2017 Cadillac XT5 Platinum Review: Muscular, Commanding, Luxurious

Cadillac Xt5

Get ready to be spoiled.

There’s something about the Cadillac SRX that takes my breath away. Then Cadillac  discontinued it, which made me really sad. Until I found out they were replacing it with the Cadillac XT5.

The 2017 Cadillac XT5 is everything the SRX was: muscular, powerful, graceful. Then, it takes everything up a notch in terms of luxury and capability.

Cadillac Xt5

The front seat of the Cadillac XT5. Yes, that is suede on the dashboard and headliner, or ceiling, and leather everywhere else. The cabin also features simple, elegant control panels with everything in easy reach. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Who this car is for:

  • Singles, couples or small families
  • Buyers who want the power of a truck but the comforts of a luxury vehicle
  • Drivers who appreciate a high ground clearance and all wheel drive
  • Drivers who like to be pampered and capable at the same time
  • Drivers who appreciate luxury brands and don’t mind paying for the privilege; this car is priced at about $63,000
  • Buyers who like top technologies in a car
  • Buyers who need flexible cargo space
  • Buyers who don’t mind sacrificing fuel efficiency—18 MPG city/26 MPG highway
Cadillac Xt5

The front end of the Cadillac XT5 reminds me of the SRX–still sleek and muscular. Photo: Scotty Reiss

This is a real truck—and a real luxury car

Don’t get me wrong, crossovers are great (and actually, Cadillac calls the XT5 a crossover). I love them. But I love a truck, too. A truck sits a little higher off the ground, has a little more muscle in the way it drives and handles. That’s the feeling of driving the XT5—its drive experience is just as muscular as its exterior, and more manageable on crowded streets and in tight parking lots than the full-sized Cadillac Escalade. I felt capable and confident at every turn, from merging onto the highway to taking the hills and curves of the mountain roads I drove that week.

Making the drive experience even more fun are the XT5’s paddle shifters, which are sleek, sublime little pads on the back of the steering wheel. They are so sublime I almost missed them. In a car like the XT5, paddle shifters do double duty: First, they make driving a bit more fun, especially on those mountain roads, but they come in handy  too, in wet, muddy, snowy weather.

Luxury that’s sophisticated and elegant

The luxury details in the XT5 blew me away, especially for the price– the model I drove was just under $63,000– and here’s why: from the beautiful leather seats to the microsuede on the dashboard and headliner (the soft lining on the ceiling) to the elegantly stitched trim and well organized interior, I felt like I was on the inside of a classically designed and well-organized Saint Laurent Sac Du Jour.

But the luxury goes beyond just being ensconced in luscious trimmings. It’s about the thoughtfulness of the design. Cadillac’s designers rethought everything (and clearly, listened to a few customers): they kept a few of the hard, shiny surfaces on the dash and the sliding volume control, but added  buttons for climate control and heated and cooled seats. There’s a Qi wireless phone charger holder neatly tucked inside the center console’s arm rest and plenty of storage spaces (like the one under the center console) so you have places to tuck away things like keys, change or lip gloss. Even the air vents have been rethought: They fully close if you don’t want air (rather than having a wheel that adjusts the flow).

This interior is designed to perform, too

Cadillac Xt5

Plenty of leg room in the back seat, plus heated seats and two USB chargers. Photo: Scotty Reiss

I really love this: the interior of the model we test drove is designed with a mix of light and dark colors. The seats, dashboard, arm rest, door panels and headliner are light and bright, while parts of the dash board trim, door panels steering wheel and carpeting are black. This draws the eye to the finer details (nicely illuminated by the panoramic sun roof!) while keeping dirt and messes hidden. Yay.

The rear seats, which fold down for additional cargo space, are ample and comfortable, too; I had plenty of leg room and head room, and loved that the rear seats are heated, have their own climate control and charge ports, all located on the rear of the center console.

Amazing technology —yes, I said amazing

Cadillac Xt5

Maybe my favorite feature in the Cadillac XT5: the live view mirror shows you what’s behind you and eliminates blind spots. Toggle between the live view and conventional mirror image with the tab at the bottom of the mirror. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Especially considering the price of the car. Let me start with the rear view mirror. Not your regular old rear view mirror, either, but a live camera that shows a wide view of what’s behind you, eliminating blind spots. It also provides a brighter view than a conventional mirror, so you have better visiblity. The mirror lets you toggle between the live camera view and a regular mirror image, just flip the tab at the bottom of the mirror. Or, you can set your mirror for the perfect lipstick application angle—as I did— and toggle to that when you need it, toggling back to the live view when you’re done. I can’t say enough how much I liked this feature.

