A hard-core premium competitor or living outside of its element?

LISTEN 23:20

Back in 2018, Cadillac finally decided that it was tired of missing out on sales in the compact SUV market and launched the XT4. This compact crossover was designed to compete against the best in the market, including the BMW X1, Mercedes GLC, Infiniti QX50, and Lexus NX, among others. Now that the XT4 has been on the market for well over a year, we decided it was time to get behind the wheel and see how it really holds up. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really seem to hold water against models from BMW, Mercedes, or Audi, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t compete in the market at all. This means there are a lot of questions to answer: How does the Cadillac XT4 drive, does it have enough passenger space, and what about cargo room? What models does the XT4 actually compete against? Well, we spent a week with the XT4, and we’re here to answer all those questions and more . This is what we’ve learned after spending a week with Cadillac’s latest compact crossover.

  • 2019 Cadillac XT4 - Driven
  • Year:
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    237 @ 5000
  • Torque @ RPM:
    258 @ 4000
  • Displacement:
    2.0 L
  • 0-60 time:
    6.6 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    137 mph
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • size:
  • Purpose:
  • body style:

Cadillac XT4 Exterior Design

  • Unmistakably a Cadillac
  • Wheel wells are too large
  • Rear end is attractive
  • Hood too muscular
  • Cadillac headlights are ugly
  • Basically a CT4 with more cargo room
2019 Cadillac XT4 - Driven
- image 865390

Up front, the XT4 is unmistakable as a Cadillac. This isn’t necessarily because it exudes a feeling of premium design or luxury that Cadillac was once known for, but because it wears the same general face found on a number of other vehicles. If you look at the design of the headlights, grille, and front fascia, you’ll discover that it’s – arguably – identical to the CT4, and outrageously similar to the XT5 and CT6. You can even see similarities to the CTS and XTS if you can look past the split headlight design on these models.

That doesn’t mean that the XT4 isn’t attractive in its own right, though, as the face is a little bit taller than that of the XT4, which gives the front fascia a little more style, so to speak

. Our tester was the Sport trim, so we had a glossy black insert at the bottom of the air dam and glossy black inserts for the fack vents next to the running lights and radiator grille.

Chrome trim around the grille ties the front end together. I’m not really a fan of the current Cadillac, single-piece headlight design as it looks just ridiculous on cars that have it, but on the taller-nosed XT4, it actually blends in well and helps give the front end a more rounded look. The hood does look nice as well, but it feels kind of like it is almost too aggressive for a model that doesn’t exactly exude performance at its core.

2019 Cadillac XT4 - Driven
- image 865394

The side profile of the XT4 is actually quite sporty. It has that gently sloping roof and mildly upsweeping body line that increases appeal even more. The rear overhang does feel a little short from this angle, though, and the cheap plastic trim doesn’t do the car any justice. Luckily, that’s made up for by that interesting concave section along the roofline and the gloss black trim around the side glass. From this angle, the XT4 could really compete against models like the BMW X1 or even the X3, but we’ll discuss why it really doesn’t later on.

One thing to really point out here is that the XT4’s wheel wells are impressively large.

For those of you that don’t like a lot of gap between the tires and the body, you’re going to want to look elsewhere, or at least consider buying 24-inch wheels. To put the size of the wheel wells into perspective, our tester had the optional 20-inch allow wheels, and there’s still enough room between the tire and the body to park a Boeing 747. On that note, you absolutely must go for the 20-inch wheels – the smaller wheel sizes make the gap even worse.

2019 Cadillac XT4 - Driven
- image 865391

The rear end of the XT4 is, arguably, its best quality. The rear hatch has a kink that lines up perfectly with the gently elevating beltline, and this really stands out in its favor thanks to the design and position of the tall taillights. Generally, these taillights would come off as kind of gaudy, but because of the minimal amounts of chrome int eh rear, they really just work. The gloss black trim that outlines them, paired with the deeply tinted rear glass, also helps in this regard.

Cadillac did a good job giving the XT4 character back here and, while it’s hard to like the dull black plastic trim, the glossy bits and extra body lines make the rear of the XT4 was of the best looking on the market.

