Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: January 31, 2019
Cadillac is on a full-on product offensive and is promising to dish out an army of SUVs before the decade is over. We’ve driven the sub-compact XT4 and are expecting the recently unveiled three-row XT6 to impress. We’ve also seen spy photos of a newly refreshed Escalade. With the axing of the ATS and CTS sedans, Cadillac’s SUVs now carry all the weight on their shoulders, and most of that falls on the XT5.
We’ve driven the XT5 in all trims and styles, and on both sunny California roads and our snow-ridden home turf of Toronto. But it’s only after evaluating all of its competitors like the BMW X3, Volvo XC60, Mercedes GLC, and Acura RDX, that we can truly assess its merits amongst the segment leaders. Dynamically, the XT5 impresses. The 3.6-litre V6 engine is the sole engine choice and dishes out 310 hp and 271 lb-ft. While those numbers may not stack up to the BMW X3 M40i or Mercedes-AMG GLC 43, it’s still a punchy motor and feels refreshing in an arena filled with turbocharged units.
Of course, the sub-300 torque figure does make the XT5 feel lethargic off the line when compared to its forced induction rivals, but the tradeoff of predictable and linear power delivery is one I’m willing to take. While the XT5 doesn’t launch like a rocket, there’s a rigorous ball of momentum and energy that you can feel building up under your right foot with throttle application, and the subsequent mid-range punch is especially rewarding. The V6 emits a throaty growl on acceleration too, satisfying the ears more than anything coming out of the Volvo XC60’s or Audi Q5’s windpipes. The steering feels perfectly weighted for this size of an SUV, building up a fair amount of weight under rotation without requiring Herculean biceps to wrestle during parking maneuvers. The 8-speed transmission could use some tinkering for smoother gear shifts, as we experienced a few hiccups and jerks during low speed transitions.
Fuel economy with the V6 wasn't bad. We averaged 12.5 L/100km, right in line with the competition. Its ability to operate as a four-cylinder under light power loads helps too, as does the start/stop system that shuts the engine off when idling. Having standard engine remote start is a godsend during Canadian winters, but the subsequent detriment to fuel economy is a given penalty.
When we were first introduced to the XT5 way back in 2016, we didn’t think it looked particularly handsome but over time and especially in this sleek black paint, it has grown on us. The XT5 doesn’t stray far from its SRX predecessor, sporting a heavily raked windshield and tapered off rear end. We think it’s one of the most elegant looking luxury compact SUVs on the market. The amount of chrome isn’t overkill, the illuminating door handles are a neat addition, the droopy strip of LED headlights accentuates its height, and the boxy rear quarters and sharp angles blend together better than butter and pineapple buns.
The interior is a nice place to spend time in but it doesn’t wow us, even on the top spec Platinum model. Instilling a distinctively American style, the cabin feels premium but not quite up to scale with the simplicity of the Volvo XC60 or the tech-heavy BMW X3. Cabin insulation is terrific, muting out most of the unwanted exterior noise, and build quality is average, though we did notice some rattling from the cargo storage bars in the trunk. It’s definitely better put together here than Cadillacs of the past. Every panel on our Platinum model was fit snugly and the colourful mix of leather, wood, and plastic was pulled off rather well without appearing garish. Lower trims are noticeably less well equipped with a wider variety of plastic panels.
The panoramic sunroof lets in a lot of light and creates a sense of airiness for rear passengers - not like they will need it because the accommodations back there are impressive. I can sit behind my six-foot self and relax comfortably without hunching. Headroom is average, though being able to recline the seats helps.
Steering wheel designs hardly get enough attention these days but the XT5’s is a retro work of art, designed with four spokes arranged in a “TT” layout, giving that “old-school” feel. There are enough embedded buttons that you will never need to take your hand off the wheel either. I love the large uneven-sized buttons on the bottom two spokes, and the non-veneered natural wood that slices right through the middle in a V-shape. Aesthetically, this is one of my favourite designs, and looks better in my eyes than the blasé examples in the new BMW X3, Audi Q5, and Mercedes GLC. The shifter is incredibly attractive as well, and much more intuitive than the one in the XT4 with brightly lit buttons and an action button that isn’t obscured or difficult to operate. Of note, Buicks and Chevrolets also use this shifter, and with Cadillac trying to separate and establish themselves as a separate premium product, it would have been wise to utilize a different design.
The CUE infotainment system and display screen is not the newer variant found in the smaller XT4, but it is still easy to use once you get a hang of it. The CUE system has received an unfair amount of flak in the past for its messy and convoluted menus, but that all came down to a steeper learning curve than rivaling systems. In this refreshed variant, it’s much friendlier, boasts larger menu prompts, and is higher definition. The volume slider is still a nightmare to accurately control, and it won’t detect movement when you’re wearing gloves either. Luckily there are actual hard buttons on the steering wheel to control infotainment functions, so it’s not the end of the world.
One gripe that we had was with the driver’s instrument cluster. In the XT5, half of he gauges are analog, and the other half are digital, but when blended together they just don’t give off that same wow factor as its competitors. Though analog gauges are refreshing to look at in this digitized world, they don’t look very premium here, and allude to its more humble roots from Chevrolet and GMC. A full digital display like the one in the CTS and Escalade would be a step in the right direction.
I’ve touched on the Rear Camera Mirror feature before, and even after continuously attempts, I still can’t get used to it. My eyes are strained when trying to focus on the digital screen, because trying to focus on a far away object through the front windshield, then suddenly adjusting to a digital screen right above me is more difficult that it seems. Though the Rear Camera Mirror positively provides a crystal clear and unobstructed image, I don’t see much use for it on the road. It does come in handy when maneuvering at low speeds, particularly when parking. In those situations, and combined with the rear view camera and surround camera views, the XT5 gives you eyes on all sides of your head. There is no excuse to scrape a bumper here.
The Cadillac XT5 starts at a painless $44,895 but can easily rack up the bill to a staggering $72,195 for the Platinum model which includes the flurry of tech, semi-aniline leather, unique wheels, grills, and exhaust tips. For that money you could get a well equipped BMW X3 M40i that delivers much more performance and similar luxury amenities, let alone an established premium badge. What the XT5 does have going for it are spacious rear accommodations, a relaxed free-breathing V6 engine, and distinctive American sheetmetal. Cabin ergonomics and gearbox tuning could use some work, but snatch a discount or two at the dealer and a decently equipped XT5 may just be worth its weight.
型号 Model: 2019 Cadillac XT5
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,857
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,815 / 1,903 / 1,675
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,808 (FWD); 1,931 (AWD)
引擎 Engine: 3.6L V6
最大馬力 Horsepower: 310 hp @ 6,700 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 271 lb-ft @ 5,000 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 8-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, FWD/AWD
前懸 Suspension-Front: Independent MacPherson strut
後懸 Suspension-Rear: Independent five-link
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 12.1 / 8.6 / 10.5 (FWD); 12.9 / 8.9 / 11.1 (AWD)