2017 Cadillac XT5 Platinum AWD Review

This Caddy Needs a Mulligan

In case your zip code happens to be in the middle of a stone quarry or if you’ve otherwise been residing beneath a large slab of shale for most of the last decade, crossover vehicles are hott with two T’s right now.

It doesn’t matter if they’re top-shelf models from prestigious brands or subcompact bottom-feeders, drivers are buying them in ever-increasing numbers.

But Cadillac is one conspicuous automaker that has missed out on much of this boom. The brand hasn’t cashed in on the burgeoning car-based utility craze, instead fielding but one model that’s been mediocre at best for more than a generation.

Its SRX has done little to break new ground in the segment or otherwise impress critics. However, after years of muddling along, GM’s luxury division has at long last thrown the baby out with the bathwater by delivering a brand-new offering that promises to rival models like the Audi Q5, Lincoln MKX and best-selling Lexus RX.

New Model, New Name

Called the XT5, which is shorthand for “Crossover Touring 5,” this utility continues the brand’s questionable new nomenclature. Fortunately, less-than-perfect names rarely sink good products, and on paper, this crossover has a lot going for it. According to brand chief Johan de Nysschen, it’s the first of four new crossovers in the works, so it’s a harbinger of things to come.

2017-Cadillac-XT5-Rear

Unfortunately, this vehicle’s styling is rather frumpy. The exterior design just looks chubby or otherwise bloated, with a huge, glittering grill and ungainly proportions. Elegant, the XT5 is not.

Giving it a solid foundation, however, the XT5 rides atop a new architecture. According to GM, it makes the vehicle nearly 280 pounds lighter than its predecessor, which is a colossal reduction, but that’s not all. It’s also around 100 pounds less massive than an Audi Q5 and carries 650 fewer pounds than the hulking Mercedes-Benz GLE- Class. You can thank things like laser welding, the implementation of ultra-high-strength steel and advanced computer-aided engineering for the trim waistline.

2017-Cadillac-XT5-Grille

Helping improve interior space, the XT5’s wheelbase is about two inches longer and its track is one inch broader than the SRX’s. Keeping it maneuverable, overall width, length, and height are slightly less. Overall, rear-seat legroom has been increased by more than three inches, a boon for passengers trapped in steerage.

Technology, Technology, TECHNOLOGY!

Ensuring it appeals to the digital generation, Cadillac’s XT5 offers plenty of high-tech goodies. There’s an available hands-free liftgate, 4G wireless connectivity, WiFi, and an optional heads-up display. Beyond all of this, Apple’s CarPlay connectivity system is offered along with Android Auto for safer phone integration.

The company’s much-maligned CUE infotainment system has also been revamped. It’s still a little confusing to use, but it gains a faster processor for dramatically improved responsiveness, plus there’s even wireless charging for supported mobile devices.

2017-Cadillac-XT5-Interior

But one of the niftiest features in the new XT5 is Cadillac’s Rear Camera Mirror System, which replaces a traditional piece of glass with a high-definition display and wide-angle camera. Supposedly, it broadens the driver’s field of view by around 300 percent, dramatically shrinking blind spots.

SEE ALSO: How Cadillac’s Blind-Spot Busting Mirror Works

Power to the People, Just Not Too Much

The only engine offered in the XT5, for North American customers at least, is a refined and eager 3.6-liter naturally aspirated V6. It’s rated at 310 horsepower and 271 pound-feet of torque, a little more than what you get in an RX 350, but far less than an EcoBoosted Lincoln MKX.

2017-Cadillac-XT5-Engine

Making the most of the abovementioned stable is an eight-speed automatic transmission. This gearbox is quite well behaved, swapping ratios promptly and with minimal fuss, if only the shifter didn’t look like the offspring of a Nokia 3310 and a sex toy.

Providing four-corner traction is an optional driver-selectable twin-clutch all-wheel-drive system. This arrangement can send 100 percent of available engine torque to either axle. In addition to this, at the rear, it can vary all of that from one side to the other, enhancing the vehicle’s ability to rotate during enthusiastic driving. Maximizing fuel economy, drivers can switch this system off when extra grip isn’t needed.

2017-Cadillac-XT5-Shifter

Speaking of efficiency, Cadillac says an all-wheel-drive XT5 should sticker at 18 miles per gallon city and 26 highway, figures that result in a combined score of 21 mpg, just one less than a similarly equipped Lexus RX, though a few better than a turbocharged MKX.

Cut-and-Sewn Cockpit

Sit inside the XT5 and you’re treated to a high-quality interior that’s constructed of real materials; the leather is genuine, wood authentic and metal accents actually extracted from the earth’s crust and refined in a furnace.

Overall, the design is clean and modern, with cut-and-sewn materials draped across the dashboard and door panels. As you’d expect, assembly quality is top notch, but not everything is perfect.

2017-Cadillac-XT5-Door-Panel

The driver’s seat is quite uncomfortable, at least for me. The lower cushion is too hard for long-distance comfort. Additionally, headroom for outboard riders in the back is severely lacking (plus one of the seats squeaked madly whenever a bump was hit). At least the backrests adjust for a little more flexibility.

