2017 Cadillac XT5 Review: Technology Meets Luxury

June 13, 2017 - Written By Alexander Maxham

Cadillac’s XT5 is jam-packed with technology, and power, at an affordable price

Cadillac is the luxury brand of cars that’s made in the US. The brand has been around for over a hundred years, being founded in 1902, and then joining General Motors in 1909, so they’ve had to adapt plenty of times to keep up with the rest of the industry. With the XT5, Cadillac has really kept up with the competition, and in some cases even surpassed them. Cadillac has filled the XT5 (and the rest of their fleet) with some incredible tech. Besides adding in Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, Cadillac also has wireless charging – both PMA and Qi – as well as cameras all around the car, and much more. Now the Cadillac XT5 is a crossover vehicle that definitely isn’t made for everyone, with a starting price of $39,395, but it’s definitely one of the better looking and better performing cars on the road today.

Now, we’ve spent a week driving the Cadillac XT5 around town, testing it out along with its many features. It’s a great car, with plenty of power, and luxurious. While we are mainly going to be focusing on Android Auto, we’ll also be talking about the experience of driving this crossover, as well as the good, the bad and the ugly of the XT5 – spoiler alert, there’s not much in the bad or ugly category for the XT5.

Pricing

Now while the Cadillac XT5 does have a starting price of under $40,000, the model that we tested was far higher than that. And that’s because it was the high-end trim, the Platinum trim. The total price for the model that we were loaned was $66,760, which is pretty much the most you can spend on the Cadillac XT5, and that puts it in the realm of the Audi Q7 which we reviewed last year. Now at this price, you get an all wheel drive (AWD) vehicle, a 14-speaker Bose setup for surround sound (on cheaper trims, it’s a 8-speaker setup from Bose), and the Ultra-View sunroof. Now other packages that were included at that price were the Driver Assist Package at $2,340, the Trailering Equipment for $575, and a spare tire for $300, which brings us to the final price of $66,760. Now obviously, you could walk out of your local Cadillac dealer with the XT5 for a much lower price, but this brings you all of the bells and whistles.

Exterior

Cadillac’s vehicles have always had a striking design, that looks great. Even on their crossovers. The XT5 has a huge grill in the front, which looks pretty nice, with the Cadillac logo near the top and the front-view camera just below it. The headlights are pretty large on the XT5, and they also light up the sides of the car, so at night when you are turning, it’ll help you see beside you instead of just in front of you. It’s a nice feature that has been present on some newer cars, but not all cars.

The sides of the XT5 are also pretty striking, with a nice design which makes the XT5 look sharp. Now the door handles don’t pop out like they do on Tesla’s vehicles, but the handles do have LED’s built in. Allowing you to see where they are at night. Now that isn’t actually necessary, but it’s a nice touch. Of course, like with most newer cars, there is a button on the handle which you can use to unlock or lock the car, as long as the key is nearby. Now we aren’t big on seeing tons of logos on things here, but Cadillac put a pretty tasteful one near the front, one that is all silver, and looks quite nice actually.

The back of the XT5 is a bit interesting. It all comes to a point, sort of, on the back, which is a bit interesting, but it does make the XT5 unique. Just above the license plate, there is another camera for parking, which is out of the way, but it still gives you a nice angle. With the back door being slanted a bit, you do get a bit of extra room for cargo space inside the XT5, which you already get loads of.

The exterior of the XT5 is great, it looks stunning, especially in the Deep Amethyst Metallic color that our loaner had. Although, as you can likely tell throughout this review, it did pick up dirt and dust quite easily, particularly later on in the week, after it had been driven quite a bit. That’s normal for darker colored cars, so there’s nothing to worry about there.

