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2020 Cadillac XT5 Review

LIKES
  • Soft, quiet ride
  • Strong V-6 power
  • Refined interior
  • Standard safety gear
DISLIKES
  • Expensive AWD and options
  • Indistinct personality
  • Touch controls too firm
  • Steering controls too spaced out
BUYING TIP
  • The base 2020 Cadillac XT5 Luxury is the best value, even with the $2,100 all-wheel drive.
The 2020 Cadillac XT5 gets more content and costs more than some rivals.

For 2020, Cadillac updated its best-selling XT5 mid-size crossover with two engine choices, a bolder look, a more refined cabin, and a smooth, quiet ride. The V-6 in the new top Sport trim can be powerful but gruff, making it somewhat at odds with the soft, cruising nature of the XT5. It earns 6.3 out of 10 points overall.

For 2020, Cadillac streamlined the XT5’s trims to Luxury, Premium Luxury, and Sport, while downgrading the overpriced Platinum trim to an overpriced package. The top Sport model promises something the XT5 was lacking, but since it’s powered by the same 310-hp V-6 and a 9-speed automatic transmission, the XT5 does without a performance variant. 

A new turbo-4 standard on Luxury and Premium Luxury tells where the brand is going, and it better suits the soft, comfy nature of the XT5, whether in front- or all-wheel drive. 

The XT5 essentially wears the same staid coat, but gets some interior updates, including a rotary controller in the console to complement the 8.0-inch touchscreen and redundant steering wheel controls. A deep storage tunnel in the base of the console adds some out-of-sight storage for items that might not fit in the glovebox. Cargo space is above average, and the XT5 comes pretty well equipped. 

Heated seats are standard as are advanced driver assistance systems such as automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, active lane control, and automatic high-beam headlights. 

The streamlined trim levels and two engine options narrow the gap between the low and high end of the XT5, making it more competitively priced with the slew of other luxury five-seat crossovers.

Styling
The 2020 Cadillac XT5 gets modest updates on a staid but not unattractive design.

In the football field of luxury SUVs, the 2020 Cadillac XT5 would be a linebacker. But not a middle-captain-of-the-field kind of linebacker, more like an outside linebacker that could double as a nickelback in passing situations. The XT5 is muscular but not swole, and more upright than the defensive backs poised to pounce, like the Alfa Romeo Stelvio or Jaguar F-Pace. 

It’s not as forgettable as an interior lineman, but the XT5  doesn’t really stand out, either. Yet, its refined interior earns a point to get to 6 out of 10.

Subtle cladding and 18-inch standard wheels keep the profile bulky but fit. Tall, vertical LEDs with automatic high beams round the corners and frame the bolder grille, which has the five-sided shape of the Cadillac crest. 
The design might be considered staid, but in this era of garish angularity and giant world-sucking grilles, we don’t mind staid. 

Inside, the distinctive dash and trim pieces dwarf the more familiar GM switchgear for the driver. The black gloss climate control panel under the 8.0-inch touchscreen limits the clutter in the center. Available open pore wood and rich semi-aniline leather, as well as leather-wrapped console and door panels ensconce the cabin in warmth, but it’ll cost you as part of the Platinum package. 

The black and chrome pieces can also be refined without needing to pay extra, but it lacks the indulgence of Platinum. For our money, we, like Johnny Cash, are just fine with black.

Performance
Two engine choices broaden the appeal of the XT5, but even with a Sport trim this Caddy is best for cruising.

The 2020 Cadillac XT5 offers an available 2.0-liter turbo-4 to complement the V-6 already on sale. The V-6 is standard on the new range-topping Sport trim, which also has an adaptive suspension and a quicker steering ratio. Despite the performance enhancements, the XT5 is a soft, quiet ride with impressive off-the-line acceleration but handling that is at best, a crossover. It earns a point for capable engine choices, for a 6 out of 10. 

The five-seat luxury crossover comes with front-wheel drive and the 237-hp 2.0-liter turbo-4 engine at a starting point of $45,090 (including $995 destination). It makes 258 pound-feet of torque, and is standard on both Luxury and Premium Luxury trims. All-wheel drive adds $2,100. 

