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William Maley

Review: 2017 Cadillac XT5 Platinum

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Cadillac has been trying to position itself being as an alternative to German brands with models that offer exemplary handling characteristics and sharp designs. But the brand has the issue of models that don’t quite fit the image being presented. The SRX is the poster child for this. Yes, it had the sharp looks the brand was getting known for. But you wouldn’t call it sporty. It was more along the lines of a Lexus RX where luxury and comfort were the main priorities. Enthusiasts and critics were not pleased with this, but consumers gobbled them up. The SRX for a time was Cadillac’s best-selling model.

Now we come to the successor of the SRX, the 2017 XT5. Those who were hoping for a change in the priorities will be disappointed as the XT5 doesn’t mess with the SRX’s recipe. But is that bad thing?

Evolution is the impression you get when walking around the XT5. Cadillac’s designers didn’t make any drastic changes to the design profile aside from softening the Art & Science design language. The front now features a comically-large grille and headlights with a strand of LEDs that run into the bumper. Towards the back is an integrated spoiler that extends the roofline, a set of large taillights, and a rear bumper that comes with chrome exhaust ports and a faux skid plate. The XT5 does lose some of the polarizing details that made the SRX stand out, but it still stands out slightly in what is becoming a crowded class.

Cadillac has been stepping up its game in terms of their interiors with their new models. Case in point is the XT5. Our top-line Platinum tester featured faux suede, leather, and wood trim on a number of surfaces that make it look and feel quite luxurious. We’re glad to see the removal of the Piano Black panel for the center stack as it looked out of place and was a magnet for fingerprints. One design idea we’re not so keen on is the gear selector. Instead of a lever, Cadillac went with a joystick controller to engage the various gears. The controller isn’t intuitive as you’ll find yourself going into the wrong gear or not going into one at all on a somewhat regular basis. You will get the hang of it after a bit, but you can’t help but wonder why Cadillac decided to change this in the first place.

The leather used for the seats feel quite supple and help fix the issue of uncomfortable seats in the SRX. Interior space has grown, thanks to a two-inch increase in the wheelbase. Rear legroom has grown 3.2 inches and it allows anyone sitting back there to stretch out. Headroom is still slightly tight thanks in part to our tester coming with the optional panoramic sunroof. But this can be alleviated by recalling the rear seat slightly. Cargo space in smack dab in the middle - 30 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 63 cubic feet when folded.

Cadillac User Interface (CUE) has been one of our least favorite infotainment systems to use since it was introduced a few years ago. The litany of problems ranging from a touch sensitive buttons not responding to inputs to the system crashing have dragged Cadillac down. But the system has been getting a number of changes and updates over the past few years. For starters, Cadillac has removed most of the touch-sensitive buttons from the system. Being able to press an actual button to turn on the heated/ventilated seats or adjust the temperature is really nice. It is a shame Cadillac didn’t bring back an actual volume knob for CUE - the touch-sensitive strip is still there. But at least there are volume controls on the steering wheel that allow you to avoid it. The system itself has been overhauled with a faster processor and a slightly improved interface. The changes make a difference as the system is snappier and a little bit easier to understand. If you still find CUE a bit overwhelming, you’ll be happy to know that CUE now features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration.

Cadillac bucks the trend in the midsize luxury crossover class by only offering one engine - a 3.6L V6 producing 310 horsepower and 271 pound-feet of torque (@ 5,000 rpm). This comes paired with an eight-speed automatic and the choice of front or all-wheel drive. The V6 is the weak link in the XT5. When leaving a stop, it takes a moment for the engine to realize the accelerator pedal has been pressed before it starts working. This is even worse when you’re trying to make a pass as it seems the engine was busy taking a nap before it was hastily woken up. Once the engine is awake, it takes its time to get up to speed. There is a positive to the V6 engine and that is the stop-start system. Unlike some previous systems that are slow to restart the engine or do so in a very rough fashion, Cadillac’s system is quick and smooth when you let off the brake. The eight-speed automatic seems reluctant to downshift at times. We’re guessing this transmission was calibrated for fuel economy. At least the eight-speed automatic delivers smooth shifts.

Fuel economy figures for the 2017 Cadillac XT5 all-wheel drive stand at 18 City/26 Highway/21 Combined. Our average fuel economy for the week landed around 22.3 mpg in mostly city driving. 

