2019 Cadillac XT4 – Hawaii Cars

2019 Cadillac XT4

There’s lot riding on Cadillac’s new small-car star

By MALCOLM GUNN
www.wheelbasemedia.com

With only the midsize XT5 and the truck-like Escalade in Cadillac’s inventory of utility vehicles, a lot is riding on the new compact XT4.

As one of the smallest and least-expensive Cadillacs — and as four-door sedans have fallen out of favor with buyers — it will likely become the volume leader for the brand. But that doesn’t mean this General Motors’ luxury division has cut any corners building it.

The design team has wrought a clean and appealing shape, with an angular front end and mesh grille that appears jauntier than the nosepieces of other Caddys. The rest of the sheetmetal is a study in minimalism. There are no signs of wretched excess here, only a tautly scribed shape that abruptly ends behind the rear wheels. That’s where a pair of tall hockey-stick-shaped LED taillights borders the liftgate.

The XT4’s stylists also restrained themselves in crafting the cockpit. The leather-trimmed dashboard, console and door panels display a distinctly modern look, as does the steering wheel (also wrapped in leather). The eight-inch touchscreen is positioned low on the dashboard so it doesn’t block the view ahead.

A toggle-style console-mounted shifter handles the gear selection, while various control-panel and steering-wheel-located switches and a rotary knob next to the shifter take care of seat and cabin ventilation as well as infotainment selections.

The rest of the interior literally measures up well against the competition (Mercedes-Benz GLA, Lexus NX, BMW X1, to name a few). The XT4 provides three to five extra inches in distance between the front and rear wheels, which could fool those seated in back into thinking they’re in a much larger vehicle. Those occupying the well-bolstered front buckets might think likewise.

The XT4 is built on a platform that was originally developed for the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu and adapted for the 2018 Buick Regal Tour X wagon. It combines lightweight and stiffness, according to Cadillac.

The XT4 gets a turbocharged 2.0-litrer four-cylinder that puts out 237 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The engine includes a program that cuts out two of the four cylinders when operating under light loads or when coasting, which helps to save fuel. The engine is rated at 24 mpg in the city and 34 on the highway (26 combined). Premium fuel is recommended.

A nine-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode completes the powertrain.

Cadillac claims the front-wheel-drive XT4, which tips the scales at about 3,700 pounds, can accelerate to 60 mph from rest in about seven seconds All-wheel-drive variants are a touch slower to get there.

The on-demand AWD system decouples from the rear wheels when not needed, to save on wear and tear and also to conserve gas. A torque-vectoring system can distribute all the available twisting force to the outside rear wheel when turning for better traction and steering precision.

Pricing for the base XT4 Luxury trim starts at $34,800. That will get you a reasonably complete model equipped with dual-zone climate control, power-adjustable front seats and a key fob with remote start.

The mid-level Premium Luxury adds leather seat covers, a power liftgate and front and rear park assist that warns as you approach another vehicle or object).

The XT4 Sport comes with fancier exterior and interior trim (your choice of wood or carbon fiber), dark metallic wheels, thicker sport steering wheel and bare-metal-trimmed pedals.

Most notable is the degree of content not included in any the three grades, but are available at extra cost. The list includes a sunroof, navigation system, up-level Bose audio system, 20-inch sport wheels and a full suite of active safety tech designed to prevent or mitigate unintended contact with people or objects.

With plenty of competition between other luxury-compact wagons, the XT4 has a lot to prove. Its key assets — style, spaciousness and performance — should be enough to attract buyers who might otherwise take a pass on the Cadillac brand and shop elsewhere.

What you should know: 2019 Cadillac XT4

Type: Four-door, front- /all-wheel-drive compact utility vehicle

Engine (h.p.): 2.0-liter DOHC I-4, turbocharged (237)

Transmission: Nine-speed automatic

Market position: Cadillac is only now entering the size-small luxury utility bracket that’s populated with similar models from mostly Europe- and Asia-based automakers. The XT4 is critical to Cadillac and the result mirrors that.

Points:
• Easily one of the best-looking vehicles in its class.
• Interior accommodations offer plenty of space for passengers in both rows.
• Base turbo engine puts out a healthy amount of power.
• Plenty of dynamic safety tech available, but it will cost you extra to add it. Based on its strengths, this one should prove a winner for GM’s luxury division.

Active safety: Blind-spot warning with cross-traffic backup alert (std.); active cruise control (opt.); emergency braking (opt.); pedestrian detection (opt.); lane departure warning (opt.)

MPG (city/hwy) 24/34 (FWD); Base price (incl. destination) $34,800

B Y C O M P A R I S O N

BMW X1
Base price: $34,900
Compact utility uses a Mini-designed platform and a modestly powered turbo I-4.

Jaguar E-Pace
Base price: $39,600
Higher base price than the XT4, but comes with AWD plus other extra content.

Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class
Base price: $34,950
CLA sedan-based tall wagon is fun to drive. A 375-h.p. AMG model is available.