First drive: 2018 Cadillac XT5 in the UAE
If you’re a connoisseur of crossovers, you may already know that the Cadillac XT5 debuted two years ago as a replacement for the SRX. What you didn’t know is that the XT5 is a bit smaller than the last-gen SRX in terms of length. And what may surprise you even more is that the XT5 is not really a compact SUV, despite what it may appear to be. It’s built on the GMC Acadia platform and shares an identical wheelbase. Overall, the XT5 is only a thumb shorter than the Jeep Grand Cherokee, a thumb longer than the Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class, and much bigger than actual compact crossovers like the Audi Q5 and the BMW X3, with which the Caddy competes with in price. We only noticed this once we finally got some seat time in a 2018 model.
While our GCC markets favour larger vehicles such as the Escalade when it comes to luxury, the XT5 is apparently the brand’s biggest seller in its home market, the United States, far surpassing their flagging sedan sales. It’s not the most drool-inducing offering in the entry-level luxury crossover segment in terms of looks, but it probably is one of the more value-packed ones.
Strictly a 5-seater, its overall outer size is hidden by a hatchback-style rear profile and sizeable 20-inch wheel options. It is still of a convenient-enough size to quickly park and easily traverse the trendiest parts of town.
Inside, material quality is better than most other crossovers at its price-point, with leather upholstery, alcantara lining the dash face, soft-touch surfaces going all the way down into the footwells, sliding leatherette-wrapped cover for the front cup-holders and padded panels on everything within arm’s reach. However, there are minor lapses, as the hard plastic panels below seat-bottom level feel hastily put-together, and you’d feel them every time you reach down to access the door pockets and the unique under-console storage space.
Cabin space is impressive, with very good front and even rear legroom compared to the cramped SRX. The rear seats can lean and fold flat. The boot is of a useful size, but decidedly in the compact class in terms of length and volume. It also comes with a handy cargo-divider and a compartment cover, aside from a power-operated tailgate.
After all the negative feedback received on Cadillac’s CUE infotainment system, GM has changed the setup to be more intuitive, while the “buttons” below it are easier to use without having to hunt for them too long. The whole setup collects a lot of fingerprints on the touchscreen and the piano-black button panel though.
Aside from that, the entire suite of expected luxury features is there, including power front seats with cooling, heads-up display, smart keyless entry and start, navigation, LED lighting, panoramic roof, etc.
Powered by GM’s ubiquitous 3.6-litre V6 making a solid 310 hp and 366 Nm of torque, it’s not the most modern of powertrains, but it is predictable in its power delivery, with more than enough kick, linear throttle response and unconfused gear-changes from the 8-speed automatic. Fuel consumption was at 12.3 litres/100 km (8.1 km/l) during our run around Dubai.
All-wheel-drive is standard for our market. There are selectable driving modes and such, including a sport mode, but they don’t make a massive difference in driving feel.
The ride is supple, among the smoothest we’ve experienced, and reasonably quiet too. The XT5 prefers to float over bumps rather than slam into them like the “sporty” German crossovers do.
This also translates to handling limits that are easy to explore, as the car linearly understeers when pushed too hard. Body roll is also obvious, but not enough to be particularly bothersome. The steering is well-weighted to be a comfortable daily-driver. The brake pedal feels meaty, while the stopping power is acceptable. It short, the XT5 is not remarkably entertaining to drive. However, it is perfectly tuned for its casual-driving target market, better than the likes of the poorly-tuned Alfa Romeo Stelvio and the oddly-disconnected Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class.
The Cadillac XT5 is not going to win any real awards for design or performance, but it is definitely aimed at a specific type of consumer who will appreciate exactly what this competitively-priced premium crossover is offering.
Photos by Mashfique Hussain Chowdhury.