One characteristic we liked about the SRX was its comfortable ride. Yes, it flies in the face of Cadillac’s message of beating the German’s at their own handling game. But buyers loved the smoothness on offer. Sadly, the XT5 loses a bit of the smoothness. Despite our tester featuring an adaptive suspension system, the XT5 wasn’t able to fully iron out bumps. Some of this can be attributed to 20-inch wheels fitted to our tester. At least the XT5 keeps road and wind noise out of the interior. Like the SRX, the XT5 isn’t sporty. Body motions are kept in check, but the light weight and nonexistent feel from the steering puts a halt to that idea. 

An item Cadillac has been touting on the XT5 is the Rear Camera Mirror. Available only on the top-line Platinum, the mirror can stream the view from the rear camera by flicking a switch. We found this to be really helpful when backing out of parking lots as it gave a view that isn’t hindered by the thick rear pillars. Hopefully, Cadillac spreads this feature down to other trims of the XT5. 

In some respects, the 2017 Cadillac XT5 is a step forward. The model improves on certain parts of the SRX such as a more luxurious and spacious interior, improved CUE system, and sharper looks. But in other respects, Cadillac messed up with the XT5. The 3.6L V6 needs to be shown the door and a new engine that offers better low-end performance to take its place. The loss of the smooth ride that the SRX was known for hurts the XT5 as well. Finally, there is the price. Our XT5 Platinum tester came with an as-tested price of $69,985. It is a nice crossover. But if we’re dropping close $70,000 on a luxury crossover, we can think of a few models that would be ahead of the XT5.

It should be noted that the Cadillac XT5 has taken the place of the SRX of being the brand’s best selling model. At the end of 2016, Cadillac moved 39,485 XT5s. But unlike the SRX which we could recommend without hesitation, the XT5 comes with a number of caveats that we cannot do the same.

Disclaimer: Cadillac Provided the XT5, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

Year: 2017
Make: Cadillac
Model: SRX
Trim: Platinum
Engine: 3.6L V6 VVT DI
Driveline: Nine-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
Horsepower @ RPM: 310 @ 6,700
Torque @ RPM: 271 @ 5,000
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 18/26/21
Curb Weight: N/A
Location of Manufacture: Spring Hill, TN
Base Price: $62,500
As Tested Price: $69,985 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)

Options:
Driver Assist Package - $2,340.00
20-inch Wheels - $2,095.00
Trailering Equipment - $575.00
Black Ice Body Side Moldings - $355.00
Compact Spare Tire - $350.00
Black Ice License Plate Bar - $310.00
Black Roof Rails - $295.00
Black Splash Guards - $170.00


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Well written review.  The 3.6L does need shown the door, peak torque at 5,000 RPM is like 90s Honda VTEC sort of numbers, it is just way too high in the rev range to do anything with.  This vehicle would be better served with the 2.0T base and 3.0T V6 as an option and make the turbo V6 standard on Platinum trim.

Skip the 20 inch wheels and save $2,000 if buying.  And that goes for any car, every car seems to ride worse with 20" or larger.

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Altho the 3.6L is a great engine.. even better now (I loved the LLT 2011 Camaro RS and love the LFX 2014 Impala LTZ ) in its latest iteration.. the LGX.. Cadillac and JDN need to go the consistent route.. and play more to the Global side with smaller engines boasting big power. Anyone I kno who has driven the 2.0L or 3.0L turbos have had to be convinced that they were 4cyl or 6cyl and not a rung up respectively... On that.. then I actually agree with Smk for a change.  Frankly,  Cadillac needs to abandon N/A 4s and 6s now that they have Turbos that are as sublime as any of their competitors.  XT5 deserves the base engine as the 2.0L turbo and the 3.0 turbo.  270HP and 390HP respectively 

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China taxes displacement over 2 liters so they have to build a 2.0t version anyway might as well sell it here for the base.  Even Lincoln has turbo V6 options in their crossovers.  Cadillac has to go that route.

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• LFX 3.6 torque plot is as flat as can be- there's barely any 'peak'; it's not remotely peaky like a Honda :

2012%20GM%20CAM%2036L%20V-6%20(LFX)%20co

• Where is the 2.0L S-class, of which half it's global production goes to China? Cause starting April 1, engines over 4.0L get slapped with a 20% consumption tax!

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I understand why Europe and China prefer a turbocharged smaller engine (i.e. engine displacement taxes). But why should Cadillac settle for that here in the USA?  Turbos mean one thing that GM had mostly been moving away from since 2000: Premium Fuel.  Have you seen premium vs regular fuel prices?  The price gaps are anywhere from 45-60 cents in some places.  And while turbos solve the torque problem somewhat, mileage becomes an issue too.

