Cadillac is sticking to its guns with the XT5 for 2021. It’s a solid, refined package that comes with several updates. There’s no denying that the Cadillac XT5 is starting to look a bit aged when compared to the newer entrants into the luxury compact crossover segment. While the current-generation XT5 has been around since 2017, Cadillac has done a great job of keeping it competitive. They continue to add new features every year, and gave it a substantial mid-cycle update last year. While the XT5 might not be the top choice in its segment for everyone, it offers just enough to warrant a look. And perhaps even a test drive. After all, there are still many people who love to drive a Caddy.
New for 2021: More Tech Is Never a Bad Thing
The 2021 XT5 now offers standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Also new is the standard Amazon Alexa functionality. The Sport trim level offers 20-inch alloy wheel designs. Other than that, the 2021 version isn’t dramatically changed from the previous model. For all the finer details about the new XT5, just check out Cadillac’s website.
Exterior Styling: Aging Well
The new XT5 merges its regal design language with a somewhat brawny shape and an athletic stance. Its front fascia draws the most attention, with its large, distinctive Cadillac grille. There’s also the signature “tear drop” LED headlights — complete with LED daytime running lights — which exude elegance and sophistication. Strong character lines flow from front to back and merge with the XT5’s signature vertical LED taillights.
The 2021 XT5 also adds a rugged touch with its all-around black, hard-plastic under skirting. The Premium Luxury trim level looks especially elegant, with its additional bright metallic trim. Meanwhile the Sport trim level gets a darker, more aggressive appearance — with a unique grille to match.
What’s Under the Hood: It’s V6 or Bust
The 2021 XT5 offers two engines. There’s a 2.0-liter turbo-four featured in the Luxury and Premium Luxury trim levels. Stepping up, there’s a naturally aspirated optional 3.6-liter V6 on the Premium Luxury model (but standard on the Sport trim). The turbo generates 237 hp and 258 lb-ft. of torque. According to CarAndDriver, that was enough to propel the XT5 from 0-to-60 mph in 7.6 seconds. Both XT5 engines pair with a nine-speed automatic transmission and send power to the front wheels. All-wheel drive is an available option too.
The larger V6 engine puts down 310 ponies and 271 lb-ft. of torque. It delivers a quicker 0-to-60 time of 6.7 seconds. These times are strong, but they pale in comparison to those of rivals like the much quicker Porsche Macan (0-to-60 in 4.1 seconds) and the Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class (3.8 seconds).
When it comes to handling, the 2021 XT5 is not particularly sporty. However, it can tackle twisty or winding roads with confidence and composure. Its four-wheel independent suspension system helps keep the SUV planted and reduces body roll when cornering. The Sport trim level features an exclusive performance suspension with “real-time chassis damping control.” So look in that direction if you’ve got a need for speed.
The most fuel-efficient XT5 available is the FWD four-cylinder. According to the EPA, it averages 22/29/24 miles per gallon (city, highway, combined). Opting for AWD knocks those figures down slightly to 21/27/23 MPG. As expected, the six-cylinder is quite thirsty. The FWD version nets an MPG split of 19/26/21. Adding AWD to the mix reduces that split to 18/26/21 MPG. In terms of fuel economy, the XT5 is on the wrong side of average in its class.
Interior Styling: All-Encompassing Luxury
True to the promise of the Cadillac marque, the cabin of the 2021 XT5 is indeed luxurious and refined. Its dashboard design is simple yet classy, with excellent craftsmanship and rich materials. It incorporates premium, soft-touch plastics, aluminum/carbon fiber/real-wood inlays, and rich leatherette or pure semi-aniline leather materials. It’s all blended together quite seamlessly. Integrated into the center of the dashboard is an eight-inch infotainment touchscreen display that can also be controlled by a center console-mounted rotary infotainment controller.
Under this display are sleekly designed controls for the climate control system. The leather wrapped steering wheel is handsomely crafted, bears the Cadillac badge, and incorporates rich wood and aluminum trim. The dashboard trim extends to the doors, ensuring that the luxury vibe is all-encompassing. The seats are trimmed with either leatherette or pure leather, depending on the trim level.
The base Luxury trim level offers a heated eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat and a heated six-way power-adjustable front passenger seat. It also offers standard dual-zone climate control, keyless entry and ignition and a premium eight-speaker Bose audio system.
Optional features include a sunroof, wireless phone charger, a heated steering wheel, an automatic-dimming rearview mirror, and a hands-free power liftgate. The Premium Luxury trim level can also be had with a variety of packages, like a towing package, an enhanced visibility and technology package, a platinum package, and a driver assist package.
The cabin of the 2021 XT5 is plenty practical and offers ample room for both people and cargo. Thanks to the fact that it offers up to 38.40 inches of headroom, 39 inches of legroom, and 56.3 inches of shoulder room in the second row, you can comfortably fit actual adult-sized adults in the second row. When it comes to storing things, there is 30 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats. That number rises up to 63 cubic feet when the rear seats are folded down.
Technology and Safety
The 2021 XT5 offers a good amount of standard tech, including the aforementioned Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There’s also a 4G LTE WiFi Hotspot. Standard safety and driver’s assistance tech includes a lane-keep assist system with lane departure warning that helps to steer the SUV back into its lane when it starts to drift out unintentionally. Automatic emergency braking and front pedestrian braking also come standard, as does a standard following distance indicator. That last one uses radar to show you the distance and following time between you and the vehicle ahead.
If you opt for the Driver Assist package (which is only available on the Premium Luxury and Sport trims), you’ll get an adaptive cruise control system, 360-degree surround camera system, and an automatic parking assist system that automatically steers the SUV into a parking spot without any driver intervention. Perfect for those who struggle to get between the lines!
Pricing and Trim Levels
The 2021 XT5 is available in three trim levels: Luxury, Premium Luxury, and Sport. The Luxury trim starts at $44,990 and comes well-equipped. Optioning AWD bumps the price up to $46,990, which isn’t bad — except for the fact that the base Premium Luxury trim costs just $49,790 and comes much-better equipped. Standard features on the Premium Luxury include first and second-row leather, a wireless phone charger, the aforementioned sunroof, and lane-change alert with blind-spot monitoring. All-wheel drive can be optioned for an additional $2,000, while the V6 engine can be had for $1,000.
At the top of the totem pole is the Sport trim, which comes standard with AWD and the V6 engine. It also includes a performance suspension system, 20-inch alloy wheels, and glossy black exterior accents and clear taillight lenses. The XT5 Sport has an MSRP of $56,090.
The Last Word
The 2021 Cadillac XT5 may not be a top in its class as a luxury compact SUV. However, it still offers good, all-around value in all three of its trim levels. Also worth noting is that in terms of character, the 2021 XT5 leans more towards luxurious comfort and practicality than it does towards performance. Unfortunately, this makes it a direct competitor with Germany’s big three. In that battle, the Cadillac struggles to hold its own. However, there is something to be said for buying an American vehicle. That said, the V6 offers plenty of grunt, the cabin is roomy, and there’s a good amount of tech and luxury on offer. Altogether, that makes the 2021 XT5 at least worth a look for anyone shopping for a luxury compact crossover.