Interior

As soon as you step inside the XT5, you are hit with just how beautiful it is. Now the interior color that we had on this vehicle was the Maple Sugar/Jet Black color, and it looked nice. The seats are leather, which is also common with Cadillac’s vehicles. The XT5 is a spacious car, with plenty of room in the front and the back. In the front, you had a display with all of your gauges, I was a bit surprised to see that this wasn’t a LED display like what Audi has in their vehicles. Where you can adjust what is shown there for your instruments and such. Perhaps that’s coming in the 2018 model year. There is also the 8-inch display for Cadillac’s CUE infotainment system, which includes Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, in the center, with climate controls below that. In the center console, you have two USB ports that are hidden, and these are used for connecting to Android Auto and/or Apple CarPlay. Now hidden below the gear shifter is a standard car outlet, which is a bit tough to find, and even take pictures of (which is why we don’t have a photo of it). I assume Cadillac didn’t think users would be using that too often since most people are plugging in their smartphones in the car, and USB ports are all they need.

There is wireless charging in the Cadillac XT5, as is the case with virtually every model from General Motors these days. It’s actually quite nice to have in the car. Just jump in the car, place your smartphone down and it starts charging. Of course, that is if your smartphone supports wireless charging. The XT5 supports both PMA and Qi wireless charging standards, so the Galaxy S8 worked great in the Cadillac XT5 for wireless charging. Obviously it was slower than plugging it in, but it did still work as intended, which is what counts.

Technically, there’s space for three people in the back seat, but it’ll be more comfortable with just two people back there. We weren’t able to squish three people back there during the review period, but it’ll likely still be more comfortable than say something like the Chevrolet Malibu or any other sedan. The back seat also has plenty of leg room, since you can move the entire bench back as much as you want, basically. Those in the back seat do also get their own climate control. So if your passengers want it a bit warmer than you do, that’s not a problem. All of the seats have fans and seat warmers to keep you cool in the summer, or warm in the winter. Another nice touch by Cadillac here.

There are 14 speakers throughout the Cadillac XT5, as we mentioned before, and these are all Bose speakers. Bose has a partnership with GM, where all of their vehicles are outfitted with Bose speakers. So this isn’t the first time that we’ve reviewed a car with Bose speakers inside, but we’d have to say the XT5 gave us the best experience – compared to the Chevy Bolt, Buick Encore and Buick LaCrosse – and that’s basically due to the fact that this is a more luxurious vehicle and a larger vehicle that can handle more speakers. The sound quality was what you’d expect from Bose, some deep bass, crystal clear high’s and mid’s, and the surround sound is just amazing. Especially when you’re listening to some good music.

Moving to the very back, the cargo area. There is a ton of cargo space back there, now that’s coming from someone who was driving the Chevy Bolt before the XT5, so there’s a pretty stark difference (you could probably fit the Bolt inside the back of the XT5). The XT5 is great for a road trip, heading to IKEA to buy some furniture, or even for people that carry around a lot of things. With all that extra cargo space back there, it’s definitely a car worth renting for driving across the country, as it can fit plenty of luggage.

Infotainment

Cadillac’s CUE is the infotainment system in use on the XT5. It’s fairly similar to what is in GM’s other brands like Chevy and Buick, but with a few different things. The biggest change is the home screen – when compared to Chevy. CUE runs on a 8-inch capacitive touchscreen display, which is in the center of the dashboard. As you can see from the picture above, the home screen gives you all of the usual options. Including Audio, Phone, Projection (this will change to Android Auto or Apple CarPlay when a device is plugged in), Navigation, Settings, Climate, Weather and Texting. With the weather, it uses the built in AT&T 4G LTE to give you accurate weather, although it does appear to be a bit slow, at least during our testing. Climate control is just that, adjusting the temperature in the car. Of course texting and phone are only for the phone that is connected via Bluetooth (you can also do this in Android Auto). With Audio, you do get a few different options. Of course, there’s FM and AM radio, as well as satellite radio available for playing in the car. You can also play music over Bluetooth, using your favorite music streaming app like Spotify, Pandora, etc.

