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2019 Cadillac XT4 Review

The 2019 Cadillac XT4 is an impressive first start for an automaker that, almost amazingly, has skipped small crossovers until now.
Mary Kay can’t make up as good as the 2019 Cadillac XT4 that was long overdue.

The first compact crossover SUV from Cadillac was a long time coming. Thankfully, it was mostly worth the wait.

With the 2019 XT4, Cadillac offers some of its most daring designs yet, wrapped around an impressive new powertrain and swathed in high-quality materials. Only painfully expensive active safety features and a few small quibbles keep it from scoring higher than 6.2 on our overall scale. 

The XT4 comes in base Luxury, Premium Luxury, and Sport trims that start at more than $35,000 and reach to nearly $60,000.

Its price and size make it a tweener—bigger than a Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class, but not as big as a GLC-Class. That’s been Cadillac’s MO for a while, and the XT4 doesn’t mind stepping on the bigger XT5 in some trims.

We’re fine with that.

The XT4 is a sharper package with smaller dimensions. It wears well its expressive headlights and big grille. Its vertical taillights would be the perfect finishing accessory if other automakers weren’t already using them. Inside, the dash is dominated by a big 8.0-inch touchscreen, but the soft-touch materials with stitched accents add an air of luxury to balance the big tech.

Under the hood is a new, agile 2.0-liter turbo-4 that’s exclusive to the XT4—for now. Its 237 horsepower is down on paper compared to others, but its delivery washes away our concerns—it’s more than just a number. The engine is exclusively paired to a silky smooth 9-speed automatic and front- or all-wheel drive. Adding all-wheel drive adds $2,500 to the bottom line and it’s a part-time system; engaging the system requires a button double tap. Eh.

Active safety features will add at least $770 more, including low-speed automatic emergency braking. A high-speed system requires an eye-watering $1,100 more than that, along with other advanced safety features. Competitors bundle those into the base prices already.

Optional extras add thousands to the XT4’s bottom line, but also add to the experience. We’d go all-in with an XT4 Premium Luxury with leather seats, power massage, heated and cooled front seats, 20-inch wheels, panoramic sunroof, and active safety. Our version rings the bell at $54,485 and it’s possible to spend more. Sport trims add good adaptive dampers and sporty touches like clear rear tail lights, but all XT4s get an infotainment system with smartphone compatibility that looks good to our eyes.

Cadillac saved their best looks for the new 2019 XT4.
Cadillac saved its best looks for its best-sellers. Borrowing from the full-size and bulky Escalade, the new 2019 Cadillac XT4 wears dramatic shapes with good effect.

It’s sharper than most in its class and that’s good—it’s a cutthroat class. We give the XT4 an 8 out of 10 for an excellent exterior and good interior. 

The XT4 wears some of Cadillac’s most daring angles to date. The standard LED daytime running lights cut and thrust from the nose, along the tops of the front fenders, down toward the ground in spectacular fashion. A wide grille and creased metal on the hood gives the XT4 a similarly sharp look, up front, punctuated by a wide, mesh-textured grill with a floating wreath and crest.

The pinched metal runs along the body sides down to the XT4’s flanks, although the roofline largely skips the plunging trends found on other compact crossovers.

Short overhangs belie the XT4’s actual size—it’s 6 to 7 inches longer than other small luxury crossovers—but it wears its heft well.

In back, the XT4 sports vertical taillights lifted from the Escalade—kind of. Cadillac says the lights are a throwback to the tail fins of yesteryear, but unfortunately they’re also a look that many other automakers including Volvo and Honda have already adopted onto their small crossovers.

Warm shades work well on the XT4’s exterior. Reds and oranges help the body pop in daylight just as well as the lights at night.

Inside, the XT4 sports high window lines and a similarly sharp interior dressed in wood or carbon “faux-ber” accents. We like light interior colors best. They help brighten what could be a somewhat dark interior.

A standout new turbo-4 and finicky brake system mean that the new 2019 Cadillac XT4 is all about “go” instead of “slow.”
Perhaps the most impressive part about the new 2019 Cadillac XT4 is what most people won’t see.

