As the middle child, the XT5 shares its looks with the smaller XT4 and the larger XT6.
In recent years Cadillac has really shifted from traditional large luxury sedans and gone heavy on the luxury crossover market with the XT4, XT5, and XT6 covering just about every segment. The Escalade gets all the glory as the current flagship, but really the most valuable player is the XT5, which it sells very well despite loads of competition in the luxury crossover game. To see why, I spent a week with a 2021 Cadillac XT5 Sport AWD.
As the middle child, the XT5 shares its looks with the smaller XT4 and the larger XT6. Rather than draw from the iconic Escalade’s styling, the XT-series crossovers aim to be a little more conservative and have stuck with a more traditional crossover shape, complimented with the signature Cadillac lines. Specifically, vertical LED head and tail lamps, and a domineering grille with a large Cadillac crest to let everyone know you’ve arrived in style.
Our tester, a top-line Sport model came with nice 20-inch 12-spoke wheels, gloss black exterior accents and clear taillamp lenses for a noticeably different look than the lesser Luxury and Premium Luxury models. I am not a fan of the Sport taillamps, as they’re much too import-tuner looking for an otherwise agreeable looking, very adult, luxury CUV.
The last time I reviewed an XT5, I raved about the quality and materials used on the interior in the Platinum trim tester. Well, Platinum is no longer a stand-alone trim, but an option package that is available for $4,200, and as far as I am concerned, is a necessity for the Cadillac experience in the XT5. The Platinum package decks out the interior with refinements like super soft Semi-Aniline perforated leather seating, leather-wrapped instrument panel, console and door trim, microfiber sueded headliner, and some color and accent trim bits.
The Platinum interior really makes the XT5 feel like a proper luxury crossover with fine leather and suede everywhere. Without the Platinum interior our XT5 Sport just doesn’t feel as special or luxurious from the inside, though the standard heated leather seats are plenty comfortable. The overall fit and finish is quite good, but it’s just not the opulent luxury that I’d want in a Cadillac.
The truth is though, likely the biggest reason the XT5 sells so well is because it can be had for very reasonable pricing, especially if you’re comp-shopping other luxury banners. You can get into a base front-drive model for $44,298, and adding all-wheel-drive only runs another $3,100, so for under $50,000 you’re into a very competent and sharp looking luxury CUV, with Cadillac credentials.
You can even move up trim levels into the Premium Luxury or Sport without breaking the bank at $51,398 and $56,398 respectively. Our tester, which is a Sport, with only a $900 metallic paint charge, came to a total of $57,198. A luxury SUV, from a true luxury brand, in top trim, with a V6 and AWD for under $60,000 is a bargain by any metric today.
This comes back around though; similar to the Platinum interior package, a lot of the features you’d expect in a luxury CUV are now additional options that must be added to whatever trim level you choose. It’s a bit of a throw-back to the 1980s and 90s with a-la-carte options, and it helps keep the cost of entry down. However, our tester, despite being the top trim level, came missing a number of features that surprised me. This includes things like ventilated front seats, rear heated seats, navigation, heads-up display, adaptive cruise control, rear entertainment and interior accent lighting.
What you do get, regardless of options chosen, is a very comfortable interior space that easily seats five, delivers a surprising amount of cargo space behind the second row, and offers plenty of convenient storage for front and rear passengers. Ingress and egress is easy thanks to a low step-in. and using the now quite refined CUE (Cadillac User Experience) digital interface has never been easier.
This improvement to CUE is thanks to the addition of a large rotary dial that conveniently falls to hand and seamlessly navigates through the touchscreen commands. There is also a smaller knob just above it that controls stereo volume, another nice addition. Generally, it’s a very comfortable and easy to live with interior space, but just not exactly the lap of luxury unless you add all the finishes and features.
The base engine in the XT5 is now GM’s 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, and the ever-popular 3.6-liter V6 is available on the Premium Luxury and standard on the Sport. Of course, our Sport tester came with the V6, with its 310 horsepower and 271 lb-ft, mated to a nine-speed automatic. The engine would benefit from more bottom-end torque as it can feel a bit sluggish at times, but the refinement and smooth power delivery make this naturally aspirated V6 a treat.
The XT5 drives smoothly and drama-free, with noise levels inside the cabin at an absolute minimum. As you may expect from any Cadillac, the XT5 makes an exceptional highway car, but surprisingly also remains incredibly well controlled and composed when tossed through corners despite its light steering. This is aided by the Sport trim’s unique sport suspension tuning and real-time chassis dampening control which monitors conditions and adjusts the suspension every two milliseconds for a better ride quality
After a week of mixed driving my fuel economy sat right at 10.7L/100km, right in line with what I would expect from a compact SUV with a healthy V6 and all-wheel-drive like this one. It’s happy on regular grade fuel and does employ a stop-start system that can be disabled, as well as Active Fuel Management, which shuts down two of the cylinders when they’re not needed, to help conserve fuel.
The 2021 Cadillac XT5 Sport AWD has the unique potential to attract shoppers looking for a reasonably priced, yet ultra comfortable and competently driving compact CUV, especially if having a V6 over the more readily available four-cylinder options on the market is important. Alternatively, luxury buyers who are more interested in comfort and top-notch materials over the more dynamically driving German offerings may find themselves impressed with the XT5’s value for dollar.