What is it?
Cadillac is the latest manufacturer to have clocked the fact that the world (and not just the US) loves SUVs. So it’s going to start making lots of new ones – four of them, to be precise – all sitting below the ‘iconic’ Escalade in its range.
The first new Cadillac SUV is the XT5. It sits between a BMW X3 and a BMW X5, although it is closer to the latter in size. For those of you who know your North American SUVs, the XT5 replaces the quirky-looking SRX in Cadillac’s range. Google it.
It’s the first model to be based on Cadillac’s new architecture for SUVs: a flexible structure that will go on to underpin the other three promised models. One will be bigger than the XT5 (yet not as big as the Escalade) and the other two smaller.
The word ‘new’ is mentioned a lot in the blurb on the XT5, and is used to describe the engine and interior among other things. But if looking at the pictures and reading this light overview of the XT5’s vitals has you rushing towards the phone wishing to order one immediately, you can’t, dear UK resident.
Brexit or no Brexit, Cadillac is offering the XT5 only in mainland Europe. Now, why could that be?
What's it like?
Ah. That’s why. It’s, erm, not very good. It has plainly been set-up exclusively for wallowing around on US highways (and there’s nothing wrong with that per se, for that’s what 99% of the XT5s sold will likely do), but the fact is Cadillac offers it for European buyers on European roads leaves it open to criticism.
The whole thing lacks sophistication. This is quite worrying when this is the first SUV off a new architecture with the world ‘global’ in it, which could in time produce smaller, more Euro-friendly models that could make it to the UK if Cadillac follows up its interest in making models with right-hand drive, and diesel and plug-in hybrid drivetrains.
It doesn’t ride very well at all. Bumps at low speeds are felt too readily in the cabin, and any kind of undulation or dip in the road at higher speeds sends the body wobbling. The body control feels close to non-existent; any passenger suffering from car sickness should take the train instead. When the body moves, you sway around with it.
It doesn’t ride well and it doesn’t handle well either. The steering feels springy around the centre and is devoid of any feel. When you corner, you feel like you’re in the sidecar of a racing bike, helping the thing balance itself round corners.
The XT5’s all-new engine also underwhelms. There are normally aspirated engines to be celebrated and preserved, but this all-new Cadillac engine isn’t one of them. It feels gutless and doesn’t sound great either. It’s smooth enough, and the eight-speed transmission is fairly slick-shifting once you’re on the move, but it never feels as brisk as those power and torque figures make out. What it does feel is anaemic.
Redeeming features? It’s spacious, and offers plenty of room for all passengers and their luggage. The driving position is nice and visibility is good. There’s also a shed-load of equipment included as standard, including loads of active safety stuff, an infotainment system with a full suite of connectivity functions such as Apple CarPlay, a 34-speaker Bose sound system and everything else is electrically-powered and adjustable. Indeed, the only option is colour.