THE PROS & CONS
- What’s Best: Sharper design, more interior space, less weight, improved appointments
- What’s Worst: Limited powertrain choices in a premium market
- What’s Interesting: The XT5 sets the style and trend for following XT models over the next few years
The Cadillac XT5 hasn’t wasted any time.
Unveiled in final production form at the LA show in 2015, the XT5 only arrived at Canadian dealers last spring, but it is already the best-selling vehicle in the Cadillac lineup, eclipsing everything from premium coupes and sedans to the iconic Escalade.
The XT5 mixes all the right ingredients to hit the sweet spot in that lineup.
It’s a crossover, the most popular vehicle form in the current automotive market. And its five-passenger mid-size dimensions and premium appointments blend nicely to fit the bill for vehicle buyers aspiring to entry-level luxury cachet and content.
As to styling, well, like it or lump it, let’s at least admit that Cadillac isn’t just following the herd when it comes to a uniquely cutting edge North American style and design.
The XT5 name, following the new Caddy nomenclature, stands for “crossover touring”, with the “5” denoting mid-size dimensions, in much the same way that BMW and Audi markings do.
So, we can probably expect a compact XT3 and a three-row XT7 to be among the eight brand new Cadillac vehicles forecast before the end of the decade.
The 2017 Cadillac XT5 replaces the SRX. It’s actually not as long or wide as the former SRX but the wheelbase has been stretched by 50 mm and the interior space has been maximized thanks to its wheels-to-the-corners architecture.
The biggest benefit is to second row passengers with an added 70 mm of rear legroom. The new adjustable 40/20/40 second row seat also slides, tilts and folds for greater versatility, and to max out the 1,784 litre cargo area (50 litres more than SRX).
With lightweight construction, the XT5 also weighs in with about 130 kg less mass than the SRX. And Cadillac is quick to tout that it is also 45 kg lighter than a comparable Audi Q5 and a whopping 295 kg lighter than the Mercedes-Benz GLE.
The XT5 comes in four trim levels with prices ranging from about $45K – $70K. There are two entry-level front-wheel-drive choices, with the bulk of the lineup committed to a new twin-clutch all-wheel-drive system that can transfer 100 percent of available torque to either the front or rear axle.
Tested here, our Premium Luxury AWD model sits near the top of the XT5 trim ladder.
Under the hood, this tester, like all XT5 models, shares the CT6’s new 310 hp 3.6-litre direct injected VVT V6 engine, an advanced unit with Active Fuel Management cylinder deactivation technology that switches the V6 into a V4 mode under light loads.
The engine also incorporates Start/Stop technology to reduce idling consumption and emissions. The tach needle hovers near a low 1,000 rpm around town and barely breaks a sweat past 1,500 rpm at highway speeds.
Fuel economy is rated at 12.9/8.9L/100km with my real world results coming predictably somewhere in the middle at around 11.3L/100km (comb).
The V6’s naturally aspirated power comes on honestly with regular octane fuel, accelerating with assurance and with an authoritative snarl, putting power to the wheels through a new eight-speed automatic transmission that features Cadillac’s first electronically controlled shifter.
This fly-by-wire system has a new shift pattern that some fuddy-duddy reviewers have grumped about. It might be enough to put some customers out but, hey, the one constant in life is change.
And although the new gear selection path take a little getting used to, the new system efficiencies save substantial weight compared to old school hydraulic shifting while also opening up interior space, allowing for a new floating console design with added storage room below.
Inside the cabin there are other revelations – venting changes, less gloss, less bling, more contrast-stitched leather surfaces and an overall air of improved refinement.
There are actual buttons now to control the HVAC and while the knob-less CUE infotainment system still requires a little too much hunting and pecking, it is a definite step up from the former system.
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Our Premium Luxury tester puts it all together nicely with a contrasting Sahara Beige and Black interior mix, and with an overall ambiance is serene and comfortable, making for a pleasant refuge from daily commutes.
But with improved lightweight architecture, better dynamics and new interior appointments combined in a uniquely North American style, the 2017 Cadillac XTS offers an alternative take on sporty, luxury accommodation and premium CUV design.
2017 Cadillac XT5 Premium Luxury AWD
BODY STYLE: Mid-size, five-passenger premium CUV
DRIVE METHOD: All-wheel-drive & eight-speed automatic transmission
ENGINE: 3.6-litre, direct injection VVT V6 (310 hp, 271 lb/ft)
FUEL ECONOMY: AWD 12.9/8.9/100 km (city/hwy); as tested 11.3L/100km (comb)
CARGO: 849 litres behind second row seat, 1,784 litres folded.
TOW RATING: 1,588 kg (3,500 lb)
PRICE: Premium Luxury MSRP $59,830. As tested $65,290 incl Driver Assist Pkg ($3,195), Tri-Zone Climate ($720), 20-inch wheels ($660), Stellar Black paint ($575) and more. Destination ($1,950) not incl.