It’s been a couple of years since I drove the 2017 Cadillac XT5 and I concluded it was massively better than the old SRX, by a country mile, but it wasn’t quite perfect. Enter the 2020 Cadillac XT5 with a mid-life refresh and a host of changes. Firstly, the 2020 XT5 will follow the brand’s new global “Y” trim strategy, starting with the well-equipped Luxury model, then the mid level Premium Luxury and the top of the line Sport model.
The Sport trim differs by having a darker, more aggressive appearance and is only available with the trusty 3.6 liter V6. All models feature a new, bolder grille design, available in two textures that reflect the new personas. A Platinum package, delivering the most tech the most sophisticated interior in the lineup, is offered with each trim level.
The base engine on the XT5 Sport is a 3.6-liter V-6 with standard all-wheel-drive rated at 310 hp @ 6,700 rpm and 270 lb-ft @ 5,000 rpm, while the Premium Luxury can be had with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four and front-wheel-drive or with AWD and an optional V-6. Power from the 2.0 turbo is 237 horsepower and 258 lb-ft. No matter the engine you choose, power is fed through a nine-speed automatic transmission that replaces the 2017-19 XT5’s eight-speed automatic.
There are 3 driving modes, Comfort/Tour, AWD or Sport. Sport mode is a tad stiff, Touring mode provides smoother progress, while maintaining good composure on the twisty bits. Our car had the new twin-clutch all-wheel-drive system which sends full power front or rear, as well as left or right at the rear axle depending on conditions. Given a flat stretch of road we were able to launch the XT5 from 0-60 in 6.7 seconds, 0.3 seconds quicker than the 2017 XT5 we tested. I believe the 9 speed transmission has a lot to do with this.
Once on the move you notice how comfortable the XT5 is to drive, and quiet too, in spite of the potholed roads here in Southern California. Steering is standout good, it never felt over or under-assisted, and you get a sense of what the front wheels are doing. The new transmission has quelled the tendency to hunt for the right gear when you need it and it now delivers a much more pleasurable driving experience.
My tester had the V6 and it’s a good solid performer used across a wide variety of GM vehicles. It’s smooth has good power delivery but can sound a little raucous in the higher rev ranges; Lexus who still use an naturally aspirated 6 in the ES does it a tad better.
As usual we gave it the same treatment as all our testers and took it to the mountains East of San Diego. One technical bit of road aptly name Wildcat Canyon has some pretty sharp turns and adverse cambers, but we found the XT5 coped admirably well. Turn is good and we never felt like the chassis couldn’t cope particularly since the Luxury and Premium Luxury models feature revised front struts and various drive-line enhancements that have improved ride comfort and road isolation, despite have the optional 20 inch wheels option.
Cadillac has done a great job inside, improving on what was already very good. The front seats are firm, yet supportive and comfortable. The interior layout makes sense and looks stylish with its supple leather, real wood, and brushed metal surfaces. Inside, there are new color themes and trims, and a redesigned center console that’s been reshaped to better hold cups, phones and other items.
The standard Cadillac user experience system features an 8-inch-diagonal color touch screen and available navigation. Connectivity features also include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, as well as Cadillac Connected Apps and Cadillac 4G LTE with an available Wi-Fi hotspot. Heated front seats are now standard and adding to the touch screen is a rotary controller in the center console which allows you to easily scroll through menu options. I also had the Night vision system ($2,000), which paints a warning triangle over any pedestrian it sees, however, I did find myself staring at it for too long like it was a video game.
My Manhattan Noir tester had the Platinum package, adding $4,000 to the base price of $50,795, but it gives you extra soft semi aniline leather, the performance damping suspension and illuminated door sills. On top of that it had Comfort package giving you tri-zone climate control and heated rear seats. Add up all the options and it came to a total of $68,115 some $16,325 over the base price.
Driver aids include a heads-up display, stop-and-go adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, enhanced automatic emergency braking, reverse automatic braking, blind spot detection, pedestrian collision braking, surround vision cameras, parking sonar and wireless phone charging.
The XT5 is a very good crossover and it’s much improved with this refresh, it drives better, has a better interior, is packed with tech, in fact, the only thing it needs now is a true Sport version. How about offering the twin turbo 6 from the upcoming CT5, with its 360 hp and 405 lb-ft of torque. Now that’s a crossover I would definitely want to drive.
BASE PRICE: $50,795
AS TESTED PRICE: $68,115
VEHICLE TYPE: Front Engine, AWD, 4 door, 5 passenger, SUV
ENGINE 3.6-liter DOHC V6
TRANSMISSION: 9-speed automatic with manual shifting mode
POWER: 310 hp @ 6,700 rpm
TORQUE: 270 lb-ft @ 5,000 rpm
O–60 mph 6.7 secs
CARGO VOLUME: 30 cu ft, 60 cu ft with 2nd row seat flat
CURB WEIGHT: 4,257 lb
FUEL ECONOMY Combined/city/highway: 20/18/25 mpg
OUR FUEL ECONOMY: 18.8 mpg
PROS: Interior fit and finish, Rear View Mirror/Camera, Extremely Quiet ride, quicker than last years model
CONS: Sport version needs the twin turbo V6 please
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