by Morgan Carter
Smaller than a midsize crossover but slightly larger than a regular compact luxury SUV, the Cadillac XT5 has struggled to find its place in the market. This wouldn't be too much of a problem if it excelled enough to stand proud of the competition in either segment, but the luxury compact fails to do so on more than one front. The new standard turbocharged four-cylinder engine, developing 237 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, is unimpressive in the hefty vehicle, and even the now-optional V6 can't compete with what's under the hoods of rivals like the BMW X3 and Audi Q5. With the changes to the XT5's lineup for 2020, these rivals now also start off cheaper, while still getting better mileage figures. Still, the Caddy offers buyers a well-appointed interior with plenty of standard features, a spacious cabin and trunk, and capable dynamics, which has helped it remain a staple in the American market.
The trim options for the XT5 have been refined for 2020, deleting the Standard and Platinum trims, and introducing the Sport trim. The Luxury is now the base trim and, therefore, comes equipped with more standard features than the previous base model. Despite the introduction of a turbocharged four-cylinder engine as the new standard powertrain, the base Luxury is still more expensive than the entry-level model from 2019. The eight-speed automatic gearbox from last year has also been swapped out in favor of a new nine-speed automatic gearbox. Aesthetically, the front grille, front and rear bumpers, and taillights have all been redesigned. LED headlights are now standard and the infotainment suite has been upgraded with Cadillac's most advanced interface.
While not fully redesigned, the XT5 received a bit of a makeover for 2020. It gets new front and rear bumpers and a refreshed grille design. Figure-seven automatic LED headlights sit astride the broad Cadillac grille, mounted with the manufacturer's logo, and LED taillights and daytime running lights come standard on every model. The Luxury and Premium Luxury get more metallic accents, with the body-colored door handles featuring a chrome detail strip, while the roof rails are brushed aluminum. The Sport gets plain body-colored handles and gloss black roof rails. The entry-level model receives a power liftgate, while hands-free functionality is added on the Premium Luxury and Sport. A rear spoiler is standard on every trim, with an embedded rear taillight strip, and an UltraView power sunroof is installed on the upper two trims. The Luxury trim rides on 18-inch alloy wheels, while the Sport gets larger 20-inch items, with each model sporting unique wheel designs.
Slightly larger than the average small crossover, the XT5 is 189.6 inches long, but it gets a wheelbase that's par for the segment, measuring only 112.5 inches. It has a more average height and width, though, at 66.1 inches and 74.9 inches, respectively. Despite its larger dimensions, the SUV isn't overly heavy, weighing in at 3,915 lbs, compared to similar rivals like the 3,931-pound BMW X3 or the 3,889-pound Mercedes-Benz GLC.
Nine colors comprise the paint palette for the XT5, although only Radiant Silver comes at no additional cost. For $625, buyers are granted access to the metallic palette, which consists of Satin Steel, Stellar Black, Manhattan Noir, Shadow, Garnet, and Dark Mocha. Two premium paints are available for an additional $1,225, Crystal White Tricoat and Red Horizon Tintcoat. Unlike with many premium rivals, exterior color choices do not affect interior ones.
The new standard turbocharged four-cylinder engine means that the base-model XT5 performs quite differently from its V6-powered upper trims, and for that matter, last year's versions of the crossover. With only 237 hp on tap, the inline-four doesn't do much to move the hefty crossover with any haste. Acceleration figures have not been released for the new base powertrain, but they're likely to be slower than those of the V6, which already fails to impress.
Speaking of the V6, it produces a more tolerable 310 hp, which lets it get the SUV up to 60 mph in an unflattering seven seconds. This is a full second slower than the turbo-four-powered BMW X3, and almost three seconds slower than its M Performance model. Nevertheless, the Caddy doesn't feel too lethargic, moving you around town with relative haste. But it also fails to impress when it comes to towing, managing only 3,500 lbs against the BMW's 4,400lbs. As is quite common for the segment, the XT5 is available in your choice of front- or all-wheel-drive.
Cadillac's best-selling crossover now comes with a new standard engine, a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four that develops 237 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. Although these power output figures are in line with segment rivals like the X3 or Audi Q5, the CT5 doesn't feel nearly as strong. The engine strains to pull the weighty SUV around town. Passing on the highway is still possible, but takes patience and planning.
Available under the hood of mid-tier Premium Luxury, and standard on the top-tier Sport, is the same 3.6-liter V6 from last year. The powertrain delivers 310 hp and 271 lb-ft to the front of all four wheels, although only all-wheel-drive is offered on the Sport. These figures seem better suited to moving the crossover around town. Six-cylinder-powered rivals still best the Caddy easily, however. The V6 makes it a bit easier to merge or pass on the highway, but you'll still need to downshift and plan your maneuvers accordingly, and even when pulled off effectively, the engine sounds somewhat strained and unrefined. Regardless of the powertrain you go for, the same nine-speed automatic transmission swaps gears for you, a slight improvement over last year's eight-speed gearbox.
