You definitely won’t mistake the 2019 Cadillac XT5 for anything but a Cadillac. Outside, there’s the shield-like grille, cascading LED running lights and vestigial tailfins. Inside, the architectural mix of shapes, colors and textures contrasts sharply with the cabins of its European and Japanese competitors. If you want the Cadillac of compact SUVs, the XT5 will not disappoint.
And really, it’s this style and character that rate as the ways the XT5 stands out in the segment. Otherwise, it’s a rather mid-pack choice. In particular, its exterior size that straddles the line between compact and midsize SUVs doesn’t translate into the sort of interior space you’d expect given the higher price you pay relative those compact competitors. It’s just not that much bigger. Then there’s its 310-horsepower V6, which sounds impressive on paper in a segment filled with turbocharged 4-cylinders, but its resulting acceleration is merely average and its fuel economy below average.
These points aren’t to say that the XT5 is a bad choice. Far from it. We just bring up these practical considerations to counter the admittedly strong pull of this Cadillac’s distinctive character and urge plenty of comparison shopping.
What’s New for 2019?
There are only minor equipment updates for 2019. Most notable are safety features, as all but the base trim now includes forward-collision warning, low-speed automatic emergency braking and lane-keeping assist.
What We Like
Abundant standard infotainment tech; one of the biggest cargo areas in the segment; serenely quiet cabin; distinctive Cadillac style
What We Don’t
Lower fuel economy and performance than most competitors; panoramic sunroof significantly reduces headroom; pricey
Every 2019 Cadillac XT5 comes with a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 310 hp and 271 lb-ft of torque. It has a standard 8-speed automatic with an automatic stop/start system. Front-wheel drive (FWD) is standard and all-wheel drive (AWD) is optional. Fuel economy estimates by the Environmental Protection Agency stand at 19 miles per gallon city, 26 mpg highway and 22 mpg in combined driving with FWD. Each lowers by one mpg with AWD.
Standard Features & Options
The XT5 is offered in four trim levels: base XT5, Luxury, Premium Luxury and Platinum.
The base XT5 ($41,695) comes standard with 18-in wheels, automatic headlights, rear parking sensors, adjustable-height power liftgate, roof rails, proximity entry and keyless start, remote ignition, a backup camera, dual-zone automatic climate control, power front seats (8-way driver, 6-way passenger), 40/20/40-split back seats (folding, sliding, reclining), a power-adjustable steering wheel, simulated leather upholstery, OnStar emergency communications, 4G LTE Wi-Fi, four USB ports, an 8-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and an 8-speaker sound system with satellite radio and an auxiliary audio jack. Heated seats are included with all-wheel drive.
The Luxury ($48,495) adds forward-collision warning, low-speed automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, blind spot monitoring and a rear cross-traffic warning system, front and rear parking sensors, automatic wipers, a panoramic sunroof, auto-dimming interior and driver-side mirrors, driver memory settings, heated front seats, leather upholstery, a heated steering wheel, wireless smartphone charging and a cargo management system. Heated rear seats, tri-zone climate control, integrated navigation and a 14-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system can be bundled together. Opting for that bundle opens the door to optional LED headlights.
The Premium Luxury ($54,195) includes the above options plus 20-in wheels, an adaptive suspension, selectable driving modes and ventilated front seats. Its optional Driver Assist package includes adaptive cruise control, higher speed automatic emergency braking, reverse automatic braking and automatic parking assistance.
The Platinum ($65,695) includes the Driver Assist package and adds unique exterior trim, a hands-free liftgate, a head-up display, a surround-view parking camera, Cadillac’s rear camera mirror, a configurable gauge display, upgraded leather upholstery, leather-wrapped dash, a sueded microfiber headliner and the choice of unique interior colors. It is only available with all-wheel drive.
Each XT5 comes with airbags (driver and front-passenger, front and rear side-curtain and driver-knee), rear parking sensors, a backup camera and OnStar emergency communications (automatic accident notification, an SOS button and stolen vehicle locator). All but the base trim come standard for 2019 with forward-collision warning, low-speed forward automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, automatic high beams, blind spot monitoring, a rear cross-traffic warning system and the Safety Alert Seat that vibrates the driver seat in response to the above warning systems. Standard on Platinum and optional on Premium Luxury, the Driver Assist package adds higher-speed forward automatic braking, and reverse automatic braking.
Government crash test scores unusually differ by drivetrain, with the AWD XT5 getting a 5-star overall rating and the FWD model getting a 4-star one. The 4-star frontal and 5-star overall are the same with both drivetrains. The non-profit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the XT5 the best-possible ratings for crashworthiness and crash avoidance technologies. It missed out a Top Safety Pick award because of a Marginal headlight score.
Behind the Wheel
Cadillac has been quietly remaking its lineup with a new focus on the driver. Forget the soft and floaty, traditional, American luxury-car ride and meet the sharper, crisper handling of the new Cadillac. The XT5’s chassis, suspension and steering mate with the smooth V6 engine and smart 8-speed automatic transmission to deliver a driving experience that is much better than the old SRX. On top trim levels, selectable drive modes include an assertive Sport mode with stiff suspension settings, shift points that hold revs and sharper steering. Touring mode smooths out the ride and performance in a good way for road trips and highway drives. Unfortunately, those same top trim levels come with 20-in wheels that don’t get along well with pockmarked pavement. Seek out bumps on a test drive.
In the cabin, Cadillac’s designers and engineers have improved the look and build quality of the dash, doors, center console and seats compared to past Cadillacs. Is it as high-lux or meticulous as a Mercedes GLC, Audi Q5 or Volvo XC60? Probably not, but you may still prefer its style. The latest generation of Cadillac’s touchscreen interface works quite well, and although the screen is prone to fingerprints and glare, many should find it easier to use than rival interfaces.
Second-row passengers will be greeted with a generous amount of legroom and a seat that both slides and reclines. However, those of above-average height will find the panoramic sunroof standard on most trim levels robs them of precious headroom. It can be a bit confining back there, especially since visibility all around isn’t great (including for the driver).
Cargo capacity is among the best in the segment, especially with its seats-up number of 30 cu ft., since most competitors are in the 20s. With the seats lowered, space increases to 63 cu ft.
Other Cars to Consider
2019 Lexus RX — Given the XT5’s exterior size, V6 engine and heftier price, the midsize Lexus RX should be considered as well. Its finely crafted cabin is particularly impressive. You can also get an RX hybrid.
2019 Lincoln Nautilus — The SUV formerly known as MKX gets a new name and a makeover for 2019. It’s similarly sized, equipped and priced as the XT5 and, obviously, also hails from an American automaker.
2019 Acura RDX — The RDX’s size compares quite favorably to the XT5 and its complete redesign for 2019 yields a more stylish, dynamic and overall appealing SUV competitor. You also get more features for your money than in the XT5.
The base XT5 offers a tremendous amount of value for the money, especially given all its standard tech features you often have to pay extra for with competitors. As you move up the trim lineup, however, the XT5 gets awfully pricey, and that value proposition disappears. A nearly $66,000 XT5 Platinum, in particular, is questionable.