With the CUV market exploding in the U.S., how does the Cadillac XT4 set itself apart?
Reviewing cars in the time of COVID-19 is a double-edged sword. On the positive side, veritably empty freeways make for stress-free cruising. On the other hand, there are very few destinations that are still open. Enter my latest loaner, the 2020 Cadillac XT4 Sport. Our friends at GM were kind enough to have the presser dropped off at my house in an eye-catching color named Red Horizon Tintcoat.
While I have lamented the record-level congestion pre-COVID, I do miss the daily commute as a means of putting loaners through their paces. It feels that almost every modern car worth its salt is reasonably comfortable if you take gridlock out of the mix.
Luckily, Cadillac delivered the XT4 right when I had good reasons to don a facemask, risk catching something, and get out of the house. First: my family had run low on groceries. Between my wife’s list and my mom’s list, the lines at stores, and the run on paper goods, I went to no less than five grocery stores in the span of a few days. Second: my volunteer work with the Arcadia Police Foundation led me to collect a much-needed donation of PPE from Whittier. Both allowed me the chance to put the XT4 through the paces, stretch its legs, and test the cargo capacity.
Exterior: The Sweet Spot
I’ve written at length about the rise of the CUV as America’s fastest-growing vehicle segment. GM didn’t become America’s largest automobile manufacturer by ignoring trends. You want CUVs America? The General’s got you covered just as the marketer’s playbook for price-differentiation instructs: good, better, and best. The XT4 is the luxury buyer’s alternative to the Chevy Equinox and GMC Terrain.
The XT4’s design nails the sweet spot of muscular enough to evoke the spirit of its SUV big brother, the Escalade, yet sporty enough to bring that compact flavor to the mix. I prefer my CUVs to look like scaled-down SUVs vs. a jumble of car, coupe, and SUV. I’m a big fan of Cadillac’s current styling, and I found the CT6 and XT6 handsome vehicles.
One design element that I am not quite fond of on the XT4 is its headlight shape. The vertical “slash” on the outboard sides of the headlights house the DRLs and look just a little too Tron-like for my tastes. If you review the entire Cadillac lineup, this treatment is also on the XT5 and CT6. Perhaps because of the XT4’s size, it seems a little overwrought, especially from the side view. I prefer the more traditional layout on the XT6, which I thought was one of the nicest-looking SUVs on the market. I would also like to tone down that plastic-cladding, which for some reason, product designers use to evoke “rugged.” To me, it means “Pontiac Aztec,” no matter how little is used.
Sport trim comes equipped with 18″ 10-spoke Diamond Cut/Argent Metallic rims standard. Our XT4 came with 20″ optional wheels in Diamond Cut/Titan Satin finish that looked great against the Red Horizon Tintcoat.
Interior: Comfortable Cargo Hauler
The XT4’s interior is nicely appointed but feels a little more luxury-adjacent than fully luxurious like the XT6 and other stablemates.
Our tester came in at $46,585 with options. At or around that price point, you have many options. The Mercedes GLC clocks in about $6k more but has an interior significantly more refined, particularly in terms of leather and accent materials. The XT4 Sport does utilize carbon fiber throughout the cabin. I am a total sucker for carbon fiber, so I did appreciate that.
Where the XT4 falls a bit short on the seating surfaces, it shines in terms of its technology and entertainment system. Our XT4 tester featured the upgraded Cadillac User Experience (CUE) with the optional Bose Centerpoint surround sound system with 13-speakers. Both the standard and optional entertainment systems support Apple CarPlay, which has become a must for me. I’m tired of dealing with OEM’s native infotainment systems that seem like they are on the verge of nervous breakdowns with every iOS update. Give me CarPlay, CUE, and Bose and my 80’s new wave (The Smiths, specifically), and I’m set.
Speaking of phones, GM’s designers have come up with the most functional way to store a phone that I have seen in a long time. Far too many interior designers try to get you to store your phone in a tray or slot above the shifter. That works in a large car, but not in a little CUV. Solution: have a dedicated slot in the center storage area, but in an open slot for easy access.
The XT4 really impressed me in the area of cargo capacity. Groceries for two families were never a problem, even with the rear seats still up in their normal position. When my good friend Ricky from Chu’s Packaging Supplies volunteered to donate hundreds of protective coveralls to the Arcadia Police Foundation, I debated taking my full-size pick-up vs. rolling the dice with the XT4. It turns out that I had nothing to worry about. The XT4’s cargo capacity with the rear seats folded down comes in at 48.9 cubic feet — more than enough to fit my haul and deliver much-needed PPE to the men and women in blue.
Performance: The Little Engine that Could
The name of the game for CUVs isn’t straight-line acceleration; it’s fuel economy. Our loaner came in FWD configuration, good for a 26 combined highway/city mpg rating.
That being said, the XT4’s turbocharged four-banger pumps out 237 horsepower and 258 lbs.-ft. of torque. That may not sound like a lot, but it was plenty quick off the line. In fact, it was surprisingly torquey compared to what I was expecting from this gussied-up grocery getter (I was going for alliteration bonus points there.)
Our loaner came with standard active and passive safety features, including lane change alert, front and rear park assist, and an HD rear vision camera. My favorite Cadillac safety feature is the Safety Alert Seat, which vibrates to grab your attention — an effective solution for immediately warning the driver in an era of sensory overload from all directions. The optional Driver Awareness Package added auto high beam control and lane keep assist, an optional safety feature that I predict will become mandatory in time.
If you are in the market for a luxury CUV, you’ve got some great choices. Though I am not in love with the XT4’s funky headlights and normcore interior design, it does deliver on the fundamentals: comfort, fuel economy, entertainment, and cargo capacity.
For more information, visit Cadillac’s website.
2020 Cadillac XT4 FWD Sport
Price as tested: $46,585
- 2.0L 4-cylinder turbo
- 9-speed automatic
- 258 lbs.-ft. torque
- 20″ alloy with diamond cut/titan satin finish
Luxury & Convenience
- CUE with 8″ diagonal display
- Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
- Driver 8-way adjustable, Passenger 6-way adjustable power seats
- Adaptive remote start
- 60/40 split-folding seatback
- Hands-free liftgate
- Bose Centerpoint Surround System, 13-speaker with auxiliary amp (optional)
- Driver Awareness Package: auto high beam control, following distance indicator, lane keep assist (optional)