The Drive

Despite having “just” 310 horsepower, the XT5 moves with authority. While not the fastest vehicle in its class, you’ll never be wanting for power, perhaps unless you’re climbing Pikes Peak with five occupants on board and a camper in tow. The well-behaved transmission makes the most of its available power.

Steering and braking performance are class-competitive, not standing out in any particular way. Regrettably, the same cannot be said about ride quality.

2017-Cadillac-XT5-Side

The XT5 rolls along like an economy car. Despite offering a driver-selectable suspension system the vehicle seems way too stiff, even in Touring mode, something that offers no perceptible handling benefit. It clops along like a horse walking on cobblestones, totally inappropriate for a luxury vehicle.

This Cadillac may be a bantamweight in a segment of heavies, but it seems that engineers took mass out of it by removing sound-deadening material. The XT5 feels loud for such a premium vehicle. The RX and MKX certainly seem quieter while in motion, with noticeably less tire and wind noise.

The Verdict: 2017 Cadillac XT5 Platinum AWD Review

The 2017 Cadillac XT5 offers a lot of luxury and technology, including some features that are nowhere to be found in competing vehicles. However, its raucous interior, undesirable ride quality, dowdy styling and fatiguing seats are hard-to-ignore downsides.

2017-Cadillac-XT5-Main-Art

This vehicle is a rare miss for Cadillac, which has been on a roll, introducing one home-run product after another. The ATS, CTS and CT6 are all knock-outs, wowing us with their impressive dynamics and luxurious trimmings. Unfortunately, that design and engineering magic never made it to the XT5. Regrettably for GM’s luxury brand, I find the Lincoln MKX and Lexus RX to be more competitive products.

Discuss this story on our Cadillac Forum

  • Circa79

    this is first review Ive seen calling the cabin loud and the ride quality poor. You mention it has far less power than the turbo MKX but didn’t mention the MKX is 300lbss heavier with the top trim. In fact, the XT5 is faster than the FWD MKX turbo according to C&D. You say the SRX wasn’t competitive when it was the second best selling lux crossover during most years of it’s lifespan. They must have done something right, they came closer to RX sales than any similarly priced rivals. And the Xt5 is already surpassing its German rivals in monthly sales.

  • BlakeS

    The price is way too much for this

  • BlakeS

    Its not priced like rivals. The Lexus tops out were the awd model starts for caddy

  • Circa79

    That’s a lie. Rx tops out around 60k. Where did you get your info?

  • BlakeS

    The NX?

  • Circa79

    you should probably price the RX and MKX. RX is nearly as expensive and the MKX can approach $70k fully loaded.

  • Circa79

    The NX is smaller than this, cadillac has no rival for the NX. The NX competes with the X1 and the GLC

  • nauticalone

    For my money I’d be looking to Jaguar F-Pace Volvo XC

  • Isend2C

    come on man, you specifically call out the cool digital mirror and then don’t photograph it at all?!

  • craigcole

    I specifically demonstrated this item in a standalone “Feature Focus,” which you can check out at the link in the copy above.

    (apparently links aren’t allowed here so just remove the spaces from this: autoguide .com/auto-news/2016/08/cadillac-s-blind-spot-busting-mirror-feature-focus.html)

  • Rocket

    You can push the XT5 past $70k, too, and it still falls short of the MKX Black Label in content and powertrain.

  • Rocket

    The ATS and CTS are dynamically competitive with the Germans, and nobody wants them. The XT5 falls short of the German competition in several areas, yet continues to sell well. (And I contend the XT5 would sell even better if it were more comfort-oriented.) How much more evidence does Cadillac need before somebody admits the strategy to build American BMW’s isn’t working?

  • Circa79

    The Germans aren’t the sales leaders. The SRX outsold most of its similarly priced German competition. The RX sets the pace in this segment- the Germans haven’t dethroned it yet.

  • Circa79

    no you can’t. With factory options it maxes out around $66k.

  • Rocket

    I didn’t say the Germans were the CUV sales leaders. Cadillac is chasing Lexus in this segment, which is precisely why they’re having more success. It’s the sport sedan segment where they’re struggling. Why? Because nobody asked them to make a Cadillac that handles well at the expense of comfort and utility. And don’t blame the sedan thing … the softer, more comfort-oriented MKZ is doing just fine.

  • Rocket

    The Platinum AWD starts at $63.5K. Add premium paint, Driver Assist package, 20″ wheels and DVD and you’re over $70,000 without dealer accessories. And you still have fewer features and options than a Black Label MKX.

  • Circa79

    You are wrong. Sedans sales are down and luxury sedan sales are really down. Mkz is not a volume seller. It sells in similar numbers to ats and CTS.

  • Rocket

    We have very different definitions of the word “similar”.