Cadillac Xt5

The head up display in the Cadillac XT5 offers navigation prompts as well as driver information such as speed and speed limit. Photo: Scotty Reiss

I also loved the head up display. Cadillac’s is very good and the XT5 didn’t disappoint. You can customize your information settings so you’ll see navigation prompts, speed limit, radio setting or other information, and all of it is projected onto the windshield. This means that you don’t have to glance away from the road to know the next turn or if the speed limit changes. Airline pilots have this in the cockpit of planes; all drivers should have it too.

Another feature that I loved was the pedestrian warning. If a pedestrian is detected in your periphery you get a little icon on the dashboard. This was GREAT at night; I was able to spot people walking nearby who I couldn’t see in the dark.

The XT5 Platinum comes with a full suite of other safety features including lane keep assist (with a gentle rumble in the driver’s seat when you drift from your lane), front brake assist, a surround view camera (which you see when you put the car in reverse), blind spot monitors and more. I was surprised, however, that this model did not have adaptive cruise control, which can be added as an option.

Technology with a caveat: The gear shifter

Cadillac Xt5

The center console in the Cadillac XT5 features the electronic gear shift, sleek cup holders, drive mode selector and a Qi charge pad tucked neatly into the arm rest to charge your phone. So clever. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Since most shifters are electronic now, auto engineers have been playing around with the design and function of gear shifters, some leaving drivers in dangerous confusion. Some designers have gone to dial shifters, which we really like; they are quick and sure to use. Others have kept the shifter feel with a lever gear selector. The XT5 takes this approach and adds safety buttons; you have to push a button on the left side of the shifter before moving it to select your gear; to put in park, push the P button on the shifter. Even with these push and shift safety precautions, it’s not necessarily intuitive to know which gear you’re in. You have to check to be sure.

Last but not least important: What is the sound system like???

In a word, Bose. With 14 speakers. Loud, clear and concert-like. And you have your choice of radio, SiriusXM or Apple CarPlay or Android Auto so you can tap your Spotify on the road. And how does one roll in the XT5? Our suggested playlist, below.

Our Cadillac XT5 Playlist

Cadillac Xt5

Oh that panoramic sun roof. Love love love. A girl needs her vitamin D! Photo: Scotty Reiss

What We Loved

Cadillac Xt5

Check this out: You can set parameters for a teen driving this car! Ensure the safety of your kid AND your car. Photo: Scotty Reiss

  • Commanding, capable drive performance –solid for a 3.6 liter V6 engine
  • Luxurious interior including leather seats, leather trimmings and a suede dash and headliner–just sublime
  • Lots of clever storage
  • Wireless charging pad–perfect for a smaller phone such as the iPhone 6 or smaller (my 6Plus would not fit)
  • Heated rear seats and two rear USB ports
  • Gorgeous newly sculpted exterior
  • Live video rear view mirror, which not only eliminates blind spots but presents a much brighter image than you might see in a conventional rear view mirror
  • Head up display
  • Capless fuel tank
  • 5 years basic OnStar service included
  • 4G LTE wifi hotspot (data plan must be purchased separately)
  • 4 year/50,000 mile premium care included
  • 6 year/70,000 mile roadside assistance, including courtesy transportation

What You Need  to Know

Cadillac Xt5

Ugh–I hate fingerprints. Thoughtfully, Cadillac includes a screen cleaning cloth in the center console for wiping it clean when you need to. Photo: Scotty Reiss

  • Base price: $38,995; price of the model we drove $63,845
  • Gear shift has a non-traditional function; be sure you know what gear you’re in before moving or leaving the car.
  • Fuel economy is luxury, too: 18 MPG city/26 MPG highway
  • Uses regular fuel
  • Engine stop/start adds to fuel economy, but it takes some getting used to
  • Seating for 5 passengers but more comfortable for 4
  • 4 year/50,000 mile bumper to bumper warranty
  • 6 year/70,000 mile powertrain warranty
Cadillac Xt5

The Cadillac XT5 Monroney window sticker

Disclosure: Cadillac provided the XT5 for my review; opinions, photos and playlist suggestions are all my own.

Journalist, entrepreneur and mom. Expertise includes new cars, family cars, 3-row SUVs, child passenger car seats and automotive careers... More about Scotty Reiss