East meets West to review the 2017 Cadillac XT5

Rob Rothwell lives out west, Kevin Mio lives out east. Separated by thousands of kilometres, this pair of vicariousmag.com writers combine their thoughts to bring you, the reader, the best of two minds in one review. What could go wrong?

Styling

KM: The XT5 is an attractive vehicle, and that front end definitely grabs your attention. The prominent five-bar grille and vertical lights — with LED running lights — give the design some punch.

The crisp shoulder lines and raked windshield give the XT5 a nice shape, with plenty of chrome accents to give the SUV a high-end look.

At the back, the XT5 has those vertical lights, but some crisp horizontal lines make it look just as good driving away as it does coming at you.

The XT5’s interior design is also quite good, featuring a nice horizontal layout of all the controls.

RR: I agree Kevin that the new XT5 looks good from all angles; it’s an expressive design but not over-the-top, such as Lexus SUVs of late. Cadillac’s ongoing renaissance has produced some fine-looking sheet metal, which is attracting younger well-healed buyers looking for Euro alternatives in the premium segment. The question is: Does the driving experience live up to the visual aggression Cadillac chiseled into the XT5?

Performance

KM: Power for the XT5 is provided by a 3.6-litre V6 engine, which delivers its 310 horsepower and 271 lb-ft of torque in smooth fashion. The powerplant is one of the most pleasant aspects of this crossover, with excellent response at any rev range.

With an equally smooth eight-speed automatic transmission, the whole powertrain setup makes moseying around town or booting it on the highway equally enjoyable.

All except one feature.

The XT5 comes with engine stop/start feature, which is part of the vehicle’s fuel-saving technologies. While General Motors says the system is designed to be unobtrusive, that wasn’t the case while I was driving it. It was quite noticeable, and jarring in some instance. And unlike many cars that have this feature, you cannot turn it off on the XT5.

If you can live with that, then as a whole, the XT5 has plenty going for it when it comes to performance.

RR: First of all, I totally agree with you Kevin on the tyranny of Stop/Start technology which cannot be deactivated. Hated it. That said, the more expensive gas gets, the more tolerant I would become – perhaps even embracing the technology if it helped offset my latte addiction.

Due to its single-engine mandate, Cadillac has a problem under the hood of the XT5, and it goes by the name “Lincoln.” Lincoln offers an optional 2.7L EcoBoost V6 in its MKX crossover, and that sweet twin-turbocharged mill dispenses 385 horsepower and 380 ft-lb of torque with outstanding polish and refinement. And it does so while posting similar fuel-economy numbers.

There’s no doubt that the XT5’s 8-speed transmission gives Cadillac’s V6 a performance boost but not enough to counter the thrust of Lincoln’s EcoBoost, and that’s too bad. The Cadillac looks more the performer than the Lincoln does.

Comfort

KM: When it comes to drive comfort, the XT5 delivers. It has a very comfortable drive over most roads, and the cabin is relatively quiet. I say relatively because the engine sound can be a little too present at times.

The front seats offer plenty of support where it needs to be, and they offer an extendable lower cushion.

Rear passengers have plenty of legroom, with a split bench that can be slid front or back a few inches.

Headroom in the back could be an issue, however, for taller passengers.

RR: Yes, agreed. The heated/cooled seats in the XT5 are wonderful. In my humble, dogged opinion, the XT5’s ride quality is a little less compliant than it should be. No doubt Cadillac is rapidly shedding its former “pillowy” persona for a sportier image, and that’s a good thing. Nonetheless, I would prefer a little more coddling from my Cadillac than I was treated to by the XT5.

As for the engine sound you’ve mentioned Kevin, I agree. Either make it more refined and authoritative or further stifle it.

Value

KM: For just over $65,000, the XT5 definitely looks the part of a luxury crossover on the outside.

And while the interior is, overall, excellent, the abundance of hard plastic on lower half of interior panels doesn’t scream luxury. But the XT5 is not alone in that department when it comes to plastic on interior panels.

RR: It has to be said Kevin, that a $65,000 vehicle should park itself. That helpful technology has trickled down to moderately priced vehicles, including the last Ford Fusion I drove. Rearward visibility in the XT5 isn’t great, so a self-park mode as standard fare would be wise. My tester here on the West Coast was the Platinum edition, which rang in at $69,925, but did not have Cadillac’s optional Automatic Parking Assist – what gives?

The XT5 does, however, provide a tremendously broad suite of driver assists and in-vehicle technology, including Cadillac’s CUE system, which manages a slew of programs and apps accessed through the XT5’s touch-screen. While CUE is cutting-edge technology, I would still love to see a few rotary dials to control basics such as audio volume and station tuning. Despite those misses, I have to give Cadillac credit for creating a stunning cabin replete with high quality materials and construction.

Likes & dislikes

KM: Overall, there are more positives than negatives when it comes to the XT5. It’s stylish, drives well and offers good room and cargo capacity.

I also liked the CUE interface on the XT5, which is easy to use and allows the driver to easily access many controls and settings.

One thing I disliked about the XT5 is the electronic shifter, a feeling I share for most of these systems. It’s not always evident when the vehicle is in the desired gear, and getting it into reverse isn’t obvious at first.

To their credit, GM engineers have the system emit a beep when it’s in park, so at least there’s that.

RR: That “beep” drives me mad; it’s too loud and I can’t figure out how to chill it. That goes for other chimes that mysteriously sound when the vehicle is started. Please…it’s a Cadillac, tone it down.

My XT5 has a great-sounding audio system, which I enjoyed immensely. Also impressing me was the artificial intelligence of the voice-command system. It’s the best I’ve played with. Guess that’s due to its uncanny ability to understand my commands, botched and muddled as they may be!

Overall, I enjoyed the XT5 and feel that it would be a great road trip vehicle. It simply felt more at home, and shone more brightly, on twisty backroads and long stretches of highway than it did in the stop-and-go grind of the big city.

2017 Cadillac XT5
Price as tested: $65,060.00
Freight: $1,950.00
Configuration: front engine/ front or all-wheel drive
Engine/transmission: 3.6-litre V6 / 8-speed automatic
Power/torque: 310 horsepower/ 271 lb-ft
Fuel (capacity): Regular (82 L)
Combined fuel economy ratings (L/100 km): 11.1 L/100 km
Observed fuel economy (L/100 km): 14.7 L/100 km
Warranties: 6-years/110,000 km (basic)
Competitors: Lexus RX 350, Audi Q5, BMW X3

Related links:
Cadillac.ca
Canadian Auto Review (CAR)

Double Take: 2017 Cadillac XT5
Equipment83%
Styling89%
Comfort85%
Handling82%
Performance84%
Storage88%
Pros
  • Aggressive front-end styling makes an impact
  • Good amount of cargo space and flexibility thanks to 40/20/40 split rear seat
  • Comfortable and quiet interior
Cons
  • Use of the electronic gear shifter takes some getting used to
  • Only one choice of engine in lineup
  • Drive isn’t as sporty as some competitors
85%Overall Score
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)
0%

About The Author

Rob Rothwell has been involved in automotive journalism since 2002, writing for multiple online and print publications. He lives on the West Coast and is a member of the AJAC (Automotive Journalist Association of Canada). Rob’s passions include long drives on country roads in his convertible sports car, as well as cycling, skiing, kayaking, and sailing. Rob can often be found at the beach with his classic 80s Rainbow Laser, or tinkering in his workshop on his latest project.

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