2020 Cadillac XT5

By May 1, 2020

The 2020 Cadillac XT5 is the brand’s midsize crossover, positioned squarely between the compact XT4 and large XT6. Despite a somewhat indistinct personality, this five-passenger luxury vehicle has been Cadillac’s top-selling crossover since its 2017 introduction, in part thanks to its smooth and quiet ride.

Updating for the 2020 model year gives the XT5 a pair of engine choices, as well as a bolder appearance and a more refined cabin. Standard in Luxury and Premium Luxury trim levels, a new turbocharged four-cylinder engine joins the original V-6. A new Sport trim level joins the lineup and comes with V-6 power, while the previous Platinum trim level has been downgraded to a costly option package.

A rotary controller within the console has been installed, to complement the 8.0-inch touchscreen and redundant steering wheel controls. Cadillac also has expanded the list of standard active safety technology, adding automatic emergency braking.

The new 2.0-liter turbo-4 engine produces 237 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, working with a 9-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard, while all-wheel drive adds $2,000 to the price.

Sport models come standard with all-wheel drive and get a 3.6-liter V-6, which develops 410 hp and 271 lb-ft of torque. In addition to an adaptive suspension, Sport versions feature a quicker steering ratio for a sportier feel. The V-6 is also available on Premium Luxury trim as a $1,000 option. Models with the V-6 use the same 9-speed automatic as the turbo-4 editions.

Adding the turbo-4 engine gives the XT5 better fuel-efficiency figures. With front-wheel drive, the XT5 is EPA-rated at 21 mpg city, 28 highway, and 24 combined. All-wheel drive reduces fuel economy to 21/26/23 mpg. The V-6 achieves 18/26/21 mpg with FWD, or 18/25/20 mpg with AWD. Both engines use cylinder deactivation at cruising speeds and run on regular gasoline.

Crash-test results have been admirable, from both the federal government and independent testing agencies. The NHTSA has given the XT5 a five-star overall safety rating, while it received the top rating of “Good” on all five of the IIHS’ crash tests. However, it failed to earn a Top Safety Pick designation due to its “Marginal” headlights.

Standard active safety features include automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, forward-collision warnings, active lane control, lane-departure warnings, front and rear parking sensors, and automatic high-beam headlights. A Teen Driver and rear-seat reminder feature also are standard.

The top two trims add blind-spot monitors, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane-change assist. They can also be enhanced by two active safety packages, which add features such as a head-up display, a surround-view camera system, adaptive cruise control, and enhanced automatic emergency braking, which can bring the XT5 to a halt at speeds below 50 mph.

Model Lineup

Three trim levels are offered on the XT5: Luxury, Premium Luxury, and Sport.

The Luxury model costs $45,090 to start, and it includes heated and power front seats, synthetic leather upholstery, keyless entry, remote start, a Bose eight-speaker audio system, a power liftgate, 18-inch alloy wheels, and a collection of advanced safety features. The infotainment system includes an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.

The $49,790 Premium Luxury trim adds a panoramic moonroof, leather seating surfaces, a heated steering wheel, wireless charging, a hands-free power liftgate, a rear cargo management system, rain-sensing windshield wipers, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, blind-spot monitors, lane-change assist, and rear cross-traffic alert.

The Sport starts at $56,090 and adds the V-6, all-wheel drive, 20-inch wheels, black roof rails, and an adaptive suspension, a heavy-duty cooling system, and quicker steering.

Exterior

The Cadillac XT5’s subtle body cladding and 18-inch wheels create a rather bulky profile, but the overall design can be considered sedate. Tall, vertical LED headlights frame the bold grille, which contains the familiar pentagonal Cadillac crest.

Though not unattractive, the XT5 doesn’t quite stand apart from the luxury crossover pack. Even so, avoiding the angularity and giant grilles that have become common in this category is a point in Cadillac’s favor.

Interior

Comfortable seats and high-quality finishes help to create a refined cabin. Black and chrome elements add to the urbane aura. For a warmer feel, open-pore wood and semi-aniline leather are available, along with a leather-wrapped console and door panels.

Standard front bucket seats are comfortable, as well as heated and eight-way power adjustable. Upper trim levels incorporate lumbar adjustment.

Three adults may fit on the rear seat, but two adults will be more contented. Rear seatbacks may recline for added comfort, and the seat can slide forward to increase cargo space. The XT5 offers 30.2 cubic feet of cargo capacity behind the second row, or a total of 63 cubic feet with it folded down.

On the distinctive dashboard, touch-capacitive climate-control buttons demand a firm touch to activate. Each push raises the temperature by a single digit. Steering wheel controls are too spread out for easy use.

Cadillac’s infotainment system uses an 8.0-inch touchscreen, with a controller that’s an active volume-control knob. Some touchscreen icons are small, but the system is responsive and easy to use.

Driving Impressions

Even in Sport trim, the Cadillac XT5 is better for cruising than for tackling tight maneuvers, delivering a soft and quiet ride. Though outdated, the potent V-6 engine is reliable and familiar. It’s also rather gruff, in opposition to the easygoing nature of the XT5.

Performance with the V-6 isn’t substantially stronger than the new turbo-4 provides. The four-cylinder engine is better suited to the XT5’s comfortable attitude, yet acceleration from a standstill is impressive. Pushing hard on the pedal can shove front passengers back in their bolstered bucket seats. Easy off the gas, and the XT5 becomes quiet and comfortable.

When cold, the 9-speed transmission can strain to reach the next gear. Paddle shifters are helpful to downshift for passing. Cadillac’s all-wheel-drive system is best for bad weather and road grip, rather than any off road duties.

At best, the XT5 handles like a crossover – no surprise there. Sport trim and sport mode won’t turn the XT5 into a performance crossover. Though sportier, it’s still tall and heavy, allowing noticeable body roll. Adaptive dampers on the Sport model absorb some stiffness from its 20-inch tires. The Sport’s quicker steering ratio might not be noticeable at lower speeds.

Final Word

Though well equipped even in base trim, the comfortable and refined 2020 Cadillac XT5 costs more than rivals. Modified trim levels have narrowed the gap between low- and high-end models, making the XT5 more competitive in price. Note that the Sport trim isn’t particularly sporty, and the best value of the lot is the base Luxury model.

—by James M. Flammang, with driving impressions from The Car Connection

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