2017 Cadillac XT5: Lofty Ambitions

Strong points
  • Firm steering
  • Great look
  • Efficient automatic gearbox
  • Decoupling all-wheel drive
Weak points
  • Barely sufficient power
  • Stubborn electronic gear selector
  • Limited rear headroom
  • Rearview mirror HD screen on the Platinum version only
Full report

The new 2017 XT5 is arriving at Cadillac dealerships to replace the SRX, at a time when the commercial success of General Motors’ luxury brand is, to a large extent, due to its SUVs, with the Escalade leading the way. The XT5 has the dual mission of retaining the brand’s traditional buyers, who were already won over by the SRX, and to help Cadillac attract new clients by competing directly with European and Japanese vehicles in the very competitive luxury SUV segment.

The XT5 is built on a new platform, shared with the 2017 GMC Acadia, and its lineup is made up of front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive versions – hence the significant difference in price between the FWD basic version at $45,100 and the AWD fully loaded Platinum version, which goes for $68,595.

310 horsepower? Really?

All XT5s will be powered by a new 3.6-litre V6 with variable valve timing, a cylinder deactivation system that helps go from six to four cylinders at cruising speed and an automatic stop/start system. It has 310 horsepower and a maximum torque rating of 271 lb.-ft., but you won’t really feel all that power at work when you’re driving the XT5. Its acceleration and pick up are okay, but nothing more than that.

The eight-speed automatic gearbox does an admirable job in normal conditions, but once you put the pedal to the metal, you have to wait for the transmission to downshift several gears before you feel a sustained boost forward. The all-wheel-drive versions can switch to front-wheel drive at the push of a button on the central console—a move that improves fuel consumption when optimal actuation isn’t necessary.

Speaking of the gearbox, note that the 2017 Cadillac XT5 is the first of the brand’s vehicles to adopt an electronic gear selector like that of BMW. No problem when going from “Park” to “Drive,” but selecting reverse means moving the shifter forward and to the left, which requires a some getting used to. It can end up being frustrating when you want to move quickly.

All versions of the XT5 are equipped with a backup camera whose images are projected on the infotainment system’s screen. In the Platinum version, this camera is paired with an ingenious device that transforms the rearview mirror into a colour screen, reproducing the image captured in wide angle by the backup camera, in turn giving you much wider vision in back.

Another interesting feature is that this system doesn’t only work when you’re driving in reverse: it can also be activated when going forward. Since the image reproduced in the rearview mirror is captured by the backup camera, you can eliminate all obstacles to the field of vision of a conventional central rearview, such as the rear headrests, for example. It’s simple and very efficient. Too bad, however, that this accessory is only available with the Platinum—the high-end version in the lineup.

On the road, the 2017 Cadillac XT5’s body feels more rigid than that of the SRX, which improves the handling. It’s connected to the ground via a ZF-developed real-time damping suspension that’s configurable in three modes and paired with large-diameter roll bars.

Body movements are generally well controlled and the XT5 proves skilled at hugging the road, but it’s clearly not as much fun to drive as a BMW X3 or Porsche Macan. It’s very comfortable and the soundproofing is excellent.

The XT5’s cabin plays the luxury card to the max with quality materials like leather, suede and carbon fibre. The OnStar 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto take care of connectivity. The rear bench slides, reclines and can be divided in 40/20/40 sections, but since the bench seat is very high, adults that are 5’10” or taller will find it lacking headroom.

The 2017 Cadillac XT5 certainly has its fair share of virtues to succeed in its mission of widening its pool of potential buyers. Having said that, it doesn’t have the same charm as the German brands, isn’t as much fun to drive and the performance isn’t exactly exhilarating. It’s not all bad though. After all, the XT5 is far superior to the SRX, without being the category’s new shooting star. The job was done thoroughly, but there’s no spark of genius.

Share on Facebook

More on the subject

Spotlight onThis Week, We’re Testing the New 2017 Cadillac XT5
Cadillac is picking up some serious momentum. If you take a minute to consider how far the brand has come in the past 10 years, you’ll realize the extent to which it has been transformed with performance products, including the CTS-V, whose first generations are sure to go down in …
First Drives2017 Cadillac XT5: A Surprising Drive
Cadillac is undergoing quite the transformation. After spending the last few years introducing products on par with the European brands, now Cadillac has set its sights on conquering the world. To reach this goal, the brand intends to introduce several new models over the next few years to complete its …
New Models2017 Cadillac XT5: a Turbo Engine in the Works
The Cadillac XT5 that’s currently on its way to Canadian dealers is powered by a 3.6-litre V6 with 310 horsepower. The ATS and CTS have the same engine, but the models sold in China are getting a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo that pumps out 258 horsepower and delivers more torque for …
BlogA Cadillac XT5 Vsport in the Works?
If you like your SUVs high-powered and sporty, you will be happy to learn that in the next years, we might see a more powerful version of the Cadillac XT5 crossover. During the 2017 GMC Acadia media launch, a discussion with a General Motors employee hinted me toward this new …
NewsBOOK by Cadillac, a New Car Ownership Experience
For quite a while now, there have been three main ways to own or possess a vehicle. We can pay cash, finance our purchase with a loan, or lease a vehicle for a determined period of time. Luxury brand Cadillac is trying something new in the United States. With a …
Test Drives2018 Cadillac XT5: "Pretty Good" Doesn't Cut it
Here’s the thing: the compact luxury SUV segment has quickly gone from relative obscurity to absolute necessity in just a few years. And carmakers from Germany, Japan and even Italy have all rapidly responded with solid new offerings. In this field, where high-income families take the time to carefully cherry-pick …