The week was supposed to start at the wheel of a 2020 Buick Regal GS. One thing lead to another delay and off I left the GM pick-up point with a spanking-new 2020 Cadillac XT5 Sport with all but 22km on the clock. I was slightly disappointed to not drive the Regal but getting behind the wheel of the XT5 presented an opportunity that I was thankful for.
To be quite honest, I recalled something about the turbocharged 2.0-litre joining the XT5 in 2020 but little else. At the beginning of my test-dive, it mattered little as this tester was a loaded $55,998 Sport AWD with a V6. Now, I’ve complained many times this year and in the past that GM’s decision to equip its SUVs with a non-automatic AWD system held a dark secret which, in my opinion, was simply terrible real-world fuel consumption. Why else completely lock out the rear axle and force the driver to manually activate AWD when needed? The near majority of its competitors have AWD and it’s always doing its thing, no input needed.
I sat behind the XT5’s wheel, started it up, and promptly leaned into the drive mode button and selected AWD. And left it there all week. And we had quite week as the family and I covered over 540 km with the XT5 of which 80% of the distance was covered on the highway. By the time I returned the SUV with a full tank, the way I got it, I calculated that this Cadillac XT5 had consumed 15.6L/100km. This is 37% more than the specified returned average of 11.4L/100km. 80% of the driving took place on the highway. I think I now have a partial answer, at the very least.
Many will bring up the fact that the 310-horsepower 3.6-litre V6 was not broken-in but with today’s negligible tolerances when assembling engines, highly-sophisticated engine management technologies, the improvement will likely never reach 10%, nor even 5%. But enough about that.
Refined as required
As I was racking up the kilometers, I rediscovered a small-midsize luxury SUV that, unlike its big brother, the XT6, felt special. This was quite a surprise as the current generation Cadillac XT5 dates back to 2017 (I know… but this is how it is in this business.) Like the XT6, the 3.6-litre is docile, refined and smooth and far more willing to rock & roll than its 271 lb.-ft. of torque suggest. The other upgrade for 2020 comes in the form of a 9-speed automatic transmission that replaces the 8-speed. It too impressed with civilized precise shifts when necessary.
The drive quality was luxurious and sporty. The adaptive dampers, as part of the Sport trim, play a definite roll in keeping the XT5 comfortable in town and surefooted on the highway. Somehow, The Cadillac XT5 feels like its own vehicle even though it shares lots with the GMC Acadia and Chevy Blazer. This is in contrast to the XT6 which offered little over the Buick Enclave other than a dashing outer shell.
Distinct and luxurious
On this subject, I almost want to applaud Cadillac for sticking to the 2nd generation SRX’s overall design from 2009 and allowing it to properly evolve over time. As the brand’s best-seller, Caddy wisely opted to keep its handsome face and shape instead of attempting to reinvent it at every chance.
As far as the XT5’s cabin goes, unlike the “all-new” XT6, the older dashboard and switchgear are fine and at home here. Whatever mild issues there may be are not as impactful as interior space. Keep in mind that I’ve got two kids in tow along with the spouse, bags, a stroller and more. All week, we came face-to-face with limited storage and despite Caddy stating that the boot holds 850 litres of gear, we could have used lots more volume.
This led us to conclude that the 2020 Cadillac XT5 is more of a personal luxury SUV, or one designed for a couple, and little more. This is the only the XT6 trumps the XT5. Even in perceived value, the $46,498 AWD 2020 XT5 Luxury with the turbocharged 2.0-litre engine almost seems like a decent deal. To note, with the 2.0T, the XT5 is offered as FWD-only which is a terrible idea.
My Sport included nearly all the options such as the Platinum with Enhanced Visibility as well as Driver Assist packages for a grand total of $68,648. Somehow, this seems reasonable compared the reviewed near $77k XT6… Standard features are numerous, from an 8-inch display, a WIFI hotspot, Bose Audio, nice trim accents, heated seats and steering wheel, and loads more.
I like it but…
Such is the segment in which the Cadillac XT5 does battle, it would not be my top choice. Between it and the Lincoln Nautilus, I’d go Caddy. Once the Audi Q5, BMW X3, Lexus RX and Mercedes-GLC come online, the XT5 isn’t quite as attractive. A 355-horsepower BMW X3 M40i starts at $62,950 while an Audi SQ5 begins at $64,400 (when compared to my tested unit.
If anything, Cadillac has a winner on its hands and if it plays its cards right for the 2022 revamp, it might do even better.