A smooth and stylish Crossover with just enough power to please
By Cam Benty
We drive a lot of cars – Porsches, Audi’s, Alfas and the like. But during out Cadillac XT4 test we had more folks stop us to ask about the newest Cadillac. Most amazing of all is the fact that we don’t drive in Middle America – this test was performed in car-jaded California. While driving this clean little crossover, we just could not hide and when they found that the base price starts just over $35K, they really became nosy.
The Cadillac XT4 is the latest offering from GM’s luxury leader. Powered by an in-line four cylinder 2.0-liter engine boosted through the help of an efficient turbocharger, churns out 258 ft. lbs of torque and 237 horsepower. We can tell you that for crossover fans, the acceleration is more than acceptable. The engine is extremely smooth and vibration free – just what you would expect of a Cadillac. That smooth application of power is helped by the nine-speed transmission with shifts that we challenge you to count.
If you think this is the same 2.0-liter engine that can be found in assorted GM cars, you’d be wrong. This unit is 15 lbs lighter than the other Cadillac two liters with a dual-scroll turbocharger backed with an electric waste-gate. Assisting the advanced turbocharged engine are a variable valve timing camshafts with three lobe profiles, variable oil pump, cylinder deactivation system for increased mileage output (yes – less than four cylinders working some of the time) through the use of a no-lift valve profile within the valve train.
Paddle shifters are positioned in the usual place but really can’t be a big deal for folks driving this Cadillac – it just doesn’t see part of the demographic even to enlist the downshift mode that appeals to some performance drivers. Even the SPORT mode is probably not going to be a big part of the agenda, this mode changing the shift points for the transmission and engine “logic” that is noted with different rpm levels when triggered. The reason the off-the-line-performance is good is because the first gear is very steep allowing for quick take offs. Cadillac states 0 to 60 mph times in the 7-second range, which, on paper, sounds poor, but in real life is fine. Really, it’s just fine.
The drive system is plenty complex especially when the XT4 is ordered with the All-Wheel-Drive system. This amazing upgrade uses a pair of internal clutches in the rear – one for each half shaft – which allows for something called “mechanical torque vectoring.” This means that the XT4 ensures that the proper amount of torque is applied to each of the rear wheels in a “need to go” manner. Having had to run the XT4 through some inclement weather during our test week, we can assure you that it worked well. When pushed to the limit of adherence in cornering, we did see some feedback from the stability control but again, we don’t think most XT4 owners will ever get to this level of driving dynamics.
Cornering ability with the compact crossover XT4 is one of the highlights of the vehicle all but eliminating the need to call for a K-turn in most cases. This crossover is perfect for city driving. The ride itself was good for the most part but some of the heavily grooved highways had it way with the small vehicle. That was a first in our testing of Cadillacs – most delivering highway bliss due to soft springs and long wheelbases. Braking with the XT4 was excellent, the overall feel of the crossover light and agile – something the big Caddys are not.
Inside the XT4 is all Cadillac with lots of fun stuff to touch and twist. The oversize 8.0-inch center display was filled with the usual GM-designed content including an easy to use and bright navigation screen that was one of the best we have witnessed. The array of buttons below the screen (13 across the top and nine along the bottom) are a statement to out need for technology and the gauges that dominate the instrument panel (speedometer and tachometer) are simple and easy to read. With both CarPlay and Android Auto apps, most folks will bypass much of the factory infotainment equipment for these cell-phone based elements. But should you forget your cell phone, a few pokes of the very intuitive screen will get you anything you need.
Interior styling is pleasant with various wood inlays but bolstered with more helpful modern surfaces that work for a younger target audience – what we believe is the buyer of this vehicle. The rear seat legroom is one of the vehicle’s downfalls, its just not adult ready. Front seat legroom is excellent and seat articulation through the numerous controls puts you in exactly the right place for driving and your passengers in the right place for lounging. Unfortunately the more comfortable you are in the front seat, the less comfortable you probably are in the back seat. Headroom all around is ample and the rear cargo area was good, but not overwhelming. This is not an Escalade and don’t forget it!
The XT4 is a break out vehicle for Cadillac and one that clearly, from our personal experience, is sparking interest with the public. The design is striking and slippery and the high-grade alloy wheels with all-season tires only help the attractive looks and able footing we experienced. The XT4 is a super nice crossover for a young family or couple looking for nice performance and average mileage. In our testing we rarely achieved 30 mpg and for some that is a deal breaker. Frankly, the Cadillac XT4 is an attractive crossover that will draw an audience for great looks, good performance and key luxury features . . . and as we found out, it draws a crowd everywhere it goes.