    2016 YTD:

    ATS: 14,360
    CTS: 10,645
    XTS: 12,977
    MKZ: 20,415

    I threw the XTS in there because it’s the closest thing to old school Cadillac that remains in their sedan lineup. It’s big, soft and comfortable. In short, it’s what the traditional Cadillac customer expects to find in the showroom. And yet despite being the oldest in the lineup, it’s still more than holding its own.

  • Circa79

    You are beyond belief ignorant. The mkz is a modest seller. I didn’t verify your figures but none of the American sedans are close to class leaders in sales. You didn’t compare total Cadillac and Lincoln sales for obvious reasons. For all Cadillacs issues they outsell Lincoln by a huge margin and the xt5 is already outperforming the MKX. And I like the MKX for the record. You also didn’t reference ct6 sales. Why is that?

  • Circa79

    Your CTS figure is wrong and the mkz was just refreshed for 2017. It’s also newer than the ats which helps.

  • Rocket

    My number is correct. If you’re going to attempt to debate, at least educate yourself first. I can’t post links, but you can check the numbers yourself at goodcarbadcardotnet.

  • Rocket

    I’m ignorant? You’re the one arguing without knowing your facts. And I intentionally left out the CT6 because it’s statistically irrelevant. 2016 YTD: 4,048.

    Cadillac YTD: 103,918 (down 6.2% over 2015 YTD)
    Lincoln YTD: 71,638 (up 9.7% over 2015 YTD)

  • Circa79

    As I said Cadillac is outselling them by significant margin and that is without a mkc competitor. I know the facts. Cadillac needs crossovers. Not news to anyone. But to say the road to success is to emulate Lincoln is delusional.

  • Rocket

    I never said Cadillac needs to emulate Lincoln. I said they shouldn’t continue trying to emulate BMW. Lincoln has product issues, too. But at least Lincoln finally knows who they want to be, and they’re working toward a (relatively) clear goal. Cadillac is lost, with products all over the place. the CT6 is a good effort, but it’s too expensive to sell in any significant numbers. The XT5 should be a better car than the MKX. It is not. The CTS and ATS are great drivers, but they’re limited by firm rides and compromised packaging. Their flagship is a truck.

  • Circa79

    I checked the actual sales press release. Over 11k CTS models have been sold thus far.

  • Circa79

    The ct6 is selling well so far. Nearly matching the cheaper CTS in recent months. Which proves that people are not opposed to rwd Cadillac cars with decent handling. Ats is too small and it’s going into its 5th year. Cts was too pricey and it’s in a tough, declining segment. The a6 and GS don’t do much better.

  • Rocket

    Manufacturers post official numbers monthly, and then Goodcarbadcar updates their website accordingly. The stats I gave are the numbers thru August 31. Add two weeks of September sales, and 11,000+ makes perfect sense. You can check and re-check all you want, my numbers were accurate.

  • Rocket

    The CT6 is ramping up nicely. It has been generally well received. But then it also rides better more like a traditional Cadillac than the ATS and CTS, with greater focus on comfort than canyon-carving ability. Unfortunately, it’s also still being handily outsold by the Escalade. It has to drive the arrogant de Nysschen crazy that a flagship designed completely under his watch is being outsold by a rebadged Chevy pickup.

  • Circa79

    No it doesn’t. Again you are poorly informed. In fact several reviews have noted it rides more firmly than its German rivals.

  • Circa79

    My numbers are from official press release for August 2016 sales. People typically compare official numbers released by manufacturers.

  • Rocket

    For the last time, the numbers in my earlier post are official as provided by GM. Goodcarbadcar publishes exactly what is given to them by the manufacturers.

  • Rocket

    Firmer than the Germans, but softer than the ATS and CTS. The trend will continue if Cadillac is getting the message.

  • Circa79

    No one said its softer than ATS and CTS. In fact some reviews have complained that it’s too firm. The point is you argued that Cadillacs don’t sell because they aren’t “traditional” in terms of ride and handling. The Ct6 proves that theory wrong. It’s doing well because its competitively priced, full of technology and has a nice backseat. Ats was a brand new nameplate in a very competitive segment. THat along with its small size have hurt it in the marketplace and now it’s just dated. I believe it’s the oldest car in the class right now.

  • Rocket

    The CT6 sales numbers absolutely do not prove my theory wrong. Selling 1,242 cars, August was by far the CT6’s best month, so things are trending the right way. But during the same period, Cadillac titled 2,264 XTS’s — a car that is essentially the same size, but with an old school Caddy feel. Sure the price difference has something to do with that, but considering the XTS’s age, it’s also proof that plenty of customers still prefer cruiser to canyon-carver in their American luxury sedans.

    You know how I know that deep down Cadillac knows they got it wrong? Because the XTS still exists. We were told it would be phased out, but Cadillac knows they can’t give away 1,600 customers a month … customers that won’t buy a CTS or CT6 under any circumstances. You know where many of those customers would go? Yeah, you can say it … we all know it …they’d go to Lincoln.

  • Circa79

    Xts attracts lots of fleet sales and older customers. Killing it wouldn’t be smart but it’s presence doesn’t mean Cadillac should go back to the 80s. Sorry.