A potent V6 and competent handling make it a difficult package to beat.
Say the name Cadillac and most folks immediately think of the elegant and graceful sedans that once served as aspirations for success. Or, if you’re talking to a slightly younger demographic they might think about the Escalade (reviewed here), the symbol of excess that has earned the brand pop culture fame. Few people will think about Cadillac’s most recent bestseller; the luxury crossover once known as the SRX, which was replaced for 2017 by the XT5. Despite its relative sales success, the SRX had become rather boring and stale, so Cadillac aimed to retain all the features buyers loved about the SRX, while breathing new life into the crossover.
The XT5 is available in both front-wheel and all-wheel drive variants, and our test vehicle sits at the top of the hill in the form of this 2018 Cadillac XT5 Platinum. You can get into a base model FWD XT5 for as low as $44,125, but who wants a basic FWD Cadillac crossover? To get the full experience you’ll need to step up, but doing so doesn’t exactly come cheap. There are four AWD models to choose from with increasing levels of luxury, until you reach the Platinum model which starts at $69,110.
Opting for the Platinum trim means you’ll get everything the XT5 has to offer including; gorgeous heated and ventilated full leather seats, panoramic sunroof, heated rear seats, tri-zone climate control, Bose 14-speaker sound system, a flashier front grille, polished 20” wheels and more. In addition to the standard load of equipment, our test car got the $2,595 Driver Assist Package, which includes distance pacing cruise control with traffic stop-go, parking assistance and collision mitigation. This all pushes the as tested price of our XT5 to $71,705. That’s not exactly a bargain, but it is right in line with competitors like the Acura MDX and Lexus RX 350 (reviewed here).
One of the more interesting little interior gadgets that the XT5 Platinum gets is the rear camera mirror; flipping a switch on your interior rear view mirror turns it into a screen streaming a live video from the rear of the vehicle, it gives you a wider and less obstructed view of what’s behind you. It’s a novel feature and well thought out with its own washer system to keep the rear camera clean, but it would take some getting used to as the perspective is a little off compared to what your eyes are used to. The good news is, it can work like a normal mirror with just another flip of the switch.
Designers took a fairly safe approach with the XT5’s styling, drawing on many of the well-established Cadillac signature design ques, and not straying too far from the SRX’s agreeable looks. The front fascia is the most unique styling feature; it’s dominated by an oversized grille, which gets the Galvano Chrome treatment if you opt for the Platinum model, swooped back projector beam headlamps and unique vertical LED running lights. This is the face to let others know you’ve arrived in a Cadillac.
The Interior in the XT5 however does give the full Cadillac experience, especially in the Platinum with its micro suede headliner and extra trimmings. Materials are top-notch and tastefully executed with natural wood and aluminum accents, suede dash face and leatherette dash top. Frequently touched items like the steering wheel, door panels and centre console are all either leather or soft touch plastic and everything feels like it has been put together to a high standard. The cabin is comfortable and offers loads of head and legroom. With the rear seats in place, rear cargo room is seriously impressive for this midsize crossover.
If there are refinements to be made inside the XT5, it would simply be the operation of some of the latest technology. The gear shifter is electronic and not exactly intuitive to use, nor does it save much space over a traditional unit. CUE (Cadillac User Experience), the main infotainment interface has been continually updated over the years and is a lot more livable than when it was released, but some of the touch controls that reside outside of the large touchscreen, such as the heated seat buttons, lag just a bit. Another small technical annoyance emerged while driving in a snow storm; the rain sensing wipers are not so good at sensing snow, which means you don’t have any true intermittent options.
The XT5 is powered by the latest version of GM’s High Feature 3.6L V6. Now in its fourth generation, the engine has been through a series of changes to improve both economy and performance making it one of the more versatile and time-tested engines in GM’s lineup. Power output is 310 horsepower at 6,600 RPM, and peak torque is 271 lb-ft. at 5,000 RPM. Refinement, smooth power delivery and positive throttle response make this naturally aspirated V6 a treat to experience in comparison to the four-cylinder turbocharged units found in many crossovers today.
The hearty V6 is mated to an Aisin eight-speed automatic transmission, the extra gears help keep the engine in its powerband and delivers lighting quick and crisp shifts, which help make the XT5 more responsive. Engineers seemed to have worked any bugs out of the transmission as well since the low-speed lurching we experienced in an prior test was non-existent here.
The V6 provides a reassuring growl on hard acceleration, but is otherwise silent, and the XT5 always feels like it has plenty of power and accelerates with a good bit of gusto. Start-stop technology and Active Fuel Management (cylinder deactivation) are employed by this latest version of the 3.6L, which aid in fuel economy for both city and highway driving. After a week of commuting in heavy traffic and snowy conditions our consumption sat at 11.1L/100km, which is in line with the 12.9L/100km city, and 8.9 L/100km highway ratings the XT5 touts.
From behind the wheel the XT5 is supremely smooth and drama-free, with noise levels inside the cabin at an absolute minimum. As you may expect, the XT5 makes an exceptional highway car; but surprisingly it also remains incredibly well controlled and composed when tossed through corners as well. The XT5 really is one of the better handling crossovers I’ve experienced and despite its light steering, can handle with an impressive authority. This is likely not an important factor to many buyers in this segment, but it does speak volumes to the chassis and suspension design.
Our two-week test of the XT5 also happened to fall on the Christmas and New Years break, where Toronto was faced with record-breaking cold and snow, making travel a bit more of a chore. Fortunately, the XT5 Platinum was the perfect sled for the job; carting gifts and passengers through the snow with ease and grace. There are three drive modes to choose from; Tour, Sport and AWD; the last of which keeps the AWD system active, while the others keep the car in FWD mode to save fuel. Many of these trips were done in AWD mode on snow-covered roads and the system performed flawlessly.
If you’re in the market for a luxury crossover, the 2018 Cadillac XT5 Platinum AWD is well worth the shop. The fact is, the crossover segment has become so competitive that the offerings from the luxury brands have all stepped up their game and it’s hard to make a bad decision. That said, the XT5 Platinum’s refined interior, potent V6 and impressive handling make it difficult package to top.