2019 Cadillac XT4: First Drive Review

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceCadillac of Crossovers
The premium compact crossover segment is one of the most competitive in America, and it’s about to get a new contender from Cadillac. The 2019 XT4 is the first entry in this burgeoning segment from GM’s luxury division, and according to company reps it’s the first of several new models we can expect to see in the next few years.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceReenergizing the Brand
“The new Cadillac XT4 brings a new vitality to Cadillac, in one of the industry’s fastest-growing segments,” said Steve Carlisle, Cadillac president. “It pairs the agility of our award-winning sports sedans with a youthful SUV character.”

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceDesign
The XT4 is easily recognizable as a Cadillac, although models from this luxury brand are not typically small. Designers looked to the Escalade as inspiration, but also wanted to have a small vehicle with proper proportions enhanced by larger wheels. The signature vertical headlight treatment sets the new XT4’s styling apart from the competition. Not only are they stylish, the lights also give this new Cadillac a low, wide look.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceModel Lineup
The 2019 Cadillac XT4 is available in three trim levels: Luxury, Premium Luxury and Sport. All XT4 variants come with front-wheel drive standard — all-wheel drive is available across the line for an additional $2,500.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceSport vs. Luxury
While the Sport and Luxury variants offer the same overall performance, Cadillac wanted to provide different styles to meet differing customer preferences. The Luxury uses more satin and brighter trim, while the Sport has a darker grille with clear taillights that contribute to an athletic look.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceCadillac XT4 Luxury
The entry-level Luxury version of the XT4 has a starting price of $35,790. Standard features include leatherette-trim, power front seats, dual-zone climate control, an HD rearview camera, two USB ports (one type A, one type C), an 8-inch display screen and an AM/FM stereo with 7 speakers as well Apple CarPlay / Android Auto connectivity. The XT4 Luxury also gets LED lighting front and rear as well as 18-inch alloy wheels with bright-silver finish and dual exhaust.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceCadillac XT4 Premium Luxury
For a more luxurious ride there’s the XT4 Premium Luxury priced at $40,290. Upgrades over the Luxury include leather seat trim, ambient lighting, a choice of aluminum or wood trim, illuminated exterior door handles, satin-aluminum finish on the roof rack and 18-inch alloy wheels with a Pearl Nickel finish. Also standard is a power liftgate as well as front and rear park assist.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceCadillac XT4 Sport
Priced identically, the XT4 Luxury and Sport have different looks, although features are identical on these two trims. The Sport is identifiable by its gloss-black roof rails, gloss-black sport mesh grille, clear taillights, body-color door handles and 18-inch 10-spoke alloy Diamond Cut/Argent Metallic finish wheels. Inside, the Sport gets a sport steering wheel, carbon fiber or wood decor and alloy accents on the pedals.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceSafety
The Premium Luxury and Sport trims of the XT4 come standard with blind-spot warning, as well as lane-change and rear cross-traffic alerts. These two top-level trims are available with a Driver Awareness Package for $770 that includes low-speed forward automatic braking, pedestrian alert/braking, forward collision alert, lane-keeping assist and following distance indicator.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceAdvanced Safety Features
The 2019 Cadillac XT4 also offers a Driver Assistance Package that features forward automatic braking, reverse automatic braking and adaptive cruise control. This package is priced at $1,100 and requires purchasing the Driver Awareness Package as well as 20-inch wheels.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceInner Space
Inside, the XT4 possesses a clean design with a nicely-integrated touchscreen display. At first glance the screen seems to be set at a steep angle, but it is still easy to read. The interface has been vastly improved over past Cadillacs, thanks to quicker response and clear functionality. Both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connect quickly and easily.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceCenter Controls
The 2019 XT4’s volume knob is located on the center console along with a large rotary controller that has different functions depending on the current display. Hard buttons next to the controller make accessing audio, navigation or communication quick and easy.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceClimate Control
Climate control functions are accessed through stylish hard buttons below the display screen, avoiding the need to dig through menus to make airflow adjustments.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceWireless Charging
The XT4 has a slot at the front of the center storage console that provides wireless charging for properly-equipped smartphones. This convenient space holds the phone firmly in place, avoids the messiness of charging cords and frees up a USB outlet for other uses. The only downside is that the phone is hidden from view when in the charger, and Apple CarPlay / Android Auto require a corded connection. Wireless charging is part of an optional Technology Package.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRear Seat
