The team of Car Guide was lucky to be among the first to drive the Cadillac XT5 in March 2016.
Exiting the plane, XT5s were waiting for us at the terminal door, to take us to the reception where the unveiling was to take place. One of the XT5’s biggest shortcomings was already being felt: the rear seat seating was too high. In fact, if you are over six feet tall, and your car is equipped with the optional panoramic roof, you will be surprised to see how little headroom you have. Worse than in some “cut” SUVs, even!
No matter, arrived at the reception, we are introduced to the person at General Motors who was chief marketing officer of the Cadillac brand, who persisted in explaining to us why we used the name XT5 to replace the deceased Cadillac SRX.
By his own admission, the new nomenclature was used to offer a range of products easy to position, as do the Germans (BMW X1, X3, X5, X7, etc.). This same strategy was going to be applied to sedans, which is produced with CT4, CT5 and CT6. On the SUV side, we now have, in addition to the XT5, an XT4 and an XT6. Mysteriously, the Escalade remains, but that's another story.
Cadillac wanted, with this new marketing strategy, to compete with BMW on a global scale, nothing less!
It started badly
However, it was not the best of beginnings for the XT5, since when we asked Cadillac to explain to us where, in a traditional range, positioned the XT5, we were told "between a BMW X3 and a BMW X5" . So we didn't want to compete directly with BMW?
Since then, with the arrival of the XT6 on the market, we can therefore say that the XT5 should above all be compared to the BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLC, and Audi Q5. Does it hold water? A base Cadillac XT5, traction, with the 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder engine, is worth $ 47,448. The most equipped “sport” version, with four-wheel drive and the 3.6-liter V6 engine, is worth more than $ 70,000. A basic Audi Q5 is worth $ 46,300, including all-wheel drive, and an Audi SQ5 is worth just over $ 70,000. So, yes, we are right in the price.
But is that enough to say that the XT5 rivals its German rivals, which dominate the sales market?
Not easy to please everyone
It’s not easy to please everyone. It's not easy to make a car that is sporty, fun, but comfortable in everyday life. This is the strong point of German products. They manage to make comfortable cars, which hold the road, and which make us smile!
If we make a vehicle too comfortable, purists will complain. If you make an SUV that is too sporty, you will blame it for lacking civic-mindedness. How is the XT5 doing in this regard? Pretty good!
The steering of the XT5 is just precise enough, and combined with driving modes that make a good difference and a very rigid chassis, this is an SUV that comes close to an Audi Q5, without however touching the goal. It lacks a little something to compete with the German luxury compact SUVs.
The 3.6-liter V6 in the XT5, however, leaves something to be desired. It is the most powerful engine available on the vehicle, and produces 310 horsepower and 271 pound-feet of torque. It’s combined with a wonderful 9-speed automatic transmission, one of the best in the industry, but the engine’s power is just too tight. It is adequate, at most, but when our German rivals are more powerful for the same price, it does not pass. It is imperative that Cadillac launches an XT5 V-sport at around $ 70,000 to offer an SQ5 and GLC 43 alternative from this world.
Originality as quality
At a time when the styles of several vehicles merge, where it is difficult to distinguish cars unless you are close enough to recognize the logo on the grille, Cadillac is good. Both inside and out of its vehicles, we offer a unique style, essentially composed of angular lines, reminiscent of the company logo, almost unchanged in almost 100 years.
The interior, in particular, manages to transpire luxury, while avoiding certain trends, such as affixing a large multimedia screen over the dashboard rather than integrating it.
The front seats are comfortable, and even on long trips, they provide constant support. That said, they lack lateral support. The rear seats are high, but at least they are also comfortable, offering a nice seat angle, and lots of legroom. Besides, the trunk, too, is rather spacious and offers a practical space.
For those who want to stand out, the Cadillac XT5 is therefore an interesting option, which almost manages to compete with German products. All it needs is a je ne sais quoi, the kind of feeling you get behind the wheel.
Where to go now? In which direction ? Cadillac does not offer an ecological option on this car, such as a hybrid or electric engine, nor a performance version. Developing new variants would therefore be a good start. Besides, with a refresh of the expected model, we could well see the XT5 becoming a competitive alternative to world German domination.
Something tells us that the Cadillac XT5 has not said its last word …