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All New 2019 Cadillac XT4 Is Automotive Goodness

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Thom Cannell

Contributing Writer, GM-Trucks.com



A vehicle is, or should be, a harmony of family value, social responsibility and transportation goodness. XT4, Cadillac’s newest and smallest SUV, earns high marks in each area.





  • Overall styling stays true to Cadillac, with signature front and rear lighting.
  • Interior leather, woods, engineered polymers that fit together precisely.
  • The 2.0-liter engine is a powerhouse, as well as an engineering marvel.
  • GM’s 9-speed transmission is seamless, delivers precise gear changes without hiccoughs’.
  • Nifty rotary controller and four-point touch control keeps eyes on the road, not on the screen.
  • CDC damping system belongs on every car, truck CUV or SUV we’d want to own. Or something like it that would haul a ton off road.



  • Goofy shifter logic: too many counter-intuitive button pushes to get from Park to Drive.
  • Goofier Manual mode (though we like the paddle shifters). Have to push buttons in, and out.
  • Equally questionable video mirror. Great if you have under-thirty eyes with no correction. Otherwise visually daunting.




To  pirate a phrase, “What’s in Your Driveway”? A Denali, a Silverado, an Escalade? Would a Cadillac be at home, or out of place next to your working truck? We think the 2019 Cadillac XT4 would fit in where others might not. XT4 competes with Audi Q3, BMW X1, Mercedes-Benz GLA 250 and Volvo XC40. Several things make it stand out among the competition. These are: all-new chassis; all-new and most-powerful- in-segment powertrain; solid infotainment/telematics; and a comfortable interior with real backseat leg room.


The 2019 Cadillac XT4 design team “Was young, and given the task of designing a vehicle for themselves; a small Cadillac crossover,” according to Robin Krieg, lead exterior designer. Hence the crisp lines and hidden aero tweaks that lurk at most corners, like the subtle detent supporting the rear window. Most distinctive are the signature “7” DRLs and taillights. Those transparent-wrapped taillights, by the way, shouldn’t have been available in North America, “But once we saw how the clear covering accented the jewel-like LED lighting, it had to be kept.” That near loss is due to XT4 being a global vehicle designed for the streets of Amsterdam and Beijing and their vehicle rules, as well as Detroit.




There three XT4s, each aimed at separate audiences. Should you live in the City and plan never to stray, to find mud or a wicked two-lane road to travel, the Luxury or Premium Luxury version is your match. If the reverse is true, that you like to drive and plan to enjoy driving swiftly, the Sport model is yours. 


We think that, beyond the luxury surfaces of leather, fine woods, killer infotainment and rock-solid stereo, the real story is under the hood and between the wheels. 


The 2019 Cadillac XT4 is the first to use what GM calls Tripower (Pontiac fans, dial 911), a system that provides two different valve-lift profiles and AFM or Active Fuel Management that can—briefly—shut off two cylinders. That makes the 2.0-liter into a 1.0-liter two-cylinder motor!




Engine specifications boarder on fantastic and race-car like at 118.5 horsepower per liter. This small engine delivers 237 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. That torque is amazing, coming on barely off idle at 1,500 and heading out to 4,000 rpm. Underfoot there’s nearly 80-percent torque at 1,000 rpm and nearly 90-percent of maximum all the way out to 5,000. Engineers actually had difficulty making the XT4 calmly driveable at tip-in!


Tripower uses electrically controlled fingers and electrical controls to move splined sections of the cam into one of two profiles, or off. That yields high-lift power or medium-lift economy. And it bolts up a twin-scroll turbocharger with electric waste gate for precise control. Every 2019 XT4 is mated to a 9-speed transmission with deep 7.6:1 gear span; the first gear is deep, 4.69:1 at launch and 0.62:1 in top gear. It is killer-smooth in auto-magic or “manual”. 


The new 2.0L is 15 pounds lighter than its predecessor, which was among the best in the world. It uses advanced thermal management to eek out every whiff of fuel economy, for instance by warming oil quickly by controlling engine coolant and an oil pump that is continuously variable.


On launch events like this, people partner to drive, ours was Executive Editor Zane, who became ill.  Our replacement was Bill Patterson, XT4 chief engineer; immediate auto-geek heaven!