There’s also navigation, which is pretty much the same across GM’s brands. I actually prefer the color scheme of the built in navigation compared to Google Maps in Android Auto. It’s dark, which is easier on the eyes during the day and at night. It also doesn’t take your attention away from the road, which is important as well. We found that the built in navigation was pretty good, and about as accurate as Google Maps, although it was missing a few features that Google Maps has included. Now the car does have OnStar, so you can press the OnStar button and tell OnStar where you want to go, and it’ll automatically pop up on the display and give you directions. It’s a nice feature, but I can’t say I used it much, actually I didn’t use it at all.

Below that touchscreen, you’ll see volume controls and a home button. These are capacitive controls and the volume buttons are actually a slider. This is somewhat cool, but I can’t say it changed the experience all that much. Cadillac does have plenty of buttons on the steering wheel as well. These buttons can go forward or back in songs, and change the volume. On the left side of the steering wheel, there are buttons for starting or ending a call, as well as voice control. Now just pressing the voice control button, you’ll get the Cadillac CUE’s voice commands. But if you long-press, you’ll be able to use it in Android Auto. This is the case with just about every car these days, but it is nice to see that car makers are implementing it the same way.

GM has a contract with AT&T to include 4G LTE in virtually all of their vehicles, and the 2017 XT5 is no different. AT&T’s network is present here, and we did test it on the Galaxy S8. Speeds were about what we’ve seen with other GM vehicles lately, in the same area. And that is, the speeds weren’t great. They were good enough to stream music from your smartphone and such, but not much else. We’re unsure if AT&T throttles connections to cars, or not, but it definitely seems like they are. Since speed tests on multiple cars with its network have given us results of under 9Mbps every time. Having 4G LTE built into the car is pretty nice, but we can’t say it’s a necessity, especially if you have good service with your smartphone’s provider, and you have unlimited data. But it’s a nice option to have.

Android Auto

Now we’re into the meat of this review, and really the entire reason why we drove the XT5 for a week, and that is Android Auto. With the Cadillac XT5 we have the same complaint that we have with every car, and that is the fact that there is really no good place to put your phone when it’s plugged in for Android Auto, that doesn’t have a cable draped around the center console. Now that’s not Cadillac’s fault really, but it is one of the reasons why we can’t wait for wireless Android Auto to be available – something that Google showed off in a very early testing phase at Google I/O last month. Plug in your phone for Android Auto, and you just tap on the Android Auto icon on the display and you’re good to go. It’s easy to get setup like most cars, and it’s great to see that Cadillac did not hide Android Auto like Volkswagen had done (in fact, Volkswagen is the only one that really hid it).

With Android Auto, Google Assistant is now available. Now it’s early stages for Google Assistant in general, especially in the car, but it’s not all that different than using it with your phone or on Google Home. You can tell Google Assistant where you want to go, and ask it all sorts of questions, as you’d expect. Now what I’m really waiting for with Google Assistant, is integration into car makers apps. Allowing you to ask Google to start your car, lock your car, check the gas level, etc. This is something that Alexa is already doing with the Ford Fusion, and the experience is pretty good.

Google Maps is here with Android Auto, as you’d expect. It works quite well, using the car’s GPS signal, which is a bit more accurate and better on your smartphone’s battery life. There’s also the ability to make phone calls through Android Auto. Which during the review period, we made some calls and everyone said that we sounded pretty good on the other end. That’s definitely something we like to hear. You can send and receive texts in a variety of apps, including WhatsApp, Hangouts, Telegram and many others. And of course you can stream music.

Now when it comes to streaming music, we did run into a few issues. We don’t think this is a Cadillac issue though, as we did have this issue a bit with the Chevy Bolt before it. With Google Play Music, it would sometimes pop up that it wasn’t working, and wouldn’t allow us to play music. We had this issue with the Chevy Bolt and with both Google Play Music and Spotify, which we believe is a Verizon Galaxy S8 issue, and not an Android Auto issue either. But when music was playing, it sounded great, especially through those 14 Bose speakers in the car.

