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2017 Cadillac XT5 Review By Steve Purdy

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Review by Steve Purdy
The Auto Channel
Michigan Bureau

Seventy grand seems a lot of money for a mid-size all-wheel drive CUV, does it not? This brand new one from Cadillac shows that big sticker price. The content, quality, image and performance puts it in company with some rather challenging, high-priced competitors like Audi, Mercedes and Lexus. It can compete reasonably well, but probably not win, the competition in the eyes of most deep-pocket buyers.

Where XT5 may compete better is on the low end of its range. The entry level comes in at less than 40 grand and comes quite well equipped. You still get that dramatic, angular, distinctive styling, an excellent powertrain and decent level of content.

But today we’re testing the top-of-the-line Platinum version with all-wheel drive, faux-suede headliner and trim, head-up display, tri-zone climate control, surround vision, 20-inch aluminum wheels, all the driver assistance technology available, panoramic sunroof, premium audio, high-zoot lighting and trim – and the list goes on. This one shows a base price of $62,500 and with all the extras it comes in at that 70 grand figure.

The XT5 midsize, 5-passenger, front- or all-wheel drive crossover recently replaced the second generation SRX. That crossover began life in 2003 averaging around 20,000 units annually over the first generation. The second generation with vastly improved design and quality jumped sales to more than 50,000 per year in the U.S. with global sales beginning with the 2014 model year. Now, with crossovers being the hottest segment of the automotive market Cadillac is enjoying over 100,000 sales globally.

The second generation SRX in 2009 got strikingly updated styling that evolved into the new XT5 – lots of sharp angles, vertical front and rear lighting, muscular stance and flashy trim. From a purely styling perspective we can say the XT5 is as distinctive and unmistakable as anything on the market - a real head-turner in my view.

Interior design represents a significant advance from the SRX as well – more attractive, more functional and less gratuitously trendy. Horizontal shapes make it feel roomier and rich materials establish a luxurious ambiance. Cadillac’s latest edition of the CUE control system works better than most in terms of intuitiveness and ease of management. Large, colorful icons for most functions take our eyes off the road for less time minimizing groping for what we want. Well thought out ambient lighting adds to the genteel feel of the cabin. A remote controller would be welcome. At this price point most of the others have one.

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The only complaints I have are the navigation system with traffic information and the annoying electronic shifter.

The nav system’s traffic information is limited in its area of coverage. We had a 7-mile backup on the heavily traveled freeway near my home due to a fatal winter accident and the system did not see it. I don’t know how these systems are designed but this one did fine within 30 miles of Detroit but not much beyond that.

The electric shifter’s pattern is not intuitive and I was still getting annoyed even after a week when it did not do what I expected. A button on the thumb side of the shifter must be depressed to get it to do anything. For reverse you must push it forward and to the left keeping the button depressed at all times. And, good luck getting it back into drive if you inadvertently put it in manual mode like I did a couple of times. I had to stop, put it in park and start over the first time that happened. Bummer!

The rear seats got rave reviews from our passengers this week, for comfort features like heat and their own climate control. The rear seatbacks fold 40/20/40 flat for excellent cargo capabilities. You can even get an optional cargo management system to secure loose stuff. The rear lift gate features hands-free activation and adjusts its height for low clearance environments. Cargo capacity is consistent with other mid-size crossovers swallowing up 30 cubic-feet of stuff with seatbacks in position and 63 cubic-feet with seatbacks folded flat.

Only one powertrain comes in the XT5, a naturally aspirated 3.6-liter V6 with direct injection mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. It’s good for a solid 310 horsepower and 271 pound-feet of torque. The EPA says we can expect around 19 mpg in the city and up to 27 mpg on the highway on regular fuel. With a 19-gallon fuel tank we have a decent 450-mile cruising range. In our week of driving - open road, rural and urban in about equal measures - we managed about 24 mpg.

On hard acceleration it has plenty of grunt but does not have the sophisticated feel and sound of the German brands. Edmunds testing shows a 0-to-60 time of an impressive 6.6 seconds. The 8-speed automatic shifts smoothly and quickly under most conditions, but is less than enthusiastic when asking for a downshift with the throttle when cruising along at 60 mph. To be fair, few vehicles do a good job in those conditions.

The XT5 chassis and suspension work fabulously together. While we did not challenge it to its limits we were not timid either. The suspension is well balanced between firmness, control, comfort and compliance. Steering is precise and quick with adequate feedback. And, it handled rough roads as easily as smooth ones with very little road noise encroaching on the cabin.

Cadillac’s new vehicle warranty covers the whole XT5 for 4 years or 50,000 miles and the powertrain for 6 years or 70,000 miles – better coverage than many.

Other than niggles described above I give the new XT5 good marks – at least a B+. If you’re comparing it to the ultra-premium brands you’ll find it a bit less pricey and nearly as well equipped. If you compare it to the mainstream brands it will be a bit pricier with a distinctly more up-scale personality.

This is one of those cars that will give you a little aesthetic thrill as you approach it in the parking lot.

© Steve Purdy, Shunpiker Productions, All Rights Reserved

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