2019 Cadillac XT4 AWD New Dad Review: Nice, but Not German-Luxury-Car Nice

I finally did it: I’m a dad. The funny thing is, I’ve always owned dad cars, even before I needed to. Owning anything with less than four doors never made much sense, which is how I ended up with a stable of souped-up grandpa cars from the Sixties and Seventies. Now that I’m a father, the ’74 Oldsmobile sedan I brought my wife and son home from the hospital in seems a bit dated. And that, my friends, is how I found myself on this quest to find the perfect new dad car. The latest contestant: The 2019 Cadillac XT4.

The 2019 Cadillac XT4 Premium Luxury AWD, By the Numbers

  • Base Price (Price as Tested): $35,790 ($54,785)
  • Powertrain: 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four, 237 horsepower, 258 pound-feet of torque, nine-speed automatic transmission; all-wheel drive
  • EPA Fuel Economy: 22 mpg city; 29 mpg highway
  • 0-60 MPH: 6.9 seconds (Car and Driver)
  • Random dad fact: The XT4 is Cadillac’s second crossover, slotting in below the aging mid-size Cadillac XT5. It rides on the same platform as the Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain.

Even though the all-new Cadillac XT4 is basically a luxury version of the much more pedestrian (and much cheaper) Chevrolet Equinox, it doesn’t feel much like an Equinox. That’s probably because Cadillac—which for decades has been trying to play catch-up with more polished European luxury car manufacturers—has done a solid job creating a nice compact crossover. Is it phenomenal, as the über-rich might say about something they like? No…but it’s nice.

Like all Cadillacs, the XT4’s styling isn’t likely to have broad appeal. But for those with whom the edgy aesthetic championed by General Motors’s luxury division finds favor, the XT4 will appear fresh and well-ordered. Its newness is to the larger, but slightly outdated XT5 what the CT6 is to the what-is-it-still-doing-in-the-lineup XTS. Its lines look more lively.

The XT4 is a right-sized crossover for a small family. Like the Equinox with which it shares its bones, the little Caddy sport-ute provides a roomy interior and reasonable cargo capacity in a package that can still put up decent fuel economy numbers. As a tall, boxy vehicle, it affords rear seat passengers with plenty of leg, head and shoulder room. More importantly for those of us who are always saddled with bulky childcare gear, there’s enough room back there for a child safety seat and a couple of passengers. The LATCH child safety seat anchors are easy to use, and the rear doors are large enough to accommodate a weary, child seat-saddled parent.

Compared with other compact crossovers on the market—most notably, the BMW X3 and the Acura RDX—cargo space behind the rear seat in the XT4 is on the small side, at just over 22 cubic feet. But the space has a long, rectangular load floor that swallows up a large stroller lengthwise and still leaves room for groceries, the diaper bag, and other how-did-this-end-up-in-my-car junk. The rear hatch slopes a little, but not so that it cuts too much into the cargo hold. The removable privacy divider is easy to move and stash (it actually lays flat) in order to accommodate taller items. With the rear seats folded flat, cargo space jumps to 49 cubic feet.

The XT4’s turbocharged four-cylinder engine is sprightly, but not sporty. It has a broad, flat torque curve that runs from 1,500 to 4,000 rpm, making for solid seat-of-the-pants performance in everyday traffic driving scenarios. Blessedly, the engine runs quietly, which goes hand-in-glove with the XT4’s smooth ride.

Handling, braking and steering are more lively than in the unexciting XT5, but are still pretty tame overall in the mid-level Premium Luxury trim I tested. In other words, you shouldn’t challenge a guy with a BMW X3 to a canyon race for pinks in this thing. (The top-of-the-line Sport model, which is available with an adaptive suspension system, may be another story.)

In terms of fuel economy, the XT4 is consistent with other vehicles in its segment. The all wheel-drive version I tested got just over 24 mpg average—right in line with its EPA rating. That’s a touch lower than the X3’s average, but a tiny bit higher than the RDX’s. The front-wheel drive XT4, in addition to being less expensive, has an EPA average fuel economy rating of 26 mpg.

The XT4 has not yet been rated for crashworthiness by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, but the all-wheel-drive model has a five-star crash safety rating from the federal government. (The front wheel-drive version has only four stars, which might be enough to make you reconsider spending the extra money for it.)

Active safety features like automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, 360-degree surround camera, and adaptive cruise control are not available on the XT4’s base trim, and are not standard equipment on the two higher trims. Blind spot warning with rear cross traffic assist, which is not available on the base model, is standard on the other two. Remote starting is standard across the model lineup…but that’s been around since the ’90s, right? Seems like it oughta be a gimme in 2019.

In base-level trim with a front wheel-drive powertrain, the XT4 actually looks affordable. But adding in all the safety features most people want—especially people with kids—jacks up the price in a hurry. For example, a stripped-down version of the AWD Premium Luxury model I tested starts at $42,790. But by the time you tack on all the driver aids and comfort features that make it a Cadillac, you’ve reached the mid-50s. An Acura RDX, which comes with way more features and a sportier ride for less than $50,000, is probably a better deal.

But some people still want the Cadillac of whatever it is they’re getting, even if “the Cadillac of X-Y-Z” should really now be called “the Mercedes of X-Y-Z.” Me? I have a child to tutor in the ways of the world, so telling him the Cadillac brand is associated with the best of anything would be akin to teaching him to say “23-skidoo” when it’s time to make tracks.

What the XT4 represents, then, is a reasonable approach to entry-level luxury. It’s smooth, relatively spacious and includes styling touches and tech that luxury customers have come to expect. Next to the aging XT5—which Cadillac hasn’t been able to finesse to a degree where its size and bulk don’t feel ponderous—the XT4 feels sprightly and fresh. It’s something a practical person who has done well can take home after saying, “I deserve something…nice.”

Two cents from Ben’s spouse: “It had a nice interior and it felt elegant and drove well. I wasn’t a huge fan of the infotainment system, though. The Apple CarPlay was wonky.”

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Author: Benjamin Preston


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