Driven: 2017 Cadillac XT5 Platinum AWD

Written by Lee Bailie on .

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I’ll be completely honest here – I had no idea the Cadillac SRX had been around since 2003 and was in its second generation when it finally left the lineup of GM’s luxury division at the end of the 2016 model year.

Caddy’s mid-size SUV, despite being a historically strong seller in both Canada and the U.S. (and the bestselling Cadillac in both countries by a wide margin in 2015), often appeared to be just sort of there year after year, soldiering on seemingly unchanged.

The second gen, for example, had been in the model lineup since the 2010 model year with little in the way of changes, aside from some engine juggling (the 2.8L turbo V6 was discontinued in 2011 and the 3.6L V6 replaced it in 2012), during its seven-year run.

All that said, it was time for a change, although at first blush the vehicle that replaces it – the 2017 XT5 – looks a lot like an updated version of the same vehicle.

That perception wouldn’t be accurate, however, as the XT5 is very much a new entry and not just a reskin of the SRX.

It could be argued, in fact, that the XT5 doesn’t share anything in common its predecessor aside from occupying the same mid-size crossover spot in Cadillac’s lineup.

To wit, the XT5 rides on a new platform (C1XX) that replaces the one that underpinned the SRX (Theta Premium), it wears new sheet metal and has a new powertrain.

On the engine front, the Chinese market gets a 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder, but for now, the only powerplant for North America is a 3.6L V6. Despite being the same displacement and having similar output numbers, it is not the same engine as the one from the SRX.

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The 3.6 in the XT5 is a new dual overhead cam (DOHC) unit which produces 310 horsepower and 271 lb-ft. of torque, versus the 308 / 265 split in the ’16 SRX. The XT5 variant also gets new technologies such as stop / start and active fuel management (AFM), both of which are designed to reduce emissions and improve fuel economy.

Like the SRX, the XT5 will be available in FWD and AWD, but will utilize a new transmission. The 6-speed Aisin unit from the SRX has been swapped out in favour of an 8-speed automatic that comes with electronic precision shift, which is the first electronically-controlled transmission shifter to be put into a Cadillac.

I'm used to it now, but found it to be completely befuddling when I first encountered it in the 2017 Buick LaCrosse a few months back- putting the car into reverse took a lot longer than it should have, but I digress. 

Like a lot of Cadillacs these days, the XT5 has a broad range of trims and the resulting price scale is quite wide. The base FWD XT5 carries an MSRP of $45,200, with the top-range AWD model (like my tester) checking in at $68,595.

Not to quibble too much here, but a $23,000 spread for what amounts to varying equipment levels without the benefit of a beefier powertrain might be a bit of a barrier for some consumers. It should be noted, however, that an AWD model can be had for a reasonable $52,120.

At any rate, I spent time recently behind the wheel of an XT5 Platinum AWD, which checked in at $71,875 including destination.

While the price might feel a bit high, Cadillac piles on a lot of content for the money.

There are too many to list here, but among the included features are 20-inch polished aluminum wheels, head-up display, tri-zone climate controls, illuminate sill plates and door handles, heated front and rear seats (front seats are also ventilated) and a Bose surround sound audio system.

These features are in addition to leather seating, navigation, Apple Car Play / Android Auto and GM’s 4G LTE Wi-Fi, which is available with OnStar.

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And that only scratches the surface – there’s a lot of car here.

Not surprisingly, all of this makes the XT5 a very comfortable, if not terribly exciting, car to drive.

My tester was finished in a tasteful crystal white tricoat ($575), with a tan interior. I’m not crazy about the fussy nature of Cadillac's CUE infotainment system, but the XT5 design team has done a fine job of finishing the car’s interior with an impressive combination of soft touch plastics, leathers and fabrics. The Alcantara insert in the dash felt especially pleasing to the touch, and gives the XT5’s interior a feeling of warmth.

And the CUE system works fine – its capacitive-touch nature does take a bit of getting used to, but I had little trouble navigating its menus and it wasn’t too distracting. I still think some redundant hard keys wouldn’t be a bad idea, as other carmakers have done with their touchscreen systems, but I’m not holding my breath.

On the road, the XT5 delivers a very comfortable, quiet and composed ride.

A driving mode selector button on the centre console toggles between Tour, AWD and Sport, but I left it in Tour for most of my time with the test vehicle – it just doesn’t make a big difference, at least on dry roads. The Sport mode bumps the revs up and sharpens throttle response slightly, but less so than other systems. And that’s fine – the XT5 isn’t an M or an AMG, nor does it pretend to be. Most of the time, the default (Tour) setting is just fine.

Same could be said of the 3.6L V6 – it gets the job done, but its performance doesn’t exude much excitement. Its character is one of solid proficiency rather than lusty power – put simply, it doesn’t quicken one’s pulse.

These qualms are minor, however. The XT5 is a handsomely styled, well-equipped and smooth-riding vehicle with plenty of interior space, and you needn’t spend $70,000-plus to get AWD and slew of other goodies – the mid-range trims are the real sweet spot in the lineup.

Lots to like here, in other words, and it would seem consumers agree. Through the end of November, it’s the second-best selling Cadillac in the U.S., and isn’t far behind the top-ranked Escalade.

It appears the SRX legacy of sales success will live on in the XT5.

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SPECIFICATIONS2017 Cadillac XT5 Platinum AWD

BASE PRICE / AS TESTED: $68,595 / $71,875 (incl. $1,950 destination)
ENGINE:
3.6L V6
HORSEPOWER:
310 hp @ 6,600 rpm
TORQUE: 
271 lb-ft. @ 5,000 rpm
CURB WEIGHT:
1,976 kg
CONFIGURATION:
front engine, all-wheel drive
TRANSMISSION: 8-speed automatic
FUEL ECONOMY RATINGS (L/100 KM - CITY / HWY. / COMB.):
12.9 / 8.9 / 11.1
WARRANTY (MOS. / KM):
48 / 80,000
ALTERNATIVES:
BMW X4 M40i, Infiniti QX70, Lexus RX, Mercedes-Benz GLE

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Photography by Lee Bailie

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