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2020 Cadillac XT5 Review: Not Every Car Needs to Be a Porsche


March 12, 2020 Cars By Photo by Cadillac
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The XT5 may be Cadillac’s most important car. No, it’s not a market darling like the Escalade, and it’s not carrying quite as much water for the brand now that Cadillac has fleshed out its SUV lineup with the smaller XT4 and the larger three-row XT6. But it’s still the crossover that a significant plurality of Cadillac customers will end up buying.

For 2020, the XT5 is on the receiving end of a refresh, including a new 237-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder base engine (which I tested) and tweaks to the interior and tech.

The main problem for the XT5 is that the Porsche Macan, BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class and other competitors exist. Those other vehicles offer better driving dynamics and more luxurious accommodations for a similar price point. Cadillac was not going to make that gap up with a mere model refresh.

But the XT5 is still stylish — I received multiple comments about it — comfortable, and utterly pleasant. (And, unlike the brand’s upcoming EVs, it has a sensible name.) If your heart is set on a Cadillac crossover, it won’t disappoint.

The XT5 has a four-cylinder engine — and it’s worth reiterating that.

GM does not think customers want a four-cylinder engine in a truck or SUV. The company still uses them, mind you, but the carmaker tries to evade that point by not calling the engine what it is. Cadillac references the XT5’s base engine by calling it a 2.0-liter turbo engine, instead of just saying it’s a four-cylinder.

The confusion’s compounded by the new metric torque nomenclature. The four-pot puts out 258 lb-ft of torque, or 349 newton-meters. Round that up, and you wind up the 350T model. That designation will probably read to most as equivalent to either a 3.5-liter engine or 350 horsepower…which, to be fair, is probably the idea.

The XT5 is quite comfortable, as you’d expect from a Cadillac.

I drove the XT5 up to northern Michigan for a weekend family ski strip, and the drive was easily the most relaxing part of a family ski trip with a two-year-old. The four-pot can be somewhat noisy at low speeds, but it quieted down on the highway. The adaptive cruise control worked like a dream. Even without all-wheel-drive, my front-wheel-drive XT5 ate up the snowy/slushy/icy conditions eagerly…and that was before I realized the car had a special driving mode for that.

The XT5 interior doesn’t overwhelm you with opulence; like many of General Motors’s luxury cars, it feels like the same sort of interior as a mainstream product, just with slightly better material quality. That said, everything is laid out naturally and ergonomically. It’s easy to get in and out; the audio and cabin controls are intuitive, and my wife even had a heated rear seat when she sat back there with my son. It doesn’t bombard you with dozens buttons and complicated tech — like, say, a Yukon.

The XT5 is not that large.

Compact crossovers are the best-selling passenger vehicles on the market today because they’re practical. But the XT5 is tiny compared to mass-market best-sellers like the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Subaru Forester with cavernous cargo holds.

There were no troubles in everyday use, but when we started throwing luggage, a child seat and winter gear into the mix on a trip, space filled up quickly. When we added a fourth person, it didn’t work, period. I had to turn down relatives who wanted rides, as we couldn’t fit people and gear into the car simultaneously. Even if you stick to the statistical average of 1.9 children, I could see the appeal of leveling up to an XT6 for space reasons.

Price as Tested: $49,790
Drivetrain: Turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, nine-speed automatic, front-wheel-drive
Power: 237 hp, 258 lb-ft
Fuel Economy: 21 city, 28 highway
Seats: 5

Cadillac provided this product for review.

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Tyler Duffy

Tyler Duffy is Gear Patrol's Motoring Staff Writer. He used to write about sports for The Big Lead and The Athletic. He has a black belt in toddler wrangling. He's based outside Detroit.

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