in tune with the new-gen Cadillac model range.
- Comfortable ride quality even with 20″ wheels.
- Plenty of head and leg room for all passengers.
- Touch-sensitive infotainment sytem is not responsive.
- Interior fitment of panels and material choices from below sight-line.
- Coarse-feeling and shifting automatic transmision.
Base MSRP: $68,595
Total Options: $755 (Trailer Package, etc)
Price As Tested: $71,300
Engine: 3.6-litre V6
Horsepower: 310 hp @ 6,700 rpm
Torque: 271 lb-ft @ 5,000 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Engine/Drivetrain: Front engine, Front-wheel drive (FWD) / All-wheel drive (AWD)
Fuel Consumption (City/Highway/Combined) L/100km: 12.1 / 8.6 / 10.5 (FWD), 12.9 / 8.9 / 11.1 (AWD)
Words & Photos: Giancarlo Pawelec