We’ll update this space once we drive the XT5 with that engine. 
We spent our time in the 310-hp 3.6-liter V-6, which makes 271 lb-ft of torque when paired with the 9-speed automatic transmission that comes with either engine. 

The V-6 is available on the Premium Luxury trim for just $1,000 more, and AWD on that trim is an additional $2,000. 

We tested the V-6 standard on the top Sport trim, which comes with AWD and tops the range at $56,090 (including $995 destination). This is a much narrower gap than its predecessor in terms of price between the low and high end of the range, and puts the XT5 in more competitive territory with luxury crossovers. 

The V-6 feels like a winter coat, a bit outdated but reassuringly familiar and reliable. There’s plenty of grunt, and under heavy throttle it can push you back in those bolstered bucket seats. When cold, the 9-speed transmission can strain for the next gear shift, and passing moves at speed benefit from a flick of the paddle shifters to get a gear or two lower. 
Adaptive damping helps soak up some of the stiffness from the standard 20-inch wheels on Sport trim, but the Sport trim and sport mode should not and will not be confused for a performance crossover. It’s sportier, but it’s tall and heavy with the body roll to match it. The quicker steering ratio might be noticeable at intensifying speeds, but otherwise there’s not much feedback and it doesn’t much matter. Under moderate throttle and steering, it’s quiet and comfortable, as intended, and the guts are there if you need it, or want it. If you want anything more than that, look elsewhere. And the all-wheel-drive system is best for weather and road grip than anything off road.

Comfort & Quality
The 2020 Cadillac XT5 is a refined, comfy cruiser, but does not warrant the Platinum package.

Streamlined for 2020, the Cadillac XT5 starts well equipped and finishes with a Sport model that isn’t necessarily sporty, but helps to limit the need for a Platinum trim that last year led to a near $70,000 tag. Instead, XT5 buyers can get the more powerful engine and chassis, or stick with the more efficient engine, and still opt for a Platinum package that adds $8,150 when bundled. It’s not necessary, as the base Luxury XT5 fits the bill, but when has luxury ever been about necessity? We give it an 7 out of 10 for comfy seats and a quality finish. 

For the full luxury treatment, you might want to skip the synthetic leather on Luxury and and opt for the Premium Luxury. That Platinum package ups the ante even more with semi-aniline hides. But with leather seats standard on other luxury crossovers, we’re not sure it’s worth the upcharge on the XT5.  

The standard bucket seats are heated and eight-way power adjustable. Lumbar adjustment is on the higher trim levels, but the standard seats were comfy enough for us. The Platinum package makes the Sport model sexy and sporty, with more refined trim options and a mix of materials that offsets the black interior otherwise. 
In back, there are three seats but the two adults who fit back there will want to use the armrest in the middle seat. The second row can recline for comfort or slide to increase the 30 cubic feet of storage in back. We fit a goalie’s bag and a forward’s hockey bag back there, but it was a squeeze, and the sticks had to ride shotgun. The rear seat folds 60/40 to increase cargo space to 63 cubic feet.   

The streamlined trims makes the XT5 a better value while still being overall refined. We’re not sold on the Platinum package, however nice, because the Germans—and Lincoln and Genesis—do opulence better.

Safety
Curious crash-test scores and reservation of the best safety tech for higher trims hurt the 2019 Cadillac XT5’s safety score.

For 2020, Cadillac finally gives the XT5 the standard safety equipment it should for the price. A top five-star crash-test rating from the NHTSA helps its case, too, but the IIHS faults the headlights on the XT5, which precludes it from a Top Safety Pick award. As such, it earns a 7 out of 10. 

All XT5 come standard with automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, active lane control, and automatic high-beam headlights. Other safety features include a rear-seat reminder, and the teen driver feature that lets you remotely limit certain features such as radio volume and provides a report card for teen drivers. 

