That chestnut about effort equals reward doesn’t always play in the car biz. Case in point: Cadillac. Customer reaction to billions invested in two excellent new sports sedans (CTS and ATS) and one coupe (ATS) has been an unwavering taste for the old-guard Escalade, SRX, and XTS. This hasn’t hindered Cadillac’s determination to wage a frontal assault on luxury imports with the full-size CT6 sedan and the XT5, the two-row, mid-size crossover reviewed here. Proving that this brand really has joined the 21st century, the new XT5 maintains SRX exterior dimensions while shedding nearly 300 pounds, according to Cadillac, and enlarging the space inside the new, hipper exterior. More remarkably, the XT5 is dexterous enough to convince import defectors they made a wise move.
Whereas the brand’s new passenger cars use rear-drive underpinnings developed specifically for Cadillac, the XT5 rolls on General Motors’ new C1XX architecture, a somewhat more pedestrian front-drive platform shared with the recently unveiled 2017 GMC Acadia—and, presumably, the replacements for the Chevrolet Traverse and the Buick Enclave. To avoid sibling rivalry, Cadillac used the two-inch gain over the SRX’s 110.5-inch wheelbase to stretch rear-seat legroom by 3.2 inches while GMC tacked on four inches of length to wedge a third row of seating inside its Acadia.
Saving weight is standard operating procedure these days, but Cadillac’s twist is doing so without resorting to costly materials. The XT5’s unibody is made of four grades of steel, each carefully selected and configured to provide the desired stiffness and collision strength. Joints fortified with adhesives help make this a smart structure without so much as an aluminum hood to cut more weight. The front cradle and the rear crossmember are both rubber-isolated to hold NVH at bay.