Is the XT5 ready for the runway, or still a work in progress?
The mid-size luxury SUV segment has exploded in recent years and the rush to bring new products to market has forced many companies to expedite development plans. Unfortunately, this means some products are released before they really deliver the wow factor consumers are looking for. Such is the case with the 2017 Cadillac XT5. It fails to stand out in a crowded market and feels like a work in progress.
Before we get too far along, it is worth noting there is nothing wrong with the 2017 Cadillac XT5 per se. Rather, it is what it doesn’t do – stand out. In a crowded field of competitors, the XT5 just doesn’t have much to offer.
Exterior and Interior Design
Starting with the exterior and interior design, it is apparent there could be more done to make it standout. The exterior lines are mostly blah compared to say the lines of the new Jaguar F-Pace. Plus, it lacks the appeal found in other Cadillac products like the Escalade. It just isn’t very appealing to the naked eye.
On the inside, the material choices are odd to say the least and they completely go against the current trend towards soft-touch materials. Again, when you have vehicles like the Lexus RX 350 leading the way with soft-touch materials throughout the cabin, inserting a plethora of hard-touch materials just doesn’t work in your favor to stand out.
Finally, Cadillac has added a divider in the rear cargo area which is meant to help separate goods. The metal divider rolls on tracts and has pre-set division points. After struggling with it and having it not completely separate materials lengthwise (it really only separates most cargo widthwise), I found a good place for it – the garage.
Less-than-Excitable Powertrain and Driving Impression
When you receive a Cadillac for a week of testing naturally you think about the wonderful luxury sports cars they make like the ATS-V. It has a “put a smile on your face” powertrain and the ride quality reminds you what Cadillac is known for – an amazing ride quality. Sadly, the XT5 has neither.
The model I tested was equipped with a 3.6L V6 and a 8-speed automatic transmission with automatic stop/start. This engine just doesn’t excite and its 310 HP and 271 lb-ft of torque should have been plenty of power. The 8-speed automatic does provide smooth shifting points, however, the XT5 just lacks the oomph to be a fun drive.
Also, the stop/start functionality is rather abrupt.
Again, when you have a market that includes the BMW X5 or the Lexus RX 350 F Sport which are both powerful and have great handling and ride comfort, you would need to at least mirror these vehicles as really the price of entry for the segment. The XT5 does neither.
Finally, the fuel economy isn’t anything impress with an EPA-estimated 18/26/21 city/highway/combined. I know many full-size trucks that return this same fuel economy.
Cue Infotainment Confuses
My final area of opportunity for Cadillac is with their CUE system. I’ve used this system a few times now in both the Escalade and now the XT5. Either I don’t have enough experience with the system or I simply don’t “get it,” but I literally struggle to get the systems to work.
In the case of the XT5, I spent a considerable amount of time trying to figure how out to change the radio system. This really shouldn’t be this hard.
Now, in this market, there are opportunities abound with most luxury products. Either you get the 47-page menu system of BMW or the wacky mouse of the Lexus products. The Lincoln MKX offers a better solution, slightly, with the Microsoft Sync 3. And the Jaguar F-Pace took me a solid 5 minutes to figure out how to turn off the heated seats. What this segment really needs is something from FCA and their uConnect system. In lieu of that, take your pick. I’m not a fan of any.
At the end of the day, the 2017 Cadillac XT5 has a slew of opportunities to be a better competitor in its market. If you are a Cadillac fan, you will, though, likely discount my issues and find plenty to like. If you are shopping around, I would encourage you to shop around elsewhere.
Model: 2017 Cadillac XT5 Platinum
Engine: 3.6L V6
Transmission: 8-Speed Automatic Transmission
Fuel Economy: 18/26/21 city/highway/combined
- Tire, Compact Spare – $350
Price: $62,500 with $995 Destination Fee
Tim Esterdahl is a married father of three who enjoys all things automotive including wrenching on his collection of old pickups. You can find his work here and in print in Truck Trend magazine as well as on Pickuptrucks.com. Recently, he is growing a huge audience at his website PickTruckTalk.com
He also plays an absurd amount of golf. Like, really absurd.