By on September 19, 2016

2017 Cadillac XT5 rear

In 1999, GM altered the front fascia and slightly upgraded the interior of the GMC Yukon Denali to introduce the Cadillac Escalade. Although Cadillac was late to the Lincoln Navigator’s game, the biggest, baddest, boldest Cadillac quickly became an undeniable hit.

Now in fourth-generation form, U.S. sales of the regular-wheelbase Cadillac Escalade are on track to rise to an eight-year high in 2016.

Joining the Escalade in Cadillac’s SUV/crossover lineup in 2003 was the first-generation Cadillac SRX. With a two-row mainstream approach in generation two, the Cadillac SRX also became a huge success. Propelled forward in part by incentives, the SRX’s ability to claim its best ever U.S. sales total in 2015, its final full year, was nevertheless impressive.

Less than half a year into its run, the SRX-replacing Cadillac XT5 is likewise a formidable hit; yet more proof that Cadillac knows how to shake its moneymakers. Which makes you wonder why Cadillac hasn’t already brought to market more moneymakers for the brand to shake.

The SRX certainly provided plenty of precedent to suggest that the XT5, while not a visual leap forward from the second-generation SRX, would become a major player in America’s luxury utility vehicle sector. General Motors averaged more than 55,000 annual SRX sales between 2010 and 2015.

Though a far cry from the near 100,000-unit annual average achieved by the Lexus RX during the same period, the SRX still claimed enviable U.S. popularity. The SRX was America’s second-best-selling premium brand SUV/crossover in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2015.

Cadillac USA/global sales chart: August 2016 YTDIn July and August, Cadillac sold more than 4,900 XT5s in the United States, numbers that were curtailed somewhat by the continued availability of the dying SRX. This was enough, in the Cadillac XT5’s fourth full month of availability, to make the XT5 America’s fourth-best-selling premium utility vehicle.

Combined sales of the XT5 and its SRX predecessor totalled 5,894 units, enough to rank second among premium utilities in August. Year-over-year, SRX/XT5 sales were down 15 percent in August and fell 12 percent through the first two-thirds of 2016 — not a surprising turn of events during a major transition that follows Cadillac’s heavily incentivized clear-out effort one year ago.2017 Cadillac XT5Globally, the XT5 became Cadillac’s most popular model over the summer, just as it now is in the United States.

51 percent of the brand’s global volume so far this year stem from the XT5/SRX and Escalade.

In the U.S., specifically, Cadillac is on track to sell fewer than 64,000 passenger cars in 2016, less than half the number of cars sold by the brand a decade ago. The U.S. new vehicle market is an entirely different place now. SUVs/crossovers have outsold passenger cars in each of the last two months. Cars earned 47 percent of the industry’s volume in 2006, but make up just 40 percent so far this year.

Fortunately, Cadillac SUV/crossover sales in 2016 are on track to rise roughly 10 percent higher in 2016 than in 2006.

Yet BMW has doubled its U.S. SAV volume during the same period, Jaguar-Land Rover utility vehicle sales are nearly 70 percent stronger, Mercedes-Benz SUV/CUV sales are 120 percent higher now than they were then, Audi Q sales have grown by more than nine times. To do so, all of those brands dramatically expanded their utility vehicle networks over the last decade.

Automotive News says a Kansas-built direct rival for the BMW X3 won’t arrive until 2018. A Mercedes-Benz GLA challenger is not due until 2020. An XT5-based XT7 is three years away.

With no entries in vital categories, segments in which Cadillac could presumably succeed if the brand’s other utility vehicles are anything to go by, Cadillac is basically handing free market share to its chief rivals. In Cadillac’s home market. In Cadillac’s largest market.

From dealer frustrations and disappointing reaction to new cars, to questionable marketing strategies and a slow reaction to market trends, there’s no shortage of Cadillac concerns at General Motors.

But the XT5 isn’t one of them.

[Images: Cadillac Chart: © The Truth About Cars]

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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65 Comments on “XT5 is Proof Cadillac’s Broken Product-Planning Clock is Right At Least Twice a Decade...”


  • avatar
    Hydromatic

    A blind squirrel can find an acorn now and again, but it’s still a blind squirrel.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I find it so hard to fathom the SRX was the second best selling CUV in five separate years. I don’t even see them half as often as I do the RX. Might see an SRX once every other day – but it seems like I see the RX at least five times every time I get in the car.

    Maybe it’s a regional thing, and the RX outweighs the Cadillac here.

    • 0 avatar
      Timothy Cain

      Alhough it’s never safe to trust local eyeballs in a national numbers contest, your sightings ratio isn’t far off the facts. The RX is so absurdly common that the race is always for silver. 2013-2016 RX sales totalled 312,020, compared with 179,204 SRXs. That’s more than 1.7-to-1.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Oh, well that makes sense then. I didn’t realize how much the RX was killing it!

