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One Week With the 2020 Cadillac XT5: Improved, But Is it Enough?


Despite being on the market for more than four years, the Cadillac XT5 continues to be a popular model for the brand. The XT5 was actually the best-selling Cadillac last year, and the luxury brand gave it a midcycle upgrade to keep it at the top of its list. The 2020 Cadillac XT5 adds a new engine, refreshed exterior, and a revised center console, and Caddy hopes these upgrades will be enough for its SUV to fight in the fiercest segment of the luxury world. Spoiler alert: They won’t.

For the 2020 model, the XT5 is moving to Cadillac’s global “Y” trim strategy, which means three versions are available—Luxury, Premium Luxury, and Sport. We had a chance to drive the Premium Luxury with the new 2.0-liter engine mated to a nine-speed transmission, and although its ride is solid, its $64,490 as-tested price tag had us in disbelief.

2020 Cadillac XT5: Updated Interior

Enter the Premium Luxury XT5. You’ll notice massive amounts of brown-hued carbon-fiber trim on the door panels, steering wheel, and dashboard. The trim looks premium, but a dizzying array of materials on the upper part of the door panel distract from it. By my count, there were at least eight different materials—from various kinds of leather (soft and hard) to distinctive types of brushed aluminum trims and suede; the design is simply too busy. We’re fans of the carbon-fiber trim and would prefer if designers limited their material choices. “The more the merrier” doesn’t necessarily work when it comes to interior design.

The 8.0-inch touchscreen is nicely integrated into the dash, and it can also be controlled using a knob behind the shifter. We applaud GM for its easy to use infotainment system. The newest version of the CUE system adds modern graphics and a user-friendly interface. The system loads quickly and responds as fast as your iPhone. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, and so is a Bose premium eight-speaker audio system. Our model, however, was equipped with the optional 14-speaker Bose Performance Series, which adds $1,025 to the price and includes navigation. Given how crisp the system sounds, we think that’s money well spent.

Also new for 2020 are a couple of USB Type C ports in the Cadillac XT5 (one in the center console and one for back-seat passengers), bringing the total number of ports to four. If that’s not enough, a new wireless charger is said to have a faster charging rate than the one found in the 2019 model.

At first glance, the cabin seems premium, but look below the waistline and you’ll find hard plastics everywhere. Cadillac’s German rivals don’t have the same obvious cost-cutting issues. The center console has soft-touch surfaces, but draw your hand toward the hidden compartment under the shifter, and you’ll feel a decrease in material quality. The same story applies to the door panels, where Cadillac designers forgot to pay attention to anything below the armrests.



















One place Caddy did pay attention to is the back seat. Rear-seat passengers get their own air vents, A/C zone, and heated seats as part of the $1,200 Comfort and Air Quality package. The seating area is expansive, with enough headroom and legroom for my 6-foot frame. The floor is almost flat, so even the person sitting in the middle has decent legroom, but headroom is restricted here thanks to the middle seat being a few inches higher than those on the corners. The difference is such that my head was touching the headliner—even when the back seats were reclined to the furthermost position (which seems like it’s just a couple of degrees). The experience in the back seat improves when the panoramic sunroof is open, making the cabin feel airy.

2020 Cadillac XT5: The Power

The new 2.0-liter turbo-four engine produces 237 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. In our Premium Luxury model, the nine-speed transmission sent all that power to the front wheels; if you need all-wheel drive, you’ll have to spend $2,000 extra. The turbo engine is a nice addition to the lineup. Prior to the 2020 refresh, the XT5 was only available with a 3.6-liter naturally aspirated V-6, producing 310 hp and 271 lb-ft. That engine is available in the Premium Luxury trim as a $1,000 option, and it comes standard on the Sport trim.

The 2.0-liter behaves well in the XT5. Although it doesn’t feel particularly sporty, it delivers power in a decent manner. The nine-speed shifts swiftly, though it always hunts for the highest gear in order to deliver better fuel economy. Downshifting, however, takes some time—you really have to press the throttle down for the tranny to respond.

The steering feels soft, but it’s well balanced, and the suspension tackles road imperfections with minimal vibrations in the cabin. Around the city, the XT5 feels refined, but push it hard on the corners, and its low body roll and sharp handling will surprise you.

Drive the XT5, and its quietness will stand out. Cadillac really focused on making the cabin as serene as possible, and it delivered. Whether you’re driving on the highway or simply cruising down the road, little wind or tire noise makes it into the cabin.

2020 Cadillac XT5: Value

Value is the XT5’s weakest point. With a starting price just shy of $50,000, our Premium Luxury tester was already pricey. And when you take into account the eye-watering $14,700 of options, nothing was stopping us from weeping. The front-drive 2020 Cadillac XT5 we drove crossed the check-out counter at $64,490. For that sum there are better—way better—options in the segment. The Volvo XC60, Lincoln Corsair, Acura RDX, and Audi Q5 offer enhanced driving dynamics, improved materials, and superior designs. They’re cheaper and newer, to boot.

Part of the problem is how expensive the packages are. The Platinum package, for example, adds $4,850 to the price and includes a suede headliner, premium floor mats (whatever that means), real-time damping performance suspension (which is good), illuminated door sills, and a sea of leather on the most visible parts of the cabin. The suspension is a good upgrade, but it’s not worth almost $5,000. Cadillac also charges $1,300 for a Driver Assist package that includes adaptive cruise control, enhanced automatic emergency braking, reverse automatic braking, and automatic seat belt tightening. Charging for adaptive cruise control in a luxury vehicle these days seems like a bit too much, especially when it’s standard in a Honda Civic.















2020 Cadillac XT5: Should I Buy It?

In the ultra-competitive segment of compact luxury SUVs, the XT5 needs to do more in order to get the eyeballs. It has handsome looks and great technology, but there’s plenty of room for improvement. As far as midcycle updates go, this is a pretty heavy one, but the 2020 XT5 needs more than that to stand out.

2020 Cadillac XT5 (Premium Luxury)
BASE PRICE $49,790
LAYOUT Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV
ENGINE 2.0L/237-hp/258-lb-ft turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4
TRANSMISSION 9-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT 3,950 lb (mfr)
WHEELBASE 112.5 in
L x W x H 189.6 x 75.0 x 66.1 in
0-60 MPH 7.5 sec (MT est)
EPA FUEL ECON 21/28/24 mpg
ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY/HWY 160/120 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.82 lb/mile
ON SALE Currently
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