Exiting our immodest accommodations in Seattle’s Four Seasons, we took our first street-level look at a Premium Luxury XT4. First impressions are important. Immediately noticed after opening the rear door of the XT4 Premium was the leather. “Nice, very nice”, we thought. The surface had a new-old look about it, like the authentic WW II bomber jacket you've coveted but never could justify. It has good feel to the hand (and backside), elegant stitching to connect panels, and everywhere was excellent fit-and-finish. 




Some of the very cool details include: 8” high-def navi/infotainment screen; rotary controller zooms the Nav; four buttons surrounding the rotary control call up Nav, audio, phone, backup; Amazon in-car package delivery; a smart phone infotainment layout on the main screen with a summary view (audio, phone, Nav); 4-user LTE hotspot; Apple Car Play—Android Auto compatibility; OnStar safety net.


Bill was enthusiastic about the 2019 Cadillac XT4 and its details, like how ST4 uses High Strength Steel in the door rings for passenger protection and in the engine cradle for more-connected driving feel, as well as extensive adhesive bonding for strength and NVH. He also described the Macpherson strut suspension on all cars and the isolated 5-link rear suspension. When we stopped on a hill, Bill pointed out the Hill Hold control that allowed an multi-minute extend hold before the brake (or Park) needed to be engaged.


Being truck enthusiasts, we found the Premium Luxury to feel, on the highway, very controlled and isolated, delivering a modern Cadillac ride that was quite firm. We tried all the suspension options: Tour, AWD and AWD Sport. As soon as we departed the freeway, Sport mode it was. Several things were clear. This was not the vehicle for us. Too tame and too luxurious—which is sort of funny, it being a luxury vehicle event. We noted plenty of trunk room for our gear, made possible by an all-new platform that’s now exclusive to Cadillac, which delivers the large rear seat volume and rear passenger leg room, as well.




FYI an entry Luxury XT4 has an MSRP of $35,790; the Premium Luxury starts at $40,290, as does the Sport. So, our Premium Luxury was equipped with the 18” alloys, aluminum roof rack and Silver Metallic lower bodyside moldings. Option packages that you will want rapidly bring the total closer to an MSRP of $45,000. That’s competitive in the segment.


After lunch we switched to a Sport Model. It had a distinctive gloss-black grille, gloss black roof rails, thicker steering wheel, plenty of safety electronics (shared with the Premium) like lane change alert, blind side alert, rear cross-traffic alert. And, an inside rear-view mirror that is either rear camera video screen or standard mirror. If you wear glasses, likely you’ll choose standard; it’s a near-far focus thing.
Let’s quantify that nice-to-drive feel that either model exhibits. The XT4's suspension damping on XT4 Sport feels more connected and aggressive than the Premium Luxury version.  However, the Sport’s steering effort and body lean are, in anything but Sport mode, shared with the Premium Luxury version. We think that, other than on long commutes, we'd leave the body controller set on AWD Sport for everyday use. We found no value, other than steering feel, in leaving the controller set in Sport. We asked Bill what the trade-offs might be. "In AWD and AWD Sport there would be zero fuel economy difference. But, between FWD and AWD (either AWD setting), there would be approximately one mile per gallon greater fuel consumption in AWD." So, it would be a personal choice to give up that one MPG for firmer chassis control and better steering feel. Which would apply to both Premium Luxury and Sport models.




How, you ask, does Cadillac achieve their all wheel drive with FWD option? To perform that trick, there's de-coupler in the drive shaft that severs the rear axle and differential from the power train to wrest every bit of fuel economy your driving style can provide. 

For XT4 Sport, Cadillac chose a road-reading damping system called Continuous Damping Control or CDC. It’s an active system, reading and adjusting to the road 500 times per second. You may recall that GM pioneered a very precise damping system using magnetorheological fluid to adjust damping with extreme precision. Cadillac chose CDC over MR for XT4. It was simple economics, as MR’s nearly semi-active properties aren't necessary for a CUV, as they are for V-Series Cadillacs.


While driving twisting two-lane roads, deep in the hills surrounding Seattle, Wash., there was simply no choice, Sport mode it was. The exclusive CDC suspension felt so much more planted in spirited, mildly aggressive driving, building grip without harshness. There was directness to the chassis that went from heels, to hands, to butt, and heft to the steering feel absent in other modes, and in the Premium. Yeah, we really liked the XT4 Sport.




