Entry price: $50,795
Price as tested: $67,765
This week we drive the 2021 Cadillac XT5, one of three new XT level smaller SUVs introduced in 2020 to rave reviews. Our tester arrived in mid-level AWD Premium Luxury trim with a starting price of $50,795.
To better explain Cadillac’s new XT family, it includes the smaller Sub Compact XT4, Compact XT5 and near Midsize XT6. All are front wheel drive platform Cadillacs unless you opt for the AWD model that adds additional traction to the rear wheels via a dual clutch 4x4 unit. With XT4 and XT5 utilizing a similar yet impressive front end styling, the XT6 features a straight up front end with a different headlight pattern.
These smaller Cadillac SUVs join flagship full size Escalade (116 inch wheelbase) and stretched Escalade ESV (130 inch wheelbase), which are the ultra-luxurious, beyond full size family members with 420 horsepower V8s under the hood. As for sibling wheelbase comparisons the XT4 is 109.4 inches while the XT5 is 112.5 inches, a mere two tenths of an inch less than the XT6 at 112.7-inches.
The XT5 offers decent room inside and its smaller SUV format allows for easier parking than the larger Escalades. Also on the plus side is its standard Ultra View sunroof with sunshade that reaches all the way back to behind the second row seating.
New for 2021 finds all Cadillac XT lines offering three trims of Luxury, Premium Luxury and Sport, unlike 2020 when the XT6 was available only in two trims, notably Premium Luxury and Sport. As we mentioned in our review of the XT4 last year, Sport trim XT series Cadillacs are the top line models to better compete with the European, Italian and United Kingdom luxury sport SUV models like Range Rover, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, Porsche, Maserati and Alfa Romeo.
The 2021 XT5 is indeed a great looking smaller SUV that comes with a host of standard luxury features, from most every high tech driver assist to expected modern day safety from lane correction to other ultimate driving enhancements.
One option, albeit expensive, is a $4,850 Platinum Package. Included are beautifully stitched leather appointments that add an extra touch of Cadillac affluence. The semi-aniline leather seating is ultra-inviting and comfortable while a micro-fiber suede headliner adds to the opulence. Also featured are leather wrapped console and door trim, illuminated door sills and premium carpeted floor mats. However, the most important part of this selection, to this scribe at least, is the real time damping performance suspension with mode select for your choice of driving modes based on preference and/or weather conditions. Is it worth near $5K? To some yes, to others no.
Power comes from a $1,000 optional 310-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 that replaces the standard turbocharged inline-4 on all trims. However, the inline-4 turbo, with 237 horses and 258 lb. ft. of torque, is the only engine available on the XT4 trim, while if you choose a three-row XT6 or an XT5, the V6 comes as standard fare once you get to the Luxury Premium and Sport trims. The V6 torque is good at 271 lb. ft. while the 9-speed automatic, used in all trims, shifts effortlessly with a manual mode shift gate if you want to change gears manually.
Which brings us to the big question thus far: Is the XT5 a better buy than both the X4 and X6 based on engine choices and the fact that the XT6 is only two tenths of an inch longer in wheelbase than the XT5?
As for price, the XT4 starts with 2WDs at $35,795, the XT5 at $43,995 while the XT6 starts at $47,995. I’d test drive all three and then make a choice. Personally, having driven all three and if I were signing on the dotted line, mine would indeed be an XT5. For AWD models, add approximately $2,500 to $3,000 more to the 2WD prices, depending on model choice. Also notable is that the V6 is standard on XT5 and XT6 AWD models, while the XT4 features the inline-4 turbo engine on its AWD trim.
Underneath, a MacPherson strut front setup couples with a multi-link rear suspension making for a very smooth driving experience. The standard 20-inch Michelin tires assist in cornering grip and highway cruising and the optional polished split spoke alloy wheels for $1,700 more really enhance XT5s motif. It’s an expensive, nonessential upgrade, but a Cadillac with spoke style polished alloys is to me a Cadillac necessity. Fuel mileage is acceptable at 18 city 26 highway for the V6 while the inline-4 turbo delivers 22 city and 29 highway.
Instead of listing over 70 standard amenities, which include wireless Android and Apple, here are the additional options that make our XT5 Cadillac even more desirable; a $2,275 Advanced Visibility and Tech package adds a rear camera mirror with washer, 8-inch color gauge cluster with driver customization, automatic parking assist with braking, rear pedestrian alert, HD surround vision, and color head-up display.
Next is a $1,300 Driver Assist package with adaptive smart cruise, advanced automatic emergency braking, auto seat belt tightening and reverse automatic braking.
Then for $1,025 more, the Cadillac User Experience adds embedded navigation and a great sounding Bose Performance Series 14-speaker upgrade that replaces the 8-speaker standard Bose surround stereo.
For $1,250 is an air quality and comfort package that features heated rear outboard seats, air ionizer, ventilated front seating and tri-zone climate control. The last option is a Dark Moon Blue Metallic paint for an additional $625 that when combined with $995 delivery, the final retail comes in at $67,765. Check with your Cadillac dealer for current incentives on both lease and buy programs.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 112.5 inches, 4,338 lb. curb weight, from 30.2 to 63.3 cu. ft. of cargo space, 7.8-inch ground clearance, and a 21.7 gallon fuel tank.
In summary, the 2021 XT5 Premium Luxury AWD is an extraordinary Cadillac SUV. It may lack a more powerful engine than some competitors, but I’m hoping to see perhaps a twin-turbo V6 join the family in the future. Still, the Cadillac XT family is sure to be a popular showroom attraction with the XT5 my choice as an XT series best buy.
Likes: Great ride and handling, terrific interior, outstanding looks.
Dislikes: More power would be nice, Sport trim not performance oriented, not much else.
Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and Gannett Co. Inc. Contact him at email@example.com or at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, PA 18840.
Test Drive: 2021 Cadillac XT5 Premium Luxury AWD
Entry price: $50,795