2019 Cadillac XT4 Review

2019 Cadillac XT4 - Cadillac aims at the heart of the subcompact crossover market with the XT4.


The XT4 is an all-new subcompact crossover. With a wheelbase of just 109 inches and overall length of 191 inches, it's Caddy's smallest crossover to date. Compare those numbers to the Cadillac XT5 with a 112-inch wheelbase and a 189-inch length. Competitors include the Audi Q3, BMW X1, Lexus UX, Mercedes-Benz GLA and Volvo XC40.

The XT4 shares underpinnings and engine with the Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain. It's offered with either front- or all-wheel drive and comes in three trim levels: Luxury, Premium Luxury and Sport. All get a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that makes 237 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque. A 9-speed automatic transmission is standard. Maximum towing capacity is 3,500 pounds when equipped with the trailer-tow package.

The front-drive Luxury starts at $35,790 and includes LED head and tail lamps, heated mirrors, 18-inch alloy wheels, rear park assist, keyless ignition, remote starting, leather-wrapped steering wheel, power front seats, dual-zone climate control, 7-speaker audio system with Android Auto and Apple Car Play support, and active noise cancellation. The Premium Luxury adds automatic wipers, auto-dimming mirrors, power liftgate, cargo share, seat memory settings, front park assist and blind-spot monitor. The Sport adds to the Premium Luxury specific blacked-out trim. LED cornering lamps faux-leather seat trim and sport seats.

Options include massaging front seats, leather upholstery, hands-free liftgate, digital gauge cluster, head-up display, power tilt-telescope steering wheel and wireless charging. Also available are low-speed forward collision mitigation, adaptive cruise control, surround-view camera, digital rear-view mirror and automatic parking.

The XT4 is down on horsepower compared to some competitors and that shows up in a mediocre 0 - 60 MPH time of about 7.5 seconds. It also manifests itself off the line as the XT4 is slow to build speed. Still, the engine never feels taxed, is very smooth and provides above-average passing punch at mid-speeds.

For the most part, the engine works well with the new 9-speed automatic to provide smooth and seamless shifts. However, at times, the transmission is slow to respond to throttle input and can easily be caught off guard when more acceleration is needed. The problem is mostly mitigated when selecting sport mode, however, that brings about firmer shifts.

The XT4's all-wheel-drive system does not have a low range and is not intended for extreme off-road use. It does an excellent job of sending power to the wheels with the most traction on slippery pavement and should be more than capable enough to handle a Chicago winter. That said, the front-drive model is likely good enough if you live in an urban area.

EPA estimates for the AWD XT4 are 22 MPG city and 29 MPG highway. Those numbers are mid-pack in the class with a few models, namely the Lexus UX coming in higher and the Audi A3 coming in lower. As is the case with most vehicles in this class, the XT4 requires premium-grade gasoline. In routine suburban commuting, expect to average about 26 MPG overall, perhaps as high as 28 MPG if your commute includes a fair amount of highway cruising.

Though the XT4 plies its trade in a class where sport of a big part of the equation, it's not very sporty. Engineers tuned the suspension to provide a comfortable and compliant ride that's slightly sporty in Sport trim when in the Sport mode -- if you can understand that. The ride is comfortable, but not coddling, which is near perfect for the needs of most urban crossover owners. There is enough impact absorption to take the edge off large bumps and enough body control to limit bouncing and bobbing on poorly maintained roads.

The steering feels overly light and lacks road feel at all speeds. At least it tracks true on the highway and returns to center nicely when rounding corners. Still, the sensation is more like guiding the XT4 around corners rather than driving around the bend. The firm and communicative brake pedal makes it easy to slow things down and there's plenty of braking power overall. Body motions are nicely kept in check in all but extreme maneuvers.

Interior noise levels are acceptably low. Some may claim that engine noise is intrusive under acceleration, but at least it's a refined hum rather than a throaty growl. Wind buffeting can be a problem with the panoramic roof open, something that's not uncommon with vehicles so equipped. Road noise is nicely muted.

Behind the wheel, the XT4 feels very familiar with a nicely arranged dashboard and a clean uncluttered design. Materials are appropriate for the price, but do take a back seat to some competitors. The digital gauge cluster and head-up display are worth the added cost and give the interior a more upscale appearance.

Most controls are easy to reach and clearly marked. The touch-screen infotainment system can also be controlled by a jog dial. Once you are familiar with operation, it's very easy to use and helps limit driver distraction. About the only flaw is a 160-MPH (why?) speedometer with too-close markings that can be difficult to read at a glance. Android Auto and Apple Car Play support are standard.

The front seats offer good head room and adequate leg room, though taller drivers may wish for a bit more seat travel. Comfort is excellent and there's enough support that you aren't scrambling for something to hold on to when the road grows twisty. Comfortable rear seats likely offer the most room in the class. However, head room is tight when equipped with the available panorama roof. Entry and exit are easy thanks to wide door openings and a low step in. Outward visibility is great forward but pinched to the rear thanks to high seat backs, thick pillars and a tall beltline. The magic rear-view mirror is a nice touch.

With 22.5 cubic feet of storage behind the rear seats and 49.8 cubic feet overall, the XT4 sits squarely in the middle of the class. That said, the cargo area is easy to access and has a low and flat floor. There's some hidden storage below the floor next to the spare tire, but no dedicated underfloor storage. Interior storage is as expected in the class with a few open and covered cubbies throughout and decent map pockets up front. Unfortunately, no vehicle in this class, save the Volvo XC40, really excels at in-cabin storage.

Bottom Line --
Though some critics are disappointed with the XT4's decided lean toward comfort over sport, that's clearly the sweet spot in the market. Buyers will appreciate the way the XT4 drives in urban environments and find that it offers more than enough power for most situations. Interior materials can be a mixed bag on the base model, but the leathers in the upscale trim are unmatched in the class. As with any vehicle in the class, prices are steep, but there are discounts to be had. The XT4 provides Cadillac with a credible entry into the important subcompact crossover field and should be an impressive lure to new customers.

Mark Bilek

Mark Bilek is the Senior Director of Communications and Technology for the Chicago Auto Trade Association and the General Manager for DriveChicago.com. He is also responsible for developing and maintaining the Chicago Auto Show Web site.

Mark has been reviewing vehicles for more than two decades. Previously, he was associate publisher at Consumer Guide, where he oversaw publication of Consumer Guide Car & Truck Test, Consumer Guide's Used Car Book, and ConsumerGuide.com. He was also responsible for publication of "Collectible Automobile" and various hardcover automotive titles. In 2001 and 2002 he served as president of a Midwest Automotive Media Association. Mark has appeared on NBC TV, ABC TV, Fox News, WGN and MotorTrend TV as an automotive consultant. He hosts the Drive Chicago radio show on WLS 890 AM and was a regular guest on WGN Radio's Steve & Johnnie show. Mark lives in the northwest suburbs with his wife and three sons.