Unfortunately, the front end doesn’t carry that kind of clout, but if you can get past that, the XT4 is really a fairly attractive vehicle. We just wish the front end didn’t look so much like every other Cadillac on the road.

Cadillac XT4 Exterior Dimensions (in inches)
Cadillac XT4 Sport
Length 181.1
Width 83.5
Height 64.1
Wheelbase 109.4
Front Track 63.2
Rear Track 63.1
Curb Weight 3,660

How Big is the Cadillac XT4?

2019 Cadillac XT4 - Driven
- image 865418

The Cadillac XT4 measures 181.4 inches long, 83.5 inches wide, and 64.1 inches tall. It’s not a big crossover by any means, but you may find that it’s a tight fit in smaller, one-car garages. You definitely want to have at least a 1.5-car garage for comfort, and a two-car garage is even better.

Compared to models like the Lexus NX and Infiniti QX50, the XT4 is the shortest in terms of length bit is wider than both.

It does have the lowest roof, however, it has a 109.4-inch wheelbase, nearly 5 inches more than the NX and almost an inch shy of the QX50. For what it’s worth, the XT4 weighs just 3,660 pounds – significantly less than either the NX or QX50.

Cadillac XT4 Exterior Dimensions Comparison
Cadillac XT4 Sport Lexus NX300 F Sport AWD Infiniti QX50 Luxe AWD
Length 181.1 182.3 184.7
Width 83.5 73.6 74.9
Height 64.1 64.8 66
Wheelbase 109.4 104.7 110.2
Front Track 63.2 62.2 64.2
Rear Track 63.1 62.2 63.8
Curb Weight 3,660 4180 3937

Cadillac XT4 Interior Design

  • Amazing infotainment system
  • Safety tech works great
  • Comfortable seating
  • Subpar cargo room
  • Lots of premium-feeling leather
  • Some cheap plastic trim
  • No rear entertainment system
  • Headroom in rear could be better
2019 Cadillac XT4 - Driven
- image 865451

When we first opened the driver’s door of the XT4, we were dramatically impressed with what we saw. Right from the start, the interior of the XT4 exudes a premium, luxurious feel. The door panels, dashboard, armrests, and seats are all covered in what feels like premium, expensive leather. Even the contrast stitching on the dash, steering wheel, and door trim panels lines up perfectly – something we didn’t expect from an entry-level Cadillac.

All of these surfaces are soft, and the same can be said for the seats that felt equally premium and high-end.

The fit and finish are very commendable, especially for a GM product, however, once you sit down and start exploring, you’ll find that there are some cheaper plastics thrown about here and there as well.

2019 Cadillac XT4 - Driven
- image 865399

The design of the dash is attractive overall, but I couldn’t get past the feeling that the vehicle was leaning to the passenger side because of that slope from left to right. The whole Top Speed team loved the layered design and the little bits of fake carbon here, and there were actually welcomed as well. The steering wheel is easy on the hands, and the semi-digital instrument cluster is easy on the eyes. We’ll discuss the infotainment system more later on, but one of the only things we didn’t like was its recessed positioning. It should have been angled more toward the driver for better ergonomics, but it’s easy to look past once you start using the system.

Part of the cheap plastic feel comes in the form of the HVAC controls. In fact, all of the buttons sitting below the infotainment display are bunched so tightly together that it’s easy to hit the wrong button and even harder to identify the proper button without taking your eyes off the road. It’s nice that the digital display for the HVAC controls is so small – it’s noteworthy that it doesn’t take up a lot of space, but it does feel like it’s a little out of place among all of the buttons.

2019 Cadillac XT4 - Driven
- image 865445
The rear passenger area of the XT4 isn’t really anything to write home about, but it is relatively comfortable, and rear legroom is beyond admirable, beating out both the Lexus NX and Infiniti QX50.

There is a pullout in the center of the rear backrest that you can lower to create a shared armrest, and rear passengers do have access to a USB port, and there’s a pair of vents on the back of the center console to help keep the rear passengers comfortable. An optional (at least, optional) rear entertainment system would be nice here as the XT4 could serve as a decent first-family vehicle.

