LEESBURG, VA – The Cadillac XT5 is the brand’s entrant into the murderously competitive luxury compact crossover segment. Populated with competitors such as the BMW X3 and the Volvo XC60 – not to mention Lincoln’s new Corsair – Cadillac knows it needs to keep the XT5 at the top of its game if it wants to retain its slice of that particularly profitable pie. First shown at the LA Auto Show way back in 2015, the company figures it’s high time for a refresh.
Keen eyes will be required to discern a 2020 XT5 from its forebears at a glance. Speaking with Jim Hunter, product manager for the vehicle, we learned the sheet metal has not actually changed. However, snazzy LED headlamps which were once reserved for top-end trims are now standard across the board. There are new wheel styles for 2020, while the bedazzling on lower parts of its front and rear fascias have been given a rethink.
But inside the cabin – and under the hood – changes are much more profound.
Hunter told us the team coined the term ‘PTR’ during this XT5 refresh, referring to the trinity of packaging, technology, and refinement. By those measures, changes for 2020 are much more extensive. Let’s start with packaging.
Fun fact: the XT5 is Cadillac’s global volume leader, accounting for more than 40% of the brand’s sales. With this in mind, the company decided to streamline the model trims and packages, kicking things off with a Luxury trim beyond which lie Premium Luxury and a new Sport trim. This year, a Platinum package can be layered on top of either, rather than being a stand-alone trim level. It’s a smart move, as the Platinum package brings tastier interior trappings that may appeal to both Premium Luxury and Sport customers.
Numerous features once optional are now standard, including the likes of lane-keeping and forward collision alert along with pedestrian alert and a seat alert that vibrates under the driver’s posterior in a borderline inappropriate fashion when they stray out of a lane or something wanders into their path when reversing the car.
In terms of tech, the XT5 brings one of the biggest changes that a company can throw at a vehicle: a new engine. Joining the 310hp 3.6L V6, a mill which remains standard equipment on the Sport, is a 2.0L turbocharged inline-four making 237 horsepower and 258lb.-ft of torque. The smaller engine is now the de facto entry-level offering, showing up as standard on the Luxury and Premium Luxury trims. Both powerplants are teamed with a nine-speed automatic and available with all-wheel drive.
Note well: a Cadillac spox mentioned the inclusion of a button dedicated to defeating the start-stop engine system, a change based on customer feedback. You’ll find it in the piano black trim to the left of that 8-inch infotainment screen. The 2020 model year Cadillacs will also feature the brand’s bizarre new badging system, in which the engine’s torque rating is (loosely) denoted in newton-metres. This explains the ‘400’ badge on the V6-equipped Sport model and a ‘350’ moniker appended to the turbocharged Premium Luxury car on these digital pages.
The design team also focused on ratcheting up the technology factor inside the 2020 XT5. While wide swaths of the cabin look familiar, a next-generation rotary controller for the infotainment system has sprouted on the centre console just south of the XT5’s candy-bar shift lever. That controller now has jog functionality, eliminating the need to spin the thing endlessly just to get to the button bar or a far-flung menu. It works well in practice, eradicating one of the few remaining complaints about the CUE infotainment system.
Another checkmark in the technology box is the addition of available Night Vision equipment on top spec-trims. You’ll be able to spot a 2020 XT5 with this feature by looking for an off-centre camera lens winking at the road ahead from its perch on the low edge of the car’s front fascia. It scans the road ahead for heat signatures, such as a pedestrian or roadside animal, and relays that detail to a display in front of the driver. It’s a neat bit of gee-whiz tech in this segment.
As for the refinement part of the PTR missive? Look for bits and bobs once reserved for top-end trims, such as the sharp rear fascia with dual exhaust tip finishers trimmed in brightwork, to proliferate across the XT5 line. Seemingly small stuff like a cupholder lid with a smoother opening action than last year might seem like a throwaway detail but it all adds up to a machine that feels more upscale than it has to this point in its lifecycle. Add in a new engine and a rejiggering of trim levels – including the addition of that Sport model – and you’ve got yourself a Cadillac XT5 that’s freshly tweaked and twisted to do battle with its competitors.
Expect a price hike this year of about $2500 on the entry-level XT5, commensurate with the inclusion of equipment that was once optional but now standard. Pricing for other trims is not yet official. The refreshed 2020 XT5 goes on sale in the latter half of August.