The Cadillac XT5 crossover is all-new, from frame to name—except, of course, it doesn’t have a frame in the traditional body-on-frame—and except that while the name is new, the XT5 is a continuation of the mid-size Cadillac crossover formerly known as the Cadillac SRX.
The SRX, as a bit of history, had two generations, the first debuting in the 2004 model year, seating five but adding a third row in its second year (and unintentionally—and not our fault—crash-tested by us).
And the second, downsized and updated, running from the 2010 to 2016 model years, of which we’re reviewed several. While Cadillac will have a smaller crossover to compete with the BMW X3 and Audi Q3, the only other crossover or SUV in the Cadillac line is Escalade, which we reviewed have reviewed multiple times and years as well.
But as we said, the 2017 Cadillac XT5 is all new. It’s the first use of a new platform that it shares with the new seven-passenger 2017 GMC Acadia and will also see service under other GM crossovers, including the next generation Chevrolet Traverse and Buick Enclave.
Weight-saving techniques bring the new XT5 in at 278 pounds lighter, according to Cadillac, than the current SRX, and Cadillac boasts that the XT5 is 100 pounds lighter than the Audi Q5, which Audi claims benefits from intensive aluminum use. And that’s despite, as Cadillac notes, the XT5 being seven inches longer. Cadillac credits ultra high-strength steel, laser welding and engineer and “advanced analytics”—that’s engineers developing better computerized structural modeling—for adding lightness.
While bigger than the Q5, the 2016 Cadillac XT5 is marginally smaller overall than the outgoing SRX, but with an inch wider track and two-inch longer wheelbase, the XT5 gains interior space. Cargo space is almost identical, and like its predecessor, the XT5’s rear seatback folds to make a truly flat load floor when folded forward.
Cadillac designers tamed the edginess of the “Art & Science” theme, but it’s still a knockout shape. The XT5 turned heads like few vehicles we’ve driven lately. The XT5 maintains the vertical elements theme with LED lightpipes at the front corners, and the grilled is, um, imposing, dramatic, big, and combined with the lighting—the LED headlights on our Platinum-trim XTS, high on the front fascia—the 2017 XT5 is aggressive and clearly Cadillac .
The overlapping creases on the sides of the XT5 blend into taillights that are flat and wider than the SRX it replaces, and the rear window is not as radically pentagonal as its predecessor. It’s a tidy design at the rear but it looks like Cadillac used up its brashness quota on the front end.
The Cadillac XT5 shows growth in interior quality and design equal to any luxury make on the market. The leather is neatly fitted and stitched, accented by just the right amount of bright metal and wood trim. The instrument panel has a tech look, with real-needle speedometer and tachometer flanking a virtual panel of oil pressure, engine coolant temperature, fuel and ammeter, calibrated none the less, on the eight-inch gauge cluster of our Platinum-trim XT5. That won’t mean much to many buyers, other than it looks cool, and things like oil pressure and engine coolant temperature shouldn’t matter in a modern engine, but it’s there for extreme conditions—maximum towing through Death Valley, perhaps?
The leather clad front seats are wide but bolstered for support, the rear seats not so much. Rear legroom is shorter than a larger crossover, but Cadillac says legroom has increased by three inches over last year’s SRX, and there’s good toe room under the front seats and stadium seating—rear seat higher than the front.
The panoramic sunroof in our test 2017 Cadillac XT5 Premium gave the adults in the back seat a feeling of openness, and the passenger behind the driver also had a good view of the head-up display, including the speedometer. So put your mother-in-law on the right rear seat.
The top of the line Platinum offers a, well, more-than-premium experience, with Premium trim the next to top, just below our test XT5 Platinum. Standard equipment on the Platinum includes tri-zone automatic temperature, heated outboard rear seats, hands-free liftgate, micro-suede headliner and semi-aniline leather upholstery. Surround-view is also included, showing the drone’s-eye view around the XT5 along with the regular rearview camera. We like this. Small people around the vehicle? Surround-view will take them out of hiding.
The Platinum also has a rear-camera mirror. Instead of the usual mirror-type mirror, the XT5 Platinum has a second camera next to the regular rear-view camera for backing up which projects an image on the inside rearview mirror surface. It’s a technological wonder, but for bifocal wearers it takes some getting used to. The driver’s focus has to switch from distance, looking ahead down the road, to the “mirror” which is only a couple feet away, and distance vision is used for a conventional mirror. So, yeah, there’s that switching over issue.