A new 2.0-liter turbo-4 makes its debut in the XT4 and it’s a winner. Paired with a smooth-shifting 9-speed automatic, the new engine delivers good power without a fuss. We give it points above average for its ride and power, but take one back for a new brake system that’s not yet ready for prime time. 

The good news: With the XT4, Cadillac introduces a new 2.0-liter turbo-4 that should have a long life with the automaker. Making 237 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, the competent powerplant is smooth and refined—and completely different to the 2.0-liter turbo-4 found under the hoods of the GMC Terrain and Chevy Equinox.

The turbo-4 only has a hint of lag during heavy acceleration, and otherwise feels up to the task of propelling the Cadillac XT4’s two-ton mass around town with ease.

The engine is paired exclusively with a 9-speed automatic that metes out silky smooth gear changes and eagerly keeps the 2.0-liter turbo-4 efficient. Kicking down gears for highway passes takes a half-second and it’s OK, the engine needs to take a deep breath first too.

Sport models get standard continuous control dampers that control the XT4’s motions well and are pillowy soft; standard coils and springs are acceptable in Luxury and Premium Luxury versions, however.

In the XT4, Cadillac offers its first electronically powered braking system that removes one more parasitic belt from the engine’s crank, but we have mixed feelings about it. The pedal is stiff and somewhat unforgiving. Around Seattle, it took 30 minutes or so to get used to the short pedal travel that lacked any feel. For those of us used to braking up to intersections, then lifting up just a hair to keep passengers from jerking forward, the XT4’s newfound braking system will require a recalibration of our right feet.

Like the Terrain and Equinox, the XT4’s all-wheel-drive system is a part-time unit that needs driver input to engage. Unlike the GMC and Chevrolet, the Cadillac uses a pushbutton affair that needs two taps to engage the all-weather system—it’s a mix of 2018 and 1998 that we’re not sold on.

The dual-clutch all-wheel-drive system can tip into a Sport mode that changes power output between the rear wheels for sportier driving. Adaptive dampers on Sport versions react quicker to the road surface without being too stiff.

All-wheel drive is a $2,500 option on all trims.

Comfort & Quality
High-quality interiors keeps the 2019 Cadillac XT4 in contention among luxury competitors.
The XT4 promises to be the “Cadillac” of small crossovers, and it largely delivers.

Its confines are comfortable and contemporary for front-seat riders, finished in high-quality materials. We give it points for both. It earns a 7 for comfort on our scale. 

Up front, Cadillac offers supportive and comfy front seats. Both versions we drove were shod in real leather hides, a spend-up extra, that were soft and felt durable. None of the XT4s we drove had crumpled gathers near the seams of the seats, which we’ve found in other vehicles from General Motors.
For $1,050 on Premium Luxury versions ($2,450 on Sport versions), Cadillac offers power-adjustable and massaging leather seats that most competitors skip in their small crossovers.

In back, most two adults will comfortably fit—three will rub shoulders—and 6-footers can fold in behind one another.

The XT4’s 22.5 cubic feet of cargo room with both rows of seats in place is marginally smaller than some of its competitors, but its high load floor is the real foil—it may be difficult for some to lift heavy loads into the XT4’s back seat. The back seat folds down for 48.9 cubic feet of storage.

The XT4 boasts soft-touch materials all around and a good fit and finish on the doors and trim pieces.

The 2019 Cadillac XT4 lacks official crash data.
The 2019 Cadillac XT4 is too new to ruin. Until federal and independent authorities finish their tests, we’re withholding our safety rating.

Absent official crash data, the XT4 is equipped with a plethora of safety features, but some of them cost extra.

The XT4’s standard safety equipment includes eight airbags, blind-spot monitors, a rearview camera, and traction control systems.

Spend-up safety options include forward-collision warnings with low- and high-speed automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, automatic headlights, active lane control, and reverse automatic braking. A surround-view camera system, automatic parking assistance, and a camera-based rearview mirror are nice perks, too.

Frustratingly, Cadillac asks hundreds—even thousands—more for features that other luxury automakers are making standard.

