Cadillac unveiled a completely new compact SUV on Tuesday in New York City at an event that executives have said will mark the start of a long-awaited reinvention of the brand.
The XT4, a slightly smaller sibling to Cadillac's current XT5, was revealed at Cadillac House before the New York International Auto Show. It is the first of several vehicles Cadillac plans to release over the next several years as it refreshes its lineup to catch up to rivals.
The XT4 starts at $35,790 including destination charge, making it relatively inexpensive for a luxury brand that routinely prices its products more in line with those from luxury German brands. The vehicle will go on sale in fall 2018. Customers can begin pre-ordering the vehicle at the end of March, Cadillac said. The vehicle has four doors and a rear hatch and seats five people.
The SUV is expected to offer the most rear-seat room in its segment (39.5 inches), Cadillac said. When the rear seats are folded down, the vehicle has 48.9 cubic feet of cargo volume.
The base model is called "Luxury," and there are higher-level "Premium Luxury" and "Sport" trims. These trims are collectively part of a new approach to trims that Cadillac is debuting on the XT4 and the 2019 CT6, a premium sedan.
The engine is a new 2.0-liter turbo with what Cadillac says are "new efficiency-enhancing technologies" including Active Fuel Management, a General Motors technology that deactivates some of the engine's cylinders when not needed. The transmission is a nine-speed automatic. It gets 25 miles per gallon in the city and 30 on the highway.
With the XT4, Cadillac is looking to broaden its product portfolio beyond the higher-end sedans it has been known for. It is also positioning the vehicle, and its overall brand, as youthful and futuristic. Cadillac had hyped the model with a series of TV commercials flashing parts of the vehicle and showing it in darkened silhouette. Cadillac notably ran a few different commercials during the 2018 Academy Awards, such as the one below.
It is part of a 10-year program Cadillac started in 2015 to overhaul its business, making big changes to aspects such as dealer operations and marketing strategy. The company has pretty consistently lost market share against competitors in recent years and has missed out on the shift from sedans and compact cars toward SUVs, trucks and crossovers.
But that is going to change, Cadillac president Johan de Nysschen told CNBC in early March.
"The first-ever Cadillac XT4 will be followed by a torrent of new entries at an average rate of one new Cadillac every six months through 2021," de Nysschen told CNBC. "The upcoming product assault will also see the elevation of the Cadillac species in terms of product substance — which we define as the confluence of sophistication, craftsmanship, ingenuity and quality."