2018 Cadillac XT5 AWD Platinum Review: Making a Friendlier Crossover Through Technology
Cadillac’s midsized SUV brings many of the comforts and features of a high-tech home to the open road.
Over the years, Cadillac has carved a reputation for itself as always pursuit of comfort, plushness, and spaciousness instead of horsepower and torque—at least, apart from the roaring V-Sport models. As the latest addition to the lineup, Cadillac’s XT5 crossover—the successor to the carmaker's mid-sized SRX sport-ute—serves as is the current culmination of the brand's pursuit of modern luxury. And as it's 2018, it's no surprise to see that "luxury" in part takes the form of huge strides forward thanks to this Caddy's in-car technology.
The tech baked into the 2018 XT5 breaks down into two broad categories: comfort and safety. The former category was particularly well-represented in the all-wheel-drive Platinum trim example your author drove from NYC to Vermont and back again for a snowy ski weekend, which was decked out with more than $20,000 in bells and whistles—all on top of the creature comforts you’d expect in a car that starts at $40,000.
The Cue infotainment system of the XT5, similar to previous iterations in other Caddy models, now boasts Apple CarPlay integration thanks to a recent update, so you’ll get all the nav, music and realtime diagnostics you’d usually expect but also use it to grab your iPhone’s podcasts, contacts, and messages. These extra capabilities are proof why CarPlay is a genuine upgrade over Caddy’s own proprietary system—even if Cadillac's CEO isn't a particularly big fan.
Sadly, Cadillac decided to stick with its touch-sensitive volume slider in the recent revamp; while the other touch elements of the infotainment system work well, that slider proved to be a major frustration, rarely responding properly. Luckily, redundant controls on the steering wheel proved to be a satisfactory alternative—especially for volume adjustment—and did a passable job keeping most functions at hand and under control.
The XT5’s other comfort-tied tech was more subtly spread throughout the rest of the smallish crossover's interior and exterior. USB ports—much needed during my road trip in the XT5—are scattered everywhere, but a cleverly placed wireless charging pad resided right in the armrest and powered up my iPhone X without me even realizing what it was doing. The double-long UltraView sunroof made it doubly easy to take in the scenic mountain views of Vermont, and the kick-to-open rear hatch made loading snowboards into the surprisingly spacious trunk simple as a move borrowed straight from the hokey pokey: You put your right foot in...
The XT5 test car also seemed sentiently aware of the cold, snowy weather I put it through, powering on the heated seats and steering wheel the moment we fired the ignition. In terms of these creature comforts, Caddy hasn’t missed a beat with the fully-loaded Platinum version of the XT5.
The rest of the innovations we found in the XT5 seemed intent on keeping me safe—for better or worse. I have a long-running hatred of Caddy’s annoying seat rumble and lane detection system, more for its failure in the chaotic traffic of NYC than anything else. Seat rumble is more of a distraction than a safety measure, in this writer's book, and I can’t imagine any but the sleepiest of drivers welcoming a jarring seat-shake over a simple on-dash notification. [Other members of The Drive staff disagree, but we let John have this one. —Ed.]
That said, on-dash notifications in the XT5 became a sci-fi spectacle, thanks to its hologram-like windshield display that helps the driver keep his eyes on the road. This feature shows up in plenty of other premium vehicles, and even some cheaper ones—but I was pleasantly surprised by how well Caddy’s head-up display functioned and how customizable it was, even when compared to its European competition. In addition to the HUD, it's easy to appreciate Caddy’s upgraded gauge cluster behind the steering wheel, which makes all the important info available at a glance. Its dynamic center display is a useful addition to the instrumentation...but I couldn’t help but feel the XT5 would be better served were the screen not been sandwiched between the large analog speedometer and tachometer.
Other wow-factor safety measures highlighted how the XT5's technology improves visibility around the vehicle. The surround vision bird's-eye view that kicked on when parking—a feature pioneered by Infiniti—helped us avoid slamming into huge chunks of snow when parking at the ski mountain. Likewise, the digital screen hidden in the rear view mirror—which shows a camera's view out the back, and is easily turned on by flipping what's normally the dimmer switch—was so clear and captivating I could barely take my eyes off of it. That’s not exactly what you want out of a safety measure, but once the novelty wore off, it proved an excellent replacement for the traditional rear view setup, giving me a clear picture of my six o'clock with a deep depth of field, even in the snow, fog, and rain encountered along the way.
Whether it's through improving visibility, entertainment, climate, or security, the end result of the XT5’s smart technological features is an SUV that smartly recreates many of the comforts of being in your living room or office while carrying you to and from those exact places. Some are better than others, in this reviewer's mind; personally, I’ll gladly take what Caddy is dishing when it comes to the XT5’s luxury-focused add-ons, but would probably think twice before tacking on all of the safety-minded options, which I’d inevitably have to turn off. But maybe that’s just me. I do like to live dangerously.
The 2018 Cadillac XT5, By the Numbers:
Base Price (Price as Tested): $41,590 ($65,985)
Powertrain: 3.6.-liter V6, 310 horsepower, 271 pound-feet of torque; eight-speed automatic; all-wheel-drive
Fuel Economy: 18 mpg city, 21 mpg highway
0-60 MPH: 6.6 seconds (Car and Driver testing)
Cargo Volume, Second Row Up/Second Row Down: 30 cu. ft. / 63 cu. ft.