In terms of comfort, you won’t be disappointed as finding a comfortable position – even on longer trips – is quite easy. If you have the optional panoramic roof, you’ll find that rear headroom isn’t the best, but two adults can fit back there without any problem. Forward visibility is great, but rear visibility could be better. Overall, the interior of the XT4 is a big step forward for Cadillac, but at the same time, there’s still plenty of room for minor improvements when facelift time comes around in a few years. We’d love to see Caddy address the flimsy infotainment control knob, the cheap-feeling plastics, and even improve the restriction of sound getting into the cabin.

Does the Cadillac XT4 Have Plenty of Space Inside?

2019 Cadillac XT4 - Driven
- image 865445

Along with a rather premium interior, the XT4 also offers up really good passenger space for a model this size.

Front passengers have plenty of space from headroom to legroom and shoulder room.

Rear passengers have plenty of legroom, and there’s more than enough space for two full-grown adults to sit comfortably. They only downside for rear passengers is that headroom can come up a little short due to that sloping roof. This becomes especially noticeable when the XT4 is equipped with a panoramic moonroof that reduces headroom back there even more. Compared to the Lexus NX and QX50, the XT4 holds its own in terms of passenger space, however, it’s not always the leader of the pack.

Cadillac XT4 Interior Dimensions Comparison (in inches)
Cadillac XT4 Sport Lexus NX300 F Sport AWD Infiniti QX50 Luxe AWD
Front Headroom 39.4 38.2 41
Front Shoulder Room 57 57.3 57.9
Front Legroom 40.4 42.8 39.6
Rear Headroom 38.3 38.1 39.1
Rear Shoulder room 55.1 55.3 57.1
Rear Legroom 39.5 36.1 38.7

Cadillac XT4 Cargo Room

2019 Cadillac XT4 - Driven
- image 865447

With the rear seatbacks in place, you can carry 22.5 cubic-feet of cargo, which isn’t bad considering the Lexus NX only offers a maximum of 16.8 with its rear seats in place. The XT4 could have more space if Cadillac didn’t design it with such large wheel wells as you can see interior humps are quite large. There is a cubby on either side near the rear hatch, so that helps.

When you lay down seatbacks, cargo room increases to 48.9 cubic-feet, a figure that’s not so admirable.

The opening between the cargo area and rear passenger area is as large as it could be, but even with the seats laid down, maximum cargo room is far from impressive at just 48.9 cubic-feet. This figure puts it at the bottom of the pack, with the Lexus NX offering 53.7 cubic-feet (4.8 cu-ft more) and the QX50 offering a commendable 65.1 cubic-feet (11.4 ci-ft more.) Part of Cadillac’s deficit can be attributed to the fact that the rear seatbacks don’t actually lay flat and, instead are angled upward just a little bit. It doesn’t make much of a difference, but it’s a difference nonetheless.

2019 Cadillac XT4 - Driven
- image 865446

Cadillac XT4 Infotainment System

2019 Cadillac XT4 - Driven
- image 865449

The XT4 is equipped with GM’s latest infotainment system and, much like the interior, it’s a huge step forward. The graphics are crispy and attractive, and the system’s response is, arguably, better than any other system on the market. You can connect your phone via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, however, there are also USB ports scattered throughout the interior to facilitate charging and connectivity as well. There is a wireless charging pad below the center armrest that functions quite well and is paired with standard Bluetooth connectivity.

The XT4’s navigation system is pretty amazing and mimics Android Auto quite well.

The voice control system is actually better than what we’ve experienced in more expensive BMW and Mercedes models, with natural spoken language being recognized easily. The only downfall is that the cabin is kind of noisy to you have to speak louder at higher speeds to avoid miscommunication. Audio quality isn’t bad, but we’d suggest opting for the option Bose sound system as it will help drown out that annoying road and wind noise that we’ll tell you more about later.