The new turbo inline-four engine, coupled with front-wheel-drive, is certainly not designed to deliver an exciting driving experience, even if the XT5 boasts impressive agility for such a bulky crossover. It can handle winding roads, but it doesn't particularly excel when slung through corners. Even though the vehicle handles body roll well, inspiring confidence when pushing its limits, it doesn't deliver the power needed to break past those limits. This may be for the best, as such family-oriented crossovers aren't really designed to be pushed.
As is common in the luxury SUV segment, the steering is light and responsive at lower speeds around town, but there is little to no feedback. The wheel gains a little bit of weight when you get up to speed, but communication with the tires never improves. The brakes do a better job of inspiring confidence with their quick, but not over-eager, response to input.
Ride comfort is the XT5's saving grace, though. An independent rear suspension means the SUV soaks up most road imperfections without complaint. Even terrible pavement conditions should be nothing more than minor annoyances to passengers. The adaptive suspension available to the Sport works to counteract the reduced ride quality caused by the larger 20-inch wheels. One complaint we do have is the lack of sound-dampening, with wind and road noise being ever-present companions.
Running the Caddy XT5 is about as expensive as buying one. The standard turbocharged four-cylinder only achieves 21/28/24 mpg across the city/highway/combined cycles when equipped with a front-wheel drivetrain, while the all-wheel drivetrain sees this drop to 21/26/23 mpg. These figures are on par with the all-wheel-drive Audi Q5, which gets 22/28/24 mpg, but quite a bit below the more efficient BMW X3, which gets an impressive 25/29/27 mpg in its rear-wheel-drive guise. When equipped with the more powerful V6 engine, the XT5 only gets 18/26/21 mpg with the front-wheel drivetrain, while the all-wheel drivetrain, once again, drops this to 18/25/20 mpg. The front-wheel drivetrain is paired with a 19.4-gallon tank, while all-wheel-drive models get a 21.7-gallon version. In its most efficient guise, the Cadillac can travel up to 465 miles on a single tank.
The interior of the XT5 is stylishly appointed and comes with an array of standard features to ensure comfort and convenience. It is spacious, both in terms of passenger and cargo capacity, and the seats are comfortable over even long drives. The newly upgraded infotainment suite helps to bolster one of last year's greatest weaknesses. The new interface is easy to operate and offers crisp graphics. Many of the previously upper-trim-exclusive features have also become standard on the base model Luxury, particularly the expanded advanced safety features. The Caddy's interior continues to be one of its strongest features, helping it to stay competitive with other luxury SUVs, despite its shortcomings in other areas.
The cabin of the crossover is spacious enough to accommodate up to five passengers in relative comfort. Both the front and rear seats provide more than enough legroom for even the gangliest of passengers, but taller adults should try to get a seat up front due to the sloping roof eating a few inches of headroom in the rear. The large center armrest in the front can make it feel a bit cramped for more full-bodied drivers and passengers, though. Six-way power heated front seats come standard, with eight-way power front seats available on the Premium luxury, so finding a good driving position isn't too difficult. Forward visibility is pretty good, but large blind spots obstruct rearward vision. Sadly, blind-spot monitoring doesn't come standard until the Premium Luxury trim.
The base-level Luxury comes upholstered in Jet Black leatherette, with no other options available. Upgrading to the Premium Luxury or Sport opens up a few more options, though. The leather upholstery with mini-perforated inserts in the Premium Luxury can be had in Jet Black, Cirrus, or Sedona Sauvage (a color not offered on the Sport). Kona Brown Sauvage is available to both trims, however, at an additional cost of $1,445. Jet Black and Maple Sugar semi-aniline leather with Chevron inserts is also available to the upper trims but requires several optional packages and upgrades, which can increase the base price by up to $11k. Available interior trims include aluminum, titanium, various woods, or carbon fiber, but the latter is somewhat out of place on a vehicle that has no sporting aspirations.
The Cadillac XT5 enjoys a larger trunk capacity than your rival luxury compacts thanks to its slightly larger overall dimensions. Behind the second-row seats, 30.2 cubic feet of space is supplied. This is more than enough space for daily use, swallowing up a dozen carry-on bags, or even more grocery bags. But if you still need more space, overall cargo capacity can be more than doubled by folding down the rear seats, providing 63 cubic feet overall.
