2017 Cadillac XT5 First Review

By Allyson Harwood on March 10, 2016 10:00 AM

The Cadillac SRX was one of the elder statesmen in the compact luxury SUV segment, and was badly overdue for an update or replacement. That could've been a daunting task, as it was Cadillac's best-selling vehicle and the second-best seller in the compact luxury SUV segment after the Lexus RX. However, the crossover replacing the SRX, the 2017 XT5, is roomier, quieter, more fuel-efficient, more powerful and more luxurious. While the XT5's exterior styling is more evolutionary, with a strong family resemblance to the SRX, the biggest differences are inside.

New Levels of Luxury

Getting behind the wheel, we immediately appreciated the difference between the XT5 and the SRX interior. The quality of the materials in the XT5 is impressive: the leather is pleasantly soft, the stitching on the dash and doors is actual stitching. Accents that look like wood and aluminum are the real thing. The layout is clean and fresh, and while we drove XT5s with two different interior color schemes, the one that really stood out was in the Platinum model, with tan micro suede on the headliner and pillars, matching leather on the top of the dash and seats, more micro suede surrounding the CUE connectivity screen, warm brown wood, aluminum accents and black contrast finishing off the look.

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Starting up the XT5, there's something noticeable by its absence: noise. Sure, you can hear the engine, but the cabin is so much quieter than the SRX. It's easy to have a conversation with your voice at normal levels -- or even speaking with hushed tones. The interior ensures you and your friends are isolated from the sounds of the road, without being completely detached from the environment. The XT5 offers plenty of tech options, including a head-up display, an updated version of CUE that is now easier to use, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. One of the coolest bits of tech, though, is the Rear Camera Mirror. This feature uses a camera on the rear of the XT5 and projects it to fill the rear-view mirror. You have a better view of everything behind you, without your field of vision blocked by rear- seat headrests. Visibility is dramatically improved with the camera turned on, but if you prefer the traditional view, you can turn it off.

Air and Space

While the overall dimensions of the XT5 are similar to those of the SRX, the XT5's platform is all new, its wheels pushed closer to the corners on a 2-inch longer wheelbase. These changes make more space inside. Because of that, there's now more rear-seat legroom, three inches more than the SRX and 1.5 inches more than the impressively roomy RX. The XT5's second row is commodious -- there may have been enough room to squeeze in a tiny third row, but we appreciate the roominess afforded by keeping this a 2-row configuration.

The XT5 also has more cargo volume than the SRX and the RX, whether the second row is up or folded flat. You can fold down the 40/20/40 second row however you like, including creating a pass-through for narrow gear such as skis.

Weight Loss is Your Gain

The all-new platform is a big part of the reason the new XT5 weighs nearly 300 pounds less than the SRX. The strategic use of high-strength steel ensures that the new crossover weighs less yet is stronger than before and performs better in crash tests.

The combination of weight loss and increased rigidity made the XT5 much more fun to drive on curving roads than the SRX was; putting it in Sport mode delays transmission shifts, changes the steering effort, biases torque to the rear in our all-wheel-drive tester and modifies the suspension calibration. One thing Sport mode doesn’t do is defeat the auto stop/start feature. This crossover's stop/start isn’t bad, but it would be nice if the driver had the option to shut it off.

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The XT5's ride is comfortable, yet this Cadillac feels confident and well-planted when driving semi-rationally in twists and turns. The rack-mounted electric power steering is more communicative than expected, and provides decent feedback. The XT5 isn't a sports car, but you can certainly have fun in it.

This lighter, tauter SUV is powered by a new 3.6-liter, 310-horsepower V6, the same engine as in the ATS and CTS, with an 8-speed automatic transmission. Even though this is a more powerful engine than the one that was in the SRX, the new 3.6-liter felt as if it were being held back by a good transmission programmed calibrated for fuel economy. It took hard throttle-mashing to get the transmission to downshift. The XT5 is by no means slow, and it certainly has ample power, but its off-the-line acceleration isn't quick. The upside is that the use of cylinder deactivation, variable valve timing, the new 8-speed, a lighter structure and auto stop/start give the XT5 excellent fuel economy: 19 mpg in the city, 27 on the highway (front-wheel drive) and 18/26 (AWD).

Decisions, Decisions

The XT5 has a lot more to offer at a starting price that's within $400 of the price of the SRX. The SRX is no longer being produced, but you may still find some side by side with the XT5 at a Cadillac dealership. They may offer you a tempting deal on the old model, but for less than $39,000 to start, the XT5 awaits. If you're looking for a crossover that's closer to a sports car, you may want to consider a Porsche Macan or BMW X3. However, if the Lexus RX or Lincoln MKX resonate with you, the Cadillac XT5 is worth a look.


 

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