Luxury subcompact. Luxury subcompact. It feels like that’s all I’ve written about this year. For sure the subcompact segment and the luxury sect of that segment are oh-so-trendy. It stands to reason that Cadillac, too, would engage in this segment. With that, they offer the XT4 for the 2019 model year.
This luxury subcompact (there it is again) is a fitting offering from Cadillac. It serves to engage the popular segment, but it can also serve as introduction to the Cadillac brand since it has a smaller starting price than others in the Caddy stable. And really, that’s the purpose of this vehicle. It’s meant to have more mass appeal, while maintaining the elegance and luxury of the Cadillac brand. It certainly accomplishes that.
I was hoping the XT4 would regain some of that famous, distinctive styling that the brand had just a few years ago. But the XT4 lacks the pizzazz and certainly withholds the aggressive styling that the CTS and ATS once had.
I realize the XT4 is a different vehicle, likely appealing to a different buyer, but on looks, I found the XT4 blends too much into this overcrowded segment. The front end is where the looks are especially dull. The grille is subdued, although the LED headlamps are attractive with a dynamic and distinctive shape. The profile is cute. That’s the problem — it’s almost too cute. It doesn’t scream luxury and rather looks a little too youthful. Perhaps that’s what Cadillac is trying to achieve with the XT4. If so, they might’ve achieved that as this mid-life crisis guy wanted a little more out of the XT4’s looks.
The best trend in this segment is small, turbocharged engines. The XT4 has a good one with a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder. It makes 237 horsepower and 258 lbs.-ft. of torque. It is one of those vehicles that outperforms its numbers. The small stature and squatty nature of this crossover gives it inspired performance. The nine-speed automatic transmission makes it even better. The brakes are a little mushy, but the all-wheel drive does boost the over-the-road performance. It’s not going to give anyone goosebumps or woo enthusiasts, but it also doesn’t disappoint and actually has more personality than other vehicles with the same size engine in this segment.
The interior of the XT4 adds to a positive impression. For a startup Cadillac, it’s a nice introduction to GM’s luxury brand. The cabin is quiet and comfortable. It doesn’t blow you away with luxury nor have overly garish interior features, but each touchpoint is great and the materials used are better than any other GM brand.
Legroom is outstanding for a vehicle of this size. It will fit three passengers comfortably in the back seat. For a small crossover there’s good storage room, including 22.5 cubic feet of rear space. Fold the rear seats flat and that overall cargo area expands to 48.9 cubic feet. Those are above-normal numbers for subcompact crossovers.
The infotainment system is good with an incredible amount of technology. The 8-inch touchscreen is well organized and responsive. Some find Cadillac’s CUE infotainment system to be cumbersome, but I find it enjoyable. There’s a little bit of a learning curve, but it’s certainly better than what the Japanese luxury brands are offering.
Cadillac keeps the trims simple, offering only three, each with front-wheel drive or AWD options. My tester was the top-of-the-line Premium Luxury trim. The standard price for this trim is $41,795. With an advanced entertainment system, 20-inch alloy wheels and the comfort and convenience package, my tester had a final MSRP of $48,685.
The AWD XT4 has an EPA rating of 22 mpg/city and 29 mpg/highway. I was hoping for slightly better numbers from a vehicle of this stature. As such, I averaged only 24 mpg in a week’s worth of suburban driving.
Not to throw out the baby with the bath water (what a horrible saying!), the Cadillac XT4 has many excellent qualities. I can’t hold against it that it doesn’t have the aggressive look of recent Cadillacs, nor is it fair to be critical of an entire segment of the industry. The luxury subcompact segment is wildly popular with consumers. And the XT4 is right at home in this ultra-competitive segment.
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