The 2017 Cadillac XT5 Is a Port in a Storm of Boring Crossovers

A surprisingly capable Cadillac, in crossover disguise.

cadillac XT5 Review
Christian Gilbertsen/TheDrive.com

I needed to get to upstate New York, and I didn't care what conveyed me there. And, truth be told, I knew little about the 2017 Cadillac XT5, except that it was the replacement for the forlorn SRX, before I climbed behind the wheel and headed North.

It was probably for the better; I had no expectations, no biases, no preconceived notions. Pure epoché. In fact, when I first approached the car, deep blue paint and shiny rims glinting in the sun, I thought I had it figured out at first glance: "Bland crossover," I surmised.

I was only half-right.

The XT5 is a good car, and not just good by GM's standards, which have been a bit scattershot of late. It's good by any standard. It makes do without an inspiring powerplant—the 3.6-liter V-6 pushes out a satisfactory 310 horsepower and 271 pound-feet of twist, but you won't write home about it—but it does what it's asked, and frankly, if you're looking for raw performance, you should be looking outside this segment, anyway.

Christian Gilbertsen/TheDrive.com

The XT5 shines when it comes to luxury, and tech, and, dare I say, a bit of fun. Inside, the seats were wrapped in sumptuous leather, and the headliner and parts of the dash upholstered in a pleasing, suede-like (and non-Alcantara) material. When I was forced to pull over during a massive rainstorm (no knock on the XT5 here; the massive storm was more than a match for any set of wipers), I enjoyed a seemingly never-ending lighting show through the absolutely enormous moonroof.

The new design language adds a slightly angular front fascia and rear tail light assembly, but it’s not gaudy. If anything, it’s a bit anodyne, which isn’t a bad thing. Compared to Cadillac’s erstwhile crossover and its startling looks, the XT5 is surprisingly handsome, and a huge improvement. Its overall presence isn’t overbearing, either, even though it took a while to stop squirming when other cars were inching past me in my right lane in traffic.

Speaking of lanes, the lane-assistance technology is fairly remarkable. Instead of alerting the driver just through beeps and buzzes, the seat delivers a brief vibration to the driver’s buttocks, and gently moves the steering wheel to get you back in your lane; the parking sensors and collision-detection technology use the same kind of alert. It’s a surefire way to make you get off your ass and pay attention.

Cadillac

When it came to the actual driving, I was expecting a boat—languid body roll, unhurried acceleration. Instead, I found myself in a car that goes through the bends surprisingly well, handling both the tight turns and long sweepers of upstate tarmac with confidence and precision.

So, it does what it’s supposed to with aplomb: it’s luxurious; it has a ton of helpful, unnecessary tech; and it can even safely protect its occupants from a mesmerizing (if terrifying) lightning storm.

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2017 CADILLAC XT5
PRICE (AS TESTED): $38,995 ($63,495)
POWERTRAIN: Naturally aspirated 3.6-liter V-6, 310 hp, 271 lb-ft; all-wheel drive; 8-speed automatic transmission
PERFORMANCE: 0-60 6.6 seconds; 131 mph top speed
BEST SONG TO PLAY WHILE OGLING THROUGH THE MOONROOF: "Thunderstruck" by AC/DC