Blind-spot monitors and rear cross-traffic alert come standard on Premium Luxury and Sport trims. 
An enhanced automatic emergency braking is available, and can stop on its own at speeds slower than 50 mph, according to Cadillac. The IIHS said the standard system avoided collisions at speeds of 12 mph, and slowed impact speed by 9 mph on the 25 mph test. The enhanced AEB was rated at “Superior” for avoiding the low-speed collision and slowed impact speed by 24 mph on the 25 mph test. 

The IIHS dinged the XT5 for its standard headlights, which were found to have inadequate visibility on curves. 

Adaptive cruise control is also extra, even on the near-$60,000 Sport trim. At that point it should be included, but it wasn’t until this year that Cadillac threw in AEB as standard, so maybe they’ll eventually come all the way around.

Features
The feature list is German long, and Caddy no longer skimps on features for the base model XT5.

The 2020 Cadillac XT5 comes in three trims and a handful of packages, including the loaded Platinum package that last year was a trim. With standard equipment ranging from heated front seats and keyless entry to an 8.0-inch touchscreen and standard active safety features (see the Safety section), the XT5 comes with more equipment than ever before, and rates at an 8 out of 10. The 4-year/50,000-mile warranty sweetens the pot. 

The 2020 Cadillac XT5 starts at $45,090 (including $995 destination) in Luxury trim and comes with a 237-hp turbo-4 engine with 9-speed automatic in front-wheel drive. A power liftgate, keyless entry, remote start, and 18-inch alloy wheels come standard. Cadillac honors that trim name inside with a eight-way power adjustable driver’s seat, heated front seats, synthetic leather, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, Bose sound system with an XM radio trial subscription, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Four USB ports, including one USB-C, keep the XT5 fresh and fully loaded. 

We wouldn’t need much more than that, especially for the $6,700 step up into the Premium Luxury trim. It adds panoramic moonroof, leather seats, a rear cargo management system, heated steering wheel, wireless charging, blind-spot monitors, and rear cross-traffic alert. The V-6 is available on Premium Luxury. 
At the top of the line is the new Sport trim, which comes standard with the 310-hp 3.6L V-6 in AWD. At $57,085, it’s $3,300 more than Premium Luxury and at that point, you might as well go all-in. It’ll get you more muscular 20-inch wheels, an adaptive suspension, and quicker steering. Adaptive cruise control still costs extra, and must be paired with the Enhanced Visibility and Technology package, which together add $3,575 to the price. This rankles us. It should be a standalone option, at worst.  

Infotainment
For 2020, Cadillac introduces a rotary controller dial in the center console to help with infotainment. Other luxury makes, including Audi and BMW, have ditched the controller for larger touchscreens. Cadillac still has the 8.0-inch touchscreen and redundant steering controls, which means there are three ways to control audio and navigation; we barely used the controller. Beside the controller is an actual volume knob, which we used a lot. 

The redundant steering controls are a bit too spread out on the spokes of the steering wheel, and the new XT6 promises that Cadillac will streamline them into a horizontal band of switches. The XT5’s infotainment system is easy-to-use and responsive, though some of the touchscreen icons can be on the small side. Voice commands are above average, as well. 
The climate and heated seat buttons are touch capacitive and require a firm, hard touch. The temperature control only increases by single digits, so remote start is appreciated on winter mornings.

Fuel Economy
The new turbo-4 in the adds some needed fuel efficiency, but the 2020 XT5 needs more than that.

Most mid-size luxury crossovers are in line with the fuel economy of the 2020 Cadillac XT5, but the competitors are rolling out hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants. Cadillac is not. 

For now, the new 2.0-liter turbo-4 in front-wheel drive with a pretty seamless stop/start system is as efficient as it gets, with a 21 city, 28 highway, 24 combined mpg rating from the EPA. That’s good enough for a 4 out of 10. 

The 3.6-liter V-6 gets 18/26/21 mpg, and all-wheel drive with either engine drops 1 mpg from the combined and highway ratings. 

Both engines use cylinder deactivation at cruising speeds to increase efficiency, and the XT5 is just fine on unleaded fuel.


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