With some reserve, I slipped behind the wheel of the all-new Cadillac XT5 with my roadie partner for a drive of this brand new Cadillac along with interior designer Phil Kucera sitting in the rear seat. Our reserve was not from having a Cadillac internal riding with, nor was it because we were concerned about the drive. We were wondering if the 2017 XT5 was going to meet the glowing comments from our presenters or were we going to be disappointed?
The previous evening, Kucera gave an informative presentation of how the exterior and interior design came to fruition. Under the warming “magic hour” of the evening sunset the design cues and highlights leaped from the XT5’s surface. Clever of them to use this magical natural lighting to highlight the exterior styling as I, like so many other professional photographers, have used to make vehicles pop in our photos.
I jumped behind the wheel so quickly my drive partner lost his chance to even think of reaching for the door. I was excited to see just how improved the XT5 was over the outgoing SRX it replaces. The feel of the seat and the grip of the steering wheel was a pleasant indication of what was in store for us over the next six-plus hours. Get a quick glimpse at our video of our drive, we joke, carry-on and have lots of fun, so don’t be offended.
There were three basic objectives as Cadillac set out to build the XT5. It must be distinctive, it must have the sophistication of Cadillac and it must be agile. Three factors that can be hard to achieve with a luxury crossover vehicle.
The exterior design certainly hit its mark as the XT5 is unquestionably distinctive as truly Cadillac can be. Retaining the vertical light theme at both the front and rear, long LED lighting defines the outside edges of the XT5. With the wide and low stance of the body these lighting treatments help lend an aggressive yet elegant appearance.
Though it has a mid-size body the XT5 is quite sleek and carries styling highlights from the hood to the rear deck that give the design flow. It is as if the XT5 is moving while parked. Even with the sleekness, the door apertures, particularly for driver and front passenger, allow for easy entering and exiting of the passenger compartment. I am over six feet and large frame (I was a fullback in college) and getting into and out other crossover vehicles employs a bit of contortion and usually I hit my head or leave my foot in the vehicle as I jump around on one leg trying not to fall down. No problem with the XT5.
Hitting the freeways of Southern California we gave the XT5 a good run keeping up with the non-rush hour traffic traveling 70-80-90 miles per hour at times. Both my riding companion and I were taken back by how quiet the XT5 was even at these speeds. Designer Phil was riding in the rear seat and we were carrying on a normal conversation with no problem. This is an element of the sophistication that complements the comfortable cabin. The front bucket seats are just the right combination of sport and luxury to keep you comfortable yet keep you firmly planted during sporty driving mountain roads. The second row seating is a 20-40-20 split offering up plenty of possibilities for transporting items such as skis, golf bags even 2X4s if the need arises.
An updated CUE infotainment system offers up more than the usual connectivity to keep you and your passengers linked to the stratosphere or the latest entertainment. Electronic shifting allowed interior designers to add a storage area under the shifter where normally a mechanical shift mechanism would take up space. More storage is always a good thing.
Safety is always on the top of a manufacturer’s list and along with buyers’ desires to have more systems incorporated into a vehicle of this caliber, Cadillac obliged. The use of ultra-high strength steel has given the engineers the ability to lighten the XT5 more than 290 pounds over the outgoing SRX. The ability to lose nearly 300 lbs of mass weight has a myriad of advantages, not the least of which is improving performance and fuel economy. Driver assist safety includes adaptive cruise control, auto front braking, automatic collision braking, forward collision alert and lane assist.
The new 3.6-liter V-6 gasoline engine is nothing like the outgoing power plant. In fact, Global Crossover Product Manager, Jim Hunter told us that the only thing the two engines had in common was the 3.6 designation although the new engine has refined features. This V-6 produces 310 horsepower and 271 lb-ft. of torque transferring power to the road via an 8-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission. Stop/Start and active fuel management help in getting the XT5 to reach as much as 19 city and 27 highway for front-wheel drive and just 1 mpg lower for the all-wheel drive. Jim Hunter explains more about the XT5 engine on our video.
A new all-wheel drive unit incorporating a twin clutch system gets the power to the wheels with traction, making driving in inclement weather more sure footed. The XT5 all-wheel drive system also makes driving under normal conditions safer by using all four wheels putting power to the road when needed. Larry Mihaiko, Cadillac Vehicle Performance Manager explained how this two-clutch system worked differently than other systems. To see Mihaiko’s explanation go to our video.
A new generation of CDC4 real time damping suspension not only provides luxurious ride isolation, it further heightens the sporting drive. On the freeway the XT5 soaked up the expansion joints and surface imperfections while keeping the body roll to a minimum and allowing us to execute fast, tight corners on the mountain passes.
We were impressed by the performance, luxury and quality of the entire package making up the 2017 Cadillac XT5. Designers and engineers took their task serious and gave us a new Cadillac that will delight buyers at every turn. No disappointment here.