2017 Cadillac XT5 AWD

As luxury SUVs have gone from relative obscurity to regulars in the valet line, competition has grown fierce, and the measure of overall goodness has been steadily on the rise. And that is how it should be; pretty good just doesn’t cut it anymore.

Unfortunately for Cadillac, the new XT5 rates as merely pretty good in the face of worthy competition, including the excellent 2017 Jaguar F-Pace and more established class leaders such as the BMW X3 and the Porsche Macan. While the XT5 is a big improvement over the SRX it replaces, owners of that SRX may be the only ones who are jealous.

A 310-horsepower version of General Motors’ corporate 3.6-liter V-6 that first appeared in the 2016 CTS and ATS sedans serves in the XT5; it’s a 24-valve, direct-injected powerplant that gets the job done but falls short on both power and refinement when compared against competitors’ powertrains. When pushed, the engine has a decidedly unluxurious coarseness, and it doesn’t always play nice with the eight-speed automatic transmission. Part-throttle downshifts are slow in coming, especially when merging onto a busy highway or at other times when a quick response would be ideal. But shifts can be abrupt in normal driving situations. For example, when coasting down from higher speeds while approaching, say, a red light that changes to green­, stepping back onto the gas pedal elicits a momentary pause and then a jerk. There’s a lot going on that may contribute to this behavior, with Cadillac’s V-6 employing both a cylinder-shutdown mode to save fuel under light loads and stop/start technology (which, annoyingly, cannot be disabled). Whatever the cause(s), it ends up feeling less smooth and refined than the segment leaders. Cadillac’s work-around is to select Tap Shift mode by clicking the lever past the D position, using the two paddles hidden behind the steering-wheel spokes to choose your own gears—but it’s one we doubt few owners will employ.

Lots of Leather-Lined Room

Inside, the news is better, for the most part. The interior in our top-of-the-line Platinum-trim test car was wrapped in padded and stitched leather, real wood, and brushed-metal surfaces that make the XT5 look and feel every bit the part of a luxury SUV. Most pieces fit together well, and some details, such as the single metal insert circling the steering-wheel hub, are nicely styled and well thought out. The heated and ventilated front seats are well padded and comfortable, with a variety of power adjustments including lumbar for the driver and front passenger and seat-cushion extenders for added thigh support. The cabin is spacious all around, with generous head- and legroom up front and a spacious back seat with a flat floor. Taller passengers will find headroom is limited in the back due to the panoramic sunroof. Fortunately, the rear seats recline and also slide fore and aft. Handy, if somewhat flimsy, levers on either side of the cargo area can be used to flop the rear seatbacks forward nearly flat, even if they’re heavy to pull back upright. Even with the backrest up, the Cadillac has a bigger cargo hold than most competitors in the luxury set. Read more...

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10 Feb 2017