Review: 2017 Cadillac XT5 Platinum AWD

We test out Cadillac\'s all-new XT5 crossover.

Admittedly, I was a fan of the original Cadillac SRX. Essentially a tall wagon masquerading as a luxury SUV (with rear-wheel drive and an optional V8 to boot), the SRX drove better than pretty much everything else in the segment.

Fast forward to 2017 and that original SRX has morphed into the XT5 you see here, which itself is a followup to the softer, second-generation SRX. Long gone are the first SRX's rear drive and optional V8, but has any of the SRX's DNA managed to make it into the new XT5? Come with us as we find out.

What is it?Introduced for the 2017 model year, the XT5 represents Cadillac's only car-based utility vehicle. Actually, the XT5 is the only SUV Cadillac offers outside of the body-on-frame Escalade.

The XT5 ships standard with front-wheel drive, but all-wheel drive is available as an optional upgrade. A 3.6L V6 mated to a an eight-speed automatic transmission is the only drivetrain available.

The XT5 competes in the mid-size segment and offers seating for five. Cadillac is rumored to be working on a larger crossover that will sit above the XT5 and offer three-rows of seating.

What's it up against?The Cadillac XT5 squares off against a number of mid-size luxury SUVs, including the Lincoln MKX, Audi Q5, Lexus RX350, Mercedes-Benz GLC and BMW X3.

How does it look?The first-generation SRX was an interesting looking vehicle, but it wasn't exactly pretty. In that regard, the XT5 follows in the SRX's footsteps.

Your mileage may vary, but there is something off-putting about the XT5's proportions; the bodywork just seems too tall and upright for the car's relatively short overall length. An oversized grille and exaggerated versions of Cadillac's signature head- and taillights don't exactly help the XT5's aesthetics, either. The XT5's design is distinct enough to stand out from the crowd, but not necessarily for the right reasons.

And the inside?The XT5's interior is a pleasant enough place to spend a couple hours. The overall design is kind of plain, but there are enough angles and shapes to keep it somewhat interesting. And although we're still not huge fans of Cadillac's multi-material design approach, it looks as though designers at least put some thought into making the XT5's cabin feel upscale.

The issue for us is that it doesn't feel up-scale enough, at least in the case of our our Platinum tester, which carried a price tag of nearly $64,000. To put that into perspective, that's about seven-gran more than a Lexus RX 450h F Sport, which comes with a hybrid drivetrain and an interior that is anything but low rent.

Chief among our complaints is a steering wheel that looks like it was designed in the 1970s, gauges that could be from any generic 90s car and HVAC controls that feel completely out of place in a vehicle that costs roughly the same as a BMW M3. Cadillac's CUE infotainment system, with its slider volume knob and propensity for disobedience, continues to be be a source of frustration. We won't even get into CUE's smudge-prone display.

But at the end of the day the XT5 is still a Cadillac, so it at least has comfy seats and ample passenger room. Trunk space is also plentiful, aided by a clever cargo management system designed to keep everything in its place.

But does it go?The XT5 will eventually go, but you first have to work out its idiotic joystick-like gear lever. For the life of us we can't figure out why automakers continually try to reinvent the wheel when it comes to shifting gears. What was so wrong with the PRND setup in the first place? But we digress; that's a rant for another day.

Once you figure out how to get the XT5 into the right gear, its 310 horsepower 3.6L V6 offers plenty of gusto. We've read other people complain about the XT5's relative lack of grunt, but we really didn't find that to be the case. It's certainly no V model, but we found the XT5 to be plenty powerful.

The eight-speed auto performs well with smooth and quick shifts. Our only real gripe with the XT5's drivetrain is an auto-start system that can be obtrusive at times. Unfortunately, the on/off switch for the auto-start system is buried within the CUE system. We'd far prefer a button on the dash to switch off the system.

Steering, as you might expect, is numb and devoid of any road feeling in the XT5. And given Cadillac's recent sporty push, that's a shame. But it's probably for the best as the XT5's suspension isn't really tuned for fun. It tends to wallow in the bends. We also found the ride in the XT5 to be surprisingly jittery, with a rear end that seemed all too willing to bounce out of line.

The EPA says to expect 18mpg in the city and 26mpg on the highway, with a combined rating of 21mpg. We found those estimates to be pretty realistic.

Leftlane's bottom lineWith the Cadillac XT5, the apple has fallen pretty far from the SRX tree.

Everything about the XT5 is kind of middling; it's not tops in its segment for design, luxury or performance. Toss in a price tag that's on par with a well-equipped Audi Q7 and it's clear that there are better choices in this highly competitive segment.

2017 Cadillac XT5 Platinum AWD base price, $62,500. As tested, $63,845.Compact spare tire, $350; Destination, $995.

Photos by Drew Johnson.

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