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Review of: 2017 Cadillac XT5 AWD 4dr Platinum
2017 Cadillac XT5: The General steps up its game again
By Jil McIntosh
Nov. 2, 2016
Cadillac’s midsize SUV has morphed a few times in its life. It started as the rear-wheel-drive SRX, outfitted almost more of a wagon than a sport-ute, before becoming a sibling to the front- or all-wheel Chevrolet Equinox.
Now, riding on an all-new platform, it emerges for 2017 as the XT5.
Front-wheel-drive models start as the base XT5, for $45,100, moving up to the Luxury for $49,250. All-wheel trims start with the Luxury AWD for $59,830, moving up to the Premium Luxury for $59,830 and to my tester, the Platinum, for $68,595.
My tester was further optioned with a tow package of hitch receiver and wiring, 170-amp alternator and heavy-duty cooling system for $655, plus Crystal White Tricoat paint for $575, bringing it to $69,825 before freight and taxes.
Pros & Cons
- + Comfortable, spacious interior
- + Much lighter than before
- + Ride comfort
- - Stereo controls
- - Auto start/stop system
- - Shift lever
Cadillac’s new styling is angular and edgy, and the XT5 generally wears it well, although the melty, Salvador Dali-style drips on the headlights have yet to grow on me. The side view is well-proportioned and the curves on the rear blend smoothly in, with just enough brightwork to keep it interesting.
A panoramic sunroof comes on the Luxury trim and up, but the hands-free liftgate, which opens or closes when you kick your foot under the bumper, is only added to the Platinum trim. My tester’s 20-inch wheels are part of the Platinum trim but can be added to the Premium Luxury.
The XT5’s construction sheds some weight over the previous SRX, dropping some 132 kilograms when comparing front-wheel versions, and 84 kilos over the SRX all-wheel models. Targeting German competitors, GM says the XT5 is approximately the same size as the Mercedes-Benz GLE 350, but weighs 295 kilograms less.
The cabin is very roomy and beautifully finished, although it was a questionable decision to clad the lower dash in beige suede material, which was already grimy around the starter button. This stuff feels nice, but it doesn’t take long before it starts to look old and worn in higher-traffic areas.
The seats, clad in perforated leather on the Platinum, are very supportive and comfortable, including the fold-flat rear chairs. The seating position offers good visibility, and the Platinum includes a head-up display. I like that the display’s height, brightness and available information are handled by three buttons on the dash, rather than having to delve into the infotainment screen to make the changes, especially when two drivers swapping back and forth might need to frequently change the display’s position.
Luxury trim and up include an ingenious moveable cargo fence that can be slid on its tracks and then locked into place so items such as groceries don’t end up all over. There’s a lot of space up front for small-item storage, including an open cubby under the centre console, although I find it awkward to easily store and reach items under there.
All XT5 models include Cue (Cadillac User Experience), the company’s name for its infotainment system, which includes navigation on the Premium Luxury and Platinum. Cue is getting better, but it’s still not the quickest or most intuitive available. It also should have a volume dial, rather than a slider under the glass. Honda finally gave in to customer (and, I like to think, my) complaints about its similar setup and will be adding a dial, and Cadillac should too.
My car’s driver awareness package added the usual list of electronic helpers, including forward collision braking, automatic high-beam headlamps, lane keeping assist, and a driver’s seat that vibrates to warn of such dangers as cross traffic and lane departure. The forward collision braking can identify and brake for pedestrians close by, and warns by flashing an image in the head-up display.
But the most impressive technology, standard on the Platinum, is Cadillac’s new rear camera mirror. The rearview mirror operates conventionally until you flip a switch on it. It then becomes a video screen, broadcasting an image from a self-cleaning camera in the tailgate, and giving you a wide-angle view unobstructed by the C-pillars or rear-seat passengers.
It takes just a bit to get used to the wide view, but once I did, I liked it. The image is sharp, and you see more of what’s on behind you and out to the side. It may be a hair this side of tech-for-the-sake-of-tech — regular rearview mirrors do the job, of course — but it’s an impressive piece of engineering that won Best New Safety Technology for 2016 from the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).
Under the hood is a 3.6-litre V6 engine, making 310 horsepower and 271 lb.-ft. of torque, mated to an eight-speed automatic. Putting it into gear can be annoying, though, since it requires an odd up-and-over to find reverse.
But once you’re in drive, all is well. The engine is a great fit with smart acceleration, and the stiff chassis and quick steering response give it a lithe, light feel. The ride is smooth, composed and quiet, and while it doesn’t handle corners as eagerly as a sports sedan, it takes curves solidly without any wallow or tippy feel.
The engine features active fuel management, slipping from six to four cylinders under light load so seamlessly that I didn’t realize it did it until I got it home and checked the specs.
But the engine start/stop is far more willing to make its presence known, shutting off the engine at idle and then starting it up with a slight jolt each time. What sends it from annoying to deal-breaker is that it can’t be deactivated. Every other vehicle I’ve ever driven that has this system also gives you a button to turn it off, but you’re stuck with this.
A button on the console switches between the three driving modes (and if I may nitpick, very slowly and not intuitively: after you hit the button, the instrument cluster display takes a couple of seconds to display a checkmark indicating that you’re getting what you requested).
In Touring, the XT5 operates in front-wheel only. Sport is front-biased but transfers torque both back to front and side-to-side as needed, while AWD maintains power fore and aft for slippery surfaces. Once selected, the AWD setting stays on each time the car is started, but if you prefer Sport mode, it annoyingly defaults to Touring with each ignition cycle and must be set again.
The official published fuel figures are 12.9 L/100 km in the city and 8.9 on the highway, while in combined driving I stayed close to the upper limit at 12.6 L/100 km.
Spanning a range that starts at $45,100 and climbs by more than $23,000 to its high of $68,595, the XT5 is about mid-pack with other luxury SUVs.
The various trim levels have available options, but GM reserves the best for the highest trim. While you can outfit the Luxury trim with the driver awareness package and Cue with navigation, both of which are included on the Premium Luxury, only the Platinum model gives you the head-up display, rear camera mirror, and the hands-free liftgate. Given that you get that last item on a $34,000 Ford Escape, I’m surprised that it isn’t included on the lower trims as well.
After many years of several ho-hum products, Cadillac has finally flipped the switch, sending out great-driving vehicles with luxury interiors. It’s a contender, and even if your heart’s set on other brands, it’s worth your while to at least give it a cross-shop.