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2021 Cadillac XT5 Review


The 2021 Cadillac XT5 luxury crossover doesn’t recognize boundaries. Although it quite naturally fits between the small Cadillac XT4 and the midsize 3-row XT6, the XT5 is larger than a typical compact crossover. This translates to excellent occupant and cargo space, with power and pricing more in line with smaller rivals. 

Adding to its appeal are smart designs inside and out, along with a choice of engines. One being an efficient turbocharged 4-cylinder unit, the other a gutsy V6.

Because the 5-seater XT5 occupies a vague middle ground between a compact crossover and a midsize, however, it makes comparison tricky. It would be a smart call to do some research based on budget and hauling requirements.

What’s New for 2021?

Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration is now wireless. And standard. Sport gains a new 20-inch alloy wheel design as an option. New paint choices are Wilder Metallic, Dark Moon Blue Metallic, and Infrared Tintcoat. See 2021 Cadillac XT5 models for sale near you

What We Like

  • Abundant standard infotainment tech
  • Huge cargo area
  • Quiet cabin
  • Distinctive Cadillac style

What We Don’t

  • Panoramic sunroof reduces headroom
  • Limited rearward vision

How Much?

$44,990–$56,090

Fuel Economy

The two lower 2021 XT5 trims have a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine developing 237 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. Front-wheel drive (FWD) is standard; all-wheel drive (AWD) is optional.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates fuel economy at 22 miles per gallon in the city, 29 mpg on the highway, and 24 mpg in combined driving (FWD) or 21 mpg city/27 mpg hwy/23 mpg combined (AWD).

A 3.6-liter V6 is standard in the range-topping Sport trim and optional in the Premium Luxury version. This engine produces 310 hp and 271 lb-ft of torque. Sport trim has its own dual-clutch all-wheel-drive system as standard, but the Premium Luxury/V6 combination starts out with front-wheel drive.

The EPA puts fuel consumption at 19 mpg city/26 mpg hwy/21 mpg combined (FWD) or 18 mpg city/26 mpg hwy/21 mpg combined (AWD).

Both engines link to a 9-speed automatic transmission. And both have an engine stop/restart function to save a little fuel while idling.

Standard Features and Options

The XT5 comes in Luxury, Premium Luxury and Sport trim levels. Vehicle prices include a $995 destination charge. Where it’s optional, all-wheel drive is $2,000. Swapping the V6 into the Premium Luxury version’s engine bay costs $1,000. 

Luxury ($44,990) has 18-in alloy wheels, automatic on/off LED headlights with automatic high beams, LED daytime running lights/taillights, heated side mirrors, roof rails, remote start, keyless entry/ignition, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather-wrapped steering wheel, simulated leather upholstery, heated/power-adjustable front seats (6-way for the driver, 4-way for the passenger), Safety Alert Seat (driver’s side), rear seat reminder alert, electronic parking brake, universal garage door opener, powered lift gate with programmable height settings, forward collision warning with pedestrian detection and low-speed automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assistance/lane departure warning, front/rear parking sensors, selectable driving modes, programmable Teen Driver key, 60/40 split/fold second-row seats, Cadillac User Experience (CUE) infotainment system with 8-in touchscreen and rotary controller, wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration, satellite radio, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth connectivity, voice control, two USB-A ports, two USB-C ports, OnStar connectivity, and an 8-speaker Bose audio system.

Premium Luxury ($49,790) adds rain-sensing wipers, powered panoramic sunroof, heated/power-adjustable steering wheel, drivers-side memory settings, 2-way powered lumbar-adjustment for the front seats, leather seating surface, wireless charging, cargo management system, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.

A Driver Assist package ($1,300) for Premium Luxury trim consists of adaptive cruise control, automatic seat belt tightening, enhanced automatic emergency braking and reverse automatic braking.

Sport ($56,090) brings the V6 engine and model-specific all-wheel-drive system, plus a sport-tuned adaptive suspension, 20-in alloy wheels, and the features in the Driver Assist package.

The top two trims are eligible for several options. Navigation and a 14-speaker Bose audio system costs $1,025. A Platinum Package ($4,850 Premium Luxury; $3,650 Sport) includes tri-zone automatic climate control, semi-aniline leather upholstery, simulated suede headliner, Chassis Damping Control (standard in Sport trim), performance suspension (standard in Sport trim), and a choice of two interior treatments.

