By Nauman Farooq
Cadillac is the most prestigious American automotive brand, and it built its reputation by building fantastic luxury sedans, coupes, and convertibles. They had style, they had grace, and they were propelled by thumping great V8 engines. They truly were aspirational cars, cars that movie stars and heads of states drove around in.
In recent decades, their focus has shifted quite a bit. While they still offer a big vehicle that many celebrities and athletes roam around in – talking about the Escalade SUV here – the core business is competing with the likes of Lincoln, Lexus, Acura, BMW, etc.
While Cadillac has thankfully not fully given up on sedans, they currently have no convertibles or coupes on offer. Instead, the focus has shifted to crossovers!
The first ever crossover to wear a Cadillac badge was the SRX from 2004. Now, you have the choice between a small-ish one in the form of the XT4, and a large-ish one in the form of the XT6. In the middle is the XT5 – which was a replacement model for the aging SRX model, and was introduced in 2017.
Since the last time we tested a vehicle from General Motors was back in 2016, we have missed out on a lot of new models!
Let’s rectify that, and see what we’ve been missing out on!
Styling: There was a time, when Cadillac styling used to be very flamboyant! Nowadays, they are very clean and handsome. Some might say, the styling isn’t daring enough, and I to wish that Cadillac would take a bolder step towards their styling, but their current line up won’t offend anyone, and hence would perhaps appeal to a larger audience.
From an aesthetic point of view, the XT5 is easily the safest styled vehicle in Cadillac’s line up currently. However, thanks to a few neat design touches, such as clear headlamp and tail lamp units, and just the right amount of chrome, the XT5 doesn’t look boring – in fact, the more time I spent with it, the more I enjoyed looking at it.
Interior: It might have been about three years since I last stepped in a Cadillac, but it certainly looked like that things are pretty much where I left off!
The interior of the XT5 would be very familiar to anyone who has been in a Cadillac in the last five years. The steering wheel, the instrument binnacle, and the CUE infotainment system are very familiar, and while they might look a bit dated now, at least they all work just fine!
What they have changed, that honestly doesn’t work very well, is the gear selector. It is an electronic shifter, and it is neither smooth, or intuitive to use. This shifter can be found in many other Chevrolet, Buick, and Cadillac products, and I know of no one who actually likes using this shifter – and yes, I’ve even asked people who own a vehicle with this shifter, and they don’t like it either. A push-button gear selector – like the ones found in current Acura models – would be better than this current shifter.
Apart from that, the rest of the interior offers a nice, comfortable place to spend time in. There is decent amount of space for five people and their luggage in the XT5, and even the rear seat occupants got heated seats.
You can opt for a panoramic sunroof, if you want, but what you really should spend on is getting the electronic rearview mirror. What it does is project a digital image on the glass of your interior rearview mirror, and it is connected to a wide angle lens camera. So, no matter how many people you have in your car, or how much luggage you have stuffed in the trunk, you’ll get a very clear, unobstructed image of the road behind you – that’s very cool!
Powertrain: Unlike its competition, the 2019 XT5 is only offered with one engine, and it is also something found in many other GM vehicles. It is a 3.6L V6 engine – same unit you’ll find in vehicles like the Chevrolet Camaro RS, or the Buick LaCrosse, etc. – and in this application it develops 310 hp and 271 lb-ft of torque. For the 2020 model year, a turbocharged four-cylinder will also be offered, a good move in my opinion.
Depending on your selection, power is sent to either just the front wheels, or all wheels (as per my tester) through an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
The drivetrain of this vehicle is not what you’d call sporty, but it is smooth.
Performance & Driving Dynamics: As you’d imagine, the XT5 is not a performance minded vehicle – hence there is no “V-Sport” or “V” model on offer. Even when you select “Sport” mode, this vehicle won’t encourage you to mash the accelerator into the floor mat, or take the twisty route home!
So, while it won’t excite most people, it is comfortable and serene on long journeys – there really isn’t much more I can tell you about how the XT5 drives!
Let’s just say, if you’ve been driving a minivan for the last decade, you’ll feel like the XT5 is dynamically a step up. If you’ve been driving something like a Cadillac ATS-V over the last few years – but now need a larger vehicle to accommodate your family – you’ll really, really miss your old car.
Fuel Economy: In my test cycle (170 km of highway driving + 130 km of city driving) I averaged 10.1 L/100 km. That is actually quite good for a vehicle of this size, so if you don’t like spending money on fuel (does anyone?) than you’ll be pretty pleased with this Caddi!
Pricing: A base, front-wheel drive XT5 is yours from $41,795. A loaded Platinum model is yours from $69,195. That’s not a bargain when compared to its rivals from Japan or Germany, but GM typically has incentives on their vehicles, so do look into that and see how much they’re willing to discount the XT5.
Verdict: The 2019 Cadillac XT5 looks good, and offers a comfortable/tech-laden interior. It might not be thrilling to drive, but not everyone is into performance cars. So, if you value comfort over enjoyment, the XT5 might just be the luxury crossover for you!