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2018 Cadillac XT5 Review

2018 Cadillac XT5 Review

The 2018 Cadillac XT5 is a solid luxury crossover, but so are its rivals. Shop carefully.

The 2018 Cadillac XT5 is a five-seat, entry-level luxury crossover entering its sophomore year. It’s Cadillac’s entry into one of the most competitive segments of the new-car market, but it doesn’t do a whole lot to stand out.

It rides and handles well enough and has an interior that feels luxurious, but the XT5 occasionally feels more humble than its price tag suggests that it should. We’ve scored it 6.7 out of 10 points overall. 

For the 2018 XT5, Cadillac has made only one change: a heated steering wheel is now included on most models. The XT5 lineup remains available in base, Luxury, Premium Luxury, and Platinum trim levels. There’s no semblance of sportiness in this latest XT5, which replaced the long-running SRX nameplate last year; don’t look for an XT5-V.

Instead, the XT5 is more about docile pampering. All versions come standard with a 3.6-liter V-6 rated at 310 horsepower. An 8-speed automatic sends power to either the front or all-four wheels; all-wheel drive is standard only on the range-topping Platinum. The all-wheel-drive system isn’t intended for off-road use, but that’s typical for this segment that includes road-ready rivals like the BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class, Lexus RX, Volvo XC60, and Lincoln MKC.

Each of those trim levels is well equipped, but pricing can climb fast with options. Although the base price starts a hair over $40,000 once a mandatory destination charge is included, a loaded XT5 Platinum checks in at an inexcusable $70,000. Rivals that can be configured to that heady figure offer considerably more power and panache.

Although the XT5 is fitted with a full portfolio of airbags and stability control, Cadillac restricts advanced safety tech like automatic emergency braking to only the higher trim levels. Of all the places to be stingy, safety should never be one.

The 2018 Cadillac XT5 is crisp and clean, if a little forgettable outside. We like its interior more.

The 2018 Cadillac XT5 represents the brand’s latest softening efforts. Park one next to an older SRX and there’s a familial resemblance, but the XT5 is anonymous against its daring previous designs.

We’ve awarded the XT5 a single point above average since we like its well-outfitted and stylish interior. Its exterior is perfectly average, which means this crossover earns a 6 out of 10 here.

A chunky side profile gives way to precious little detailing on the XT5. It’s an exercise in restraint, something that we’ve rarely seen from Cadillac. But it doesn’t really work for us. We do like the aggressively swept-back headlights, with their LED running strips that run deep into the front bumper. Things fall apart quickly afterward, unfortunately. A bland grille does little to channel Cadillac’s brash elegance of yore.

At the rear, the XT5’s taillights try to echo the front, a look that mostly succeeds. Yet once again there’s a banality to the design that says little.

Inside, there’s too much corporate GM switchgear, but otherwise the XT5 looks and feels like a genuine luxury crossover. Perched high on its dash is an 8.0-inch touchscreen. Climate and some redundant buttons are hidden below. They’re capacitive buttons, though, so they disappear into darkness when the XT5 is turned off. Flanking the screen is a wide panel covered in various finishes—a rubbery vinyl or a suede-like material.

Scattered throughout the cabin are hints of real wood, as well as faux or real aluminum. As is so often the case, the more you spend, the more interesting your XT5’s interior.

Although it reveals its more humble front-wheel drive roots in performance driving, the Cadillac XT5 has strong engines and rides well.

The 2018 Cadillac XT5 has a gently athletic feel; it’s not a sports car, but it rides and handles well and boasts decent power from its V-6 engine. We’ve given it an extra point for the strength of its standard—and only—engine, bringing it to a 6 out of 10 for its performance. 

Even though the latest XT5 is lighter on its feet than its predecessor, it’s more sporty by default than in its actual tuning. Its electric power steering is light but centers nicely on the highway. A sport mode adds more heft, but it’ll take a lot of time behind the wheel to discern any real difference. While most rivals start as a rear-wheel-drive crossover and add power to the front wheels, the XT5 goes in the opposite direction. Predictably, it exhibits some front-drive handling characteristics, although the optional all-wheel-drive system bites even on dry pavement to retain an overall sense of confidence.

That all-wheel-drive system is optional on every model but the Platinum, where it’s standard. The XT5 sits low to the ground and isn’t meant for off-road use like the Land Rover Discovery that’s among its diverse competitive set.
The XT5’s fully independent suspension endows it with a firm, compliant ride. Premium Luxury and Platinum trim levels have a special suspension that continuously adjusts damping. It’s noticeable—and necessary, given the Platinum’s 20-inch alloy wheels.

A 3.6-liter V-6 engine rated at 310 horsepower and 271 pound-feet of torque is the only engine on offer. It furnishes robust power with just a hint of torque steer—an unwanted pulling to one side under hard acceleration—on front-wheel-drive models. The V-6 mates well to the 8-speed automatic transmission, but we’re not big fans of the drive-by-wire gear shift. It’s quirky and annoying to use; why reinvent things when they worked fine before?

Comfort & Quality
The 2018 Cadillac XT5 is comfortable up front and has a quality feel, but its rear seat is nothing special.

The 2018 Cadillac XT5 lineup spans a wide range. Base models are nearly half the price of a fully loaded example. Yet all models have a nicely upscale feel and comfortable front seats. We’ve scored it a 7 out of 10.

Base models feature synthetic leather upholstery that will wear better than real hides but doesn’t quite feel as upscale. Premium and Luxury trim levels substitute real leather, while the Platinum goes a step further with fine semi-aniline hide.

