The 2017 Cadillac XT5 is a crossover that takes the place of the SRX. Rather than a dramatically different new model, the XT5 is an evolutionary replacement. Following on the heels of the CT6 sedan, it’s one leg of a broader leap forward for the company. The SRX was a sales success, so the XT5 is a crucial replacement for Cadillac.
Roughly identical to the SRX in size, the new five-passenger Cadillac XT5 weighs about 278 pounds less, and performs better. Wheelbase is about two inches longer. Track width has gained an inch, pushing the front wheels a bit outward.
Cadillac XT5 premium midsize crossover can be compared with the Lexus RX, Acura MDX, Lincoln MKX, BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz GLE, Audi Q5.
As its name suggests, the Cadillac XT5 is packed with technology. Detail work is better than ever. As in the CT6, one prominent goal was use of lighter-weight materials and methods. Aiming at younger shoppers, designers turned to more voluptuous design, as well as developing more extravagant interior appointments.
Beneath the hood, a new 3.6-liter V6 engine develops 310 horsepower and 271 pound-feet of torque, delivered to an 8-speed Aisin automatic transmission. Even though the transmission is responsive and yields well-damped shifts, the XT5 never feels like a performance machine. Unlike some of its competitors in the midsize crossover category, the XT5 bears no relationship to any sports sedan.
Front-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive available on all but the base model. In the new AWD system, dual clutches can send up to 100 percent of torque output to either the front wheels or the rear.
Active-safety features come in two option groups. A Driver Assist package ($2,340) for either the Premium Luxury or Platinum model includes full-speed adaptive cruise control, low-speed automatic braking with pedestrian protection, automatic rear low-speed braking, automatic collision braking, and advanced park assist. Those upper models come standard with a Driver Awareness package that includes forward collision alert, lane keep assist, front pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, and automatic high beams, optional ($770) on the Luxury model.
Like the CT6 sedan, the XT5 offers a new Rear Camera Mirror system. Instead of displaying the view from a rear-mounted camera on a video screen, it appears within the rearview mirrors, in high resolution. Cadillac claims it digitally removes obstacles, improving the view by 300 percent. Not everyone is fond of this feature, but the available surround-view cameras and color head-up display are helpful.
Cadillac XT5 comes in standard, Premium, Premium Luxury, and Platinum trim levels. XT5 ($38,995) comes standard with front-wheel drive, dual-zone automatic climate control, Bose eight-speaker audio, power liftgate, adaptive remote start, OnStar with 4G LTE, and 18-inch wheels. (All prices are MSRP and do not include destination charge.
XT5 Luxury ($45,890) includes a double-size sunroof, heated steering wheel and front seats, front/rear park assist, and rear cross-traffic alert. All-wheel drive ($2,495) is available. XT5 Premium Luxury ($52,890) adds Bose 14-speaker Studio Surround Sound and ventilated front seats, and is available with all-wheel drive ($2,495).
XT5 Platinum ($63,495) comes standard with all-wheel drive and includes a hands-free liftgate, head-up display, surround-view camera, Rear Camera Mirror, heated outboard rear seats, tri-zone climate control, and 20-inch wheels.
In contrast to the sharply creased, chiseled look that identified Cadillacs a decade ago, the XT5 has a softer, curvaceously organic appearance. A few elements of the past remain, such as vertical-style lights and a bold grille.
Overall, the look may be considered less assertive, yet more attractive and even somewhat flamboyant. Highlights include crisply-shaped fenders, abundant brightwork, and a front end that stands out with its dramatic LED lighting.
More sophisticated than the SRX, the Cadillac XT5 gives rear passengers three additional inches of leg space. Yet, headroom is seriously tight, resulting from upright seats and an arching roofline, not ideal for adults riding in the rear.
Front seats are excellent: a bit firm, with ample thigh support, helped by extendable cushions. The split back seat folds flat and also slides fore/aft several inches, to allow extra space for either occupants or cargo. A ratcheting fence helps keep grocery bags and small items from sliding around the cargo area.
Cabin details impress, with meticulous detailing and craftsmanship. Cut-and-sewn leather trim contrasts with a choice of woods, aluminum, or carbon fiber. Tasteful and attractive, the interior rivals top luxury models from Japan and Germany. The dashboard has a horizontal aspect, with a central touchscreen.
Cadillac’s CUE interface has been upgraded, using a swifter processor, but it can still frustrate users. Wireless phone charging, wi-fi via a 4G LTE hotspot, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included.
Boasting a strong and responsive V6, the XT5 promises fine body control and confident handling, with less body leans than the SRX. Flat spots, which occurred midway through the rev range of the previous engine, are gone completely with the new V6.
The 8-speed automatic has even-spaced ratios and yields precise shifts. Even when traveling up a long grade, the powertrain settles swiftly into an appropriate gear for the occasion. Platinum models include ZF’s continuous damping control, which minimizes harshness and undulations that might enter the cabin.
Rather than a shift lever, the XT5 gets Cadillac’s first shift-by-wire setup, which involves more button-pushing than might be expected. Pauses between each shift could be an issue when parking, especially when in a hurry, or trying to rock the vehicle if it gets mired in snow.
Cadillac’s all-wheel-drive system is intended for rain, snow, or icy roads, but it increases stability even in dry weather. The twin-clutch configuration lets up to 100 percent of power be sent to either front or rear wheels.
Electric power steering feels settled in highway driving, precise and nicely weighted for urban maneuvers. Sport mode affects not only steering feel, but throttle sensitivity and transmission response, but the difference isn’t substantial. Although the ride is quiet and well-controlled, engine sound can be a little too noticeable.
Fuel-efficient for its class, the 2017 Cadillac XT5 is EPA-rated at 19/27 mpg City/Highway, or 22 mpg Combined. With all-wheel drive, the EPA estimate drops to 18/26 mpg City/Highway. Real-world driving should yield similar figures. Active Fuel Management lets the engine run on four cylinders during steady cruising, while a Stop/Start system can shut it off at stoplights.
The all-new 2017 Cadillac XT5 is a superb premium midsize crossover, with a comfortable, nicely detailed cabin, responsive power, quiet, sophisticated ride and handling, and available all-wheel drive.
Driving impressions by Bengt Halvorson, The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.