New to Cadillac’s lineup this year, the XT4 is Cadillac’s entry into the light SUV crossover segment. We had an initial look at it several months ago but wanted a little more experience with it. Cadillac was kind enough to loan us one for a few days.
It’s a smart looking SUV. Continuing Cadillac’s design theme of “art and science”, it’s lines are more square, more angular in shape than many of the other cars in it’s segment and it’s unique. Cadillac’s styling is almost architectural. It bears a passing resemblance to it’s older brother, the larger XT5 but distinguishes itself with little details. The wide, bold grille is all Cadillac. The creased sheetmetal lines on the hood break up the width and length of the otherwise flat hood, while adding an element of sportiness. The beltline curves break up the expanse of the XT4’s sides and the bold, angular c-pillars project a sense of strength. The XT4’s taillights adhere to the Cadillac tradition of skinny, tall lights. The red paint, knowns as Red Horizon Tintcoat, doesn’t hurt either.
Inside is a feast of soft leathers, high-quality plastics, and genuine carbon fiber. It’s not necessarily the materials themselves that impress, though they do, it’s how they’re utilized. Cadillac uses the materials in interesting ways to add a sense of sophistication. Look at how the leather curls over the door arm rests. There’s a feel of artisanal craftsmanship throughout. Amidst the sea of monochromatic black, the creme seats stand out like islands of refuge. Supremely comfortable, mildly-bolstered, both heated and ventilated, with built-in massagers, they are great on long drives. The dash curves out over the center console, providing reach-less access to the infotainment touchscreen. There’s decent legroom for backseat passengers of all sizes too. And under the rear hatch, even with the back seats up, there’s plenty of room for anything you could want to carry.
Under the hood lies a 2.0L turbocharged inline-four attached to a 9-speed automatic transmission. The engine makes 237 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. Is that enough for a Cadillac? Nay, a Cadillac SUV? I initially had my doubts but it turns out that between the characteristics of the engine and a smart selection of gears, it is. Absolutely. While a little laggy off the line, the small blown mill propels the XT4 up the road with enthusiasm once the turbo has something to work with. It generates a lot of mid-range and upper-range power, offering plenty of power to pass and accelerate at highway speeds, and returns decent fuel economy in the process. With nine gears, you’re never caught out. The transmission shifts quickly and delivers the perfect gear every time. The engine note is better than most SUV’s it’s size – never droning or harsh.
The engine puts down the power to the front wheels by default. It has a playful feel when in FWD, capably squealing the tires when you’re driving enthusiastically. Otherwise you’d never know. Activated by a button on the center console, there are two other drive modes that you can call up. One is AWD, and the other is AWD Sport. In AWD Sport, the XT4 corners much more confidently and controllably. We did find it odd that the car required the driver to manually select AWD instead of the car automatically engaging it as conditions necessitated, like many of the other SUV’s in it’s class. We suppose it’s down to fuel economy but it seems awkward and somewhat backwards that it requires the driver to decide instead of taking care of it for him/her. Perhaps the Luxury and Premium Luxury models are different.
It stops as well as it goes. The brakes feel solid, hauling it down from speed with ease, with excellent feedback as to what it’s doing. The brake pedal is firm, with no squishiness or grabbiness, allowing you to modulate brake pressure with precision. They inspire complete confidence.
The steering wheel is moderately thick and steering effort is light. If there’s one area that could benefit from a little attention, it’s steering feel. The electric variable power assist rack and pinion steering feels fairly numb and as a consequence feels fairly darty. I didn’t mind the light steering feel so much, it’s the lack of feedback and the numbness that I disliked.
The suspension consists of MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link setup in back. It provides a firm but supple ride and never felt harsh, even over bad pavement. It corners well, especially in AWD mode, and seemed fairly responsive. Though our model was the AWD Sport model, our car didn’t come with the sport suspension package with the continuous damping control. We were a little disappointed about that but the XT4 performed just fine for us.
As with most Cadillacs, there’s an almost overwhelming selection of electronic gew-gaws to keep you safe and keep you entertained while traveling. Our car came with the “Comfort & Technology” package, which included ventilated seats, masssagers built into the front seats, a hands-free liftgate, an air ionizer, wireless device charger, and one of the most versatile heads-up displays I’ve ever experienced. It also came with the “Cold Weather” package (heated seats both front and rear and a heated steering wheel) and the “Driver Awareness” package, which helped with blind spot monitoring, lane keeping, auto headlight brights, and auto-braking when it sensed vehicles or pedestrians ahead. One other nice feature it had was headlights that illuminated whatever was in the direction you were turning. Having that area lit up a bit was comforting and reassuring.
We averaged between 18-21 mpg while we drove it. That’s less than the EPA estimated 28 highway, 23 city, but with my lead foot, that’s not bad. Cadillac recommends using premium unleaded fuel.
The XT4 AWD Sport starts at under $42,000. Ours, with all the packages we had, came in at $51,500, which seems reasonable for a capable and loaded SUV.
We enjoyed our time with the XT4. While it wasn’t so much a “driver’s car” as it was a “general purpose car,” it did quite well. It felt solid and dependable. Perhaps just as importantly it kept us comfortable and safe and we enjoyed it’s many marvelous design elements. It looked good everywhere it went and as a result, so did we.