Cadillac dates back 116 years, and for many years, it was the “go to” marque for luxury and lofty premium status. If you owned a Cadillac, you were notably a success – you had arrived, etc. Cadillac claimed the title “The Standard of the World”. Cadillacs were large, often humongous and emblazoned with heaping amounts of chrome. There was a variety of body styles, coupes, convertibles, sedans in all sizes, and yes, even hearses ensuring that one could take their last luxurious ride in a Cadillac. Times change, and with time, needs and trends change as well. Large SUVs came into play followed by the need for smaller, more economical vehicles, as there’s obviously no longer the need for a gas-guzzling engine. Up until now, Cadillac’s Crossover and SUV stable consisted of the very large full-size Escalade and the mid-size XT5 crossover. Enter the brand new for 2019 Cadillac XT4 crossover- a subcompact vehicle that appears as part of the company’s second phase of a 10-year plan, which began in 2015.
“Y” Model Strategy
Gen-Xers are likely not familiar or impressed with Cadillac’s former glory or Standard of the World status, so the focus of the10-year plan includes: establishing a stronger brand identity by revitalizing the image through investments in products and technologies; by increasing consumer engagement; by enhancing their dealership network; by product growth and services portfolio to its full potential and by future EV development. Cadillac plans to launch a new vehicle every six months through 2020 beginning with the Cadillac XT4.
Cadillac is calling this plan or growth strategy the “Y” model strategy which will consist of Platinum, Premium Luxury, Luxury, V-Series and Sport segments.
The XT4 pioneers an all-new engine architecture, incorporating sophisticated technologies aimed at balancing two of the most critical consumer powertrain demands: Power and Efficiency.
Serving as propulsion for the XT4 is a 2.0-liter, DOHC, Tri-power valvetrain, 16-valve, Twin-scroll Turbocharger inline 4-cylinder engine with Active Fuel and Thermal Management, Direct Injection and auto Stop/Start. The engine is a5 pounds lighter than the current 2.0-liter engine, despite the addition of new technologies. It produces 237 horsepower at 5,000 rpm along with 258 pound feet of torque in a range from 1,500-4,000 rpm. The transversely mounted front engine gears ot motive force to the Twin Clutch AWD system through an electronically controlled Hydramatic 9-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode and steering wheel mounted paddle shifters.
Suspension componentry consists of MacPherson sruts up front and a fully isolated 5-link independent rear. Active Sport suspension (Continuous Damping Control) is available on Sport models.
Braking duty is handled by an Electro-Hydraulic boost system that’s on demand and responsive; Auto Dry Brakes, Extended Hill Hold, Fading Brake Support, Brake Assist and ABS.
The XT4’s Twin-Clutch AWD system is electronically controlled to produce torque vectoring with a front disconnect utilized to improve fuel economy when the Tour (FWD only) mode is selected. Drive modes for FWD models include: Touring; Snow/Ice; and Sport, while drive modes for AWD XT4s are Touring; AWD; and Sport. The Sport mode enhances transmission shift mapping and feel, steering and CDC.
CTS-V Styling Influence
In terms of the XT4’s design, the lead exterior design chief confessed that the challenging approach taken was “What if the Escalade never grew up?” The overall form more closely resembles the XT5 cossover than the Escalade. The XT4’s grille is more subdued than that of the XT5. The XT4 sits lower, hugging the wheels and tires. The front fascia and character lines are bolder and the iconic sharp angles are unmistakably Cadillac. There’s an obvious CTS-V wagon influence
Drive First Class
Entering the cabin, first class accommodations are in evidence throughout and the elevated design quality may be personally made to meet interior décor choices – available materials offered are metalized aluminum, diamond cut aluminum, carbon-fiber or wood. The 60/40 spit second row folds flat adding flexibility and functionality. A rotary control allows for intuitive adjustments along with the dedicated dash panel controls and switchgear. Connectivity includes phone integration with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
Trim levels offered are: Luxury; Premium Luxury and Sport, which seem to be in reverse order, with the Luxury model being the base and starting at $34,795, with the Premium Luxury beginning at $39.295; and the Sport with a starting price also set at $39,295.
My Test Ride
My test 2019 Cadillac XT4 was in Sport trim and in an AWD configuration and fully loaded. The as tested price rose to $56,835. After adding the Packages and separate Options. Packages included: Comfort and Convenience; Enhanced Visibility; Technology; Driver Assist; Cold Weather and Driver Awareness. Options included: the Power Sunroof; Active Sport Suspension; 20-inch Twin-5-spoke alloy wheels with Diamond cut and Titan Satin Finish; Cadillac User Experience with Navigation, and Bose Centerpoint surround sound audio system. The Destination Charge was $995.
The 2019 Cadillac XT4 Sport AWD is a highly desirable crossover that’s truly worthy of the Cadillac nameplate, but is that enough? There’s a lot of serious competition in its segment – and in many cases, for less money.
Does it handle well? Absolutely. Is it comfortable? Definitely yes. Is it quick? Not necessarily. Is it fuel efficient? It’s acceptable. Does it offer sporty handling? It is stable and compliant and while I was fine with the steering feel, some thought it could be better. Is it affordable? This depends on the model chosen. The base Luxury is certainly affordable, but is lacking a lot of personally desired feature content. The fully loaded Sport model with AWD might prove to be a financial stretch for some. Cadillac’s semi autonomous Super Cruise feature is not yet available for the XT4.
OurAutoExpert’s Final Word
Bottom line, the Cadillac XT4 is a fine choice in a crossover. It is favorably impressive. The final determination turns out to be personal taste and feature requirements in whether or not it is your best choice. Size is yet another factor to consider. It’s certainly more maneuverable, fuel efficient and affordable than say the Escalade. In fact, you could almost buy two XT4s for the price of a fully loaded Escalade. Where have all the Land Yachts gone?
SPECIFICATIONS: 2019 Cadillac XT4 Sport AWD SUV
Base Price: $39,295.
Price as Tested: $56,835.
Engine Type and Size: 2.0-liter, DOHC, Tri-power valvetrain, 16-valve, Twin scroll Turbocharger inline 4-cylinder with Active Fuel and Thermal Management, Direct Injection and auto Stop/Start.
Horsepower (bhp): 237 @ 5,000 rpm
Torque (ft./ lbs.): 258 @ 1,500-4,000 rpm
Transmission: Electronically controlled Hydramatic 9-speed automatic with manual shift mode and steering wheel mounted paddle shifters.
Drive Train: Transversely mounted front engine / Twin Clutch AWD.
Suspension: Active Sport Suspension with Continuous Damping Control.
Front – MacPherson strut.
Rear – Fully isolated, 5-link independent.
Brakes: Electric hydraulic Boost System- on demand and responsive, four-wheel discs with ABS Auto Dry Brakes,,Extended Hill Hold, Fading Brake Support and Brake Assist.
Tires: Continental ProContact 245/45 R20 9H M&S mounted on 5-spoke alloy wheels.
Wheelbase: 109.4 inches
Length Overall: 181.1 inches
Width: 74.1 inches
Height: 64.1 inches
Curb Weight: 3,660 lbs.
Turning Circle: Not given
Fuel Capacity: 16.3 gallons
EPA Mileage Estimates: 18 mpg city / 26-mpg highway
Drag Coefficient: Not listed
0 – 60 mph: 7.2 seconds
Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring Journalist and member and past officer of several noted Automotive Journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles and unusual wheeled vehicles as well.