Road Trip Review: Cadillac XT5 Sport AWD 2021

Toronto to Montreal and back in Cadillac’s best-selling CUV

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With production delays and the ongoing chip shortage forcing brands to make sacrifices when specifying their incoming 2022 models and finishes, model year 2021 vehicles remain sought-after options — if you can get them, that is. My partner and I recently took a 2021 Cadillac XT5 Sport AWD on a long trip to the cottage countryside outside of Montreal, and we wouldn’t be in a rush to jump straight to 2022.

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We picked up our 2021 Cadillac XT5 Sport AWD tester in Toronto towards the end of a two month visit to Ontario from our home in BC. Family from the west flew to Montreal, and we planned to meet them in a small town called North Hatley where my great-grandparents once had a cottage and were told that some distant cousins ​​still lived.

As a compact luxury crossover from the North American luxury brand, the XT5 was a perfectly suited model to make the 1000-mile round trip, mostly on busy highways with the two of us, but also in the dense and unknown city center of Montreal with a older sister in the back seat. Honestly none of us took advantage of the wireless charging available in the vehicle, but we could have done it! That’s more than you can say for some of the incoming 2022 XT5s, if reports are to be believed.

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The XT in XT5 stands for “crossover touring,” which is apparently a desirable designation these days – the XT5 is Cadillac’s best-selling model. We got a good feel for this crossover’s touring capabilities during our ride, and here’s what we noticed.

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Abundant power, but delivery can be harsh

With modest pressure underfoot, the XT5’s 3.6L V6 engine performs well, quietly and eager to move the 6,000-pound machine through turns and up to speed in merge lanes. Hook it up with a trailer and it will use its 270 lb-ft of torque to pull up to 3,500 lbs. But put your foot down to release the full power of the 310-horsepower engine and things get a lot louder—almost shrill.

However, I expect that for most XT5 riders this kind of foot-to-the-floor riding is rare. Most will use it as we did, cruising at 100km/h on straight and mostly flat highways, and driving through busy cities, maneuvering out of slow-moving traffic and having fun along curbs. It is more than fine for this.

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Luxurious interior, but the Cadillac way

The ability of the modern SUV to suck up all its belongings is truly astonishing. We found no shortage of hidden holes in the 2021 XT5, where snacks and electronic chargers and sunglasses were stashed throughout the spacious cabin, while our luggage barely covered the floor of the rear cargo area. It took a few minutes of opening and closing to get all the goodies out when it was time to turn the car off again.

The level of comfort was high, as would be expected from the luxury manufacturer GM, with the seats easily passing the three-hour test we took somewhere east of Kingston.

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But in the end, with the advantage that some time has passed since the trip, it’s the little things that really stick in the memory. Like the cup holders in the console between the front seats that are too small for any cup larger than 20 oz, actually including most reusable water bottles. Why are you doing this, Cadillac? Don’t you know we’re thirsty? They were big enough for a Starbucks, but my tall metal water bottle ended up in the odd, hollow, foot-level cubicle between the two front seats.

Cadillac XT5 Sport AWD 2021
Cadillac XT5 Sport AWD 2021 Photo by Coleman Molnar

Seamless city to highway transitions

The 2021 XT5 AWD is the compact crossover Canada and much of America needs, which is probably why it’s so important to Caddy. The 2021 XT5 is the right size for the demands of the average Canadian, part country and city, with enough power for virtually all everyday driving scenarios and enough luxury and technology to keep up with the competition.

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For the first time on the nameplate, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also standard. That’s no small consideration for anyone getting into a vehicle for a limited time as we were. Instead of spending time in the idling vehicle in the fleet learning the ins and outs of a new system, drivers or passengers can navigate and DJ from the familiarity of their smartphone apps.

It’s the XT5 package as a whole that makes this Cadillac SUV a winning vehicle. That’s the message Millennial Mom reviewer Renita Naraine got away with it, and it’s the taste we still had after our road trip.

Would I drop the $60,743 required to purchase the 2021 Cadillac XT5 AWD Sport for my own personal, full-time use? No, not likely. But I wouldn’t hesitate to rent one should I need a great vehicle for a good, long road trip.


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