Cadillac’s last couple of decades have seen a litany of failed reinvention gambits. The brand’s latest strategy, though, seems a little more likely to bear fruit: namely, to sell gas-powered SUVs en masse before GM’s massive Cadillac-centric EV push takes over.
To do that, Cadillac had to offer buyers more vehicles beyond the XT5 (née SRX) and Escalade. Enter the XT4, which slots below the XT5 and straddles the increasingly popular boundary between subcompact and compact crossover. People dig it; Cadillac sold about 32,000 of them last year, nearly double the total for the brand’s entire sedan lineup.
The XT4 is not “the Cadillac of compact crossovers” in the metaphorical sense, where the brand is used to refer to the best of something. In a vacuum, there’s not that much wrong with it. It looks fancy; it’s comfortable inside; it gets the driver from A to B without fuss. The trouble comes when you start cross-shopping…and realize competitors like Mercedes, BMW, Audi and Volvo offer superior products at the same price point.
The XT4 looks great on the outside
The Escalade, even when not in insane custom Tom Brady spec, is Cadillac’s standout vehicle. Smaller Cadillac SUVs, as such, should strive to be mini-Escalades. The XT4’s exterior, at least, does a reasonable job emulating the flagship; it has dignified sharp lines that make it distinctively a Cadillac. It reads as bigger than what it is…which is essentially a lifted hatchback. My relatives presumed it was $20,000 more expensive than it was — which is the best you can hope for when you buy a luxury subcompact.
The XT4 is luxurious where it counts
The XT4 delivers on the primary things people want from a luxury car: it has cushy and comfortable leather seats. In addition, the cabin feels surprisingly spacious for both front and rear passengers, and ergonomically well-designed. For most buyers, that will be enough.
If you touch around, though, you will feel quite a few hard plastics. And, if you have intimate knowledge of GM’s entire product lineup, the XT4 can feel more like a luxed-up Chevy Equinox than a standalone luxury product.
The XT4 could use more driving character
I often find luxury crossovers skew too much towards hard and sporty. Despite my tester being the Sport trim, the XT4 overcompensates in the opposite direction. The steering felt too loose, like it had an inordinate amount of wheel travel. It was hard to regulate braking with any consistency. And while the 237-hp and nine-speed automatic often sound like they’re working hard, the XT4 is also achingly slow — more than a second behind the BMW X2 from 0-60 mph. I don’t know what the Cadillac of small crossover driving experiences should be, but the XT4 was not it.
Price as Tested: $48,310
Drivetrain: 2.0-liter inline-four, nine-speed automatic, all-wheel-drive
Power: 237 hp, 258 lb-ft
Fuel Economy: 22 mpg city, 29 mpg highway
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