Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Arts & Culture
Mark Savage's auto review column, Savage On Wheels, looks at a new vehicle every week and tells consumers what’s good, what’s not so good, and how the vehicle fits into the marketplace. Value, simple functionality and good looks are always key components on Savage’s evaluation checklist. The Sunday column aims to give an honest account of a vehicle’s merits after a week’s test drive during which gas mileage is measured for a real-world report.

2019 Cadillac XT4 AWD Sport Review

cady2.jpg
Mark Savage
/
Cadillac has decided that affordable luxury with interesting styling is the way to get post-Boomer buyers to park their lattes and espressos in Cadillac cup holders.

There was a day when a Cadillac had to be as big as a cruise ship and loaded down with enough chrome to make a knight on horseback feel inadequate.

No more.

Cadillac has decided that affordable luxury with interesting styling is the way to get post-boomer buyers. Witness the new XT4, the smallest Caddy SUV, just a notch below its fairly petit XT5. The XT4 is svelte and sexy with beautifully sculpted front and rear lights and a handsome grille that give it a more distinctive look than many SUVs.

But it’s the total package here that makes the XT4 both fun to drive while remaining easy on the eye.

Caddy no longer feels it must drop a V8 under the hood to pump up the power. The XT4 features a 2.0-liter turbocharged I4 that pumps out 237 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque. The engine is mated with a silky 9-speed automatic that easily puts that power to good use to facilitate quick stoplight getaways, and power down highway entry ramps.

That smaller engine also helps keep the XT4 light, weighing in at just below 4,000 pounds.

That surely contributes to the Caddy’s light and easy steering which snugs up when the Sport mode is engaged to give the SUV full-time AWD. Shifts become more aggressive then too. A Touring setting keeps the Cadillac in front-drive mode and dials the steering effort back to mild. It’s also possible to independently switch the SUV to AWD mode.

cady3.jpg
Credit Mark Savage
/
The Cadillac surprises with a beautifully tuned suspension that cushions passengers against the sometimes brutal southeast Wisconsin frost heaves and potholes.

Being a smaller SUV I was prepared for a fairly stiff ride, but Caddy surprises with a beautifully tuned suspension that cushions passengers against the sometimes brutal southeast Wisconsin frost heaves and potholes. You’ll feel the craters, but there’s a cushioned ride that never allows them to become much of a bother.

Inside the tested Red Horizon SUV ($1,225 extra for this medium metallic red) was a sporty and luxurious interior, but not one that was overdone. The dash and doors were trimmed in black leather with red stitching while the leather seats were white with black inserts on the seat’s shoulder where a seatbelt might lay.

There was chrome trim on the air vents, by the center-mounted screen and buttons, with a carbon fiber-look trim in the door panels and dash’s face. That chrome looks fine, but can create a glare on sunny days.

cady5.jpg
Credit Mark Savage
/
The dash and doors were trimmed in black leather with red stitching while the leather seats were white with black inserts on the seat’s shoulder where a seat belt might lay.

The Cadillac’s interior is quiet, with little road noise to bother the driver or passengers. And there’s ample space for four adults, although five will fit in a pinch.

Dash layout and function is attractive and easy to maneuver with an 8-inch infotainment screen that’s simple to use. That’s part of the Cadillac User Experience, a $1,500 upcharge that includes navigation with real-time traffic updates, a Bose audio surround sound system with 13 speakers and an auxiliary amp, plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Also added was a comfort and convenience package for $2,450. It included leather seats, an 8-way power passenger’s seat, cooled front seats that also include a massage function and a hands free power hatch. The massaging function was fine, but less vigorous than some I’ve tested in pricier luxury models.

An odd feature of the seats was the way they vibrated at the sides of your bottom when the car got close to other vehicles. That makes sense if it appears an accident or fender bender is about to occur, but the driver’s seat vibrated every time I parked the Cadillac between two cars in a parking lot. That’s oversensitive.

But the seats are well-contoured and comfy. Plus an $850 cold weather package adds heated front and outboard rear seats along with a heated steering wheel, well worth the cost for a Wisconsin daily driver.

Plenty of safety devices here too, although some are options that add cost. Standard is lane-change alert with a blind-spot warning system, rear cross traffic alert and an HD rearview camera. The extras come in a $770 package and include automatic high-beam headlights, a following distance indicator, forward collision alert, lane-keep assist and warning, low-speed forward automatic braking, and front pedestrian braking.

cady4.jpg
Credit Mark Savage
/
Standard is lane-change alert with a blind-spot warning system, rear cross traffic alert and an HD rearview camera.

Overhead is an SOS system that allows a driver to call for help in an emergency.

Oddly, a few items are not standard, like a sunroof or wireless phone charger. The later would seem a necessity as more vehicles now offer this as standard fare. In the Cadillac’s defense, it does have four USB ports. I also found the dash’s air vents to be a bit small, making it a tad more difficult to get cool as fast as I might want on a sweltering summer day.

The XT4 also will tow up to 3,500 lbs. and delivers excellent gas mileage. I managed 27.2 miles per gallon in about an even mix of city and highway driving. But the turbo is rated up to 29 mpg highway and 22 mpg city by the EPA.

Pricing starts well below the luxury SUV level, even for a small one. I mean compare this with an Audi, Mercedes-Benz or Lexus.

The base Luxury XT4 lists at $35,790 including delivery. That’s a front-drive model, but AWD is available on all trims. In fact, it’s standard on the tested Sport model. A Premium Luxury version lists at $40,290 with FWD and $42,790 with AWD.

The test XT4 Sport lists at $42,790, including delivery, but with all the options, including fancy 20-inch alloy wheels with a diamond cut shape and titan satin finish ($1,100), ended up at $50,685. Somewhere between that entry-level Luxury model and this Sport version loaded with options is the best value.

Overview: 2019 Cadillac XT4 AWD Sport

Hits: Sharp looks, quiet interior, good power and handling, plus a nice luxury ride. Heated/cooled front seats, heated wheel, power hatch, good screen and controls plus excellent mpg.

Misses: No sunroof or wireless phone charger, and smallish dash air vents.

Made In: Kansas City, Kan.

Engine: 2.0-liter turbo I4, 237 horsepower

Transmisson: 9-speed automatic

Weight: 3,896 lbs.

Length: 181.1 in.

Wheelbase: 109.4 in.

Tow: 3,500 lbs.

MPG: 22/29, 27.2 (tested)

Base Price: $42,790 (includes delivery)

Invoice: $40,700

Major Options:

Comfort and convenience package (leather seats, 8-way power passenger seat, ventilated front seats, massaging front seats, hands free liftgate), $2,450

Cadillac user experience (navigation, real-time traffic, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, Bose audio surround sound system w/13 speakers and auxiliary amp), $1,500

Red Horizon paint, $1,225

20-inch alloy wheels, diamond cut/titan satin finish, $1,100

Cold weather package (heated front seats, heated rear outboard seats, heated steering wheel), $850

Driver awareness package (auto. high beam, following distance indicator, forward collision alert, lane-keep assist & warning, low-speed forward auto. braking, front pedestrian braking), $770

Test Vehicle: $50,685

Sources: Cadillac, kbb.com

Editor's note: Mark Savage's auto review column, Savage On Wheels, looks at a new vehicle every week and tells consumers what’s good, what’s not so good, and how the vehicle fits into the marketplace.

Related Content