Cadillac XT4 Drivetrain and Performance

  • Turbocharged four-cylinder
  • 237 horsepower
  • 258 pound-feet of torque
  • all-wheel-drive works okay
  • Transmission gets confused at times
  • Acceleration could be better
  • 3,500-lb towing capacity
  • 24 mpg combined
2019 Cadillac XT4 - Driven
- image 865421

Under the XT4’s muscular hood sits a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that’s good for 237 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. This is about average for premium crossovers of this size, and it does place the XT4 right in the middle of the competition. Power is sent to all four wheels via a nine-speed automatic, but it is a dual-clutch transmission, so shifts are generally crisp and free of lag from one gear to the next.

According to Cadillac the XT4 can hit 60 mph in 6.6 seconds, however, we couldn’t get it to the benchmark in less than seven seconds.

Of course, conditions might have a lot to do with that, but I wouldn’t suggest high expectations in getting to 60 mph in Cadillac’s quoted time. On that note, the XT4’s top speed is rated at 137 mph, which isn’t too bad for a model this size and higher than what either the Lexus NX or QX50 can offer.

Cadillac XT4 specifications
Engine 2.0L Turbocharged I4 DOHC with Active Fuel Management, direct injection and auto. stop/start
Transmission Hydra-Matic 9T50 nine-speed automatic
Power Output 237  @ 5000
Torque 258  @ 1500-4000
Driveline AWD
Fuel Gas
Fuel Capacity 16.3
Fuel Economy 22/29
0-60 mph 6.6 seconds
Top Speed 137 mph
2019 Cadillac XT4 - Driven
- image 865417

The XT4 comes standard with 18-inch wheels, but you really want to go for the optional 20-inch wheels. It improves the overall handling dynamic of the crossover, and it helps fill in those outrageously large wheel wells. In terms of fuel economy, Cadillac says you’ll get 22 mpg in the city, 29 mpg on the highway, and 24 mpg combined.

Cadillac XT4 Driving Impressions

2019 Cadillac XT4 - Driven
- image 865389

One of the first things we noticed when we got our hands on the XT4 was that it’s incredibly easy to get into for both front and rear passengers. The front seats are impressively comfortable and pretty supportive – they even remain comfortable on longer road trips as well. The biggest downside we found was that the cabin is very noisy in comparison to the competition. The ride quality isn’t the best, and less-than-perfect roads cause a lot of wheel clunking, while rough roads amplify this effect tenfold. Furthermore, that turbocharged four-cylinder under the hood makes a weird clicking noise – most likely from the valvetrain – and it sounds more like a diesel than a gasoline engine.

During hard acceleration the noise gets annoyingly loud while highway speeds result in a lot of road noise from the cargo area.

This can be reduced a bit by pulling the cargo shade into place, but it’s still far from what you’d expect in any luxury vehicle. Fortunately, we didn’t have the panoramic roof, but we’ve been told that it creates a lot of noise as well – something that’s pretty common in GM vehicles. I suppose this is where having that optional Bose audio system would really be a major benefit.

That represents most of the bad about the XT4. In terms of driving dynamics, it tends to hold its own to some extent. In our testing, we were able to hit 60 mph in 7.1 seconds, which is about half a second slower than Cadillac’s promise but not too bad for a compact crossover with 237 horsepower. Fort he most part, the transmission manages to find the right gear, whoever, under a heavy foot it does seem to clamor a bit, and downshifting can be troublesome. In our experience, under heavy acceleration and downshifting, the transmission either didn’t drop down enough or dropped down too far. This resulted in either near inability to perform takeovers or a sudden jolt of high-revving followed but a sudden upshift. Braking is adequate, however, it’s clear this isn’t meant for any type of spirited driving as, after a few repetitions of hard braking, the brake temperature light did illuminate.

2019 Cadillac XT4 - Driven
- image 865418

The XT4’s steering is rather light, and that can be a good thing in parking lots. But, even in sport mode, the steering feels inanimate, and there’s little feedback – it’s almost like playing an older arcade racing game in that you really have no idea of what your input is actually doing. It’s not unsafe by any means, but it does come at the sacrifice of some confidence. Faster curves are where the XT4 shines a little more as the rear wheels kick in, and it feels a little more ready-to-go. Otherwise, the frond end just feels heavy and representative of a much bigger SUV – are we in an XT4 or an extended Escalade? We couldn’t tell.

In the end, the XT4 isn’t horrible to drive, but it isn’t a dream either.

