With its chiseled, almost ridiculously sharp-creased Art & Science themes of a decade ago, Cadillac made a name for itself, with a suite of vehicles that truly looked like no other.
Now that unlikely shoppers have people have turned their heads to consider Cadillac, it’s time to woo them on the details, and everything in between—something the brand hasn’t always done as well, even in more recent years. That means simultaneously giving its vehicles more organic softness and curvaceousness, yet also keeping some of the sharpness in up-close details. And perhaps more importantly, focusing on craftsmanship, surfaces, and seams inside.
Cadillac—and some other critics—have called the XT5 bolder than its predecessor; but we don’t see it. At least from the outside, up close, the XT5 feels softer and more organic than the previous SRX. Although it adheres to those previous themes with the vertically oriented lighting, and even packs a version of the Escalade’s elongated, in-your-face grille—chromed to glorious excess in top Platinum trims—it’s simply not as masculine and assertive. Prettier, yes.
We give it a 7 for styling, with an above-average interior and exterior that aren't quite tops in their class. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The XT5 isn’t any longer than the SRX, but with a longer wheelbase and the wheels out farther to the corners it has a dramatic, linear look that takes the straight-edged Cadillac design language to a new extreme. The stance is just a bit better, and depending on how you see it, there’s a little more flamboyance, with crisply pronounced fenders and shoulder lines, lots of brightwork, and an LED-infused front end with the same Le Mans-like drama as the CTS sedan.
The interior’s also prettier, but it’s a tasteful job that fits right in with some of the best luxury rivals from Germany and Japan. It’s dressed up just the right amount, and not too garish or gleaming. The Cadillac interiors of a decade ago were eccentric, sharp-edged, drab, and plasticky, and we’ve watched cabin appointments from the brand progress nicely, into warmer, more opulent directions. And that was before Cadillac, the brand, moved to New York and started hosting art receptions.
Aligned on a broad horizontal theme, the dash has a central touchscreen that displays everything from camera displays to infotainment functions through the CUE interface. A variety of trim choices are on the order sheet, with cut-and-sewn leather trim contrasting with three different woods, aluminum, or carbon fiber. There's also a Platinum edition with its own trim choices, like those on the big Escalade Platinum.
The softer, more organic exterior is only an evolutionary move from the SRX; but inside, the XT5 is a finely detailed, meticulously crafted winner.
Thanks to a stronger yet lighter body structure, plus a new engine and 8-speed automatic transmission, the 2017 Cadillac XT5 is quicker and feels more athletic from the driver’s seat than the SRX it replaces. And while it’s now not completely out of its element on curvy mountain roads, it’s more a vehicle that feels tuned more for the suburban boulevards and freeways.
We rate it a 7 for performance, giving the nod for good drivetrain performance and for ride quality when fitted with the adaptive suspension. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Built on a new modular platform for GM crossovers, it weighs 278 pounds less than its predecessor, according to Cadillac—as well as 100 pounds lighter than the Audi Q5.
With clean-slate redesigns to the steering and suspension, it rides and handles with less heft and lean than its predecessor. We wouldn’t call it performance-oriented, but to be fair, the XT5 does enter the field on different footing than some alternatives. It remains built on a front-wheel-drive platform, whereas some rivals like the Infiniti QX50 and Mercedes-Benz GLC are built on rear-wheel-drive sport-sedan pedigree. In either of those vehicles, you’ll find more nuanced handling—and, in the QX50 especially, some sacrificed cabin space for it.
What’s under the hood of the XT5 is a completely new-generation 3.6-liter V-6, making 310 horsepower and 271 pound-feet of torque. With better response through the rev range and the mid-rev flat spots of the previous engine now banished, It’s a gem.
Factor in a new Aisin 8-speed automatic transmission, with nice, evenly spaced ratios and precise, muted shifts, and it gets even better. This engine is both responsive and low-drama, settling into whatever ratio you need quickly when heading up a long grade, for instance. And the whole powertrain is just much more at ease with itself, with the transmission a far more willing companion here than the previous six-speed.
XT5 ride and handling
In Platinum models, and all that have been optioned with the 20-inch tire-and-wheel combination, you get ZF’s continuous damping control. We’ll venture that it’s worth the premium for keeping unwanted harshness and undulations out of the cabin—although we haven’t yet driven base-suspension versions and reporting back on how that works, comparatively.
