Last week I made my way to Dana Point, which despite being just 66.9 miles from my apartment in Venice, took me nine hours to do. The details of my arduous travel day are inconsequential, all that you really need to know is that I went above, and beyond to get there so that I could drive the 2017 Cadillac XT5.
Why? Because when Cadillac offers to put you up at the St.Regis at Monarch Beach, you make that shit work.
Even now, the question that still looms large in my mind with this, and every other new Cadillac product for that matter, is one of long term quality. Are these new Caddys in it for the long haul, or will their interiors fall apart just after the end of the warranty? Will they still diligently haul you, and your crap with a decade of harsh winters under their belt?
There’s just no way of knowing. It’s a high stakes bet to purchase one of these vehicles, and in my humble opinion, I think gambling is dumb. Do I enjoy the clackity clack of a pill on a roulette wheel, or throwing some bones? Damn right I do, but both of those are less of a gamble than buying an XT5, or hell, any luxury crossover.
This is a vehicle you lease, plain and simple. You load the damn thing up with options, push that payment all the way up to the outer limits of what your bank account can handle, and pull the trigger.
Thou shalt keep up with the Joneses!
Playing it safe with the XT5 won’t get you anywhere, only the top of the line Platinum trim is worth your while. If you can’t afford to throw $60k at a midsize crossover, look at a different vehicle. Sure, that’s an aggressive statement, but once you’ve been inside the Platinum XT5, and then those trims below it, you’ll understand why I’m comfortable making it.
Only in Platinum spec does the interior feel like anything remotely special. There are excellent design touches throughout the vehicle, the expansive dash, the mod-malaise era steering wheel, the elegant trim inserts in the doors, all of that goes away when you ‘opt out of the Platinum.
The Premium Luxury model that Collins, and I drove was awash in black plastic and brushed aluminum. Nothing about it said premium, or luxury, it just felt cold, and un-inspired. You can read much more about all of this in Collins’ article which covers all kinds of nitty gritty details, which yours truly can’t begin to comprehend.
One thing I cannot stress enough is just how much better the XT5 is than the outgoing SRX. I was able to get Cadillac to loan me a 2016 SRX a few weeks before the XT5 drive, and the difference between the two is like single ply vs. Quilted Northern Ultra Plush.
The XT5 is lighter, more fuel efficient, better damped, and has a new 8 speed transmission. Does all that add up to being more enjoyable to drive? Eh, not really, and that’s a bummer because every other Cadillac is a hoot, even the Escalade in its own way.
Those of you hoping for a tightly wound luxury crossover to do battle with an X3 or Q5 will be disappointed. The new 8 speed transmission does an OK job of making the most of the 310hp produced by the 3.6L V6. However, to reach that staggering number, you’ll need rev all the way up to 6600 rpm, and peak torque is just 271 lb-ft @5000 rpm.
Ideally the XT5 would have the same tune as the CTS 3.6 4 that I drove back in December. With 335hp and 286 lb-ft, the CTS felt plenty powerful, even though it weighs in at 4030 lbs. The lightest XT5 comes in at 3985 lbs in base spec, and 4356 lbs in Platinum spec.
Of course I would say it needs more oomph, but you know who won’t? The people that go out, and get one. SRX buyers were fine with the many flaws of that vehicle, so there’s no doubt in my mind that they’ll find the XT5 to be a major upgrade.
As for myself, I’m holding out hope that Cadillac will produce a V or V-Sport model to compete with the SQ5, and GLC AMG Sport. The simple addition of the twin-turbo V6 from the CTS V-Sport, and GM’s magnetic ride suspension would be a recipe for success with the rapidly growing “enthusaist with a family crowd”.
We’ll just have to wait and see what Cadillac chooses to do, continue with their quest to conquest long time import buyers, and go forward with trying to attract the “youths”, or be content with building a crossover for mom-agers that’ll look right at home in the driveway of any McMansion.
Should they choose to do the latter, it wouldn’t be the worst decision, they’re going to move a ton of these regardless of its shortcomings. I’m just rooting for Cadillac because I want America to have a luxury brand that can go toe to toe with anyone, in any segment.
For now, I can’t imagine going for an XT5 Platinum over an SQ5 ($60,800 for a Prestige model), and certainly not the upcoming entry level Macan which will start at $48,550. Yes, that’s correct, you will be able to(theoretically) get a brand new Porsche in the U.S.A. for under $50k. What glorious times we live in eh?