Small-item storage around the cabin is adequate but hardly remarkable. A standard glove compartment is provided, but the center armrest cubby and door pockets are smaller than you'd expect from the segment. A total of four cupholders are provided, split between the front and rear seats, and there is a storage bin beside the shifter.
Along with the visual and mechanical updates for 2020, Cadillac simplified the lineup to just three trims, rearranging equipment accordingly. The Luxury is the new entry-level model, and comes well-equipped for the segment, with standard features comprising dual-zone climate control, cruise control, keyless entry and ignition, remote engine start, six-way power heated front seats, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, and two 12-volt power outlets. Driver assistance features include an HD rearview camera, a rear-seat reminder, a teen driver system, forward collision avoidance, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, front and rear parking assist, and a safety alert seat. The Premium Luxury adds lane change alert, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert to the safety suite. Similarly, it upgrades the front seats with two additional directions of adjustment and memory functions, heats the steering wheel, and installs an auto-dimming rearview mirror. A power sunroof and hands-free power liftgate are also equipped from the Premium Luxury up. Optional upgrades include tri-zone climate control, adaptive cruise control, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, and a head-up display.
The infotainment suite has been overhauled for the latest iteration of the XT5, and while the screen is still a bit small for a luxury SUV, the updated graphics are crisp and clear, and the interface is far easier to operate. The suite comprises an eight-inch touchscreen display that supports Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, SiriusXM, and a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot. Four USB ports and an auxiliary input jack are also provided if you prefer a more analog approach to connecting your devices. The Premium Luxury doesn't add extra charging ports, but it does come equipped with a wireless charging pad. A standard eight-speaker Bose audio system channels sound throughout the cabin, but this can be upgraded to a 14-speaker premium Bose setup, which also adds navigation to the infotainment system. Furthermore, a rear entertainment system can be installed, comprising two eight-inch screens mounted to the front seats with inputs for headphones.
J.D. Power has not yet given the 2020 Caddy SUV a dependability score, but the 2019 iteration was rated at 79 out of 100. However, it has only ever been subjected to one recall, and that was in 2017 when it was initially released. Cadillac offers a 50,000-mile/48-month limited warranty on new purchases, while the powertrain warranty and roadside assistance are each valid for 70,000 miles/72 months.
The NHTSA has not yet rated the XT5 for 2020, but the 2019 model received a four-star rating in its front-wheel-drive guise, and five stars with all-wheel-drive. The IIHS evaluated the SUV for a rating of Good in the only four evaluated crash tests, with collision avoidance systems receiving scores of Superior for the standard suite and Advanced for the optional systems.
Standard safety features comprise ABS, stability and traction control, and seven airbags: dual front, driver knee, front side, and side curtain. Advanced safety features include an HD rearview camera, front and rear parking assist, forward collision avoidance, lane keeping assist, lane departure warning, a safety alert seat, a teen driver system, and a rear-seat reminder. Available to the upper trims or as optional upgrades are blind-spot monitoring, lane change alert, rear cross-traffic alert, rain-sensing wipers, a surround-view camera, and a head-up display.
Cadillac was late to enter the crossover segment, and it has struggled to find a niche for itself since it did. The XT5 is the personification of that market awkwardness, not quite fitting into the compact segment it tries to compete with. But, despite this lack of direction, the Caddy remains a best seller for the company, and it certainly has some worthwhile strengths.
Its larger dimensions give it more passenger and cargo space than your average luxury compact, easily besting the BMW X3 and Audi Q5 in terms of trunk space, without sacrificing passenger comfort. The cabin is well-appointed, too, with plenty of upscale materials used in construction. However, GM's lack of refinement shows here and there, with hard plastics or shoddy workmanship peeking through.
The base model gets plenty of standard features, but the new base engine is a step down from the V6 from last year's model, and even that struggled to keep up with the competition. So while the XT5 has pretty good handling, it just doesn't have the power to deliver a thrilling drive. Still, it maintains its excellent ride quality and good road manners.
With a higher starting price than premium rivals like BMW and Audi, and less impressive fuel economy, the Cadillac XT5 may start to lose some of its appeal, but brand loyalists will likely stick with it, as it still checks many of the requisite boxes. Still, as critics, we can't really say that the Caddy SUV really competes with true luxury rivals. It's almost European, but not quite there yet.
Where once the Cadillac XT5 boasted a lower price tag than its German competitors, its recent updates have seen that dynamic flip. It may be more refined than last year, but the entry-level Caddy now asks for more than premium rivals like the BMW X3 and Audi Q5. Getting behind the wheel of the base Luxury trim will now cost you a fair $44,095. The mid-tier Premium Luxury asks for an investment of $48,795 if you get the base engine or $49,795 with the optional V6. The top-of-the-range Sport trim will set you back a hefty $55,095. Adding all-wheel-drive to the lower two trims than don't get it as standard will add $2,000 to the bill, although this increases to $2,100 on the base Luxury. These prices exclude tax, registration, licensing, and GM's $995 destination charge.