All XT5 models with the 20-inch wheels (that means all Platinum models, and some of the others) come with the ZF continuous damping control suspension, which can adjust in fractions of a second to changing road surfaces, or to sudden maneuvers. It yields a firm yet comfortable and compliant ride—and a true luxury-car ambience—and Platinum models make the most of this perceived refinement, with special hydraulic engine mounts and isolating suspension bushings.
The XT5 also includes Cadillac’s first shift-by-wire system—using a shift lever that is (mostly) quite intuitive to use. You pull it down to engage Drive, and can pull it down again to toggle manual-gear control on and off. But the move to reverse involves a separate button press and into an upper-left shift gate—somewhat like a manual transmission. There’s enough of a pause involved in each shift, however, that we wonder about its effectiveness for some parking maneuvers, and rocking out of snowbanks.
The available all-wheel-drive system in the XTS is designed for wet, snowy, or icy conditions, although it can help enhance stability in dry conditions—not necessarily dry-road performance and handling. The system has a “twin-clutch” design that allows 100 percent of power to be sent to the front or rear wheels, and variations in between. You can manually cut the rear wheels out of the system (and improve mileage, and potentially wear) by selecting a Touring mode.
Steering in the XT5 is quite good in its default settings. It’s a rack-mounted electric power-steering system, and it feels relatively settled on-center on the highway, as well as well-weighted for tight corners and sweeping corners. There’s a sport mode that affects steering feel, as well as throttle sensitivity and shift responsiveness, but we could tell very little difference in steering weighting between the two modes.
The 2017 Cadillac XT5 has a strong, responsive powertrain and confident handling and body control.
The 2017 Cadillac XT5 is, depending on the way you measure it, either a half-size larger than most U.S. compact crossovers, or at the modest end of mid-sized.
The length and width of its cabin are essentially the same as that of a mid-size sedan, and a longer wheelbase has yielded an official stretch in leg room of 3 inches.
We've given it a score of 8 for comfort, utility, and quality, crediting its good seats and cargo space. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
There’s an asterisk here; somehow the more upright packaging of the seats and the gracefully arching roofline conspire to cancel out any abundance of head room you might expect.
And that’s really the only negative to the packaging. There’s plenty of leg room for back-seat occupants, as well as enough body width so that they don’t feel like they’re nudging elbows. But taller passengers should beware that the surround for the standard panoramic moonroof reduces usable head room by a couple of (valuable) inches. It's also not the widest vehicle in its class, so its 5-passenger rating won't work if the 3 second-row passengers are big adults.
Front seats are great here—on the firm side, with plenty of support at the thighs (with extendable lower cushions). With two quite differently proportioned drivers, we had no problem adjusting the seat and the steering wheel to what we each called a great driving position.
The back seat is split and folds forward flat (with a pulldown armrest as well), and you can slide it fore and aft a few inches, to rejigger the mix of cargo space and leg room (and there’s a handy ratcheting “fence” to help keep your groceries from going everywhere).
One conversation point is the new e-shifter, which frees up the space below the shifter for a pass-through, to hide away purses, cameras, and other items that are small but not too small.
The XT5 has a very quiet, very well controlled ride. As with the outgoing SRX, the only footnote to that is how you hear the V-6’s strident tone in the XT5 a little too much at times; it’s surprising, given this model’s natural appeal with families, moms, realtors, and such.
The XT5 has great front seats, a well-controlled ride, and a quiet, well-designed luxury cabin.
The 2017 Cadillac XT5 earned a five-star overall rating by federal testers and the IIHS gives it top scores of "Good" across the board; coupled with advanced safety gear, that makes it a Top Safety Pick for the current calendar year.
We've given the XT5 credit for existing crash data, but it could do even better. It earns an 8 out of 10 for safety on our scale thanks to affordable, available features on most models. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
There are plenty of active-safety features available in the 2017 XT5—although if you want the good ones, you should skip the Base model.
The XT5’s active safety features are effectively split into two groups—driver awareness and driver assist. The driver awareness package is included in the top Premium Luxury and Platinum models, or optional for $770 on the Luxury model, and includes forward-collision warnings, automatic emergency braking, lane-keep assist, and automatic high beams.
The driver assist package costs $2,340 on either the Premium Luxury or Platinum model and includes full-speed adaptive cruise control, low-speed auto-braking with pedestrian protection, automatic rear low-speed braking, automatic collision braking, and advanced park assist.
