- The theme was supposed to be “Go Big or Go Home”, taking a Cadillac Escalade
ESV - the extended version that makes Cadillac’s mothership the biggest SUV of all - on a long-haul road trip.
Fine for big families towing trailers or packing to the gunnels with golf bags and gear. But we were just a couple of snowbirds migrating south to a different flock - the Toronto Blue Jays spring training camp in Florida. And two passengers travelling light in a stretched-out, eight-passenger, V8-powered behemoth seemed like a case of overkill, unless we were planning to take the Blue Jay infield out for beers after a game.
So, the theme changed to “Less is More” with a 2023 Cadillac XT5 instead - more affordable and more practical, more suitable for a smaller family.
And, actually, less is also just less, with an XT5 that is, sure, less roomy, but also less cumbersome, less difficult to fit in a garage or parking spot, less pricey at the dealer lot and also considerably less costly at the gas pumps - in this case, an approximate 190 litre reason for changing vehicles.
In fact, you could argue that the “less factor” inspired the creation of the XT5, giving Cadillac customers access to the brand with a less trucky crossover with more modest pricing, passenger, payload and towing abilities.
The XT5 (Crossover Touring 5) debuted at the Los Angeles Auto Show in 2015 as a “lean and athletic” successor to the SRX, same-sized but weighing in at almost 300 lbs less than that predecessor, and with “wheels to the corner” architecture that extended the wheelbase by two inches with a corresponding one inch wider track.
Sure, for our trip south, we’d be giving up the sheer oversized audacity of the Escalade but the XT5 exudes enough Cadillac bravado, with its modern sharp-edged styling, the angles adorned with vertical DRLs and taillight treatments that throw back to rocket fins and other heritage Cadillac cues. The XT5 has proved popular enough to spur the creation of XT4 (smaller) and XT6 (bigger) siblings - more crossover choices to slot in under the Escalade. But the XT5 remains the popular choice, with a kind of Goldilocks “just rightness’ that seems to hit the sweet spot of size, comfort, price and utility.
And despite my emphasis on “less”, there are plenty of “more” factors included in standard equipment and content packages that build through the three XT5 trim levels ranging through Luxury, Premium Luxury and Sport models.
A no-cost Argent Silver Metallic paint is supplemented by seven other optional colours ($900-$1,395) including our Sport tester’s Crystal White Tricoat. Other options in our Sport tester included Kona Brown Sauvage leather seats, 20-inch 12-spoke Diamond Cut alloy wheels and a Technology Package with an 8-inch gauge cluster, head-up display, rear camera mirror and more. And there are plenty of other optional packages and stand-alone options available.
The XT5 first debuted with a 3.6-litre V6 engine making 310 hp and 271 lb-ft of torque and with a fuel economy rating of 12.9L/9.3L/100km (city/hwy). A model revision in 2020 made a new 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder the standard engine. It makes 235 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque and is a bit thriftier at 11.2L/8.7L/100km (city/hwy). The XT5 was the first model to adopt GM’s Electronic Precision Shift system, and this weight-saving, fly-by-wire system hooks up to 9-speed automatics with both engine choices. An AWD system that can shift 100 per cent of the power to either front or rear axles also benefits from drive mode settings of Tour, AWD, Sport and Offroad.
They kept the V6 as an optional powerplant in the mid-range Premium Luxury trim and made it standard in this top-of-the-lineup Sport model. I was hoping that auto stop-start and cylinder deactivation, which effectively turns the V6 into a V4 during those long highway miles, would narrow the gap between the two fuel economy ratings. But added power for passing is always appreciated and, although we wouldn’t be hauling a trailer, the V6 also boosts towing ability to 3,500 lb from the four-banger’s 1,000 lb rating.
The 2023 Cadillac XT5 Sport complements the engine power with a little extra performance mojo, adding quicker responsive steering, red-painted Brembo brakes and a sport suspension with real-time damping control that can adjust the ride every two milliseconds depending on varying road and driving conditions. Now, we weren’t exactly slaloming through the Blue Ridge or the Tail of the Dragon on the way, but even on the interstate, added control and ride/handling responsiveness can always be appreciated.
So, we headed south for fried green tomatoes in Charleston, strolls through the fountained parks of Savannah, the crack of the bat in Dunedin and long beach walks in Pass-A-Grille, Florida. There’s nothing like a few days in the saddle to really get to know a vehicle. And the XT5 did not disappoint. No problems, no drama, just easy cruising in a competent package of luxuries and comforts to suit any Cadillac fan.
Here are a few numbers. The 2,422 km trip to Florida -mostly highway miles with the occasional stop-and-go slowdowns and some futzing about in towns - used up 235 litres of fuel for a respectable 9.7L/100km (comb) fuel economy average. That cost $285.92 CDN. American gas is still cheaper than Canadian prices, working out to a $1.20 CDN/litre average once we did the metric and currency conversions.
We were still in Florida at the time of writing, so I expect the round trip to be about double - roughly 5,000 km, 470 litres and under $600 CDN in total.
To sum up, the 2023 Cadillac XT5 competes in a tough field against worthy rivals like the BMW X3, Volvo XC60 and Genesis GV70, to name just a few. There are rumours of a revised XT5 for 2024, possibly only available in China, but speculation about the future is rife, especially with Cadillac’s commitment to an all-electric lineup by 2030.
But, for now, the 2023 XT5 soldiers on, providing its unique Cadillac blend of styling, luxury and included content availability in a user-friendly, five-passenger crossover.
2022 Cadillac XT5 Sport AWD
: two-row, five-passenger compact crossover ute
: 9-speed automatic, AWD
: 3.6-liter VVT V6 engine (310 hp, 271lb-ft of torque)
: 12.9L/9.3L/100km (city/hwy). As tested 9.7L/100km (comb).
: 849 litres behind second row, 1,784 litres behind first row
: 1,588 kg (3,500 lb) when properly equipped
: 2023 Cadillac XT5 Sport MSRP $59,098 As tested $67,588