Jumping into the subcompact SUV market is an interesting proposition.
Buyers are enticed by a base model that looks very attractive and seems reasonably priced. However, the price jumps dramatically when you add some much needed options. Based on this, consumers have some big decisions to make. Pay for a luxurious badge or get an equally kitted-out Buick or Chevrolet and save a few thousand dollars while they’re at it. Add direct competition into the mix and consumers’ heads will spin from all the options available. This week, General Motors would like to sway buyers into the 2021 Cadillac XT4 Sport AWD.
Sticking with an evolution of Cadillac’s “Art and Science” design, the XT4 is a handsome vehicle and quite distinctive with those vertical LED headlights and taillights. It’s a clean design overall that looks handsome and somewhat sporty. However, unlike some of its competition, it doesn’t take any significant steps to truly be unique in a market swimming with similarly sized luxury sport utility vehicles.
Buyers expecting an Escalade type of experience inside of the XT4 will be sorely disappointed. Yes, everything is tightly put together, but the materials are just acceptable at best. A top-trim Mazda uses higher quality materials and provides a more upscale design. The carbon fibre trim adds some flair but isn’t enough to elevate the interior. The infotainment screen and user interface have been lifted from other GM vehicles of lesser pedigree. Thankfully, the UI is user-friendly and operates with minimal lag. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are present and wireless in the XT4, which is a welcome touch.
As the Cadillac XT4 leans more towards isolatings its occupants, those inside will appreciate the seats front and rear. Seat four people inside and they will have more than ample legroom and headroom. Long road trips won’t beat occupants up. The Bose sound system is good but again, nothing elevates it above that found in a Chevrolet.
Cargo space is class competitive with 637 litres of cargo space with the rear seats up. Dropping the rear seats will increase cargo space to 1,385 litres. Make sure you opt for the package that gives you the adjustable automatic trunk feature to make your life much easier.
While current Cadillac sedans have a sporty edge to them, the same cannot be said for the XT4. The ride leans more towards cushiness and isolation. Yes, the ride will soak up bumps in a way that those inside won’t have their spines snap at every pothole, but don’t expect the XT4 to take on-ramps like an Acura RDX or BMW X3. Prepare for body roll and steering that doesn’t inspire confidence with taking turns at speed. However, if your commute encounters major potholes and constant road construction, you will appreciate the plush ride.
One engine choice is available on the Cadillac XT4 and it doesn’t stand out in the segment. It’s a two-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine that manages to push out 237 horsepower at 5,000 RPM and 258 lb.-ft. of torque from 1,500 RPM to 4,000 RPM. Combined with a smooth nine-speed automatic, it does its best to help motivate the XT4’s 1,767kg weight. There is zero drama behind the wheel when going from gear to gear but even with the torque available early on in the rev range, the XT4 feels rather lethargic. Competitors such as the Acura RDX and the Genesis GV70 have engines that provide more excitement and personality.
Buyers can choose between a front wheel drive or all wheel drive version of the XT4. Our AWD version here recommends the use of premium fuel but can be run on regular in a pinch. Cadillac rates the XT4 fuel economy at 10.9 L/100km city and 8.2 L/100km highway for a combined rating of 9.7 L/100km. In a week of pure city driving with the A/C working overtime, I achieved 11.3 L/100km. Not far from the official ratings and not bad considering I was in Sport Mode around 70 per cent of my time behind the wheel.
All Cadillac XT4s come with Automatic Emergency Braking, Front and Rear Park Assist, Forward Collision Alert, Front Pedestrian Braking and Safety Seat Alert. If you want Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Lane Change Alert, you will need to select the Premium Luxury trim.
Pricing for the 2021 Cadillac XT4 starts at $36,098. Our tester this week is fitted with the Sport trim which includes a sport steering wheel, genuine wood or carbon fibre interior trim, red brake calipers, 18-inch alloy wheels with Diamond-Cut/Argent Metallic finish and gloss black trim that replaces chrome on the grill, roof rails and side window surround. Adding this trim pushes the price to $43,998. The Shadow Metallic paint adds another $900.
Want a panoramic sunroof and the upgraded Bose sound system? That Sun and Sound package will cost you $3,195. Need the programmable rear liftgate and ventilated leather seats with massage? The Comfort and Convenience package adds another $2,685. The Technology package for $1,595 will add an 8-inch color reconfigurable gauge cluster, heads-up display, cabin air ionizer and power telescoping steering wheel. These specific packages have been selected on this XT4 and push its price close to an eye popping $53,000.
When a luxury sport-utility vehicle is brought to market, it better be good. Being slightly nicer than a retail-grade vehicle is no longer good enough when consumers have so many options available right now. Comfort and ease of use are not selling points that get people talking. When you look at the Escalade and V- Series, you know that Cadillac is a company capable of bringing great products to market. The 2021 Cadillac XT4 Sport AWD lags behind the competition in technology, design, performance and value. Make this a mini Escalade next time around and Cadillac would have a contender.