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 US market. This wouldn't be too much of a problem if it excelled enough to stand proud against 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 gas 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 2020 Cadillac XT5 SUV have been refined, 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.
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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 its size. 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 a luxury SUV, the Cadillac XT5 has light and responsive steering 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.
Cadillac was late to enter the crossover segment in the USA, 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 car, 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 SUV 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 really competes with true luxury rivals. It's almost European, but not quite there yet.
The Audi Q5 may not have the bold styling of the new Cadillac 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, reviews of the XT4 read much the same as those 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.
The most popular competitors of 2020 Cadillac XT5: