THE CADILLAC XT4 AWD SPORT REVIEW
Millennials are an odd sort. They don’t read newspapers, rarely watch TV, and love to Uber. But the new Cadillac XT4 AWD Sport will soon have them back in the driver’s seat. Which is just what the Cadillac division of General Motors is hoping.
The Cadillac XT4 is the gateway drug entry vehicle into the Cadillac lineup. It’s designed to lure millennial buyers into the fold so that as they age become seasoned, and accustomed to the finer things, that they too, will try other offerings made by the Wreath and Crest club. We’d say they are on to something here.
The XT4 AWD Sport is a subcompact five-passenger crossover that takes a small utility vehicle and shows just what potential exists for it to be at the top of its class. With four-doors and a hatch, it offers accessibility for passengers and a right height cargo area that doesn’t strain or cause a heavy lift from the grocery cart to the “way back.”
The XT4 has been gifted with the grille first seen on the Cadillac Ciel (French for Sky) concept vehicle first alluded to at the 2011 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. With vertical head- and taillamps, it is a realization that also occurs on its Cadillac CTS, XT6, CT4 and CT6 siblings. Futuristic, it emulates the crest from that car, carrying it further, and in the case of the XT4, modernizing it a bit, considering the Ciel first appeared in 2011.
Viewed from the side, the XT4 has some Audi-ish body cues that help convey more of a luxury look to this Caddy. By the way, isn’t this alpha-numeric naming convention becoming a bit stale? At the rear, are vertically stacked LED taillamps which are a throwback to the lighting arrangements found on finned Cadillacs of the past.
Adding a bit of black cladding helped to tone down the overall effect of the bling that was typical of pre-millennial Cadillacs. The end result is a look that is both sporty, and mature.
LOOKING INWARD The interior of the XT4 features all the luxury accoutrements found in its bigger brothers and its competitors alike. From front seats with adjustable bolsters, heating, ventilation, massage and enough skin to outfit a Coach Leather store, to the 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality, to the leather-wrapped steering wheel, the XT4 makes the most of its top-shelf features and material.
We think the rear seats with room for two adults would be comfortable enough, but they could be improved with a little bit more reclining ability than the amount we were able to achieve. At the rear, is the cargo area, which is not the largest stall in the stable, but still capable of carrying a couple of golf bags (Millennials don’t golf, according to the Independent Newspaper in the UK) or at least four roll-a-board suitcases. By the numbers, there’s 22.5-cubic feet with the seats in the upright position, but fold them forward for a total of 48.9-cubic feet of cargo carrying space.
Everything is laid out properly, with the least number of buttons possible. GM must have received the memo because there were very few buttons for button’s sake found around the dashboard area. The only exception would be the wide variety of pushbuttons operating the climate control system.
UNDER THE HOOD
Just like everything else it competes against, the Cadillac XT4 is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. In this case, it produces 237 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. It’s an innovative powerplant, with direct-injection and GM’s Active Fuel Management that disables two of the four-cylinders for added fuel efficiency once its cruising speed has been achieved. It’s mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission which manages to bump through the gears in an effort to get operationally more efficient in less time.
The drivetrain of the unibody or so-called “smart chassis” (Cadillac Speak) features an available twin-clutch, decoupling all-wheel-drive system that places power at all four corners until the XT4 has achieved cruising speed. It’s also handy in sending power to wheels that don’t have any traction at the moment, as we found when heading to photograph the Caddy on a sandy field. Gently leaving the pavement, we gingerly tipped onto the sand where we felt the front wheels immediately bog down without any urging whatsoever. Hitting the brakes, we immediately shifted into reverse and applied the gas, which in-turn caused the rear wheels to suddenly bite and provided enough to pull us back from the abyss.
Once back on terra-firma, we decided to cut our losses and head to a tried and true spot where we could photograph the XT4 without the need for a tow strap. Getting there was half the fun as this sure-footed Caddy managed to cut the corners to some degree. It’s not a CTS-V, but it was composed well-enough to hold its head high without too much body lean, while negotiating turns around our secret test loop.
The XT4’s quiet interior managed to convey a big-Cadillac feel while remaining true to its little Cadillac roots. That was until you needed to step on the gas. At that point, at least sonically, the 2.0-liter turbo four-banger displayed its higher pitched wail found in most other engines of its ilk, rather than the glorious growl of a V-8 engine. Think of it as a kitten that wants to be a tiger when it grows up. In that very same sense, Cadillac is hoping this XT4 is like Catnip for Millennials.
2019 Cadillac XT4 AWD Sport
Type: Four-passenger, five door hatchback subcompact SUV
Engine: 2.0-liter Turbocharged four-cylinder direct-injection
Horsepower: 237 @ 5,000 rpm
Torque: 258 @ 1,500-4,000 rpm
Transmission: Hydra-Matic 9T50 nine-speed automatic
Front Suspension: MacPherson strut with coil-over spring; direct acting stabilizer bar
Rear Suspension: Five-link independent suspension with coil springs and fully isolated cradle
Wheels/Tires: 20 inches/P245/45R20
Overall Length: 181.1 inches
Wheelbase: 109.4 inches
Width: 83.5 inches
Height: 64.1 inches
Ground Clearance: 6.7 inches
Curb Weight: 3,896 pounds
Cargo Volume: 22.5-cubic feet behind rear seat
48.9-cubic feet with rear seat folded
Trailer Capacity: 3,500 pounds
EPA Fuel Economy: 22 city/29 highway/25.5 combined