As the automakers tell us every week, they are fast moving towards building battery-powered electric vehicles, even when big potholes loom on the horizon. In this race to get a hold of Tesla, the traditional car brands still need to make real profits from the sale of conventional internal combustion cars before they can feed off the government subsidy for BEVs.
This conundrum will still result in continued expansion and development funding for ICE products. After all, more than 95% of all new car sales remain conventionally powered.
GM’s first brand is currently standing over this powertrain fence with powerful engines, as it touts its debut of the all-new Celestiq EV sedan. The Celestiq will debut in 2023 and Cadillac hopes the brand will return the “standard of the world” title it once held. For over $250 large, damn better than expectations.
Currently, no pun intended, Cadillac uses turbocharged four-cylinder engines in its sedans and crossovers, such as our XT5 copy, naturally aspirated V6 engines (310 horsepower in our XT5 Sport example) plus twin-turbo V6 power for its ambitious CT4 V Blackwing Saloon. Cadillac continues to offer diesel power in the Escalade, as well as the powerful 6.2-liter V8 borrowed from Chevy and GMC. This engine can be recharged for 668 horsepower in the new CT5-V Blackwing sedan, or 682 horsepower in the new Escalade-V. There may be batteries in the pipeline, but consumers still crave high power on gasoline.
The mid-sized XT5 is competing for a slice of the luxury crossover market against BMW’s X5, the new Genesis GV80, Lexus’ RX, Lincoln’s Nautilus, Mercedes’ GLE and even Jeep’s Grand Cherokee. In a world of limited computer chips, with more than four million units lost from domestic production so far by 2022, Cadillac’s crossover/SUV range is 18% lower than last year’s sales level.
The XT5 comes to the plate with a handsome exterior and a well-finished interior design. The cabin is quiet, comfortable and spacious with excellent rear seating, as well as a rear cargo area with fold-down seats (with rear release controls), cargo securing panels, plus plenty of room for above-average bags for extended travel. The XT5’s dashboard features a screen integrated into the panel – rather than being glued on afterwards – while the fit and finish reaffirm the luxury expected in this segment.
While the 237-hp turbo-four delivers base power for front-wheel drive versions, the 3.6-liter V6 delivers more mid-range grunt. With AWD and selectable traction modes, the XT5 has an EPA rating of 19/25 mpg versus front-wheel drive models with 22/29 mpg. A 9-speed automatic is standard on every XT5.
Cadillac has consistently pursued chassis dynamics that reward avid drivers, as well as steering drivers who are more concerned with smooth transportation from point A to point B. The XT5 has the perfect balance of responsive agility and a plush ride, taking the usual turbulence on the rural roads. swallow roads in Maine with confidence. The steering feels light and could give a hint of more feedback, but the vast majority of buyers in this class will never squeak the tires enough to find the available traction limits.
During his visit, the XT5 had to tow a lawnmower, run the stock from the big store and go to the landfill. The sliding loading gate is clever and pops out, but the large luggage screen got in the way every time I was transporting something. How about dumping these well-intentioned nuisance carmakers and installing a rear cargo screen in the tailgate? Manual or electric, it doesn’t matter, but a hue similar to what’s used in the rear passenger doors would never become a device that would get in the way of its intended task: carrying gear.
Top Sport gear includes the usual goodies: oversized sunroof, LED lighting all around, adaptive suspension, Bose 14-speaker stereo, Wi-Fi, remote start, wireless charging, heads-up display, HD surround-view camera and Cadillacs safety (vibrating) seat. Take it to the next level with semi-aniline leather and suede seats, 20-inch wheels and a plethora of black trim and additional electronic driver aids. Prices start at $45,290 for base front-wheel drive XT5s, going up to $58,490 for AWD Sports and $70,000 for our Stellar Black copy.
Compact and medium crossovers are where the market is “hot” at the moment. Cadillac is making the product work hard to restore the panache of this famous brand, but consumers craving (affordable) Cadillac electric crossovers will have to wait another two years.
Tim Plouff has been assessing cars for over 20 years.
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