The Cadillac XT5 is one of General Motors' quiet success stories. It's not the flashiest or best-known luxury vehicle in its class, but it's consistently one of the bestselling luxury vehicles in the country.
On the face of it, that makes sense. The XT5 is an approachable, comfortable way to get into a luxury SUV. But its commonality betrays its biggest weakness: despite being a competent option, it ultimately fails to stand out in a crowded segment.
Cadillac spent a lot of money to develop sports sedans with world-beating dynamics, only to find that its buyers far prefer its less exciting but more practical crossover. The XT5 has been a runaway success for the automaker, easily becoming the brand's bestselling model.
And that makes complete sense. While the company's sedans focus on performance-oriented buyers, the XT5 promises a more American luxury experience. As a result, it's incredibly comfortable over potholed city streets and remarkably quiet on the highway.
There's also a lot of space, with plenty of room for five full-size adults and all the baggage they'd need for a weekend trip. The front seats are particularly cushy, too, making the XT5 a good road trip companion.
As for technology, the XT5 offers most of the top-tier GM goodies you'd expect. Our $68,115 tester came with a night-vision camera system, a head-up display, heated and cooled front seats, a 360-degree parking camera and a rear camera mirror. Seats were soft black leather, while trim was a mix of polished aluminum and lacquered carbon fiber.
Finally, the 310-horsepower V-6 offered enough smooth power to make daily driving painless. It's not the brawniest or most exhilarating engine, but the 3.6-liter powerplant never feels overburdened.
The chassis, on the other hand, does feel overburdened. The downside of a cushy American luxury SUV is that, in any sort of quick turning, it feels unsteady and graceless. At its base price of $44,095, you might not expect an overly composed driving experience. But our Premium Luxury tester's $68,115 price tag put it deep into BMW and Mercedes territory.
And among that competition, the XT5 feels behind the times. Its rudimentary adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning pairing is no match for the sophisticated semi-autonomous systems offered by Mercedes, Audi, Volvo and — frustratingly — Cadillac's own CT6. Its powertrain is less sophisticated, its gas mileage less impressive. No part of the XT5 is bad in a vacuum, it just doesn't really stand out in any category.
Inside, too, it feels less lavishly appointed than competitors from Volvo, Lexus, and Mercedes. It's one of the better Cadillac interiors, but the company can't seem to kick its habit of using cheap plastics in expensive cars. Nothing inside has the same polish that the detailing in a BMW exhibits.
Even from the curb, the Cadillac isn't nearly as impressive as the competition. Its front-wheel-drive architecture — which also underpins the Chevrolet Blazer and GMC Acadia — gives it portly, uninspiring proportions. There's nothing fundamentally wrong with using common platforms, but the XT5 is worse at hiding its mainstream roots than SUVs like the Lincoln Corsair and Acura RDX.
Having a cheaper interior, less technology and worse looks than German competitors would be acceptable if the XT5's list price reflected those sacrifices. Unfortunately, though, our tester's $68,115 price tag felt way out of line. And though the XT5's compromises would make more sense if you were spending $45,000 on a base model, you'd lose a lot of the features that make it feel like a luxury car in the first place.
One common defense for GM's recent trend of high suggested prices is that the company is pricing in discounts. That may be true, but ultimately we have to evaluate the price that the manufacturer puts on the window. And at this price, we can't recommend the XT5.
That's not to say it's a bad car; it was relaxing, comfortable, and spacious. But almost every SUV in this class is comfortable and spacious. If you're charging nearly $70,000 for a crossover this size, it needs to be distinctive and impressive. The XT5, for all of its likable qualities, isn't. So unless you can get an absurd deal on one, we'd recommend most buyers opt for cars like the Volvo XC60, BMW X3, and Acura RDX.
Driving Experience: 3