2017 cadillac xt5 driven

A crossover worthy of the Cadillac crest
by Mark McNabb, on November 15, 2017, 08:00

Cadillac is diligently working on polishing its brand reputation after decades of forgettable cars. Over the last few years, General Motors’ luxury brand has gotten a good start with updates to the ATS and CTS, while launching the all-new and impressive CT6. But, sedans aren’t hot right now – it’s crossovers. Cadillac needed a high-end crossover with classy digs and tons of tech capable of competing with the Audi Q5, Mercedes-Benz GLC, and Jaguar F-Pace. That’s where the new XT5 comes in, debuting for the 2017 model year.

The XT5 rides on GM’s new C1XX platform that’s shared with the GMC Acadia. The 2018 Chevrolet Traverse and 2018 Buick Enclave ride on a lengthened version of the C1XX, as well. The new architecture gave Cadillac engineers a clean-sheet start over the outgoing SRX crossover and the ability to bake in better ride characteristics, handling, softened NVH levels, more interior room, and better fuel economy. The icing on the cake is then advanced part-time AWD system with a twin-clutch rear differential capable of active torque vectoring. Not only does it improve all-weather drivability, but it improves handling on dry roads, too. A new V-6 and eight-speed automatic transmission complete the important under-hood parts. Tech-savvy customers will love the new CUE system with 4G LTE Wi-Fi, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and wireless phone charging. Luxury bits include amazingly comfortable seats, high-end leather, wood and metal accents, and a suede headliner.

I recently spent a week with the 2017 XT5 and can vouch for Caddy’s new crossover. It’s got plenty going for it, but it isn’t perfect. Keep reading to see why.

Continue reading for more on the 2017 Cadillac XT5.



- * All-new design but with familiar cues
- * LED headlights
- * 20-inch polished wheels
- * Towing Package
- * Power liftgate
- * Illuminated door handles

The new architecture under the XT5 gave Cadillac designers a clean canvas to work with. Naturally, brand cues were kept like the V-shaped grille, LED projection-beam headlights with the cascading LED daytime running lights, and the sharp creases on the hood. Those details can be found on the ATS, CTS, and CT6. Even the Escalade shares a few.

The XT5’s overall shape does suggest it’s a front-wheel-drive crossover, which is true. AWD is an option, but more than that, the transversely mounted engine and its surrounding supports dictate a short front clip. Unlike the sexy CT6 and its long, low-slung nose, the XT5 looks more upright and a bit less elegant. This is my biggest aesthetic complaint on the XT5 – its design just isn’t as graceful as it could be.

Besides the stubby front end, the rest of the XT5 looks pretty good. The roof has a very mild slope, which leaves plenty of headroom for rear passengers. That’s a departure from what the competition is doing; there’s a lot to be said for that. Out back, the LED taillights recall the same cascading design seen across the Cadillac lineup, as does the horizontal chrome pieces on the tailgate and bumper. Twin, chrome-tipped exhaust finishers and a removable metal hitch cover finish off the lower bumper in style. The cover also hides a seven-pin trailer wiring connector, too.

My Platinum-trimmed tester rolls on 20-inch, 12-spoke wheels wrapped in all-season tires. Between them, black plastic cladding protects the lower bodywork from rock chips and flying debris. Matched with the Stellar Black Metallic paint, the black plastic is hard to spot at a glance, but other colors contrast more quickly. Illuminated chrome door handles, chrome window trim, and chrome roof rails finish off the XT5’s outward appearance.

Exterior Dimensions


- * CUE Infotainment system with 8.0-inch touchscreen
- * Customizable 4.2-inch Driver Information screen
- * Full leather seating
- * Suede headliners and trim panels
- * Wood and metal accents
- * 30 cubic feet of cargo behind 2nd row
- * 63 cubic feet of cargo with 40/20/40 2nd row folded
- * Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, 4G LTE Wi-Fi, Bluetooth

Cadillac borrowed heavily from the CT6 sedan when designing the XT5. Thankfully, that’s a great thing. The updated CUE, or Cadillac User Experience system, is much-improved with toggle switches controlling the HVAC system and what seems like an improved response from the touch-sensitive slider for the radio volume.

