Cadillac’s XT4 Crossover
THE BUZZ STOPS HERE
You’d be hard-pressed to find an automotive brand more embedded in the history of Detroit than Cadillac. Founded in 1902 from the remnants of the Henry Ford Company (and preceding by one year the 1903 launch of today’s Ford Motor Company), Cadillac is named for Detroit’s founder, Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, a French explorer in the New World – and responsible for establishing Detroit as a territorial outpost in 1701. In utilizing both his name and his crest, Cadillac’s founders anticipated the boon in automotive exploring by almost a century, while its compact XT4 is perfectly spec’d for exploring our nation’s abundant shopping districts with – as you’d hope – valet parking.
In building the XT4, GM’s luxury division does what any number of luxury automakers have done over the last forty (or so) years: Provide an accessible price point and appropriate spec to those with an appetite for the pretense of luxury, if not the actual deliverable. Back in my day, if you wanted a Cadillac but didn’t have the wherewithal to buy new, you shopped for used; Cadillac made – at that time – an argument for that strategy, and evidence of same was referenced in Driving Miss Daisy. There, Miss Daisy’s driver, Hoke Colburn, buys her Cadillac as she acquires a new one. And a new one. And a new one. It’s a damn good ownership model, and I’m still wishing – some 50 years later – that my dad had taken a turn (or two) with a pre-owned Sedan DeVille.
However, my dad’s no longer with us – and neither is the DeVille, having been discontinued after 2005. Today most of the Cadillac lineup is devoted to SUVs and crossovers, while Cadillac’s newfound buzz is built on its upcoming EV intros, the Lyriq and Celestiq. But the EVs aren’t here yet, and while waiting you might consider the XT4.
The compact XT4 is the entry point for Cadillac’s lineup of front-wheel drive/all-wheel drive crossovers. The XT4, available with either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, sits on a wheelbase of 109 inches and boasts an overall length of just over 15 feet. Within the context of a compact crossover, it’s height/weight proportional; depending on spec it stands between 63 and 64 inches tall, and weighs around 3,900 pounds. And it has, as your realtor is wont to say, curb appeal.
From the git-go the XT4 impresses as looking upscale, and represents a considerable departure from the sameness – or anonymity – encompassing most of its segment. Amazingly, there’s more than a little of Cadillac’s Art & Science in the design, some twenty years after the debut of Cadillac’s then-new design signature. This isn’t, to be sure, Cadillac’s oh-so-angular midsize sedan from 2003, but rather, a 5-door crossover with BMW’s X1 (rather than BMW’s 3-and-5-Series) in its crosshairs. But its angularity works, providing a clear separation from the XT4 and so much of this compact luxury segment.
That separation remains clear once you’ve stepped inside. Unlike so many at this $40K (and up – way up!) price point, Cadillac’s product team made no attempt at punching above its weight – for that, we’ll have to wait. Instead, buyers will enjoy the suggestion of a well-executed interior at eye level, but that suggestion begins to fall apart as you dig deeper. Thankfully, the dash is well organized and largely intuitive, but while there’s space for your phone, there’s no wireless charging for your phone. Again, Cadillac is about to put to all-new EVs on its showrooms within the next year, but has no wireless charging on what pretends to be a volume entry in one of the industry’s most popular segments. To get overtly cute, who-the-hell’s in charge here?
Under the hood, that mild disappointment continues. In its spec, a 2.0 liter turbocharged four should work – it works in any number of direct competitors. But the XT4’s 235 horsepower is underachieving, and there’s a coarseness that seems too agricultural for something wearing a Cadillac crest. In its testing Car and Driver hit 60 in under 8 seconds, but the XT4’s appearance and price point promise more; again, it would seem to underdeliver. And the lack of responsiveness has no payoff in the EPA’s estimate, as the 22 City/29 Hwy and 24 Combined is – again – below what you’d expect in 2023.
On the road, you’ll find adequate zip to merge and pass, along with enough outward visibility to have an idea of where you’re pointed. This isn’t a sporting platform, but then, neither is it Hoke’s Sedan DeVille. It goes where you want it to go in the composed, reasonably confident manner a Cadillac prospect will expect. If you like what it delivers at between $40K and our test vehicle’s $56K – and can get a good deal on a lease – it’s worth a look. But before signing, make damn sure you take a drive.