Driving the Cadillac XT5

The Cadillac XT5 is a pretty big vehicle, especially after spending a week with something as small as the Chevy Bolt. So for me, it did take a bit of getting used too (also jumping from an electric vehicle to a gas vehicle took some getting used too). But the Cadillac XT5 drove like a dream. It was great driving it, especially in the hotter days of Spring in Michigan. With the Ultra-View sunroof open, it was a great experience. The ride was smooth and quiet, even on the pothole-ridden roads of Michigan.

GM has built in a new camera setup in most of their newer cars. It uses four cameras – one on the front, one on the back and one under each side-view mirror – this allows the car to see all around it. Now the first few days of driving this car, I was trying to figure out how Cadillac was able to get a birds eye view around the car. But I determined that it stitches together the wide-angle views of all four cameras together to form that view. This was because the video actually shows the car as a silver car, which it obviously isn’t, which means that’s the color they use for all XT5’s, which is alright. This is a great feature, as you can see all around your car when you’re backing out. Now rear-view cameras have been in cars for quite a few years now, but now we’re starting to see more and more cameras on these cars, which is great. There’s also collision alerts, so if the car senses a car moving nearby, it’ll alert you, so that you can stop before it’s too late, and keep you out of accidents.

By far my favorite feature is the heads-up display on the XT5. I first saw this on the Buick LaCrosse late last year, and it’s great to see it coming to more GM vehicles. It basically projects a small display onto your windshield that only the driver can see. This will, by default, show your current speed. But you are able to adjust the information shown. So it can show you directions, for instance it can say “in 2 miles, right turn”, it can also show you what’s playing, whether that’s through Android Auto, radio or another source, or just stick to the speed. It’s really useful, but really hard to get a picture of in the daytime. You can adjust the height of the display and the brightness. It’s a great feature, as it keeps your eyes on the road without distracting you.

The usual lane-keep assist and other features like that are also available on the XT5. This is a feature that has become popular in recent years, helping you to stay in your lane and not drift into other lanes. Now something I ran into while driving the XT5 was the fact that it’ll alert you to police cars and ambulances nearby, it’ll even flash red on the heads-up display. This is great because as I was driving, I did not see nor hear a fire truck coming by, but the car warned me, and I was able to slow down and move to the right to let it through. This is by far the best feature I’ve seen, when it comes to safety. Now, Cadillac might not be the first to employ this feature, but it’s the first time I’ve seen it in action – since we don’t see fire trucks and ambulances flying down the road too much in my area.

Under the hood, Cadillac has a 3.6L V6 direct-injection 310hp engine, and that is estimated to have 271 lb-ft torque. It’s also an 8-speed automatic transmission. It can also go from 0 to 60mph in just 6.6 seconds. That’s somewhat fast for a car of this size, of course the 310 horsepower gives it plenty of power to do just that. The XT5 tops out at a speed of 160 miles per hour, now obviously we didn’t go that fast, as we like to obey traffic laws around here. Gas mileage is touted as 18MPH in the city and 26MPH on the highway (the FWD model is 19 and 27 respectively), we were able to get much higher than that. A full tank of gas is supposed to last around 378 miles or so, but we were able to get it closer to 500 miles, which is quite good, and it means you won’t need to fill up as often.  It does have a 21-gallon tank, so when you do fill up, she’s going to be pretty thirsty, and with current gas prices, that’ll be around $50 if you are completely empty.

Wrap Up

The 2017 Cadillac XT5 is one of the better crossovers on the road. Of course, that’s something you’d expect from Cadillac, they are known for putting out some impressive, luxurious cars. The Cadillac XT5 has just about every feature you could think of – depending on the trim – and it’s actually one of the cheaper crossovers on the market. Even fully specced out, the XT5 comes in lower than the Audi Q7, which is slightly larger with a third row of seats, but still in the same category.

Should you Buy or Lease the 2017 Cadillac XT5?

If you’re in the market for a crossover, and an American-made car, definitely. It’s made in the US, and it’s always good to support the US economy by buying products made in the US. The 2017 Cadillac XT5 does have a few different trims, and the base model or the Luxury trim will likely be enough for most people. But if you have the money, the Platinum trim is definitely worth checking out.