Taking the XT5 out to the stunning scenes that make up Fogo Island really is something special.
FOGO ISLAND, NEWFOUNDLAND – The red-hot medium-sized luxury crossover segment represents the sweet spot for a lot of people. It’s a little bigger than the subcompact offerings, so you get more second-row legroom, and quite a bit more cargo space. None of the usual suspects offer three-row seating, but that’s okay. Cadillac has traditionally played in the mid-sized two-row luxury crossover segment with the SRX. It delivered traditional Cadillac luxury, with V6 power, and their forward-thinking CUE infotainment interface. Even as sales figures remained strong, it started to become somewhat overshadowed by newer products like the ATS and CTS. The big names in this class are the ever-popular Audi Q5, BMW X3, Acura RDX, and the new Mercedes-Benz GLC.
Continuing the evolution of the Cadillac lineup, the 2017 Cadillac XT5 replaces the SRX, bringing forth a new name and an all-new architecture. I spent some time with Cadillac at the beautiful Fogo Island Inn, in northeastern Newfoundland to see what it’s all about. Cadillac has been on a roll lately, with big styling wins seen in the new CTS, and CT6, just to name a few. The XT5 takes some of that design language and applies it to a new midsized luxury crossover utility vehicle (CUV). Several keywords were mentioned: distinctive, sophisticated, and agile.
As far as being distinctive goes, the XT5 has that in spades, with a very large front grille and the signature vertical LED daytime-running lights that flank the available LED headlights. It’s the CT6-style headlights that allow you to easily pick up that consistent design language. Out back, the taillights borrow some inspiration from the CT6 once again, with the top edge of the taillight housing pointing towards the front of the XT5. In short, the XT5 is a pretty sharp-looking machine, most so from the front and rear views. The side profile is fairly restrained, though the front and rear overhangs are nicely reduced. The top-end Platinum trim rides on 20-inch wheels; lesser models feature 18-inch wheels instead.
Overall, the XT5 does a good job hiding its size well – it is actually a good deal longer in overall length compared to popular players like the Audi Q5 and BMW X3 (reviewed here). This pays big dividends in rear-seat legroom, which grows a significant 8cm. Less obvious is the weight savings: the XT5 is 126kg lighter than the outgoing SRX, 45kg lighter than the Audi Q5 (reviewed here), and a whopping 295kg less than a comparable Mercedes-Benz GLE350d. Light weight helps all aspects of performance, fuel efficiency, active safety, and the list goes on.
Inside, the XT5 features the latest in Cadillac’s design language, with an added emphasis on practicality, build quality, and improved visibility. Practicality comes from the generous dimensions, which add a good amount of space to the cargo area and a rear seat that can slide fore and aft, as well as fold down in a 40/20/40 configuration. Build quality comes from the premium materials used in the Platinum trim, with real wood utilized in such a way that provides a modern touch to a very traditional material. The headliner and dash pad features a very soft suede material, lending itself to great first impressions.
Improved visibility is baked into the XT5 in several ways. Firstly, additional glass is added ahead of the side mirrors, and pillar widths minimized where possible. The Platinum trim features Cadillac’s Rear Camera Mirror implementation, which replaces the traditional rear-view mirror with a video display, showing a much wider view from the rear tailgate. Video output is certainly high in resolution and dynamic range, but it’s definitely a different sort of view that takes some getting used to. For starters, if you’re the type of driver who likes to look at second-row passengers using the rear-view mirror, this is not possible if you’ve got the rear camera feed enabled, since it bypasses the rest of the interior behind the driver and gets an unobstructed view out the back. Toggling the display back to the standard mirror function gives you a conventional view instead. What’s interesting is that the rear view camera gets its own washer, so it stays clean in inclement weather.
The XT5 boasts a long list of technologies and connectivity, such as Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and Cadillac’s usual suite of driver awareness and assist technologies, available as options, depending on the trim level. This includes things like forward collision warning, automatic forward collision braking – though both of these are part of their own packages. The theme of improved visibility continues with a 360-degree “Surround Vision” camera, which stitches the outputs of cameras all around the car so you can get a top-down view – handy for parking.
The elephant in Cadillac’s room, is CUE. Short for Cadillac User Experience, this integrated infotainment interface has been fairly polarizing in the industry since its inception. Relying on touch-intensive inputs, it controlled the multimedia as well as climate control. There weren’t buttons that people were accustomed to, but rather just a large panel of plastic that reacted with haptic feedback. Feedback has been mixed, and the CUE system has gradually been refined as new Cadillacs were released. Nowadays, Cadillac has made it a point to improve the responsiveness of the main screen, and the XT5 takes things a step further by separating the climate control from the upper touch screen. More importantly, the climate control buttons are now physical buttons! The plastic for the heated seat buttons, for instance, physically deform and register actual feedback.
As important as the interior and exterior of the XT5 is, it also needs to compete in terms of its powertrains. There is one engine choice, an updated version of GM’s naturally aspirated 3.6L “High Feature” V6 – now featuring start-stop technology and active fuel management cylinder deactivation. Good for 310hp at 6700rpm and 271lb-ft of torque at 5000rpm. This engine is mated to a new eight-speed automatic transmission, and all-wheel drive is available if you step up to the midrange Luxury trim. What’s new is the ability for the driver to disable the all-wheel drive system for improved fuel efficiency when you don’t need the extra traction (read: a lot of the time).
The XT5 is set to compete in the thick of the midsized luxury segment, starting at $45,100 for the base model, going all the way up to $68,595 for the top-end Platinum trim. There are actually several ways to equip your desired XT5, but you first need to choose whether you’re looking for front or all-wheel drive, and then choose from either the Luxury or Premium Luxury trims. We plan to take a closer look at all the trim configurations, driving impressions, and efficiency results when the XT5 reaches the mainland shores of Toronto for a more thorough examination. It’ll take a lot to completely de-throne the biggest sellers in the segment, but the XT5 is Cadillac’s unique take on what mid-sized luxury should be, and we like it quite a bit.
Taking the XT5 out to the stunning scenes that make up Fogo Island really is something special. It quietly and confidently allows you to take in all these unique, once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Multi-coloured communities of pastel-coloured houses dot the landscape, and for an island with a population of under 3,000 people, there’s a lot of unique culture that can be had. Ultra-modern studios are found hidden (yet not so hidden) away – overlooking the icebergs – allowing for creative minds to blossom in what has to be one of Canada’s most beautiful areas.
Fogo Island is one of Newfoundland’s largest offshore islands, but the isolation that makes the place so very difficult to access (plane or ferry, weather dependent) is part of what makes it feel so special. Simple fishing lodges make up a good part of the landscapes, and the contrasting Fogo Island Inn represents an amazing, uniquely-Canadian way of molding the traditional Atlantic culture with modern and sustainable architecture and design. The intensely-generous hospitality shown by the people of the island is definitely something to remember. Fogo Island is steeped with so much history and culture, and the people of the island are more than glad to tell their story, even to city slickers such as myself. People nowadays are often proud of the big city they come from, but the people that make up Fogo Island represent it in a much more wholesome way that’s hard to put into words. It’s a place one really needs to experience in their lifetime. You’ll be better for it. I know I am.