Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins
It’s been a while since we’ve witnessed a new vehicle launch from the historic 116-year old Cadillac brand. But rest assured that the next gen product to represent the American luxury automotive sector is designed for ultimate satisfaction. To experience the global media event Automotive Rhythms headed out West for the Seattle inauguration of the all-new 2019 XT4 luxury crossover. Offered in Sport, Premium Luxury and Luxury renditions, designers referred to the newfangled Caddy as the puppy stage of the full-size Escalade SUV.
After the evening reveal Steve Carlisle, President of Cadillac, explained to a full house of journalists the company’s 10-year market plan which is now in year 4. The premise is to continue communicating with interested consumers, embolden leadership and expand beneficial offerings which will lead to new Cadillac edition every 6 months for the next few years. This timeline also incorporates the replacement of current sedan models. Since the demand for innovative SUVs and crossovers is heightened I would expect more of the same in the area of the XT series.
For the drive my partner Frank Aukofer and I started out in a Stellar Black Metallic XT4 AWD Sport with a Sedona / Jet Black leather interior. Base pricing was $39,295 but increased to $55,835 with all the packages and options. The Luxury model starts at $34,795. Some of the options included athletic 20” twin 5-spoke alloy spins finished in a Diamond Cut / Titan Satin finish ($1,100) and paired with 245/45 R20 Continental ContiProContact tires, extended UltraView panoramic sunroof ($1,550), Active Sport Suspension ($1,200), Cadillac user experience (CUE) with navigation ($1,500) and Twin Clutch AWD ($2,500) that can provide 100% torque to either rear wheel. Dual trapezoidal exhaust tips, a gallant front fascia with a blacked-out grille, vertical LED cornering headlamps, V-series hood bulge, gloss black roof racks, strong wheel arches, power tailgate spoiler and a sloping rear reminiscent of the CTS Wagon round out the design specs of the XT4 Sport. Keep in mind the other two models feature equivalent elements as well.
The 2-liter turbo (twin-scroll) 4-cylinder engine with 237-horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque is newly built and weighs 15 pounds less than its predecessor. Paired with a wider ratio 9-speed electronically-controlled automatic transmission (replaces the 6-speed) power and acceleration were great with no signs of turbo lag. I liked the idea of setting the shift lever in manual mode by tapping down once and then using the steering wheel paddle shifters. Selectable Drive Modes are represented by Tour, Snow/Ice and Sport if you have a FWD XT4 and Tour, AWD and Sport if you own an AWD XT4. Keep in mind switching to Tour in the AWD variant is actually deactivating AWD and letting FWD take precedence for normal road conditions. For FWD vehicles expect 24 city mpg and 30 highway and 22 city mpg and 29 highway for the AWD.
The interior craftsmanship of the XT4 is everything you would expect in a Cadillac crossover. Infused with premium materials and convenience technologies our drive around the Tacoma and Seattle area was very comforting. The 8-way massaging driver seat sits high so you have full view of the road, the video rear view mirror is visually precise and Extended Hill Hold was reassuring at the light on some of the steep streets before leaving the city. Since we had the Technology Package wireless charging removed the need for dangling cords but both USB and USB-c ports were at our disposal. Head-Up Display showcased the tachometer so we could have more fun with the performance aspect of the XT4, the 8” color customizable gauge cluster informs the driver of vehicle operations and the power steering column was complimented by alloy sport pedals. However, the electric power steering system’s (with variable assist) on-center feel was a bit too relaxed for my taste.
Small but convenient touches include folder slots on both sides of the center console, 13 easy-to-reach operational buttons on the center stack and flip down second row headrests for greater visibility. Also, the driver seat can be extensively moved rearward for taller drivers. But that’s only if there are no passengers in the rear because spacing back there is already limited. Both OnStar and Wi-Fi were handy as well. I called an operator to have directions sent to my XT4 which took place instantly. Yet, one of the clearer advances was an update to CUE which adds a rotary controller for simplicity. The prior version was a haptic disaster and a major distraction. Now you have the dial (which BMW revolutionized via iDrive) and physical controls to operate the Nav, music, volume and the telephone. XT4 is the first Cadillac to inherit the infotainment upgrade which includes map features and display graphics from the ultra-vivid HD Rear Vision Camera. Moreover, the media apps such as NY Times, Fox Sports, WSJ, Washington Post, USA Today and more are in podcast form so you can remain attentive. Of course the Cadillac crossover is backed by Bose with a defining Centerpoint surround sound system.
You can definitely say the XT4 is a younger version of the Escalade, but unlike the bad behavior that puppies often exhibit the intelligence and driving aptitude of this crossover is stellar. Especially when it comes to the safety and well-being of not only yourself, but that of others as well. Technologies like Forward and Reverse Automatic Braking, Adaptive Cruise Control, Front and Rear Park Assist, Lane Change Alert with Side Blind Zone Alert, HD Surround Vision, Front Pedestrian Braking, Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning and Forward Collision Alert perpetually keep this pup in order.