2020 Cadillac XT5 First Look Review: Updating A Best-Seller

First Look / 13 Comments

Is more power and updated styling enough?

Cadillac realizes it can't survive with sedans only. Not even the hot-selling Escalade SUV is enough. No, General Motors' luxury brand requires crossovers, just like its Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz competitors. Cadillac's problem, however, is that it was late to the crossover game and for the past few years it's been forced to work overtime to play catch up. The old SRX crossover was dropped a few years ago and replaced by the XT5, which debuted for 2017 and quickly became Cadillac's best-selling model. Without question, the XT5 is a better crossover than the one it replaced, but it struggled against those German competitors.

Fortunately, Cadillac has spent the past couple of years doing its homework and for 2020 the XT5 receives some much-needed updates, including fresh styling and a new engine. But will this be enough to keep this mid-size luxury crossover in the game? On paper, things are looking much better. The 2020 Cadillac XT5 is now the vehicle it needed to be from the beginning.

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A Fresh Face

We always thought the Cadillac XT5's general styling was a bit bland, especially upfront. There was clearly more that could have been done to give the front fascia a more unique look. Now it's been done. The 2020 Cadillac XT5 has adapted the front-end styling featured on the compact XT4 and large three-row XT6 crossovers. The previous and boring chrome grille has been replaced with up to two far more sophisticated design choices. The new front fascia features standard LED headlamps on all models. The rear fascia has also been updated with the same styling found on the XT4 and XT6. Of the three trims available, Sport features a darker exterior thanks to a black grille, clear frosted taillights, and black exterior trim items. Premium Luxury models also have their own grille featuring patterned chrome spots over the black background. It also has shinier exterior trim.

There are new 18-inch wheel designs on the Luxury and Premium Luxury trims, while a new 20-inch design is optional, but are standard on Sport models.

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Refresh Inside

In general, the 2020 XT5's interior looks more or less the same, but there are some notable updates. There's a new steering wheel design, updated center console layout, improved acoustics, and even an optional Bose Sound system with silver speaker grilles. The Sport trim features some carbon-fiber trim pieces while Premium Luxury models make do with wood and colored leather trim.

There's also a new center console design with improved storage and redesigned cupholders. Buyers will also be pleased to hear that heated front seats are now standard for all trims. At the back, the 60/40-split rear seat functionality has been revised for better convenience and utility. But remember, the XT5 is strictly a two-row crossover. If you want a three-row crossover, your only option with Cadillac is the XT6. The Escalade is also offered with three rows, but it's not a crossover, but rather an SUV built on the same platform as the previous generation Chevrolet Silverado full-size pickup truck.

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What's New Under The Hood?

The big news here is the new standard engine, a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four that makes 237 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. The optional engine remains the 3.6-liter naturally aspirated V6, good for 310 hp and 271 lb-ft. Both engines are paired to a nine-speed automatic transmission which sends power to either the front or all four wheels. Sport models, it must be noted, are only available with AWD, which makes sense because one of this trim's performance upgrades is a dual-clutch Sport Control AWD system with active yaw control for improved cornering.

We're still waiting for official EPA fuel economy figures for the new turbo engine, but chances are it will be more efficient than the V6, which returned only a mediocre 19/26/22 mpg city/highway/combined.

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Now With More Technologies

Luxury crossover buyers today want technology, plain and simple, and Cadillac delivers here. The 2020 XT5 is equipped with lots of new technology such as the latest Cadillac user interface infotainment software. This now features a new rotary dial controller for easier selection. It also has a one-touch phone pairing and several charging options, including wireless, USB, and USB-C ports. Other notable new items include night vision and high-definition displays and cameras for the rear and surround-view systems. All other standard safety features are carried over from the previous model year.

It should also be noted that Cadillac has revised the XT5's trim strategy. It's simpler now, with Luxury serving as the base model, Premium Luxury as the mid-range, and Sport the top dog. A Platinum package, which is available for the Premium Luxury and Sport trims, tacks on additional technologies and more stylish sophistication.

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Set to arrive in dealerships by the end of this summer, the 2020 Cadillac XT5 carries a base price of $45,090 for a FWD Luxury model. Those who want that with AWD will be asked to pay an extra $2,700. The XT5 Premium Luxury will set you back at least $49,790, but the AWD variant costs another $5,305. The XT5 Sport begins at $56,090. All of those prices include the destination fee.

Unfortunately, Cadillac has not yet announced pricing for the Platinum Package.

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Will It Sell?

The Cadillac XT5 has been the brand's best-seller since it arrived for the 2017 model year. Up until now, a total of 194,758 XT5s have been sold in the US alone. It's also been a solid seller in other markets, specifically, Canada, Mexico, and South Korea. The big question will be whether XT5 sales will see an increase thanks to the mid-cycle facelift. Chances are this will be the case, but its competitors, including the BMW X3 and Audi Q5, have also either been recently facelifted or redesigned.

The 2020 Cadillac XT5 will no doubt be a better luxury crossover than it was last year, but it also competes in one of the fiercest segments out there.

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