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Thursday
Apr202017

Review: 2017 Cadillac XT5 Platinum

By Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla

I recently took the 2017 Cadillac XT5 Platinum to a Easter family trip to Montreal. I was wondering if this mid-sized SUV would fit my specific requirements, which was to haul three adults, one child, and all our necessities (plus space for some shopping on the way back).

I picked up a stunning Crystal White Tricoat Platinum model, which seems to be a shimmering white at first glance but which has a pearlescent sheen when the light hits it. The XT5 is balanced, not too muscular yet not insanely angular. 

Luxury levelled up


The XT5's cockpit is supremely well appointed and the driver's seat is likely the best one I've ever sat in, since it offers the delicate balance of support and comfort. My lower back and legs usually get destroyed during drives that are over three hours. Our drive from Toronto to Montreal took roughly six and a half with two stops and I arrived feeling refreshed, no pain. The armrest has a dock for smartphones as well as two USB ports.

The XT5 Platinum's interiors are a sensory feast. There's suede, lush black leather, metal tips on the buttons just where your fingers are likely to touch them, and a stylish interplay of carbon fiber-like materials, aluminum trim and soft leather.

Beyond the luxury, which is resplendent and feels and smells like the inside of a Coach purse, Cadillac's use of technology is similarly thoughtful. 

There's a Head's Up Display (HUD) which projects your velocity up on the windscreen, so you can keep your eyes on the road. This also gives you quick information that you're well behind cars or that you're free to swithc lanes. The HUD also flashes red (and triggers a vibration on your seat) when you're too close to the car in front of you, or if you're drifting lanes.

The rearview mirror can quickly morph into an HD video camera which feeds super-crisp video of what's behind you. This proved to be extremely useful since poor rear visibility was further hampered by our large amount of luggage.

The rearview mirror was also useful for seeing  surprised Q5's and Lexus RX's vanish on the horizon once the XT5 blasted past them, but more on that later.

Space surprises


One chooses an SUV mostly because of changing priorities and because they need space. Yes, all-wheel drive capability is great, specially in our Canadian Winter driving conditions, but many families or outdoorsy singles like spacious SUVs because they're an extension of their busy and multifunctional lives.

The Cadillac XT5 has more than enough headroom and legroom for three adults, it has many compartments and cubbies for keeping stuff, it also comes with various USB ports for charging devices (which can be connected to the onboard 4G-LTE hotspot). More impressive is the amount of storage you get behind. We managed to fit four rolling suitcases, a Nespresso machine, food and drink for days and various food and shopping items. I thought it all wouldn't fit, but it did.

Smart features

There were many new features that took some getting used to with the Cadillac XT5.

The automatic shifter, for examply is this little nubbin' that has the Reverse setting off the the left, it takes a bit of wiggling to get it going.

The front seatbelts tend to give you a tug when the car begins moving past a certain speed. It's a bit of a shock when this happens, even if the seatbelts do it gently and reassure you that they're all tight and secure.

The one feature that I didn't get used to, and which I feel will throw a lot of drivers off, is the Auto Stop/Start feature, which turns off the engine when the car decides you are idling.

It. Turns. Off. The. Engine!

City traffic is already a stressful enough situation for anyone to deal with. Specially in Montreal, where some drivers are, well, more agressive than what I am used to. 

So, when I felt the engine die while nudging into a stop, I panicked thinking something was wrong (did I not put the right gasoline in? Did all the Spotify streaming and navigation kill the battery?).

The engine does quickly start-up again once you press the accelerator, but it's an extra step and one that's still jarring to me after almost a week of driving the car.

This is part of the Cadillac XT5's Active Fuel Management (combined with a feature that turns off two cylinders when driving conditions require less fuel. Honestly, I never noticed two cylinders had taken a siesta).

My issue with this is how does the XT5 decide when it is the right time to disable cylinders, more importantly, how can it possibly know for certain when it should turn off the engine? That you can't turn off the feature as a driver is also quite confounding to me.

There were features that I easily got used to, and which I wish every car had. Surround Vision, which helps show you a layout of your surroundings on the display when you park, is very helpful. Same for the sensors that guide your through tight spaces.

Cadillac's CUE system, which manages infotainment, did a great job with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Looking at those two systems, I think CarPlay has a far more intuitive layout, even if it limits what apps I can access. Having Waze app run on CarPlay is a no brainer, yet it's not possibly.

Performance and fuel Economy


When it comes to performance, the Cadillac XT5 is really three vehicles in one.

Yes, it's a sleek grocery getter and car about town. Ride is buttery smooth, even in some of the more beat down roads. It's a bona-fide SUV, it stormed up Mont-Royal's streets and up the rocky streets leading up to St. Joseph's Oratory without any issue.

The best part is that the XT5 is also a sports-tourer. It can squeeze surprising acceleration from its 3.6 litre V-6 engine with such unbridled gusto that I had to look back to check I wasn't driving a CTS-V.

During the drive to Montreal, I got some attention from similar sized premium SUV's. Driven, likewise, by people who knew they had to haul families and priorities, but that didn't want to give up on the joy of driving.

Long drives, open roads, sensible drivers. These are all key ingredients of friendly, but competitive jaunts where SUVs are driven a bit more like sports sedans. Some side-eye, a knowing nod, and the next thing you know, there's some competition going on. 

So, while everyone in the car was napping, I slid the Driver Select Mode to Sport Mode and dueled with an Audi Q5's and a Lexus RX's and even a few BMW M5s making their way up. These are vehicles in roughly the same class, that may be more performance-focused,  but the XT5 was right in there with them.

The Cadillac XT5 delivers power and acceleration in measured doses but does so on demand and never loses composure. Needing to muster more torque to overtake a troublesome ten-wheeler, I pushed the XT5 and could almost hear the engine emitting a muted roar before it blasted forward.

There's two realities of the same event unfolding. The quiet interior, with rock-steady suspension cradling a family and all their stuff. The exterior is a white-lightning rocket slicing through gear changes fluidly while putting the engine's 310 horsepower to good use.

Conclusion


The crowded SUV market is dotted with a wide selection of do-it-all vehicles that promise comfort, the ability to haul personal cargo plus performance. Cadillac's XT5 doesn't only belong in this conversation, it should be considered a top contender.

With laudable fuel economy, lot's of power on tap, peerless luxury and interior comfort makes the Cadillac XT5 my favourite SUV in this size and class. It has also made Cadillac a marquee that I'll keep in mind next time I'm shopping for a family car.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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