The rear seat of the XT4 has plenty of legroom and headroom, and it is wide enough to easily accommodate three if needed. Two USB outlets are located in the rear area; however, one of them is the less-common Type C port. And although there is plenty of space for passengers, the rear seatback is too vertical — there is no way to recline the seat, making it somewhat uncomfortable to sit even for a short time.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceCargo Space
The XT4 has adequate rear cargo space to accommodate a decent amount of luggage. However, the cargo cover is rigid and mounted a little low, which can limit capacity when in place. While the rigid cover is a bit more elegant, a roll-up cover would add more flexibility.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceUnder the Hood
Powering the 2019 XT4 is an all-new high-tech 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine producing 237 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque at a low 1500 rpm. The engine uses a 3-mode valvetrain that can adjust the valve lift depending on power needed. Ultimately it provides ample power when required, improving fuel efficiency when the power load is light. Also unique is Active Thermal Management, which uses an electric coolant pump to help the engine warm up faster, reducing friction and further increasing efficiency.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceAutomatic Transmission
The turbocharged engine is the only powertrain available for the XT4, and it is teamed with a smooth-shifting 9-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy is more than respectable — 24 mpg city / 30 mpg highway / 26 mpg combined. With all-wheel drive, the numbers drop to 22 / 29 / 24, respectively.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceAuto Start/Stop
Anyone who has driven a new vehicle lately knows there are systems in place to shut the engine off at idle. While this can be annoying, we found the stop/start system in the XT4 to be surprisingly smooth and quick. Unlike some models from General Motors, Cadillac offers the ability to shut off this feature.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceAll-Wheel Drive
All XT4s are available with a twin-clutch all-wheel-drive system. Via a mode selector switch, the driver can choose Tour mode, which completely disengages the rear axle for the most efficient drive. Two different AWD settings are available: AWD and Sport. The AWD system can deliver up to 100 percent of the torque to a specific wheel as needed and can improve high-speed handling in corners.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceBrakes
The XT4 employs an Electro-Hydraulic brake system — the first time in a Cadillac. Using a small electric motor rather than the typical vacuum-based system, the brakes are ultimately more efficient with quicker response. The system also provides brake-fade assistance when conditions require, and can also keep the brakes dry to avoid diminished braking power in the wet conditions.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceActive Sport Suspension
Cadillac offers an Active Sport Suspension with Continuous Damping Control on XT4 Sport trims. The system uses sensors to monitor road conditions as well as driver input and can adjust the damping at each wheel up to 500 times per second. Not only can this aid in keeping the vehicle stable during more enthusiastic driving, it can also smooth the ride when the road surface is less than ideal.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceOn the Road
We put some mileage on the 2019 XT4 on varied roads around the beautiful Pacific Northwest and came away pleased with the new Cadillac’s performance. The new powerplant makes the compact crossover feel quick with good acceleration. Shifts are fast and smooth when the transmission is in fully automatic mode; however, using the manual paddle shifters slows transmission response. Overall the XT4 has a quiet and solid ride.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceHandling
The steering setup on the XT4 is tight and precise, which makes cruising on backroads a lot of fun. Our test vehicle was equipped with Active Sport Suspension, which helps keep the XT4 stable when the roads get twisty, as did the all-wheel drive system, which is designed to aid during sporty handling.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperiencePedestrian Alert
Our XT4 was equipped with the Driver Awareness Package, which includes a pedestrian alert/brake system. During our drive an alert appeared in the head-up display and the driver’s seat vibrated, alerting us to a bicyclist riding along the side of the road.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRight for You?
With the introduction of the XT4, Cadillac brings an American-branded option to a premium compact crossover segment dominated by offerings from Europe and Asia. But the Cadillac should hold its own with standout styling, a roomy interior, great driving dynamics and a high-tech, powerful and efficient turbocharged engine. Add to this the advanced all-wheel drive system, the latest in active and passive safety features, as well as a low entry price and the XT4 is certainly worthy of consideration.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRating: 8.5
Pros: Nice styling; good performance; low starting price.
Cons: Slow paddle shifting; uncomfortable rear seat.
Bottom Line: Cadillac makes a strong showing in the crowded premium crossover market.

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