“Whoa.” That one-word statement uttered while testing the new Cadillac XT5 just couldn’t be uttered while driving the old and now retired SRX.
Engine: 3.6-liter V6 engine making 310-hp and 272 lb-ft of torque.
Transmission: eight-speed automatic
Fuel Economy: FWD - 19 MPG city 27 MPG highway AWD - 18 MPG CIty, 26 MPG highway.
Starting Price: $39,990 including destination
Fully Loaded Price: $65,835 including destination
While the SRX was the American luxury brand’s best-selling vehicle, it wasn’t inspiring or interesting. It was just decently sized and well priced. The XT5, the all-new replacement for the SRX, is also well sized and priced, but that’s all it shares with the old car, and that’s a good thing.
With its clean, modern look and high-end materials and trim, you’ll likely say “whoa” when you step inside the new XT5. The dash is beautifully bare, lacking unnecessary creases and angles. Higher end Platinum models have tasteful art deco trim elements that demonstrate Cadillac’s design expertise. Depending on the trim level, you’ll find carbon fiber accents, two different types of aluminum and three types of genuine wood. And genuine is the key word here, with each panel in the car covered in cut and sewn materials, rather than molded surfaces.
In front of the driver are two options for different gauge clusters: a low-end one that seems plucked out of the brand’s ATS sedan (“boo!”), and a high-end digital dash that looks like it’s borrowed from the new CT6 flagship sedan (“whoa!”). A color head-up display is also available.
ALSO SEE: 2016 Cadillac CT6 Review
Another “whoa” moment happens when I glance at the rear-view mirror; rather, what I expected to be a rear-view mirror was instead a high-resolution screen, streaming a live image from a camera placed on the tailgate of the vehicle. While the screen has some wasted space on the top and bottom borders, it has a wider field of view than the traditional mirror, showing you what’s going on outside the car, rather than inside the car. I’ll admit that the first time I looked at the screen to fix my hair and didn’t see my reflection, I was a bit spooked.
The rear of the vehicle has been updated to provide more legroom, although I would have also liked to see more headroom as well. Cargo space is solid at 30 cubic-feet behind the rear seats and 63 cu. ft. when the second row is folded flat. Those rear seats can be folded down in segments of 40/20/40 for more versatility, helping to make this luxury car a bit more practical.
On the outside, the XT5 is a step up from the SRX in terms of design. It looks lean with no excess, much like the CT6 sedan. In fact, it’s about an inch shorter in overall length than the outgoing SRX, using an all-new platform that puts the wheels at the absolute corners of the car, giving it nice proportions and short overhangs. Cadillac also widened up the rear doors, making it easier to get in and out of.
Beneath the Skin
While it’s obvious that the interior, exterior and technology have been improved over the SRX, the XT5 also boasts a number of significant under-the-skin changes, too. The 3.6-liter V6 engine may feature the same displacement as what was found in this car’s predecessor, but is actually a new, high-feature engine. Packing 310 hp and 272 lb-ft of torque, it can also do neat tricks like start/stop and disable cylinders to improve fuel efficiency. This is paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission that will allow front-wheel-drive models to get an estimated 19 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. All-wheel-drive models are expected to get 18 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway.
That all-wheel-drive system is pretty interesting, too. In the interest of fuel efficiency, the XT5 can disconnect the rear axle, sending 100 percent of the engine’s power to the front wheels. Alternatively, the rear axle can send up to 100 percent of the available power to either the left or right wheel, acting like a limited-slip differential.
On the Road
That results in the next “whoa” moment, which came with how the car behaves on the road. While engine power is adequate and steering feedback is non-existent, the car is very easy and pleasant to drive. Steering effort is on the heavy side, giving off a planted and sturdy feel that is complimented by the composed suspension. The suspension is continuously adjusting itself in real-time, and the resulting ride quality is impressively smooth. When you take into consideration that this isn’t a sports car, the XT5 is a pleasure to drive and possibly one of the best driving luxury crossovers on the market.
Base XT5s cost under $40,000 including destination, but are front-wheel drive and lacking the features and pizzazz that makes this crossover stand out. The most affordable all-wheel drive Luxury trim model that costs $48,385 in the U.S. including destination, and includes heated leather upholstery, a sunroof and driver assists like blind spot detection and rear cross-traffic alert. Above the Luxury trim is the $55,385 Premium Luxury model, which includes ventilated seats, navigation, driver awareness and LED lighting packages as standard equipment. If you don’t need the all-wheel-drive system, FWD Premium Luxury models cost just $52,890. However, top-grade Platinum trim models come with all packages except for the expanded Driver Assistance package, which adds an extra $2,340 to the $63,495 asking price.
The Verdict: 2017 Cadillac XT5 Review
Designed with a clean sheet of paper, or more likely a blank computer screen, the XT5 is the result of Cadillac hitting all key points in this mid-sized luxury crossover segment. It’s stylish, high-tech and drives excellently, showcasing Cadillac’s understanding of this complex market.
Its predecessor was good, but never “whoa” good. The XT5 builds upon the old SRX, and truly shows just how skilled Cadillac is at making great crossovers.