First Drive: 2017 Cadillac XT5

2017 cadillac xt5 review

Words: Calvin Chan

Photography: Calvin Chan

Published: March 9, 2016

 



Click here for the Chinese review.

 

DANA POINT, California - So far, we have been fairly impressed by Cadillac’s revamped line-up, with the ATS, CTS, and the newly unveiled CT6 taking their respective segments by storm. But as Cadillac aims to reinvent their luxury brand and expand their portfolio in the coming years, the replacement of the SRX crossover is arguably the automaker’s most important vehicle of the decade.


The numbers tell the whole story. Last year, the SRX was Cadillac’s best selling vehicle in Canada, and we are Cadillac’s third largest market, right behind the United States and China. So there are some high expectations for what the General has in store, and it has got some pretty large shoes to fill.


Here standing before us on the sunny landscape of California is the SRX’s replacement, the 2017 Cadillac XT5, and we are about to take it for a drive. Note: in Cadillac lingo, crossovers and SUVs will now wear the XT# designation, while sedans will wear CT# badges.

 


In this case, XT5 stands for Crossover Touring 5, and not only is it expected to represent almost 50% of total sales in Canada, but it is the vanguard of Cadillac’s resurrection into the luxury sector. The goal of the XT5? More interior space, more luxury, better looks, and upgraded technology - and by first impressions, the XT5 has certainly got all the boxes ticked.


Based on all-new architecture, the XT5 is lighter, roomier, and even more attractive than the SRX it replaces. The wheelbase has been stretched by a total of 50 mm, while the overhangs have been shortened allowing for better usage of interior space.


Thanks to a lighter body structure, the XT5 weighs 126 kg less than the outgoing SRX, paying dividends in handling and performance. To put that into perspective, the XT5 is 45 kg lighter than the Audi Q5 despite the Cadillac being 178 mm longer. Rear seat legroom has also been stretched a generous 8.1 cm - a world of a difference to back seat riders.

 


Up front, the new XT5 has got quite the visual presence, taking cues from the flagship CT6 sedan. Cadillac’s signature vertical light bars look really appealing in this application – you have to see it in the flesh to truly appreciate its appeal. Shorter overhangs, more muscular shoulders, and sleeker lines complement the XT5’s new hood and grill.


Extra ornamentation in the form of Cadillac badges have also appeared on the side fenders – an area where I prefer to have functional vents, not tacky emblems but it seems like every automaker is using it as a panel of advertisement, we’re also looking at you, BMW.


Peek inside and you will notice a contemporary atmosphere. What I admire the most is how the XT5 didn’t try to copy the Germans. Instead of trying to tackle the kings at their own game, Cadillac instead goes down a different alley and offers their own take on a buttoned-down interior. The seats are supportive, the ride is quiet, and the detail is refreshing. Overall, their new cabin feels polished and not overdone with flashy gimmicks and chrome trim.

 


Cadillac offers a plethora of ways to customize your XT5’s inner environment, from the choice of Maple Sugar seats to carbon fibre panels. Leather comes standard on all models (Cadillac has never heard of leatherette before) and a softer and more luxurious semi-aniline leather is now available on the range-topping XT5 Platinum, a trim building on the success of the Escalade Platinum.


The biggest changes however are the new four-spoke steering wheel, noticeably more legroom in the back, and the refurnished center stack with integrated CUE screen and the return of hard buttons. Following much criticism from journalists and owners alike, HVAC controls are no longer haptic feedback sliders, however the volume dial has been left so.


The display screen and controls have also been tastefully redecorated and separated by a strip of dashboard. CUE has been given a slight upgrade with a faster processor and updated graphics, and even though it has gotten much negative critique for being an unintuitive mess, I believe CUE is just a little different than what users are normally used to on their BMWs and Audis.


In fact, the screen is radiant and high definition, but it is more menu and shortcut oriented than others. Hell, even if you don’t share the same opinion and prefer a proper rotary dial, just plug in your smartphone via USB and utilize Cadillac’s new Apple CarPlay and Android Auto system that uses the CUE display as your phone’s home screen. There, you can use apps such as Apple Maps, Text Messaging using voice command, summon Siri to do your bidding, and even listen to music from your phone’s playlist.

 


To create a noticeable gap between the crossover competition, Cadillac has gone to great lengths to improve driver visibility, and their work is impressive. The side mirrors have been relocated from the A pillar down to the door panel, freeing up a lovely triangle of vision where the window meets the door. Engineers have also integrated the new rear camera mirror that debuted on the CT6.


In short, the rear view mirror turns into a screen that displays a wide panoramic view of what is going on behind you. It uses clever software that deletes the roof, pillars, and seats in the mirror for an unobstructed view – many might brush it off as a gimmick, but this kind of innovative technology warrants a closer look in person. Try it out for yourself – after a few hours on the road, we found it quite useful in tight parking situations.


