The best-selling Cadillac gets a new name and grows up a bit.
Review and photos by Tom Sedens
Click on any picture to see a larger version.
A true crossover, the Cadillac XT5 aims to bring plenty of style, space and safety to the masses. The well-heeled masses, that is. XT5s aren’t cheap, but people don’t shop in Cadillac showrooms looking for a bargain. Cadillac’s new slogan is Dare Greatly, and they appear to be heading down new roads in terms of style and substance.
The all-new 2017 Cadillac XT5’s lines flow more smoothly than the previous design’s sharp edges and creases. The sleeker, less angular profile takes the whole thing down a notch in terms of uniqueness, and the good looking evolution is suddenly not quite as bold and chiseled as it used to be. Overall though, the tall hatchback shape is retained and it still makes an elegant statement on the road – a statement that I find quite handsome.
Up front, those swept-back pods are jammed full of LED headlights and Caddy’s signature vertical LED driving lights that you can see (and recognize) a mile away. I’m a big fan of these waterfall design lights and I think they accentuate Cadillac’s current style very well. The tail lights are equally dramatic in how they wrap around the vehicle’s body, and together, they seem to frame the XT5’s design. My review vehicle’s 20-inch rims were exquisitely styled and finished.
Two things struck me the moment I got into the XT5. First of all, the simple and clean styling is fantastic. It’s spare but not sparse, clean but full-featured. And secondly, the materials are very nice. Anywhere your hand falls is soft-touch, and there are lots of hand-cut and stitched panels that make up the dash. Oh, and I love Cadillac’s new perforated leather dash inserts. They are at once modern, classy and unique. Things are offset by splashes of metallicized plastics but my reviewer’s Jet Black interior was a bit too dark for my taste. It’s a beautiful interior, but I’d prefer to lighten it up a bit. I’d pick the Sahara Beige interior for my own XT5, thank you.
The heated and ventilated leather seats are fully power adjustable, with driver’s side memory settings and we found them exceedingly comfortable and even reasonably well bolstered. Set into the v-shaped dash styling is an 8-inch CUE touchscreen that handles the navigation, phone and vehicle settings, as well as the spectacular 14-speaker BOSE system. Cadillac has done some work to improve CUE, and it works well for the most part.
I liked some of the luxurious touches, such as the heated steering wheel and huge panoramic sunroof overhead, and the classy ambient lighting accents along the centre console and the door panels look fantastic at night. Speaking of touches, I also like the smartphone storage that allows you to slide your phone under the armrest lid – and onto a rubberized wireless charging mat. Slick!
Cadillac’s 3-bin completely customizable driver information screen at the bottom of the instrument cluster is quite useful and allows you to choose which information you want to see, and lets you pick from a crazy amount of different screens.
In the Premium Luxury trim, the XT5 gets loaded up nicely with driver assistance technology – remote starter, backup camera with front and rear parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, forward collision alert, lane departure warning with lane keep assist, front pedestrian detection and automatic front braking.
I came away from the XT5 impressed with the build quality. Closing the doors rewards you with a solid, muted thunk. Interior trim fits together beautifully, and it felt like no corners were cut when this vehicle was put together.
The heated rear seats are comfortable, and can slide fore and aft, as well as recline. Head room is sufficient for me, at 5’10”, but anyone who is a couple of inches or more taller than me would find themselves wanting more head room. The rear seat leg room is excellent, and I had no problems comfortably sitting behind my driver seat position. The flat floor makes it easier to use the middle seating position, and even though it’s narrow and raised, could work for a third passenger. Our three kids were quite happy back there.
When it comes to comfort and convenience, there’s a climate control panel (which can be locked and controlled from the front as well, if you have kids that love to adjust everything – like mine do), a couple of USB charging plugs and some small storage bins at the back of the centre console. Child seats can be anchored via two sets of LATCH connectors.
There’s a carpeted bin at the bottom of the centre stack and a sliding lid that uncovers dual cupholders in the console. Under the armrest lid you’ll find another carpeted bin with a couple of USB plugs.
