As the CTS and CT6 all demonstrate, Cadillac can build brilliant-driving sedans. But the brand's SUVs lack the same magic. Built on a new platform, the Cadillac XT5 is a descendant of the SRX but it’s neither here nor there. Battling a field of worthy competitors, the XT5 isn't as rewarding to drive as a German compact luxury SUV, nor does it pamper you like a Lexus RX.
Like many contemporary General Motors redesigns, weight reduction was a primary goal with the XT5. Indeed, it registered 225 pounds less on our scales than the SRX. Among other things, this aids acceleration and fuel economy, neither of which were SRX strengths.
The pairing of GM’s new 310-horsepower, 3.6-liter V6 engine with an eight-speed automatic transmission helps achieve 20 mpg overall, marking a 2-mpg improvement over the SRX. Power is linear and the engine revs smoothly, but it lacks the effortless grunt afforded by competitors' turbocharged engines, such as the Lincoln MKX's available 2.7-liter V6. The XT5 accomplishes 0-60 mph in a respectable 7.1 seconds but it always feel a bit lethargic.
While the XT5 is impressively quiet inside, the suspension is too stiff to deliver a ride that even resembles a luxury vehicle. Such a hard ride is at odds with the XT5’s target audience, and it is a notable deficiency compared to the competition. Top trim versions with the continuously adjusting suspension offer a less choppy ride, despite having larger wheels and tires.
On the bright side, the XT5 feels solid and planted through corners. Body lean is kept in check, and the SUV remained secure even when pushed to its limits around our test track.
Superbly comfortable front seats supply long-trip support, and the rest of the interior is impeccably finished. The Platinum trim level feels extra rich, being awash with wood, chrome, leather, and detailed stitching. Lowlights include a skewed driving position due to the too-close left foot rest, and a driver’s seat that makes due with just two-way lumbar adjustment. Another cheap touch is the lack of an auto-up feature for the rear windows.
Cadillac's CUE touch-screen infotainment system has been simplified, but we still find some of the touch-sensitive controls frustrating; the dashboard could use a few more traditional buttons and knobs. Worst among the ergonomic flaws is an infuriating electronic gear selector that makes it too easy to be in neutral instead of reverse. At least there are comprehensive safeguards built in to prevent the car from rolling away if a driver fails to select Park when needed.
The XT5 employs a rakish look that proves challenging for driver visibility. The chunky rear roof pillars and small back window wreak havoc with rear vision, and thick front windshield pillars create front blind spots.
Contemporary safety equipment, including forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking, is available on all but the most basic trim line. Higher trims offer a Driver Assist package that adds adaptive cruise control, self-parking capability, and automatic braking when reversing.
Ultimately the clunky ride, fussy controls, and lack of driving spirit mean it’s going to be tough for this new Caddy to stand out from the luxury SUV crowd.