Up front, the power-adjustable buckets provide good support. Full lumbar adjustment is included on Luxury and higher trim levels for the driver and passenger. The XT5 is a little narrow compared to a few of its key rivals, something that reveals itself in the back seat. There’s still good room for two full-size adults, but a third passenger won’t be very happy.

The XT5 provides 30 cubic feet cargo space that can be made even larger when only smaller passengers are in the back by moving the rear bench fore and aft. The rear seat also features a 40/20/40-split folding arrangement that helps it max out at a decent 63 cubes.

Overall, the XT5 imparts a high-quality feel with nice materials. Only at the upper end does it feel a little too dressed up; the Platinum is furnished beautifully, but a price tag that can top $70,000 buys more compelling luxury crossovers. Best to stick with a Premium or Luxury, we say. 

Conflicting crash-test scores and subpar headlights prevent the Cadillac XT5 from earning our top score.

The 2018 Cadillac XT5 has been subjected to a full barrage of crash-tests. While it’s undoubtedly a safe vehicle, there are a few caveats and eye-raisers here.

First, what’s included and optional: seven airbags, stability control, and traction control. Low-speed automatic emergency braking is included on XT5 Premium Luxury and Platinum trim levels; it’s optional on the XT5 Premium and not available on the base XT5, where it is bundled with active lane control, blind-spot monitors, and automatic high-beam headlights.

Full-speed automatic emergency braking comes with the Driver Assist Package that’s an extra-cost option on Premium Luxury and Platinums only. The package also includes adaptive cruise control and reverse automatic braking.

That’s all commendable tech, but some rivals like the Lexus RX 350 and Volvo XC60 now include those features as standard on every trim level.

In terms of how it crashes, the XT5 is again a mixed bag. The IIHS gives it nearly top marks except for its headlights, which rate as “Marginal” with the automatic high-beam LED lights standard on Premium Luxury and Platinum trim levels. Otherwise, the IIHS says that the XT5’s other headlights—LEDs without automatic high beams and halogens—are “Poor,” putting them at the bottom of the heap.

The NHTSA, meanwhile, issues an unusual split score depending on if the XT5 is equipped with front- or all-wheel drive.

All-wheel-drive models earn five stars overall, but just four stars for rollover and frontal crash. The slightly lighter front-wheel-drive model ekes by with a four-star overall rating, but the differences are minute and require a lengthy study of the NHTSA’s findings. Maybe call the 2018 XT5 a 4.5-star out of five overall?

Befitting its luxury status, the 2018 Cadillac XT5 is well-equipped at every level and has a large infotainment screen.

You can’t quite have your 2018 Cadillac XT5 any way you want it, but you sure do have a lot of choices to make. With four trim levels on offer and a high level of standard and optional equipment including an 8.0-inch infotainment screen, the XT5 rates a solid 8 out of 10 here.

Once you’ve narrowed your XT5 hunt down to front- or all-wheel drive (optional on all but the Platinum, where it’s standard), it’s time to look at trim levels: base, Luxury, Premium Luxury, and Platinum.

At a hair over $40,000 to start, the base XT5 is hardly basic. It rides on 18-inch alloy wheels and features niceties like a power liftgate, keyless ignition, power front seats, a wireless charging pad, Bose audio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and GM’s OnStar concierge and safety service that’s free for an initial trial period but eventually requires a monthly fee.

Other than paint color, there’s not a lot to customize with the XT5 base model.

From there, the lineup climbs to the XT5 Premium. It builds on the base around $7,000 worth of leather upholstery, heated front seats, panoramic moonroof, parking sensors, blind spot monitors, rear cross-traffic alerts, and auto-dimming mirrors. A few options let buyers tailor their XT5 Luxury. The Driver Awareness Package bundles forward collision warnings and emergency braking with active lane control, lane departure warnings, and automatic high-beam headlights. Big 20-inch alloy wheels are a pricey option, but about $1,000 for navigation and an extra six Bose-branded speakers seems more reasonable.

The XT5 Premium Luxury goes further by including the Luxury’s two option packages plus LED headlights, 20-inch alloy wheels, and an adjustable suspension. They can be further loaded up with a Driver Assist Package that brings adaptive cruise control and full-speed automatic braking to the equation.

Only available with all-wheel drive, the XT5 Platinum tops the range. It feels every bit a flagship, albeit a pricey one. Its dashboard features a mix between leather and suede, and its seats are covered in an upgraded leather. A head-up display system, heated rear seats, and an 8.0-inch screen in its instrument cluster help make it feel a bit more exclusive. But even the XT5 Platinum isn’t fully loaded. The Driver Assist Package optional on the Premium Luxury also requires an extra charge here.

All variants feature the Cadillac User Interface infotainment system—or CUE. It’s flawed, yet functional. What it lacks in utility, it makes up for in flash. There’s no volume knob; instead, a capacitive bar requires users to swipe their way to louder or quieter audio. On the bright side, there’s Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which work better than most native software, this one included. A 4G LTE antenna is also included that can turn the XT5 into a mobile hotspot for an extra monthly charge.

Fuel Economy
The 2018 Cadillac XT5 is thrifty, given its power.

Given its standard power, the Cadillac XT5 is reasonably fuel-efficient. It also uses cheaper regular unleaded rather than premium grade like its competitors.

Front-wheel drive models are the thriftiest, at 19 mpg city, 26 highway, 22 combined. All-wheel drive imparts only a mild penalty: 18/25/21 mpg.

All versions of the XT5 also include a largely unobtrusive stop-start system that cuts out the engine at, say, traffic lights, to save fuel. That stop-start system isn’t factored into the EPA’s testing, however, so your mileage may vary.

Unlike an increasingly large number of rivals, there is no XT5 hybrid on offer.


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