2019 Cadillac XT4 first drive review: Luxury crossover SUV finally shows up, shows off

Fashionably late to the party, the 2019 Cadillac XT4 small crossover SUV doesn’t bother to shake hands at the door. It swaggers past competitors and waits for the party to come to it. Uncork the expensive stuff, you guys.

The 2019 Cadillac XT4 is the girlfriend meme in automotive form, svelte sheet metal that snaps necks of passersby. If Mercedes-Benz and BMW aren’t worried yet, they should check their owners’ phones in the middle of the night—tonight.

Even though the XT4 is late to the party, it still has every right to be there.

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That’s partially due to its new powertrain. The small Cadillac crossover relies on a new 2.0-liter turbo-4 for propulsion—unrelated in every way from the 2.0-liter turbo-4 found in the similarly sized Chevy Equinox or GMC Terrain. The Caddy’s version is so nice, GM should have done it twice.

It’s the latest turbo-4 in a group of crossovers that we have good feelings for. BMW and Mercedes have one each, Audi does too. V-6s feel like yesterday’s news, already.

But the best looking part of the Cadillac is right there where you can see it. Its beauty is really just skin deep. Cadillac’s youngest ever design team put pen to paper to draw a razor-sharp crossover for an off-the-rack SUV that has all the right moves, for now. Check back with us in three fall seasons to see if we feel the same way. Better yet, don’t.

And, like New York Fashion week, if you have to ask how much it costs you’ll surely be disappointed.

2019 Cadillac XT4

2019 Cadillac XT4

‘Tween scene?

Priced and sized between competitors’ smallest ‘utes and compact crossovers, the Cadillac XT4 is on the big side of small or the small side of big. Gone jeans shopping recently? You know what we mean.

Compared to the Volvo XC40 and XC60, the XT4 sizes up naturally to middleweight: the Caddy is nearly seven inches longer than the XC40, but only 3.5 inches shorter than the XC60. Same goes for the Benz GLA- and GLC-Class competitors: the XT4 is more than seven inches longer than the GLA-Class but within two inches of the GLC-Class.

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Larger competition fits the XT4’s entry price anyway. While the Cadillac starts around $35,000, its best life is well above $50,000. More on that later.

Like nearly every other competitor with a compact crossover, the XT4 packs a small-displacement engine and automatic transmission under its hood for high efficiency that’s EPA-rated up to 30 mpg on the highway. The 237-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo-4 features variable valve lift and cylinder shutdown for maximum efficiency or effort, depending on situation, and while it’s seemingly down on power on paper compared to the BMW X3 or Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class, the XT4 keeps pace with both.

2019 Cadillac XT4

2019 Cadillac XT4

Behind the wheel, the 2.0-liter turbo-4 is spry and willing, a half-second whiff of turbo lag is the only misstep in an otherwise entertaining dance down any road.

Similarly, GM’s 9-speed transmission takes a fraction longer to kick down than the spectacular 8-speed autoboxes found in some competitors. Thankfully, the XT4 skips some of the clunky shifts we’ve found in other 9-speeds; the Cadillac upshifts smoother than mayo and mild cheddar on turkey.

Cadillac doesn’t quote 0-60 mph times, but the XT4 feels like a solid six-and-some-change crossover with down-low torque for entertainment if not outright acceleration.

On Sport-equipped XT4s, continuously controlled adaptive dampers electromagically keep the tall-riding crossover cosseted around corners. Svelte and sharp, nothing is spilling out of the Cadillac XT4 that shouldn’t be.

It only takes a few minutes to see why Cadillac didn’t reskin an Equinox or Terrain for its first compact crossover—the XT4 is more refined than both.

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