Cadillac is finally ready to play in one of the fastest growing and most competitive markets going: small luxury crossovers.

There’s been a big gap in the Cadillac line-up, and that’s been a major headache for the U.S. luxury brand, leaving it on the sidelines as key competitors, such as BMW, Mercedes and Lexus have been able to take advantage of the growing market for compact crossovers.

But the wait is over, declared Caddy President Johan de Nysschen, as he pulled the wraps off the long-awaited XT4 during a media preview ahead of the opening of the New York International Auto Show. Slotting in below the current Escalade and XT5 offerings, the Cadillac XT4 could become one of the brand’s most important additions since the original CT4 introduced the Art & Science design language.

“The new vehicle is going to add to the impressive gains we’re making,” said de Nysschen, during an invitation-only event at Cadillac House, its Manhattan headquarters. With the launch of the XT4, he added, “The Cadillac rejuvenation is really taking root.”

It certainly needs the help, Cadillac’s current sedan line-up struggling in a market that is rapidly shifting toward crossovers and more traditional SUVs. It is one of three new utes the luxury brand plans to introduce in the near future. And it’s part of a broader expansion that will see 11 product debuts, a new model introduced almost every six months through 2021, the South African-born executive pointed out.

The Cadillac XT4 picks up on the Art & Science cues that have been a theme for Cadillac for more than a decade, notably with its vertical head and taillights. But the rough edges of earlier Caddy models have been sanded down a bit, giving the new crossover-utility vehicle a more polished and refined appearance.

Cadillac XT$ Chief Designer Martin Smith shows off what his boss, Johan de Nysschen, predicts will be the top seller in the segment.

The new ute will be powered by a twin-turbo turbo-four making 237 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Those are some of the better numbers in the segment, excluding high-performance models. So are the CUV’s fuel economy figures: 25 mpg City, 30 Highway and 27 Combined. Credit a 9-speed automatic gearbox and gas-saving features like Active Fuel Management that lets the engine shut down some of its cylinders when power demands are light.

(Cadillac’s new CT6 Sport to debut its first ever twin-turbo V8. Click Here for the story.)

But the engine’s twin-scroll turbocharger also helps bring on full torque at just 1,400 RPMs, enhancing the car’s sporty character.

A twin-clutch all-drive system is available and likely to be a must in Snowbelt regions where competitors can’t move a rear-drive model.

Cadillac officials said they plan a “two-pronged attack,” with versions of the XT4 targeting two different buyer segments. That includes the Premium Luxury model and the XT4 Sport, distinguished by details like its chrome mesh grille.

At a starting price of $35,790 – including delivery fees, the XT4 will be one of the most affordable models in the Caddy line-up. General Motors’ luxury brand plans to start taking order late this month, though it won’t actually roll into showrooms until autumn.

Despite the relatively low price for something in the luxury market, Caddy boasts that the new XT4 features plenty of high-line features, including a leather-wrapped steering wheel, sport seats, and an infotainment system utilizing the latest version of the maker’s Cue technology. There are plenty of USB ports and such options as the brand’s Rear View Camera Mirror.

(Click Here for details about Cadillac taking aim at new sales record.)

“It’s been frustrating sitting on the sidelines, said Caddy President de Nysschen, as the compact crossover market exploded. “We now have an entry which I predict will be number one in the segment.”

That’s a bold forecast for a new entrant, especially one struggling to gain its footing in a rapidly changing, import-dominated U.S. luxury market. But the XT4 should be an especially welcome addition in China, now Cadillac’s largest market.

That raised a question which TheDetroitBureau.com posed to the executive: China recently passed strict new standards requiring a rapid increase in sales of plug-in hybrids and pure battery-electric models. Caddy does have a PHEV version of the CT6, its flagship sedan, but will it follow with an electrified XT4?

Adding hybrids and more advanced electrified models is “part of our medium-term strategy,” de Nysschen said. And while he declined to say what’s in store for the XT4, in particular, he hinted that “since China is such a high priority for us, I can confirm we will comply with the (new) regulations.”

(To see more about Cadillac’s XT4 breaking cover during Oscars, Click Here.)

Meanwhile, Caddy isn’t walking away from the high-performance segments where competitors dominate – and earn some of their highest profits. Later on this week it will reveal the new Cadillac CT6 V-Sport, a 550 hp twin-turbo V-8 beast that will mark the introduction of the first engine developed exclusively for the luxury brand in more than three decades.

Don't miss out!
Get Email Alerts
Receive the latest Automotive News in your Inbox!
Invalid email address
Send me emails
Give it a try. You can unsubscribe at any time.