Up front is the star of the show, a brand-new 3.6-litre V6 that also sees the light of day in the 2016 ATS and CTS. Cadillac refuses to offer the force-fed 2.0-litre turbo engine here in Canada (available in China only), which is a curious decision when you realize that every other competitor offers one. No complaints here – the motor produces an eager 310 hp and 270 lb-ft followed by a savoury course of high-pitched exhaust notes past 4,000 rpm.

 


Characteristic of a naturally aspirated engine, the XT5 really picks up in the mid-range where the meat hits hard, and is nothing short of power when gracing the redline. My only worry was the V6’s fuel economy but Cadillac engineers told me to rest easy, as they have loaded the XT5 to the tee with fuel saving features such as Active Fuel Management, which is just a fancy term for cylinder deactivation (engine goes from six cylinders to four cylinders under light load conditions), as well as one of the smoothest applications of Engine Start/Stop in a Cadillac (a heavily criticized feature on the ATS – much improved now).


The sole transmission available is an 8-speed automatic which I have to admit, still needs some tweaking. The gearbox is positively eager to upshift to the tallest gear in order to preserve fuel, but it is hesitant to do the opposite and knock down a few cogs for instant acceleration. I found myself resorting to the wheel-mounted paddles more often than usual.


Electric power steering takes helm on the XT5, and while it certainly lacks the tactile feedback provided in rival crossovers, there is enough wheel-to-hand communication to direct the car where you want it without feeling lost in translation. Be that as it may, I would have enjoyed the hairpins a little more if the steering were on the heavier side of the spectrum.

 


On the bright side, the XT5’s ride quality is bar none. The Caddy has one of the best road manners we have ever experienced in this crossover segment. There aren’t magnetic dampers hiding under the sheetmetal, but I can assure you that it does not need it. On our short drive through the mountainous roads on the west coast, the XT5 provided a supple drive that absorbed bumps and undulating roads with ease. Hairpins were tackled with not even a hint of body roll, and it remained planted and impressively flat around the bends.


Canadians will be happy to hear that all-wheel drive (AWD) is available and standard on all trims except the base model (front-wheel drive only). The new AWD system utilizes a twin-clutch setup – one for the left and one for the right side of the vehicle – and it gets power to where it belongs by sending up to 100% of torque to either front or rear axle. In addition, a rear differential can direct power to either back wheel when it detects slip.


Furthermore, the driver can actively choose between FWD or AWD via a button on the center console. By default, the XT5 is set to put power down to the front wheels only for better fuel economy, but you can select AWD on the fly if required. And while we didn’t encounter any harsh terrain to test out its off-roading capabilities, we don’t think most XT5 owners will either.

 


There are five trims available for the XT5: front-wheel drive base ($45,100), Luxury FWD ($49,250), Luxury AWD ($52,120), Premium Luxury AWD ($59,830), and the top-of-the-food-chain Platinum ($68,595).


The Premium Luxury AWD trim would be the best bang for your buck, but we’d rather have the cheaper Luxury AWD model with a few creature comfort packages to ring up just below $55,000 – hitting the sweet spot of the market. And while the XT5 certainly isn’t the cheapest crossover out there, its road manners, standard V6 engine, and abundance of rear seat legroom raise the veritable benchmark in this feisty crossover war.


The XT5 is a vital step to secure Cadillac’s future as the definitive luxury brand. With more models coming our way, we are confident that the American automaker has got their blueprints set up for success. If the booming sales record of the outgoing SRX was any indication of Cadillac’s crossover allure, and if the cars to follow are just as smart and innovative as the XT5 and recently unveiled CT6, then hats off to you, Cadillac. The balls are in your court – just keep the steam train rolling.

 


Photo Gallery:

 

2017 cadillac xt5 red xt5 paint colours stellar black xt5

 

silver xt5 new mirrors on xt5 xt5 headlights

 

srx replacement xt5 canada cadillac xt5 rear

 

xt5 exhaust xt5 premium luxury xt5 stellar black

 

xt5 platinum interior xt5 interior xt5 gauges

 

xt5 gear shifter xt5 awd system updated cue

 

platinum seats xt5 rear seat room

 



Specifications:

型号 Model: 2017 Cadillac XT5
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,857
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,815 / 1,903 / 1,675

車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,808 (FWD); 1,931 (AWD)
引擎 Engine: 3.6L V6
最大馬力 Horsepower: 310 hp @ 6,700 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 271 lb-ft @ 5,000 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 8-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, FWD/AWD
前懸 Suspension-Front: Independent MacPherson strut
後懸 Suspension-Rear: Independent five-link

油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 12.1 / 8.6 / 10.5 (FWD); 12.9 / 8.9 / 11.1 (AWD)

 



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