Yes, we’d like more feedback from tires telling us what surface they were gripping. But, there's direct connection between eyes, steering wheel and direction. No problem making the XT4 go where it should, when it should. And that's likely at a greater speed than you'd be driving if your kids, or spouse, were in the car. 


In fact, dare we say, the 2019 Cadillac XT4 is "BMW-ish" without that extra edge that many find harsh for day-to-day driving pleasure. That, either version of the XT4 will deliver, it all depends on your needs.

2019 Cadillac XT4 First Drive Photo Gallery


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Nice review, a XT5 sits next to my Silverado LTZ in my driveway BTW.  Might have been an XT4 if those were out before now.  It's the SUV my wife drives, and LOVES it.


Oh, and I DO NOT like those rotary buttons on the steering wheel.  Had those in previous Chevys, hated them.  Just put a real button there instead guys.  Fortunately, the XT5 doesn't have those.  Not looking forward to using them in the new Silverado when my next truck comes up.

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Does have two "barrel" rotaries, left for cruise (up/down for 1 mph, push for 5 mph) and another on the right. Don't remember if it's channels or settings in the DIC window.

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My wife's Terrain has one of those "barrel" rotaries and we hate it. There is not enough difference between enough finger pressure to turn it and the amount required to push it. You often get a push when you wanted a turn unless you are staring at it and concentrating. The cruise control on my Sierra is all push buttons and can easily be done without looking nor concentrating on it. There are getting to be too many controls in a tiny space on the steering wheel. 

Another pet peeve is the varying locations for the wiper and light controls, Why can't GM decide which hand will be using the wiper control rather than having them in different locations depending on the model. It makes it difficult when occasionally using another family GM vehicle.  If most controls were in a similar location, it would add value to staying GM. 

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Anyone remember the Cadillac Cimarron (circa 1982)? That was my last 4 cylinder Caddy. Nothing has changed my mind from that 88 HP, 112 CI with a 4 speed borrowed from the Chevy Vega. But it did have real leather interior! My VW bug had leatherette (better known as semi-plastic leather) but the bug (slightly- modded) was seriously faster and handled better

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This may be a good replacement for my wife's GTI (if I can get her to finally drive a car with an automatic transmission) when if gives up the ghost.  I really like the looks of this and a lot of the YouTube auto reviewers give it high marks. However, should be interesting to see how this new engine design holds up over the long run. The sliding camshaft and the CDC systems only complicate matters. Though it is pretty cool technology. 

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Honestly I'm quite impressed with the engine, those numbers on the power are awesome. I know this isn't a class comparison but if I had a choice to drive the XT4 Sport vs a Mercedes CLA, I'd chose the XT4 any day. 

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This thing is awesome. Will most likely replace our 2.0T ATS with this in a few years. 


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On 9/18/2018 at 4:49 PM, DJG said:

My wife's Terrain has one of those "barrel" rotaries and we hate it. There is not enough difference between enough finger pressure to turn it and the amount required to push it. You often get a push when you wanted a turn unless you are staring at it and concentrating. The cruise control on my Sierra is all push buttons and can easily be done without looking nor concentrating on it. There are getting to be too many controls in a tiny space on the steering wheel. 



Agree 100%  If they'd put more than 5 cents into the dials, I might like them.  But the feel and act cheap, worse that cheap.  And in a Caddy?!?!?  No.  Not only no, but....  well, you get the point.  Not class leading style, not by a long shot.

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Not bad but I’d take the Volvo XC40 over it. Power plant numbers are about exactly the same.



Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk


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Yeah but Volvo's reliability has tanked worse than GM's.


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I gotta say, it was a sad day when they discontinued the B5254 - 5 cylinder engine. Bulletproof imo. I’ve owned many. Im not a big fan of the current 4 cylinder drive-e, but I haven’t owned one yet.

At 50k miles, my 2014 T5 AWD has been great. No problems. Volvo has committed to going all hybrid in the near future (couple of years).. I’m glad to see Volvo sales are up in the US.. they’re finally building them here again.



Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk


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