Maybe the real problem is that the LFX 3.6L V6 has worse torque than the 3800 and 3900 V6 engines from the last decade.  HP is great but every CUV like every car needs torque.

Otherwise, the review is spot on.  Keep up the good work.  The CUE issues remind me of all the issues BMW had with its infotainment system on its flagship 7 series back in 2002.  Bavaria needed at least two or three years to resolve those issues.  Why can't Cadillac simply contact JVC or Kenwood and let them do the infotainment instead of CUE?

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1 hour ago, riviera74 said:

I understand why Europe and China prefer a turbocharged smaller engine (i.e. engine displacement taxes). But why should Cadillac settle for that here in the USA?  Turbos mean one thing that GM had mostly been moving away from since 2000: Premium Fuel.  Have you seen premium vs regular fuel prices?  The price gaps are anywhere from 45-60 cents in some places.  And while turbos solve the torque problem somewhat, mileage becomes an issue too.

If a Cadillac buyer is concerned about a few cents difference in the price of a gallon of gas, they have bigger problems...Cadillacs are supposed to be about luxury and excess, not cheapassing and economy. 

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1 hour ago, riviera74 said:

Maybe the real problem is that the LFX 3.6L V6 has worse torque than the 3800 and 3900 V6 engines from the last decade. 

I couldn't find a 3.8L TRQ number higher than 230.

3.6L LFX is over 270. 3.6L LGX is 285.

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On 2/23/2017 at 9:19 PM, balthazar said:

I couldn't find a 3.8L TRQ number higher than 230.

3.6L LFX is over 270. 3.6L LGX is 285.

Well I think the larger concern is that U have competition from Audi, BMW etc.. even Lexus, with higher V6 hp/torque numbers while Cadillac continues to use the na 3.6 that has less torque than its own turbo 4. What ticks me off is  that they don't even make it optional to have a detuned LGW..  or LF3, both under utilized...  cover a sweet spot of both torque and hp in these vehicles.  

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      Pricing
      The 2018 Hyundai Accent begins at $14,995 for the base SE with manual transmission and climbs to $18,895 for the Limited. Our test SE with optional floor mats came to an as-tested price of $16,005. While it does cost $1,095 more than the base Rio LX, the Accent SE comes with more features such as Bluetooth, full power accessories, and a rear USB port.
      The 2018 Kia Rio kicks off at $13,900 for the LX sedan and climbs to $18,700 for the EX hatchback. The EX sedan tester came to an as-tested price of $19,425 with carpeted floor mats and destination. It is a bit hard to stomach the price tag when you can into some decently equipped compact sedans such as the Hyundai Elantra and Chevrolet Cruze for similar money. Even after you factor in the EX getting forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking, it’s still a tough sell.
      Verdict
      Trying to decide which of the two subcompacts was the winner in this piece was very difficult as they share so much. Beginning with the Rio EX, it is a very sharp looking subcompact with a fair amount of European influence and it is available as a hatchback. But the automatic transmission suffocates what little performance is on offer from the 1.6L engine. Plus the price tag of the EX is very difficult to swallow when you can step up into a compact for similar money. If it was the midlevel S, this would have been a closer fight.
      This brings us to the Accent SE. It's styling inside and out is a bit plain when pitted against the Rio. The lack of hatchback also makes the Accent a bit of hard sell to some buyers. But the list of standard features on the base model is very surprising. Plus, the manual transmission allows the engine to have some flexibility in most driving situations. 
      Both models are towards the top in the subcompact class. But in this comparison, the base Accent SE nips the top-line Rio EX by a hair.
      Disclaimer: Hyundai and Kia Provided the Vehicles, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2018
      Make: Hyundai
      Model: Accent
      Trim: SE
      Engine: 1.6L DOHC 16-valve GDI Inline-Four
      Driveline: Six-Speed Manual, Front-wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 130 @ 6,300
      Torque @ RPM: 119 @ 4,850
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 28/37/31
      Curb Weight: 2,502 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Nuevo Leon, Mexico
      Base Price: $14,995
      As Tested Price: $16,005 (Includes $885.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Carpeted Floor Mats: $125.00
      Year: 2018
      Make: Kia
      Model: Rio
      Trim: EX
      Engine: 1.6L 16-valve GDI Inline-Four
      Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 130 @ 6,300
      Torque @ RPM: 119 @ 4,850
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 28/37/32
      Curb Weight: 2,714 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Pesqueria, NL, Mexico
      Base Price: $18,400
      As Tested Price: $19,425 (Includes $895.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Carpeted Floor Mats - $130.00

      View full article
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