The driver enjoys a rich-feeling, leather-wrapped steering wheel with wood and metal accents and a heated rim. A 4.2-inch driver information display shows tons of information in several configurable layouts while dual analog gauges show speed and engine revs. The 8.0-inch touchscreen in the center stack runs familiar software. Here it’s called the Cadillac CUE, but it’s nearly identical to Chevy’s MyLink and GMC’s IntelliLink software. All three are incredibly intuitive to use. It includes Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, SiriusXM, and navigation.

Both the driver and front passenger ride on very comfortable and thickly padded front seats. Both have three-way heat and ventilation to keep backsides happy. They do lack massaging – something that’s becoming more common in luxury vehicles these days. Rear seat comfort is excellent, too. The 40/20/40-split bench is nicely padded with reclining backrests, a folding center armrest, and properly raked seat bottoms. There’s ample legroom and headroom. Separate HVAC controls, air vents, USB ports, and a 110-volt household plug all reside on the center console for rear passengers to enjoy.

When it comes to hauling cargo, the XT5 offers 30 cubic feet of room behind the second row and an impressive 63 cubic feet of room with the second row folded flat. An aluminum cargo divider slides along the metal tracks in the floor, giving options as to how space is used.

The overall experience inside the XT5’s cabin is memorable. The materials are high quality and feel well screwed together. There is very little road noise and zero wind noise. The suede-covered dash is a nice touch, though I did find the leather dash gives puts a gnarly reflection on the windshield during the midday sun. Everything else is very commendable. I’d have no problem taking the XT5 on a cross-country trip.

Interior Dimensions


- * All-new 3.6-liter V-6
- * 310 horsepower and 271 pound-feet of torque
- * Eight-speed automatic transmission
- * Part-time AWD system with twin-clutch rear differential
- * Active torque vectoring rear differential
- * 3,500-pound towing capacity
- * 18 mpg city/ 26mpg highway/ 21mpg combined

Under the hood is an all-new 3.6-liter V-6. I know what you’re thinking – “all new? Doesn’t every Cadillac come with a 3.6-liter?” You’d be right; just about every Caddy besides the Escalade offers the familiar displacement V-6. However, this engine was completely reworked for the 2016 model year for use in the ATS and CTS. It shares almost no parts with the previous 3.6-liter. It’s now got direct fuel injection on top of the variable valve timing and cylinder deactivation seen on the previous engine. Power is up, too, at 310 horsepower at 6,700 rpm and 271 pound-feet of torque at 5,000 rpm.

An eight-speed automatic transmission is the only gearbox offered, and it sends power to the front wheels most of the time. Now, the XT5 gets a fancy new part-time AWD system (no, that’s not a type-o) that will send power to the rear driveshaft upon the driver’s command. A button on the center console quickly turns the system on and off. When off, the system completely disengages the rear driveshaft from the transmission to save on fuel. When on, the AWD system works on any road condition and at any speed. The system’s computer quickly responds to traction issues and can send 100 percent of power to the rear tires.

More than that, the AWD system’s rear differential unit uses a twin-clutch design to engage each axle half-shaft independently. This is what allows for active torque vectoring around corners. This means the outside rear wheel slightly pushes the vehicle around the turn. The system is also able to send 100 percent of power side to side, meaning either of the rear tires can send all of the engine’s power to the ground. In heavy Florida rains, the XT5 was completely sure-footed and never spun a tire, even with heavy throttle. The Caddy would likely be unstoppable in snow given a proper set of winter tires.

Fuel economy is pretty respectable. The EPA estimates the XT5 AWD to get 18 mpg city, 26 mpg highway, and 21 mpg combined. Premium fuel is required, though.

Drivetrain Specifications

Behind The Wheel

The XT5 is comfortable in every aspect. It’s easy to get into; it’s easy to see out of, and it’s easy to drive. The steering feels appropriately weighted without being too heavy to requiring too many turns. Its on-center feel is tight without being twitchy. The throttle and brakes are easy to apply, with both having a smooth, predictable pedal travel.

The comfy front seats and power-adjustable steering column make it easy to get comfortable. Memory setting allows the driver to keep his settings. All-day comfort is very high, making the XT5 an excellent highway burner. Add in the large side mirrors and Head-Up display, and this Caddy just begs to rack up the miles.


