Cadillac has diligently worked for many years to dismantle its reputation as a brand for older drivers. It didn’t help when its massive sedans were often status symbols rewarded as a bonus for successful salespeople in the cosmetic industry.
Likewise, big, expensive and luxurious were once equated with better. But it’s no longer the manufacturer’s focus and nor is it true.
The 2019 Cadillac XT4 is the smallest SUV in the carmaker’s lineup. It’s another attempt to appeal to a younger audience whose only experience with Cadillac may have been their grandparents’ wheels.
As a compact SUV, the XT4 joins a quickly expanding segment of entry-level luxury people movers. The industry trend continues with the refrain. It’s in with more utility sport vehicles, out with more sedans.
Available in Luxury, Premium Luxury and Sport trim, the XT4 comes standard with a turbocharged 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine with 237 horsepower. It advances with a nine-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is optional and was included on the Sport trim review vehicle.
The Sport trim features the upgrades of the Premium Luxury trim: a power liftgate to ambient interior lighting and a vibrating seat safety system to blind-spot monitoring. It also includes LED turning signals, front cornering lamps and black trim details. Sport-oriented front seats and steering wheel and simulated leather seats are also in the mix.
Comfort and Convenience ($1,550), Cadillac User ($1,500), Enhanced Visibility ($1,500) Technology ($1,400), Cold Weather ($850) and Driver Awareness ($770) packages add more than $7,500 the manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $41,795.
Several individual options, active sport suspension ($1,200), 20-inch cushion wheels, upgraded exterior paint ($625) and trailering equipment ($300) push the option’s total to more than $14,000. It catapults the final price to $57,135, including the $995 destination charge.
With its compact SUV status, the XT4 seats five in comfort. Front and rear seating is spacious. Front-seat occupants have the best of it. The driver’s seat features eight-way power adjustment and two-way lumbar configurations. Go for the upgrades and experience heated and ventilated seats and a massage feature.
The new Cadillac accelerates confidently, with the 0-60 miles per hour standard achieved in 6.9 seconds. Gas mileage averages are 22 miles per gallon in city driving, 29 miles per gallon on the highway.
Open-road driving is a treat. The XT4 is a confident, sturdy machine. Unlike many SUVs, the Cadillac has no tilting characteristics and it advances with Cadillac’s signature solid presence.
While new for 2019, the XT4 is Cadillac’s second crossover, slotting into the lineup below the now three-year-old XT5, categorized as a midsize crossover. Yes, the XT4 is smaller. It fits easily into standard sized parking lot spaces and maneuvers well in tight circumstances. But it also drives big.
The exterior is also pure Cadillac. The grille is masculine and complemented by large vertical headlights and a pronounced hood. The side profile is modern and handsome.
Cadillac has done well keeping up with competitors’ technology advances. The infotainment suite includes an angled eight-inch screen and all of the current Bluetooth connectivity available, including Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The Bose seven-speaker sound system is above average in quality. Four USB outlets are offered, including one Type-C.
Two final small items, one positive, the other a shortcoming. The XT4’s rear wiper maneuvers from top to bottom, an efficient approach. Not so efficient is the heated steering wheel. It’s warm at its best.
The Cadillac Escalade was the best-selling large luxury SUV in the United States in 2017. With the XT4’s debut, there’s no reason why the brand’s compact offering shouldn’t also move toward that status, particularly if a younger audience obliges.
Article Last Updated: January 17, 2019.
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A sports, travel and business journalist for more than 45 years, James has written the new car review column The Weekly Driver since 2004.
In addition to this site, James writes a Sunday automotive column for The San Jose Mercury and East Bay Times in Walnut Creek, Calif., and a monthly auto review column for Gulfshore Business, a magazine in Southwest Florida.
An author and contributor to many newspapers, magazines and online publications, James has co-hosted The Weekly Driver Podcast since 2017.