Cadillac XT4 — Charming small crossover

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Many luxury brands offer a full range of crossover sport utility vehicles to meet the needs of virtually every customer. BMW has so many variants it's hard to keep track of the number. On the other hand, Cadillac is woefully lacking a comprehensive crossover lineup, but plans to rectify its dearth of SUVs with an onslaught of new product over the next few years. The first has reached showrooms in the form of the compact XT4 and it's a good place to start because the small luxury crossover segment is one of the hottest in the business.

We found the XT4 to be a charming vehicle with considerable attributes that should attract new buyers to Cadillac, including eye-catching styling, a fuel-efficient turbocharged engine, adequate front and rear-seat legroom, a useable infotainment system, and a good assortment of safety technology. Unfortunately, much of the safety tech comes only as optional equipment.

And herein lies our biggest criticism. While the XT4 carries a very attractive starting price of $35,790 including destination charge, you will have to move up to the top trim levels to get features you normally expect in a luxury crossover, and even then you will have to add a couple of optional packages for the good stuff. Most people we think could be satisfied with a XT4 priced in the mid-40s, but it's possible to push through the 50 grand ceiling such as our all-wheel drive Premium Luxury model that carried a bottom line of $54,785.

The XT4 comes in three trim levels — Luxury, Premium Luxury and Sport. The base Luxury trim is decently equipped with LED headlights, 18-inch wheels, power-adjustable front seat, simulated leather upholstery, keyless entry and ignition, dual-zone climate-control, an eight-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth, four USB outlets and a seven-speaker sound system. What's missing are safety aids that come standard on most vehicles in the 35 grand price range including blind-spot monitoring, cross-traffic alert, lane keep assist, and adaptive cruise control. Also missing are luxury goodies such as power liftgate, cargo cover, heated seats, and power controls for the front passenger seat.

The best bet is to opt for either the Premium Luxury or Sport trims, both starting at $40,290 including destination charge. If you want the sportier side of the Cadillac opt for the Sport model, which brings an adaptive suspension and racier exterior and interior styling elements.

But even then, many desirable features have to be added as options including a sunroof ($1,550), navigation ($1,500), driver assistance including adaptive cruise and automatic braking ($1,100) comfort and convenience including power passenger seat, cooled front seats, and power liftgate ($1,050), and passive safety such as forward collision alert and lane keep assist ($770). All wheel drive is available across the lineup for $2,500.

Properly equipped, the stylish Cadillac holds its own against the formidable competition. That includes its engine-transmission combination — with a 237 horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder while making 258 pound-feet of torque, which features cylinder deactivation to save fuel while cruising, and a 9-speed automatic that's standard across the lineup.

For comparison purposes, the XT4 can complete a 0-to-60 run in mid-7-second territory, which is slow compared to several competitors. But in real-world driving, we found the crossover snappy off the line and able to merge and pass slower traffic without drama; although the XT4 lacks good steering feel. If a comfortable ride is high on your list of needs, don't opt for the optional 20-inch wheels that make the suspension a bit more bouncy on road imperfections.

On the plus side, the XT4 sports decent fuel economy EPA measured at 24 mpg city, 30 highway and 26 combined for front-wheel drive, and 22/29/24 for all-wheel drive. The downside — the engine requires the high-priced premium gas. The engine also offers good towing capacity rated at 3,500 pounds when properly equipped.

The interior is attractive with Cadillac's engaging dashboard arrangement. Cadillac’s CUE interface for its infotainment system adds a new dial-type controller for operations on its standard 8.0-inch touchscreen, as well as some well-placed buttons. We like that the large controller giving us the ability to easily dial up satellite radio stations not on our preset list. A near-field communication system is said to simplify the process of phone pairing, while wireless inductive charging pads, available on the top trims, boast faster charge times.

Cargo space is good for a small crossover with 22.5 cubic feet behind the seats and 48.9 cubic feet with seatbacks folded.

Cadillac offers an excellent drivetrain warranty of six years or 70,000 miles. Bumper-to-bumper warranty is four years/50,000 miles.

Base price: $35,790; as driven, 54,785
Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder
Horsepower: 237 @ 5,000 rpm
Torque: 258 foot-pounds @ 1,500 rpm
Transmission: 9-speed automatic
Drive: all wheel
Seating: 2/3
Wheelbase: 109.4 inches
Length: 181.1 inches
Curb weight: 3,896 pounds
Turning circle: 38.0 feet
Luggage capacity: 22.5 cubic feet
Cargo capacity: 48.9 cubic feet
Towing capacity: 3,500 pounds
Fuel capacity: 15.9 gallons (premium recommended)
EPA rating: 22 city, 29 highway, 24 combined (AWD)
0-60: 7.1 seconds (Car and Driver)
Also consider: Infiniti QX30, BMW X3, Volvo XC40

The Good
• Excellent rear-seat legroom
• Stylish inside and out
• Good gas mileage

The Bad
• Sluggish acceleration

The Ugly
• Base XT4 lacks many luxury items