Cadillac will soon, according to its corporate parent General Motors, will soon emerge as an all-electric brand for luxury customers searching for an alternative to the EVs offered by a diverse group of brands that will include Tesla, Mercedes-Benz, Audi and a new set of nameplates soon to emerge from China.
For now, however, Cadillac is still wed to internal combustion engine, which is where vehicles such as the Cadillac XT5 Sport enter the picture.
The XT5 is Cadillac’s play for customers looking for a utility vehicle that is smaller and less ostentatious than the Escalade. It is a midsized utility with ample style, technology, polish and sophistication to rival their neighbor’s or in-law’s BMW or Lexus. The XT5 holds its own at the upper end of what is the most competitive segment in the industry — and in some areas, such as the integration of technology and overall ride quality, actually surpasses them.
The Cadillac XT5 Sport, unlike some of its competitors in the field of midsized SUVs, comes with an easy to recognize front fascia with a distinctive grille, badge and lighting fixtures that completely dominate the vehicles exterior design.
The silhouette and rear liftgate are expertly tailored. But the heart of the XT5’s exterior design clearly sits at the front of the vehicle. GM also has bult in a panoramic roof into the ute, which benefits the ambience in the vehicle’s cabin, giving the exterior a lighter, more modern appearance. The exterior also benefits from quality of the LED lights in both the front and the rear of vehicle and the smart design of the wheels, which help enhance the XT5’s four corners.
It takes a while to fully appreciate but one of the things I liked about the cabin of the Cadillac XT5 with all-wheel drive is how quiet it is. Even on rough pavement or gravel and dirt surfaces the noise is kept at bay, which means less fatigue at the end of a longer drive or a slow-moving commute.
The materials used in furnishing the cabin, including leather with hand-sewn stitching, wood and carbon fiber trim pieces and a micro-suede headliner, are first rate, visually impressive and give the cabin the sense of luxury important to Cadillac’s image.
Cadillac and General Motors employ talented designers, and they have deftly integrated an impressive array of safety and communication technology, putting them at the driver’s fingertips both on the steering wheel and in the center stack with an easy-to-read screen. The view from the driver’s seat also is very good and the night-time lighting scheme throughout helpful rather than a distraction.
The Cadillac XT5 I drove was equipped with 3.6-liter V-6 engine with a variable valvetrain and a 9-speed transmission and an all-wheel-drive system. The combination produces 310 horsepower and 271 foot-pounds of torque, giving the vehicle ample power.
But the larger engine also carries something of fuel-economy penalty. It has a 21 miles per gallon combined rating from the Environmental Protection Agency, which includes 18 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway.
The all-wheel-drive system also has a driver-mode selector for travel through snow but while the vehicles can handle dirt and gravel its ground clearance is listed at 7.8 inches, and it is not really equipped for more rugged off-pavement travel.
Safety and Technology
On the safety front, the Cadillac XT5 is fully equipped, including remote start, rain-sensing windshield wipers, multiple front-and side-impact airbags as well as a rollover curtain. But it also has forward-collision alert, front pedestrian braking, front and rear park assist, rear-vision camera, automatic high-beam controls, lane-change alert, and lane-departure alert as well as well as lane-keeping assistance and rear cross-traffic alert and adaptive cruise control.
The model I drove was equipped with surround vision, head-up display, parking assistance with braking and an air ionizer. It also is equipped with OnStar, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as voice recognition, satellite radio, Bluetooth and Cadillac user experience with embedded navigation, and a Bose sound system with 14 speakers.
One of Cadillac XT5 strengths is that it is a pleasant vehicle to drive. It steers nicely. It has a solid active suspension that helps keep the vehicle flat through curves and helps the vehicle tackle broken pavement with its automatically damping equipped suspension. It also has a solid steering feel and ample four-wheel disc brakes.
The engine offers plenty of power — particularly out on the freeway where the 310 horsepower from the V-6 engine come into play. The 9-speed transmission never missed a beat, even when coming down hill and a downshift is in order. The XT5 seems to have been equipped to be quiet but GM has added in a nice exhaust note.
This is not a perfect vehicle. But it is certainly well equipped with all kinds of creature comforts, such as heated seats and climate controls for any passengers that might have to travel in the second row. But the cost of the driver assistance and communications features added up and pushes the price up to nearly $70,000, or $68,765, including $995 shipping charge to be exact. I suspect the luxury class will soon settle in at prices of more than $70,000 and GM continues to maintain that Cadillac is a luxury nameplate regardless of what some critics might say or think.