Our tester was fitted with a number of options that pushed the price much higher than expected, and, for a $50,000 sticker price, we feel like we’d be much better off in the Lexus NX, Infiniti QX50, or even the BMW X1. We wouldn’t go so far as to say that Cadillac missed the mark, but there’s a lot of places here where Cadillac has dropped the ball. After all, what happened to the phrase “It drives like a Cadillac?” Whatever happened, it surely isn’t associated with the XT4.

Cadillac XT4 Pricing

2019 Cadillac XT4 - Driven
- image 865441

Our tester was the XT4 Sport, the range-topping model that starts out at $39,295. The Premium Luxury starts out at the same price but is, technically, on par with the sport – it just features different wheels, a differ steering wheel, and doesn’t get the body-color door handles or gloss black exterior trim. The entry-level model is the Luxury trim, and it starts out at $34,795. For the price, you get a lot less, including a complete lack of passive safety systems outside of government-mandated stuff and rear park assist.

Our tester was fitted with a number of options that made it outrageously expensive for what it is and, arguably, even pushed it outside of the pricing territory it belongs in. Despite Cadillac’s website pricing, our tester’s spec sheet includes a standard price of $41,795. Add to that the following options:

Comfort and Convenience Package $2,450
Cadillac User Experience w/ Navigation $1,500
20-inch Alloy Wheels $1,100
Cold Weather Package $850.00
Driver Awareness Package $770.00
Twilight Blue Metallic $625.
Total Options: $7,295.00

Add $7,295 to the $41,975 MSRP, plus another $995.00 destination charge and our tester carried a total cost of $50,265. At that kind of price point, the Cadillac XT4 seems a little overpriced. Sure the interior was great, but driving dynamics and road noise, plus the occasional bits of cheap plastic feels like an incentive to at least look at other competitors.

Cadillac XT4 Competition

Lexus NX

left right

The Lexus NX was introduced in 2015 as an all-new entry to the company’s lineup, and the name actually stands for “nimble crossover.” And, it does hold up to that name fairly well, offer pretty sport driving for a model so tall, and it actually looks quite sporty too. Of course, it has that large spindle grille up front that is a little hard to get past, but thanks to the subdued nature of the front fascia, the sleek headlights, and the mild hood, the front end blends together quite nicely. The NX has more of a bubbly look to it as opposed to having the common sloped roof, and the side profile is dominated by wide wheel arches and that overly aggressive body line near the bottom of the doors. The rear end is fairly attractive as well, while the taillights are more attractive than anything else offered in this segment.

left right

Since our tester sat at the top of the lineup, we chose to compare it to the Lexus NX 300 F Sport AWD. That model starts out at $40,360 and is powered by a turbocharged four-cylinder that’s good for 235 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, all of which is shunted to all four wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. It manages to match the XT4 in terms of fuel economy for the most part, but it does fall 1 mpg short on the highway. 17-inch wheels are standard equipment, and the 7.0-second sprint to 60 mph leaves a little to be desired. Of course, that rating is still better than what we experienced with XT4 during our testing to take that as you will. Top speed for the NX is rated at 124 mph, 13 mph slower than the XT4, but the NX can turn on a dime with a 19.9-foot turning circle – damn near half of what you can do in the XT4 or QX50.

Lexus NX specifications
Engine 2.0 liter twin-scroll turbocharged in-line 4-cylinder with intercooler
Transmission 6-speed Multi-Mode Automatic 
Power Output 235 hp @ 4,800-5,600 rpm
Torque 258 lb.-ft. @ 1,650-4,000 rpm
Driveline AWD
Fuel Gas
Fuel Capacity 14.8
Fuel Economy 22/28/24 
0-60 mph 7.0 seconds
Top Speed 124 mph
Suspension Front: MacPherson strut, coil springs; Rear: Trailing arm double wishbone type, coil springs
Steering Electric Power Steering (EPS)
Turning Circle 19.9
Front Tire Size 225/65R17 
Rear Tire Size 225/65R17 

