2019 Cadillac XT4 vs. 2019 Infiniti QX50 vs. 2019 Acura RDX: Premium small crossover competition.
This week: Cadillac XT4 Sport.
Price: $52,265 as tested, including $1,100 for 20-inch wheels, $1,550 for sunroof, $625 for blue paint, and $850 for Cold Weather Package. More options throughout.
Conventional wisdom: Car and Driver liked the “expressive design, ample cargo and passenger space, quiet and refined engine,” but not the “subpar cabin quality, ride should be smoother, not the best deal.”
Marketer’s pitch: Introducing the unmistakable 2019 XT4.
Reality: A tale of two Caddies.
Roundup: Mr. Driver’s Seat was going to try condensing three reviews into two weeks to better serve you, the reader, but then he amused himself too much to slice and dice. Sharing is caring.
That’s a Cadillac? I sent a photo of the gauge cluster ($1,400, part of the Technology Package) showing Sturgis Brother 1.0 that I was actually leaving for his house on time — for a change — and his response later was “that didn’t look like a Cadillac dashboard.”
And that can be a problem. If you’re driving a Cadillac, you want friends to ooh and ahhh. The Lovely Mrs. Passenger Seat said, “This is a Cadillac?” after already riding in it for about 15 miles. Despite the Cadillac emblem on the console, it feels a lot like a fellow midsize crossover Chevrolet Equinox.
Up to speed: You’d think the 237-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbo four would make up the difference. And it felt pretty good in everyday driving. In touring mode, it could feel as if the front wheels were going to tear away from the vehicle, as acceleration came on so quickly.
Still, 0 to 60 takes 7.5 seconds, according to Motor Trend, the slowest of the three units tested. And when I filled it with two Sturgis Kids and the Lovely Mrs., a race to get on the Turnpike left Mr. Driver’s Seat pretty nervous, and I don’t scare easily on the road.
Back to zero: The brakes worked subtly for a luxury vehicle as well. I was forever cutting it far too close at stop signs and such, and my foot ached from having to press so hard.
On the turns: And here’s where the other half of the Tale of Two Caddies comes in. In touring mode, the front wheels are engaged. In Sport and all-wheel-drive modes, all four wheels drive the vehicle. The XT4 handles very differently between the two modes, to a point I’d say borders on danger in the wrong hands.
Despite this Active Sport Suspension ($1,200), neither mode will excite the driver.
Shifty: The 9-speed automatic transmission comes with a BMW-style shifter; hold the side button and joystick forward for Reverse and backward for Drive. Paddle shifters handle manual gear changes.
One weirdness: When I shift my own gears, the engine doesn’t follow the usual sound pattern, growing quieter and less stressed with each shift upward. From gears 1 to 5, it sounds as if I’m downshifting.
Friends and stuff: Rear seat has great legroom and foot room. Headroom is quite tight. The seats are leathery (part of the $2,450 Comfort and Convenience Package) but not luxurious, and kind of oddly shaped. There’s a diagonal in the rear corner that interferes with my own seat, and the frame of the top cushion pushes on my shoulders. Evidently this is designed for small, stoop-shouldered peoples.
Cargo space is 48.9 cubic feet behind the front seats (much less than a Kia Soul), 22.5 in the back.
Play some tunes: Cadillac has added some BMW-style console knobs to its often-confusing CUE touchscreen interface. The knobs don’t control all functions, though, and the touchscreen is actually pretty far away for Mr. Driver’s Seat to reach. Sound is impressive, as usual.
Driver’s Seat: I couldn’t match the telescoping steering wheel to my arms while also feeling comfortable with the pedals. And the seat also featured a big, curved lower half, so I felt as if I were in a flirty, come-hither pose while driving. Sadly, there are no photographic records. Massaging seats are a nice touch, of course.
View from behind: A tiny rear window and tall doors make the XT4 feel like a cargo van. The small rear window is further shrunk by the location of the third brake light, notched into the top on the window.
Fuel economy: I averaged almost 23 mpg in the usual Mr. Driver’s Seat range of testing, although with an added trip up north.
Where it’s built: Kansas City, Kan.
How it’s built: Consumer Reports predicts its reliability will be a 1 out of 5.
In the end: A tale of two Caddies, neither one all that impressive.