The 2017 Cadillac XT5 starts at $40,390. Four trim levels are available: the base XT5, Luxury, Premium Luxury, and Platinum. The Luxury trim starts at $48,790; the Premium luxury starts at $55,790; and the Platinum starts at $63,890. The base trim only comes with FWD and the range-topping Platinum only comes in AWD. The middle two trims have the option of FWD or AWD.

My tester came with a few optional extras, too. The $2,340 Driver Assist Package adds adaptive cruise control, auto-tightening seat belts, automatic collision braking, front and rear automatic braking, and the Automatic Park Assist feature. There is also the $575 trailering equipment and the $350 compact spare tire that replaces the tire goo and air compressor. Add on the $995 destination fee, and the total comes to $67,155.

The Competition

2018 Audi Q5

The Audi Q5 is completely new for 2018 and is lighter, more stylish, and more techie than before, while still holding onto its Germanic background and familiar yet modern Audi character. The Q5 has become nearly omnipresent these days, so it’s clear Audi is doing something right. The new model expands on that in all the right ways. The 2018 Q5 features Audi’s optional Virtual Cockpit, a large infotainment screen with Audi’s latest MMI software, and a modern interior.

Under the hood is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder making 252 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. It’s sent through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission to the Quattro AWD system. The Q5’s 4,100-pound curb weight is a couple hundred pounds less than the XT5, meaning the 2.0-liter perfectly peppy. The sprint to 60 mph comes in 5.8 seconds, which is quicker than the XT5’s 6.6-second run. Fuel economy is EPA-estimated at 23 mpg city, 27 mpg highway, and 25 mpg combined. Those who want more power can opt for the SQ5 with its 354 horsepower turbocharged V-6.

Prices for the 2018 Q5 start at $41,500 and will grow beyond $57,000 with all the options added to the Prestige trim.

Read our full review on the 2018 Audi Q5.

2017 Jaguar F-Pace

In the same vein of sporty crossovers, Jaguar has its new F-Pace. It offers the same levels of luxury as its popular sedans, but in a higher-riding, more all-weather capable package. Naturally, the F-Pace comes in several flavors and with six trims to choose from. Niceties include Meridian sound systems, Jaguar’s infotainment system, and tons of optional features.

The standard engine is a 2.0-liter turbo-four with 247 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque. There’s also a high-output version with 296 horsepower. Diesel fans will love the 2.0-liter turbodiesel with 180 horses and 318 pound-feet of torque. Those wanting performance should go for the familiar 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 found in other Jaguar Land Rover products. Here it makes 380 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque in the F-Pace S trim. All trims and engines come with an eight-speed automatic transmission and AWD.

Prices start at $42,065 for the 2.0-liter gasoline engine. Getting a diesel model requires $46,275 and the 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 takes $59,775.

Read our full review on the 2017 Jaguar F-Pace.


The XT5 is great at being a plush, luxurious, living room on wheels, but its competition goes about things differently. The Audi, Mercedes, and Jag all have sportier personalities that might appeal to a younger buyer. The XT5 is more passive when it comes to carving corners and blasting up Interstate on-ramps. Its luxury-first approach might make the XT5 appear dull and unathletic by comparison.

But in my view, that’s what makes the XT5 good. It doesn’t try being something it’s not. The XT5 is different, and I’m betting plenty of people want comfort over performance. I’ve got to give credit to Cadillac for that. The XT5 directly appeals to the classic Cadillac spirit of premium luxury without being too geriatric. Any Millennial or Gen-Xer should be more than proud to be seen behind the wheel. So sure, he XT5 takes the old-school Caddy approach of luxury over sport, but executed the idea rather well and without alienating any generation of customer. That’s a big win for Cadillac.

Now I’m left looking forward to what other XT-branded crossovers Caddy has up its sleeve. Perhaps an XT3 or XT4 will take the sporty approach to better compete against the Audi SQ5 and Mercedes-AMG GLC63, while the XT6 or XT7 might give the Land Rover Range Rover and Bentley Bentayga a run for their money

  • Leave it
    • Front end looks overweight
    • Luxury-focused in a sports-focused segment
    • Gets expensive with options


The 2017 XT5 Succeeds At Being A Cadillac

How It Works: The 2017 Cadillac XT5’s AWD System

Cadillac Fixed CUE for the XT5

Cadillac XT5

Read our full review on the 2017 Cadillac XT5.

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