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2019 Cadillac XT4 First Review

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2019 Cadillac XT4 - Photo: Charles Jolicoeur

The first thought that came to me when I saw the 2019 Cadillac XT4 at this year’s New York auto show was that Cadillac had gotten the design right. Its new entry-level SUV looks like a Cadillac both inside and out, but unlike the XT5 which fades away on the road, the XT4 has a distinct visual signature that stands out.

Maybe it’s the sharper lines and perfect proportions, or maybe it’s because Cadillac wanted to give its XT4 a look that you won’t find elsewhere in its lineup. One things for sure, you’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t like the XT4’s design.

Cadillac even went so far as to call it an Escalade puppy.

Now I’m not sure about that, but it’s bold and it’s in-your-face while also being refined and upscale.

If you’ve read some of my other reviews, you know I’m not big on talking about design. I don’t think that sharing my opinion about how a particular vehicle looks is relevant because, ultimately, you’re not going to buy it based on how others feel about its esthetics.

2019 Cadillac XT4
2019 Cadillac XT4 – Photo: Charles Jolicoeur

Chances are, if you are reading this, you’ve seen the 2019 XT4 and you don’t think it’s ugly. So why start with an assessment of its design? Because in this case the XT4’s designers are not only shaping a new entry-level SUV, they are shaping the future of the brand.

The 2019 Cadillac XT4 has no room for error, and if it’s successful it will usher in a new era for the American automaker. As Cadillac moves away from cars and shifts its emphasis on sport utility vehicles, it’s also shifting away from General Motors and becoming the independent luxury brand it needs to be in the eyes of consumers.

The CT6 started it, but it’s a low-volume model. The 2019 Cadillac XT4 is really the first step towards the “new” Cadillac. A brand that can compete toe-to-toe with Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and BMW as an equal, and not as some kind of maker of rebadged Chevrolets.

Cadillac plans to introduce a new or redesigned model every six months over the course of the next three years. They will look to stand out with advanced and exclusive technology like their Supercruise system, but they will also look to simply build vehicles consumers want to buy. That means focusing on the most important segments, and the XT4 is certainly in one of those.

2019 Cadillac XT4
2019 Cadillac XT4 Premium Luxury

Whatever happens to Cadillac in between now and 2021, this new compact sport utility vehicle I drove in Seattle will play a big role. So how does it drive?

On the road in the 2019 Cadillac XT4

The 2019 Cadillac XT4 is powered by a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine that delivers 237 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. With more power than most other turbos in this segment, the XT4’s engine looks good on paper, but it also performs well on the road.

In other to improve both performance and efficiency, Cadillac engineers designed an advanced variable valve system that can lift them high when power is needed and lower them for better fuel economy when cruising along. Two of the four cylinders can also be deactivated, something you don’t see often in this segment.

In other words, the engine adapts to how you are driving, and how much power you need. The end result is a posted average fuel economy rating of 8.9 liters per 100 kilometers in FWD models, and about 9.7 liters per 100 kilometers with AWD 2019 Cadillac XT4s. A start/stop system that isn’t too intrusive or noticeable is also included.

2019 Cadillac XT4
2019 Cadillac XT4 – Photo: Charles Jolicoeur

Back to how it performs on the road, the 2019 Cadillac XT4 certainly has plenty of readily available power. It’s not slow to react when you want to pass another vehicle, and it’s quick off the line as well. The gearbox tasked with transmitting the power to the wheels has nine speeds and manages to juggle all of them efficiently. The automatic gearbox is smooth in the city, and quick to downshift when you need power right now.

In other words, the XT4’s engine just plain works. It makes Cadillac’s new SUV feel faster than you’d think, and faster than anything coming out of Germany. Only the Volvo XC40 feels on par with the XT4 in terms of power.

On the other hand, steering feel needs improvement. Some won’t mind that the steering wheel feels as light as it does, but I don’t like the impression of being disconnected from the wheels that it transmits to the driver. I kept wanting to remove a panel and tighten a screw or something down there. Even in Sport mode (yes, the XT4 has driving modes like every other vehicle in its class), it could be tighter.

2019 Cadillac XT4
2019 Cadillac XT4 – Photo: Charles Jolicoeur

Back to the things the new Cadillac XT4 does well, it’s hard to find fault comfort-wise. Every version sits on 18-inch wheels that look good without making you feel every bump and crack in the road. We did notice a bit more tire noise than we would have wanted as we were driving down the highways surrounding Seattle, but that could just be rough road surface that characterizes the Northwestern United States.

2019 Cadillac XT4 Pricing

The 2019 Cadillac XT4 starts at $37,000 for FWD models, and $41,295 for AWD versions. That puts it in the same league as its competitors, although the XT4 does pack quite a bit of standard equipment.

Dual-zone climate controls, keyless entry with push-button start, heated steering wheel, heated seats both front and rear, rear parking assist and a remote starter are all standard.

After that, there’s quite a jump to the next model in the lineup, the XT4 Premium Luxury, which starts at $46,295 with standard all-wheel drive. You will get a host of safety features like lane change alert, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert along with a power tailgate and rain sensing wipers. The Sport model is offered at the same price with a different, sportier black mesh grill, black door handles, black roof rails and different 18-inch wheels.

2019 Cadillac XT4
2019 Cadillac XT4 – Photo: Charles Jolicoeur

You have to pay an extra for leather seats (1,195 $ on the Premium Luxury and Sport models, $2,795 on the entry-level model) but you’ll also get massage and ventilation functions along with a hands-free power tailgate. A massage function on an entry-level SUV? Yup…

A range of active safety technologies are also optional as is the rear-view camera mirror which replaces the rear-view mirror with a camera display for better visibility. This also comes with automatic parking assist with auto braking.

Final thoughts on the 2019 Cadillac XT4

Cadillac has built a worthy entry-level SUV, and if the XT4 is a sign of things to come than Cadillac should do very well with its upcoming models as well. More refined then a Mercedes-Benz GLA or Audi Q3, the XT4 is more spacious as well. It’s right up there with the Volvo XC40 and BMW X1 as the best in this class.

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