The XT5 has a power liftgate. Pop that open and there’s a spacious trunk with a comfortable load floor height. Unfortunately, Cadillac only gives us the overall cargo capacity, which would be with the rear seats folded down. That leaves you with a substantial 1784 litres.
There’s quite a bit of flexibility in terms of arranging your space as well, thanks to the 40/20/40 split rear seats (that can be released from the trunk) and the Cargo Management system, which allows you to position a cargo fence at infinitely variable points along the rail in the trunk floor. The removable, retractable tonneau cover keeps your valuables covered from prying eyes.
Under the Hood
Not only does the XT5 sit on a new platform, it also gets GM’s new 3.6L V6. Although it shares its displacement with the previous V6, nothing else is the same. It puts out 310 HP at 6600 RPM and 271 lb.ft of torque at 5000 RPM, is coupled to a new 8-speed automatic and in my vehicle’s case, puts its power down through an optional all-wheel drive system.
We averaged 12.3 L/100 km (19 US mpg) after a city-centric week on the road with the XT5.
One of the XT5’s new features is the updated BMW-esque gear selector. It feels great in hand, but I found putting the XT5 into reverse took some getting used to. It requires an up-and-to-the-left motion, and that doesn’t feel natural at first.
The new V6 feels responsive and powerful, especially off the line and around town. While Cadillac crows about the 278 pound weight reduction, which is great news, the XT5 still tips the scales at 4310 lb (1955 kg). And that weight becomes noticeable once you’re on the highway, where the V6 has to work hard and wind up to pass. With that said, it pulls hard and does an admirable job at moving things along, although it’s just not quite as effortless as cruising around town. Of note, it really sounds great when you step on it.
The new 8-speed auto is very smooth, and seemed to be in the right gear most of the time. I did find a bit of lurching at lower speeds, particularly between 1st and 2nd gear. Nothing alarming, just a bit of hesitation between gears. You can shift gears manually using the paddle shifters, and those shifts are surprisingly quick for a big, luxurious crossover.
Interestingly, Cadillac has chosen the default drive mode for the XT5 as front-wheel drive. Which means you have to manually put the vehicle into all-wheel drive mode when you see fit to drive it that way. There are three drive modes. It always starts in Tour (which is two-wheel drive as I mentioned), then there are the Snow/AWD and Sport modes, both of which put it into AWD. The XT5 also has an awesome adaptive Performance Suspension system, which adjusts the suspension in real-time as you drive. That means you get a sublime ride, that is firm but comfortable even over brutal surfaces, and a suspension that stiffens up around corners and curves for excellent handling. It works very well, and you’ll be surprised at how eager the XT5 feels when you ask it to tackle some fun, spirited driving.
The XT5 has auto start/stop technology, which was noticeable whenever it fired up the engine. Not intrusive, but definitely noticeable. We found the XT5 to be an outstanding performer on the highway – the ride was perfect, there was little wind or road noise, and the whole vehicle comes together to provide a very comfortable road-trip environment for driver and passengers.
WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor) was very high. She loved the high driving position, and how luxuriously it drove and felt. The XT5 was a big hit with her!
The new 2017 Cadillac XT5 is a very nice ride. It sits on an all-new architecture, and even though the shape is familiar, everything is new. The smoother styling takes the XT5 into a new direction, following other recently introduced models. The refined interior appears to be very well crafted, full of current technology and luxurious touches, and the XT5’s driving capabilities are outstanding. It rides and handles well, and it offers a good amount of space for passengers and for their stuff. That pretty much covers exactly what premium crossover buyers are looking for, and easily explains why the XT5’s predecessor was Cadillac’s best-selling model. There’s no question that the XT5 will continue to wear that crown for Cadillac. It’s a very nice vehicle that would be very easy to live with.
Disclosure: Vehicle was provided by Don Wheaton.
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Pricing: 2017 Cadillac XT5
Base price (Premium Luxury AWD trim): $59,830
Options: $720 tri-zone automatic climate control; $575 Stellar Black metallic paint; $130 block heater; $660 20” ultra bright wheels;
A/C tax: $100
Price as tested: $63,965