The Cadillac XT5 Looks Better, Gets a New Engine, and Costs More
Cadillac’s best-selling model, the XT5 crossover, is receiving a minor facelift for the 2020 model year. It gains a new turbocharged engine, slightly massaged styling, new tech features, and an updated trim level hierarchy that matches other Cadillac models like the smaller XT4 crossover and the larger three-row XT6.
The new base engine is a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four that makes 237 horsepower and 258 lb-ft, the same motor that’s found in the XT4 and a number of other General Motors products. Front-wheel drive is standard while all-wheel drive is an $2000–$2100 option, and the engine is mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission. The XT5’s naturally aspirated 3.6-liter V-6, which was previously the only engine choice, is now optional.
The XT5’s three trim levels now comes in three trims: Luxury, Premium Luxury, and Sport. The Premium Luxury model has brighter exterior trim and and a cushier driving experience, while the Sport model is—you guessed it—aimed at a sportier experience with retuned steering and suspension setups and dark exterior trim. Each trim level gets it own interior color schemes.
Compared to the 2019 model, the front grille gets a new design with different mesh textures depending on the trim level. The front and rear bumpers have been restyled, LED headlights are now standard, the LED taillights have different graphics, and there are new wheel designs ranging from 18 to 20 inches.
On the inside, the center console has been redesigned and the XT5 gets Cadillac’s new infotainment system that’s operated by a rotary controller on the center console; the 8-inch display is also a touchscreen. Other updates include standard heated front seats, a new optional Bose Performance Series sound system, available night vision, and improved digital gauge cluster and backup-camera displays.
One of the hallmarks of a luxury vehicle is an unobtrusive powertrain. The XT5’s engine and transmission do little to disturb the serenity of the cabin when cruising but lack refinement when pushed hard. While the XT5’s 3.6-liter V-6 is no match for the engine in a performance-oriented SUV such as the Porsche Macan S, it stacks up favorably against the Lexus RX350 and the Volvo XC60. In light-footed, day-to-day operation, we’ve found the Cadillac’s engine to be impressively quiet and well isolated from the cabin; under heavy throttle, however, the engine’s harshness makes itself known in a most unflattering way. There’s adequate power for passing on the highway and for squirting through heavy city traffic, and the XT5’s standard automatic stop/start and fuel-saving cylinder-deactivation functions work seamlessly.
Encounter a twisty road and the XT5 can tackle it with confidence, although it won’t make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up even when equipped with the optional adaptive suspension. Body roll is well controlled and the XT5 feels substantial and planted, which is especially comforting on long highway slogs. Over rough stretches of broken pavement, however, our Platinum tester felt jittery and allowed sharp impacts to reverberate through the cabin. This is a disappointing trait, especially considering the suspension doesn’t remotely match the sportiness of the Macan. Steering is accurate but lacks any visceral feedback—another missed opportunity to appeal to enthusiast drivers.
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