Low-speed automatic emergency braking costs nearly $800 more and isn’t available on base Luxury models. High-speed automatic emergency braking requires the low-speed version first, 20-inch wheels, and costs $1,100 more. Nearly $2,000 extra for life-saving technology is short-sighted, according to us.

Absent spendy packages, the XT4 offers average outward vision. The seats are high-riding, but the door sills come up fairly high. Cadillac’s camera-based rearview mirror offers an unfettered view out the rear window, but it can be distracting to some drivers and tough to focus on.

Rearward vision is predictably poor for the XT4. Its rear roof pillars sacrifice much for their fashion-forward shape.

Bring money to the 2019 Cadillac XT4 party. It offers stellar features, but asks you to pay for too many of them.
Luxury crossover SUV owners are spoiled for choice. Many competitors offer bleeding-edge tech wrapped in high-quality materials, dressed in flashy sheet metal.

The 2019 Cadillac XT4 keeps pace with all of them, mostly. It offers the latest whiz-bang features, but asks drivers to pay a princely sum for all of them.

We give the new XT4 a point for features, thanks to its generously sized infotainment screen but bring it back down to average with a menu of spend-up safety features that nickel-and-dime their way out of our good graces. 

The XT4 is available in Luxury, Premium Luxury, and Sport trim levels starting at $35,790, including mandatory destination, and reaching toward $57,000 fully loaded.

XT4 Luxury versions are equipped with 18-inch wheels, synthetic leather upholstery, LED headlights and taillights, power-adjustable front seats, four USB charging ports, dual-zone climate control, a 4.2-inch driver information display, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.

Base XT4s largely skip offering any options except a cold weather package that adds heated seats and steering wheel, and we think the base model misses the point.

The Premium Luxury and Sport trim levels cost the same amount to start, $40,290 including destination, and offer slightly different standard features befitting their mission.

XT4 Sports keep the synthetic leather upholstery, but add sporty exterior appearance items, a sporty steering wheel, and kick plates.

The Premium Luxury is more in line with our ideas for the Cadillac XT4’s purview. It subs in real hides and aluminum or wood interior accents for its starting price.

A comfort package goes further for $1,050 on Premium Luxury versions by adding power-adjustable cooled front seats with massage, a power liftgate, and better lumbar support. It costs $1,900 on Premium Luxury models, after a prerequisite cold weather package is added in.

Equipping the XT4 with high-speed automatic emergency braking takes patience, deep pockets, and Sport or Premium Luxury trims to start.

A $770 starter package adds low-speed auto braking with pedestrian detection, active lane control, and automatic headlights. High-speed automatic braking requires 20-inch wheels (Why?—Eds) and the aforementioned “Safety for Beginners” group (Our words, not theirs.—Eds, again) for $1,100 more.

Cadillac’s highly advanced SuperCruise driver-assistance features aren’t on the menu at all. That’s an oversight.

All our news isn’t bad news, however. The revised Cadillac infotainment system is sharp and easy to use. All XT4 versions get an 8.0-inch touchscreen with bright menus and a clear display. The surround-view camera system optionally equipped on top trims is neat, and there are a number of baked-in apps such as Spotify that add value. Our only quibble: No pinch-to-zoom on the maps.

Fuel Economy
The 2019 XT4 makes the most of its new engine and transmission for fuel efficiency, but there’s still room for improvement.
A new turbo-4 and 9-speed automatic in the Cadillac XT4 make it the most fuel-efficient model without a plug sold by the automaker, but the crossover lags some of its competitors.

The EPA rates the 2019 Cadillac XT4 with front-wheel drive at 24 mpg city, 30 highway, 26 combined. That’s good enough for a 5 on our fuel-efficiency scale. 

Opting for all-wheel drive dents those figures slightly. The EPA rates those versions at 22/29/24 mpg.

Competitors such as the Acura RDX manage roughly the same figures, most versions rate at 24 mpg combined. Smaller competitors such as the BMW X1 and Volvo XC40 rate closer to 27 mpg combined. Plug-in hybrids such as the Volvo XC60 T8 do better with batteries and a 18-mile all-electric range.

We drove the XT4 roughly 150 miles around Seattle and managed 23.2 mpg combined, according to the Cadillac’s onboard computers.


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