Read our full review on the 2019 Lexus NX

Infiniti QX50

left right

We see the Infiniti QX50 as yet another competitor to the Cadillac XT4. It terms of overall design, it matches the XT4 with the sloping roof, but the exterior as a whole exudes more of a premium, sporty feel. The front end features an uneventful grille that isn’t overly gaudy like that of the NX but still has a definitive shape that is unmistakably Infiniti. The headlights are sleek and sexy, while the front fascia features a pair of fake vents and a large air dam that contributes next to nothing in terms of aerodynamics. The hood is somewhat muscular, while the side profile is similar to that of the Lexus NX in that it features a pair of aggressive body lines. The rear haunches are reasonably flared while the chrome trim is somewhat overkill. The rear end design is more on par with what you get from BMW and Audi than the XT4, and it’s reasonably attractive despite the fact that it mimics, to some extent, the front end.

left right

The QX50 is offered in five different trim levels, and the most competitive to the XT4 Sport is the QX50 Luxe AWD – a middle trim that includes a panoramic moonroof (purely optional on the XT4), powered sunshade, LED fog lamps, and roof rails, among the more common standard safety features and 19-inch wheels. Pricing for this model starts out at $40,250, so it’s about $1,500 cheaper to get into, and it’s even more powerful. The turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder is good for 268 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, enough to get it to 60 mph in a claimed 6.4 seconds and a top speed of 131 mph. Unfortunately, it can’t haul much as towing capacity is limited at just 2,000 pounds, 500 pounds more than the NX but 1,500 pounds less than the XT4. The CVT transmission is a hard sell, though, so I suggest you do a serious test drive before considering the QX50 over any of the other models that we’ve discussed here.

Infiniti QX50 specifications
Engine 2.0L-Turbo 4-cylinder, inline
Transmission Xtronic continuously variable transmission with manual shift mode and Downshift Rev Matching
Power Output 268 @ 5,600 rpm 
Torque 280 @ 4,400 rpm
Driveline AWD
Fuel Gas
Fuel Capacity 16
Fuel Economy 22/28/25
0-60 mph 6.4 seconds
Top Speed 131
Suspension Front: MacPherson Strut front suspension with aluminum-alloy upper and lower aluminum/steel subframe construction, twin tube shock absorbers, 27 mm stabilizer bar/ Rear: Independent multi-link rear suspension with monotube shock absorbers, 22.5 mm stabilizer bar
Steering Engine-speed-sensitive variable assist Direct Adaptive Steering
Turning Circle 36.4
Front Tire Size 235/55R19 
Rear Tire Size 235/55R19 

Read our full review on the 2019 Infiniti QX50

Final Thoughts

2019 Cadillac XT4 - Driven
- image 865392

Spending a week with the Cadillac XT4 was an interesting experience, and it taught us one thing above anything else: The XT4 really is a mixed bag. The interior feels premium, the technology is on point, but the exterior, drivetrain, and noise management leaves a lot to be desired. We also learned that it can get expensive very fast. We’re not sure we would want an XT4 that wasn’t equipped with the options our tester had – those 20-inch wheels, for example, are a necessity for exterior appearance – and that means the XT4 might end up being more expensive than its worth. For the same money you can go beyond the compact segment and step into a BMW X3 or Lexus RX, among many others. It’s not that the XT4 is bad to drive, but it’s definitely not the best in the business. We definitely expected a better ride and less road noise from a Cadillac, and those two things are probably its biggest fault. In the end, if you’re considering an XT4, it’s probably best that you shop around to make sure that you’re 100-percent sure that you won’t wish you went for something else down the road.

  • Leave it
    • Cargo room sucks compared to the competition
    • Cadillac, in general, needs a new design philosophy
    • Performance and steering could be better
Philippe Daix
Philippe Daix
Obsessive and Compulsive Automotive Expert - phil@topspeed.com
Always on the lookout for the latest automotive news, Philippe Daix is our most senior editor and founder of TopSpeed.com. He likes to see himself as a consumer advocate with a mission to educate motorheads of all ages.  Read full bio
About the author

Related Articles

You Should Probably Quit Driving Your 2020 Chevy C8 Corvette

2019 Cadillac XT4

What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder:
  • Cadillac XT4