The Enhanced Visibility and Technology package ($2,275) features an 8-inch driver information display, a head-up display, 360-degree camera system, rearview camera mirror, rear camera washer, rear pedestrian alert, and parking assistance with automatic braking.

Night Vision ($2,000) employs infrared technology to detect pedestrians, cyclists, and large animals just beyond the headlights’ illumination.

All 2021 XT5 trims can be ordered with a DVD-based rear-seat entertainment system including twin 8-in screens, remote control, and two sets of wireless headphones.

Safety

Every XT5 comes with airbags (driver and front passenger, front/rear side-curtain, and one for the driver’s knees), front/rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, and OnStar emergency communications (automatic accident notification, SOS button, and stolen vehicle location).

All versions also come standard with forward collision warning with low-speed automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assistance, automatic high beams and the Safety Alert Seat that vibrates the driver’s seat in response to these warning systems.

Blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert is standard in Premium Luxury and Sport trims, but not available in the entry-level Luxury trim. The optional Driver Assist Package adds higher-speed forward automatic braking, adaptive cruise control and reverse automatic braking.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave both front-drive and all-wheel-drive versions of the Cadillac XT5 a maximum overall score of five stars out of five. Front and side-impact protection took five stars apiece and the rollover test earned four stars.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the XT5 top marks in crashworthiness and crash avoidance categories. The headlights took a second-from-bottom score and the user-friendliness of the LATCH child seat anchors was deemed acceptable.

Behind the Wheel

The XT5’s suspension and steering combine with refined engines and an efficient 9-speed automatic transmission to deliver a driving experience that’s sharp and crisp without jarring. Although the Sport trim’s 20-in wheel/tire package can be a bit harsh over rough surfaces.

The cabin isn’t quite as plush or finely detailed as an Audi, Mercedes-Benz or Volvo. But the look and build of the dash, doors, center console, and seats are way up in quality compared with past Cadillacs.

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 systems.

Second-row passengers have a generous amount of legroom and a seat that slides and reclines. However, those of above-average height will find the panoramic sunroof (standard in the two top trims) compromises headroom. It can be a bit confining back there, especially since all-around vision isn’t great (including for the driver). A good reason to consider the Premium Luxury trim for its blind-spot monitoring.

Cargo capacity is among the best in the class (assuming we’re talking compact crossovers), especially with a seats-up figure of 30 cu ft. Most competitors are in the 20s. With the seats lowered, space increases to 63 cu ft.

Other Cars to Consider

2021 Lexus RX — Given the XT5’s exterior size and V6 engine, the big-selling midsize Lexus RX should be considered an alternative. Its finely crafted cabin is particularly impressive. An RX hybrid is also available.

2021 Lincoln Nautilus — The SUV formerly known as MKX received a new name and a makeover two years ago. It’s sized, equipped and priced close to the XT5. And it’s another American marque.

2021 Acura RDX — The RDX’s size compares quite favorably to the XT5. It’s stylish, dynamic, appealing and packs more features for the money than the XT5.

Used BMW X5BMW wrote the book on midsize SUVs that are involving to drive. Because it costs considerably more than an XT5, we recommend a used or certified pre-owned (CPO) example.

Questions You May Ask

Does the 2021 Cadillac XT5 require premium gasoline?

The turbocharged 4-cylinder engine does indeed require premium gas to make its maximum horsepower and torque. The optional V6 runs on regular gas.

Where is the 2021 Cadillac XT5 manufactured?

In Spring Hill, Tennessee.

Is the Cadillac XT5 being discontinued?

No, the Cadillac XT5 midsize SUV is not being discontinued. The Cadillac XTS large sedan has gone out of production. We can see how that might have been confusing.

Autotrader’s Advice

Buyers wanting a really sporty SUV will probably want a BMW. In which case, forgo the XT5 Sport trim and look at the Premium Luxury model. The blind spot monitoring will be welcome and this level is eligible for many options. Find a Cadillac XT5 for sale

Colin Ryan
Colin Ryan
Colin Ryan specializes in writing about new cars. But he has also covered trucks, vans, 3-wheelers, even the occasional motorbike. That’s the kind of thing that happens while contributing to the Los Angeles Times, Autotrader, Kelley Blue Book, Popular Mechanics, Variety, Mazda and Lexus customer magazines, as well as many enthusiast sites and publications. He was also a staff writer at BBC Top... Read More about Colin Ryan

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