Cadillac jumps into compact luxury crossover pool with 2019 XT4

By Paul Borden

(January 21, 2019) MIAMI — Cadillac enters the fast growing compact luxury SUV segment with the 2019 XT4, its third SUV/Crossover model, joining the midsize XT5 and behemoth Escalade. A fourth, the XT6, will be added for 2020.

With a starting price of under $36,000, the XT4 offers what is by today's standards an “affordable” way to flaunt your economic success, though it should be pointed out that you are going to have to spend more, much more in some cases, to enjoy the full scope of what the luxury class has to offer.

A bit more on that later.

The XT4 comes in three trim levels — Premium, Luxury, and Sport — all powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that offers good fuel efficiency (24 miles-per-gallon city, 30 highway with front-wheel drive models and 22/39 with AWD) and a lively performance.

That engine delivers 237 horsepower at 5,000 rpm and 258 pound-feet of torque from 1500-4000 rpm and is mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission that may be run in Tour or Sport mode (selection is by pressing a button by the shifter on the console). Manual gear selection is accomplished via paddle shifters.

That button, by the way, is next to one that allows you to disable the stop/start function that many find to be an annoyance not worth whatever fuel-saving that technology provides.

That’s the second-best thing about the XT4. The best is the upgrade to the infotainment system Cadillac replaced the former CUE (Cadillac User Experience) system with. CUE must have seemed like a good idea at the time when it was introduced on the new 2013 ATS sedan, but it proved highly problematic.

It had a tendency to respond if a hand simply got near the touchscreen whether you intended to make an adjustment or not. Other times it just locked up. I think whoever designed it wound up in a Bud Light dungeon along with mead drinkers.

With the new system on the XT4, adjustments for such operations as navigation, audio, etc. are made using the 8.5 clear touchscreen, though climate control functions also work off buttons near the bottom of the center stack. It may not be the most user friendly I’ve experienced, but it’s pretty close.

The XT4 may reside in the compact class, but its interior has more the feel of a midsize cabin. It offers 40.4 inches of legroom up front to the XT5’s 41.2 inches, and the 39.5 inches of legroom for the second row matches that on the XT5, which is classed as a midsize.

Cargo volume is 22.5 cubic feet behind the second row and 48.9 with those seats folded. That’s less than what the XT5 offers (30 cubic feet behind the second row, 63 with that row folded) but is adequate for most tasks.

The XT4’s towing capacity is 3,500 pounds with a trailering package, which matches the XT5’s capacity.

Cadillac continues to upgrade the cabin’s ambiance, and if it doesn’t match up to some of its competitors, it’s still high grade with lots of soft-touch spots around. It has room for five passengers, and the driver’s seat is power adjustable 8 ways, the passenger’s 6 ways.

Now, more about pricing.

The XT4 Sport model that served as my test vehicle came with a base MSRP of $42,790 (including destination and delivery). Standard equipment included LED headlamps and taillights, keyless start, 4-way power lumbar support for the driver and front passenger, remote start, an 8-inch color display, power liftgate, rain-sensing wipers, lane change alert with blind spot alert (accomplished by a gentle vibration in the driver’s seat), and rear cross traffic alert.

That’s a nice array of equipment and can make you happy. But to go full luxury, adding features such as leather seating surfaces (replacing Leatherette), ventilated front seats with massage function, dual pane sunroof, navigation with real-time traffic, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, HD surround view camera, parking assist, adaptive cruise control, and more you need to look into options and option packages.

Such options ran the final tab on this particular XT4 Sport to $57,735. No doubt you could live without such features as a head-up display and 20-inch wheels (replacing the standard 18s). But even a few of the extra packages can get the final price over $50,000.

What I liked about the 2019 Cadillac XT4 Sport: The infotainment system has been refined since Cadillac ditched the infamous CUE (Cadillac User Experience) setup, which helps get you to functions quicker and easier. There are better systems, but this is such an improvement it's worth noting. The ride is very smooth and quiet. Very quiet. Passengers in the rear have generous legroom.

What I didn't like about the 2019 Cadillac XT4 Sport: You have to pay extra for a lot of options to get most of the goodies that are associated with luxury vehicles. This includes safety equipment like a surround view camera (replacing the standard rearview camera) and forward collision alert.

Would I buy the 2019 Cadillac XT4 Sport? Yes. If you are looking for a luxury five-passenger SUV, you should give it a look.