2020 Cadillac XT5 Sport Review: Not Really Sporty, but That’s OK
The verdict: The 2020 Cadillac XT5’s new Sport trim level doesn’t change its character much, but you’re left with a well-executed and roomy, if unexciting, SUV.
Versus the competition: Straddling a line between “premium” and “luxury,” what the XT5 lacks in refinement and impressive features, it makes up for with user-friendly technology and a polished powertrain.
When we last dug into the Cadillac XT5, a 2018 model took advantage of its large size on its way to a fourth-place finish in a seven-SUV comparison test. Not great, but not terrible.
Since that time, Cadillac has made a variety of changes to the XT5 for 2020 including a slight face-lift, an updated infotainment system and this: a new mid-level Sport trim that wears unique 20-inch wheels and dark exterior accents meant to make it look a little meaner. Does the XT5 Sport inject a dose of fun into the staid SUV?
Related: Is the 2020 Cadillac XT5’s Updated CUE Any Better With Buttons?
‘Sport’ Ain’t Nothing but a Name
As part of the Sport treatment, Cadillac gives the XT5 slightly quicker steering and what it calls “more aggressive chassis tuning.” It also gets a standard suspension with active damping. That sounds great in theory, but in practice the changes aren’t especially noticeable. The steering is still on the vague side, and lots of body roll around corners remains. Cadillac hasn’t turned the husky XT5 into a canyon-carving sports car, or done much to change its nature at all.
But that’s not a bad thing. The XT5 Sport still has a smooth and comfortable ride, even on its standard 20-inch wheels (the base Luxury and mid-level Premium Luxury come standard with 18s). Power from its 310-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 comes on smoothly with a nine-speed automatic transmission that always seems to know the right gear for the driving situation.
Gas mileage with the Sport’s standard all-wheel drive and V-6 is subpar, rated at just 18/25/20 mpg city/highway/combined, but the XT5’s V-6 has an advantage over most luxury competitors (and the turbo four-cylinder that’s standard on non-Sport XT5s): It recommends regular gas instead of premium.
Comfortable but Not Flashy Inside
Where the XT5 Sport’s larger size is a weakness for sportiness, it’s a strength for interior comfort. There’s plenty of room for adults front and rear, and a sizable cargo area to boot — Cadillac measures it at 30.2 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 63 cubic feet with the backseat folded down.
Interior quality and luxury are middle of the road. There are some carbon-fiber accents for the Sport, but otherwise it’s a normal XT5 interior. Materials are mostly good but not great and there’s no real “wow” factor, an impression that feels consistent across Cadillac’s “X” SUVs: XT4, XT5 and XT6. If you’re looking for a truly luxurious Cadillac interior, you’ll have to spend a fair amount more to get the redesigned 2021 Escalade.
User-Friendly Tech (Mostly)
I’ve detailed my thoughts on the XT5’s updated CUE — Cadillac User Experience — infotainment system already, but it still shines as one of the easier systems to use. It’s not the fastest, and it’s not my favorite, but the addition of physical controls is a significant improvement over previous CUE iterations. None of the infotainment technology in the XT5 feels cutting-edge, but for the most part it works with minimal fuss and less confusion than centerpiece systems like Mercedes-Benz’s MBUX or Audi’s MMI.
Unfortunately, there are still touch-sensitive climate controls, which are aggravating, and the 8-inch display screen is actually starting to look relatively small. There’s one other strange quirk: The wireless device charging pad is located in front of the center armrest at an unusual angle, and the structure to keep your device from flying away while driving may require removing bulky cases before using it. Fortunately, there’s plenty of storage space up front.
The XT5 earned the highest possible rating in most of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s tests, though its headlights received a low rating and it didn’t win either of the IIHS safety awards, unlike 11 other SUVs in its class. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives the XT5 a five-star overall rating. It also performed well in Cars.com’s own Car Seat Check.
Standard safety tech on the XT5 Sport includes forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection, and blind spot warning with rear cross-traffic alert. Weirdly, while adaptive cruise control is optional on the XT5, this test vehicle didn’t have it, unusual for a presumably “luxury” vehicle.
Should You Buy an XT5 Sport?
I don’t think the “sporty” tweaks amount to anything, but XT5 shoppers probably aren’t looking for a sporty driving experience.
At our test vehicle’s price of $59,340 (including destination), this XT5 Sport doesn’t feel like a bargain, but it’s larger than similarly priced compact luxury SUVs and cheaper than similarly sized mid-size luxury SUVs. While it may not have the stunning high-tech features of some of its rivals, or their more dynamic driving experiences, the XT5 Sport is a solid SUV with more marks in the plus column than the minus.
If Cadillac starts trickling down some of the new Escalade’s more advanced features to the XT5, the competition will really heat up.
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- 2021 Cadillac Escalade Review: Expensive, and Worth It
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