A color head-up display is optional, and it’s great; GM still makes some of the clearest, best-laid-out windshield-projected systems. One safety extra we remain unconvinced about is the Rear Camera Mirror system, essentially a camera display in place of a conventional mirror. Cadillac says that it digitally removes obstacles like passengers, the roof, and pillars, improving vision by 300 percent. Although we found the system a little difficult to get used to, as you couldn’t focus using your eyes’ own depth of field in the same way as you might for a mirror—making it a little odd to gauge fast-approaching vehicles in adjacent lanes, for instance.
The Cadillac XT5 offers an impressive set of non-naggy active-safety items that you’re likely to keep on.
|Overall Frontal Barrier Crash Rating:||(4/5)|
|Overall Side Crash Rating:||(5/5)|
|Overall Side Barrier Rating:||Not Rated|
|NHTSA Roll-over Resistance Rating:||(4/5)|
|Side Impact Test||Not Tested|
|Roof Strength Test||Not Tested|
|Rear Crash Protection/Head Restraint||Not Tested|
|IIHS Small Overlap Front Test Results||Not Tested|
|IIHS Moderate Overlap Front Test Results||Not Tested|
The XT5 comes in base, Luxury, Premium Luxury, and Platinum models. Base models, which land around the $40,000 mark, are only front-wheel drive, while all Platinum models come with all-wheel drive at a $63,495 price tag—and those in between offer a choice between the two (all-wheel-drive versions cost $2,495 more, all else the same).
Cadillac gets credit here for good standard and optional features, and for its array of cameras inside and outside the car, which earns it an 8 in this category. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Base models are equipped with 18-inch wheels, power adjustable steering column and front seats, keyless ignition, rearview camera and parking sensors, an 8.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment, Bose premium audio, dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth connectivity, and a wi-fi hotspot with three months/3 GB of trial service.
Luxury models can be optioned with most of the extras available throughout the XT5 lineup, such as a Navigation Package, LED Headlamp Package, Advanced Security Package, Ventilated Seats Package, and Driver Awareness Package.
What’s not available on the Base or Luxury levels, and what you need to step up to the Premium Luxury or Platinum trims for, is the Driver Assist Package—the one that includes all the top active-safety features.
The top Platinum model comes with a hands-free liftgate, a head-up display, a surround-view camera system, ambient LED lighting, special leather dash and door trim, micro suede for the headliner and other trim, a unique exhaust outlet, and a more brightly chromed grille—plus standard 20-inch wheels.
The XT5 Platinum also includes the rear camera mirror—a feature that replaces a conventional mirror with a screen, to an end we’re not entirely convinced about.
The inductive charging mat—effectively a smartphone dock—however, is effective and well-placed, just aft (and above) of the cupholders and right ahead of the armrest.
As with all other Cadillac models, the XT5 offers the 4G wireless connectivity, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto—all through the flawed-yet-functional CUE interface, which continues to frustrate here with a capacitive volume bar framing the bottom of the touchscreen, where palms tend to rest when making screen selections. Cadillac notes that it’s been upgraded with a faster processor here—as in the CT6 sedan—so it’s no longer laggy. Our rating system is built to dock points for bad infotainment, but between CUE and CarPlay, we consider this a wash.
The top Platinum model is the best Cadillac XT5, but you get a lot of features elsewhere in the lineup.
There are no hybrid versions of the 2017 XT5, nor a high-mileage 4-cylinder version either.
That said, mileage is great for what the XT5 does, so we're giving it a green score of 6. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
EPA ratings for the XT5 roll in at 19 mpg city, 27 highway, 22 combined with front-wheel drive, or 18/26/21 mpg with all-wheel drive. And over two different vehicles, on some very hilly, curvy mountain two-laners and freeways, we averaged about 23 mpg.
Some of the XT5’s tricks include Active Fuel Management, which runs the engine on four of its cylinders, during steady speed cruising and low-load driving. It saves fuel, and in the XT5, you’ll probably never know when it’s in "V-4" mode if it weren’t for a dash display.
All versions of this model also include engine stop-start, which completely shuts off the V-6 at stoplights, provided your foot is securely on the brake pedal. The engine smoothly restarts on Platinum models, which have hydraulic engine mounts that keep vibrations at bay.
Cadillac has no immediate plans to bring the 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder version—a version China is already getting—to the U.S., although that decision could be made down the line, in a year or two, or depending on the price of gas.
The 2017 Cadillac XT5 is one of the more fuel-efficient vehicles in its class—and that holds true in real-world driving.