2019 Cadillac XT4 — All-new small SUV is a sweetheart

By Jim Prueter

(April 28, 2019) There’s no disagreement that one of the fastest growing automotive segments is the compact luxury utility vehicle. It’s a field that’s growing more crowded by the day, which brings us to one of the latest additions, the compact Cadillac XT4 driven here.

With the Escalade, Cadillac already had one of the best-known luxury SUVs on the market, but their portfolio was far from complete. In 2017, they added the overdue, sharply styled, mid-sized Cadillac XT5 crossover, replacing the aging SRX, which fell far short of competitors from Germany and Japan. The XT5 became wildly popular, outselling varsity brands like the Audi Q5, BMW X5 and X3, and Mercedes-Benz GLC and slotting in the number two position behind the number one selling Lexus RX.

With its portfolio still incomplete, 2019 brought the desperately needed and all new smaller subcompact XT4 crossover to Cadillac showrooms. The XT4 is destined to compete with vehicles like the Audi Q3, BMW X1, Mercedes-Benz GLA, Jaguar E-Pace and others. Know that the XT4 is a bit larger than those vehicles, slotting between them and the larger Q5, X5, GLC and its larger XT5 sibling. In fact it’s exactly the same length as the 2018 Toyota RAV4.

Cadillac executives say the XT4 is but another in a slew of new vehicles on the horizon that will bring significant innovation and, hopefully, customers back to the Cadillac brand.

The XT4 comes in a choice of three trim levels: Luxury, Premium Luxury and our test vehicle provided by Cadillac, Sport, which is mostly an appearance package with things like a gloss black window moldings and mesh grille, clear taillight lenses and specific Sport alloy wheel choices. The Sport’s only performance advantage is the ability to add an active sport suspension featuring continuous damping control 500 times per second. But at $1,200 extra, it doesn’t come cheap.

All trim levels are powered by just one engine choice: the all-new 2.0-liter 237-horsepower twin-scrolled turbocharged four-cylinder that’s connected to a nine-speed automatic transmission controlled by an electronic shift lever that works surprisingly well. Front-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive optional. We found the turbocharger spooled up quickly, providing immediate low-end punch without the usual annoying turbo lag found in numerous competitors.

There was excellent high-speed power for passing on the expressway and for overtaking slower traffic on two-lane roads. A couple of notable downsides: the engine gets loud and buzzy when revved under full acceleration, and the returned fuel economy was just 22.7 mpg overall with premium gasoline, unimpressive for the class.

It does however have a fuel-saving start-stop system that operated smoothly; there is a button on the console to turn it off if so desired. Active safety features like forward and reverse automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, and active cruise control will cost you extra $1,100 and aren’t even available on the base Luxury trim level.

Oddly, if you want to add forward collision alert, front pedestrian braking, automatic high beam control, lane keep and lane departure assist you’ll have to spring for an additional $770.

The XT4 seats five on standard faux leather upholstery. If you prefer real leather, you’ll have to pony up an additional $2,450 but you also get an eight-way power passenger seat, massaging heated and ventilated front seats, and a hands-free rear liftgate. Passenger seat comfort up front was excellent as are the rear seats, where legroom is surprisingly ample. Headroom is limited for taller occupants.

Optional Cadillac User Experience ($1,500), with embedded navigation, Bose audio system surround sound, phone integration for both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, is one of the most pleasant surprises about the XT4. It’s completely redesigned and vastly improved over the generally despised CUE system we’ve experienced on other Ca
dillac products.

With the XT4, Cadillac has replaced the fussy flat-panel controls with buttons, switches and dials for most tasks. Those functions work in concert with a simple and intuitive rotary controller on the center console for a pleasant experience. The row of buttons below the smallish eight-inch touchscreen, however, are very small and nearly impossible to read. There are amber lights on the buttons – such as for the A/C unit – but the color is difficult to detect in bright daylight and a glance will not help you determine if it is on or off. Cadillac would do well to switch to red lights.

There’s a decent amount of cargo space behind the second row of seats: 22.5 cubic feet that expands to almost 50 cubic feet with the rear seat folded flat.

Our XT4 had a reasonable starting price of $41,795 but quickly soared to over $57,000 with expensive fancy-pants options like the $850 cold weather package that heats the front and rear seats; $1,500 for dual panel tilt/sliding sunroof; $625 for the dark blue metallic exterior paint color; $1,400 for the technology package that includes wireless smartphone charging, air ionizer, power tilt and telescoping steering wheel, eight-inch gauge cluster and a head-up display. The enhanced visibility package ($1,500) adds dual power and folding outside mirrors that auto dim on the driver’s side, a rear backup camera with a washer, automatic parking assist, and an excellent HD surround vision camera.

Overall, the XT4 has an excellent design presence that looks better in person than in gallery photos. It’s enjoyable to drive, easy to maneuver and park, and especially comfortable. While it has its own unique style, it isn’t just a downsized XT5. If the XT4 represents the future of Cadillac, the brand is certainly moving in the right direction. If you’re in the market for a compact SUV, the XT4 is a surprisingly nice vehicle and certainly worth a test drive.

Vital Stats
Base Price: $34,795 - $41,795
Price as Tested: $57,135
What Makes it go: 237-hp 2.0-Liter twin-scroll turbocharged 4-cylinder engine linked to a 9-speed automatic transmission
Fuel Economy: 22-mpg city – 29-mpg highway -24-mpg combined
Seating: 5

Crash Test Ratings: The 2019 Cadillac XT4 has not been crash tested by either the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

Where Built: Kansas City, Kansas

Competes With:
Audi Q3
BMW X1 and X2
Infiniti QX30
Jaguar E-Pace
Land Rover Range Rover Evoque
Lexus UX
Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class
Volvo XC40

Fab Features
Excellent driving dynamics
Roomy rear-seat legroom
Easy to use infotainment system