Having dropped the base XT5 as the starting trim in the range, the compact SUV is now available in three trim levels: Luxury, Premium Luxury, and Sport. The range also features a new base engine, standard on the Luxury and Premium Luxury, a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that directs 237 hp 258 lb-ft to the front wheels, with optional all-wheel-drive. Optional on the Premium Luxury, and standard on the Sport, is a 3.6-liter V6 that develops 310 hp 271 lb-ft. Rowing the gears for either of the powertrains is a nine-speed automatic transmission, and the Sport can only be had with all-wheel-drive.
The Luxury rides on 18-inch wheels and comes equipped with automatic LED headlights and LED daytime running lights. It gets a host of advanced safety features, including an HD rearview camera, forward collision alert, automatic emergency braking, lane keeping assist, lane departure warning, front and rear parking assist, and a safety alert seat. It also gets the latest Cadillac User Experience infotainment suite with an eight-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, SiriusXM, and an eight-speaker Bose sound system.
The Premium Luxury expands the safety offering by adding blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane change alert. The standard six-way front seats are upgraded to eight-way power front seats with memory functions, and the leather-wrapped steering wheel gains heating. A power sunroof is installed, and the power liftgate gains hands-free functionality.
The Sport trim doesn't add any new tech features, but it gets 20-inch alloy wheels and high-gloss black exterior trim accents, along with unique badging. In terms of mechanical upgrades, it comes standard with all-wheel-drive and is equipped with chassis damping control.
2.0-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas
2.0-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas
3.6-liter V6 Gas
Although many of the available features have been consolidated into specific trims, with even more coming standard for the new year, there is still room for customization in the form of a variety of optional packages and standalone features. The Platinum Package ($3,650 - $4,850) replaces last year's Platinum trim and is available on the Premium Luxury and Sport trims. It adds 20-inch wheels, tri-zone climate control, a 14-speaker sound system, built-in navigation, premium carpet floor mats, semi-aniline leather upholstery, a choice of unique interior trims, a performance adaptive suspension, and rear pedestrian alert. The Driver Assist Package ($1,300), also for the Premium Luxury and Sport, installs adaptive cruise control, enhanced automatic braking, and reverse automatic braking. The Cargo Convenience Package ($995) for the Luxury and Premium Luxury adds assist steps and roof rack cross rails.
With the loss of the base XT5 from 2019, the Luxury trim is the new entry-level model, and it certainly comes well-equipped. Unfortunately, it still retains its higher price tag from last year. But, it is the cheapest model available for 2020 and is also the best value for money. It comes equipped with plenty of advanced safety features like forward collision avoidance and lane departure warning, as well as all the modern infotainment features you could need on a family SUV, such as smartphone integration, SiriusXM, and an eight-speaker sound system. Unfortunately, it can't be equipped with the V6 engine, and added blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert cost extra. It may be worth it to look at the V6 Premium Luxury for an additional $5k, but frankly, at that price, you might as well shop for something German.
The Audi Q5 may not have the bold styling of the XT5, but it's still a refined offering. Unusual for the segment, the Q5 is only available with an all-wheel drivetrain. This comes paired with a 248-hp turbo-four engine, similar to the new base engine on the Caddy. However, the German SUV's powertrain performs better, managing the 0-60 mph sprint in just over six seconds, a full second faster than the XT5 with its optional V6 mill. Plenty of features come standard on the Q5, including forward collision avoidance and genuine leather upholstery, and it has an up-to-date infotainment system that rivals the new-generation suite on the Cadillac. However, it does suffer from a slightly smaller trunk, but 25.1 cubic feet should still be more than enough for daily use. Add in its slightly better fuel economy of 22/28/24 mpg and a lower starting price of $43,300, and the Audi looks to be the better value buy here.
While the XT5 is quite large for its compact SUV classification, the XT4 perfectly fits into the subcompact category. As such, it is quite a bit smaller than its big brother, which translates to a lot less cargo space, only 22.5 cubic feet, but it doesn't sacrifice much on the passenger capacity front. In most other regards, the XT4 is just a smaller mirror image of the XT5. It comes in the same three trim levels with almost the exact same list of features. However, it never gets access to the stronger V6 engine, being stuck with the 237-hp turbocharged four-cylinder across the range. The weak powertrain performs better on the smaller model, but it's still significantly worse than the XT5's V6. Despite its lower starting price of $36,690 and slightly better fuel economy, the XT4 just doesn't make sense when there are better crossovers on offer, while the XT5 at least makes some sense.