        • 0 avatar

          As the sole Caddy Driver in Westchester, I understand this. BMW, and Audi, on the other hand, are 50% of the fleet. I exaggerate, but only a little.

          I leave the NY Metro Area, and suddenly go a whole day without seeing a BMW or Mercedes.

          My new car, fashion forward bizarro world is a poor indicator of what is actually selling. (Tesla ! Common Car !)

        • 0 avatar
          NormSV650

          Come to the northern part of your state and SRX runs similar to RX. Though I’ve seen a few psuedo-smashed looking new RX with the predator front, I’ve seen many more XT5’s.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I see tons of them, myself.

    • 0 avatar
      scott25

      I’m the opposite, I probably see at least 20 SRXs for every RX. Probably because the closest Lexus dealer is at least an hour away, and there’s at least 4 Cadillac dealers between here and there (ATSs are also VERY common). I also see a disproportionate number of Mercedes because it’s bizarrely the only luxury brand (other than Cadillac and Lincoln) with a dealer in my town, the closest BMW dealer is also an hour away. . The only RXs I see commonly are early/mid 2000s 2nd gen ones. I’ve only seen 2 or 3 XT5s on the road so far though, about the same as current-gen RXs

  • avatar
    heavy handle

    Is “Rest of World” basically China? Which Cadillacs are built there these days?

  • avatar

    Better they put the RIGHT product on the market than just rush to fill a hole – often with disastrous results.

    Also, many who shop premium brands look for EXCLUSIVITY, not wanting what everyone else has. Cadillac’s quest for increased volume began in earnest 50 years ago; as soon as the early 70’s, the brand’s target market became as turned-off by Cadillac’s increasing “commonness” as by the cars themselves.

    Yes, it’s a different world in 2016, but Cadillac is supposed to be about making a statement about its owner. The Escalade seems to fill that role quite nicely, hopefully that will be the case with XT5. For those who don’t care about statements…that’s what Buick and the nicer Chevies should be for.

  • avatar
    IAhawkeye

    Essentially “Cadillac Gives Consumers What They Want, Sales are Strong.” It’s been said a lot on here, but sedans are out, CUV’s are in. Why Cadillac pushes so hard to make better German sedans then the Germans when they’d be better off adding another CUV remains a mystery.

    I’ve already seen a few XT5’s rolling around my AO and I think they look way better in person then they ever did in pictures on this site. I can see why someone would want one for sure. Still not a fan of any of Cadillac’s marketing though, I’m sure it appeals to SOMEBODY, that definitely isn’t me though.

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    Even Cadillac can find the Goldilocks Zone.

    But judging by their relentless distraction into other segments, that’s more from an accident of corporate size than by any clever planning like Subaru.

    Interestingly, Subaru’s 2015 US sales were 3.3 times greater than Cadillac’s. Thanks again for your marvelous site, Tim Cain!

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    How’s the new Jaguar F-Pace doing? I’ve not seen a single one in my region.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I think there was an article last week about how it was already over 50% of their sales volume.

      I’ve seen exactly one on the roads. But that’s probably because the only ones dealers have got now are the super loaded $80,000 ones – which are just too expensive.

    • 0 avatar
      dividebytube

      I’ve seen one in the wild – but I’m more likely to see a Range or Land Rover. Lots of snobby cars in my neck of the woods – BMW, Audi, and Mercedes, along with the big SUVs seem to be the most common. And the Honda Odyssey to haul the little munchkins.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Most of the non-US sales for the ATS are actually the stretched ATS-L, which if sold here would eliminate one of the larger complaints about the ATS. It also looks like China gets a better interior in their ATS-L, but that’s only my impression from a few pictures I’ve seen.

    Because almost every CUV puts up good sales numbers these days, I’m not surprised the XT5 is doing well. Still. it looks like there are a few other bright spots with Cadillac. The ATS-L is doing okay, the CT6 is doing much better than I expected, the XTS is holding steady enough that there may be justification for a 2nd generation, and the profit margin on the Escalade means it prints money.

    • 0 avatar
      Timothy Cain

      Give credit where credit is due. Yes, most SUVs/crossovers are putting up improved numbers. But to simply liken the SRX/XT5 sales success to the success of others – “because it’s the market’s trend” – diminishes Cadillac’s knack for nailing it again. Cadillac sells a fair chunk more of these vehicles in this segment in the U.S. than every other automaker. Almost every other automaker.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        I guess my point is that I’m not that surprised with the XT5 selling at ~28K through 8 months. Like you said, their 2-row CUV has traditionally done well so that’s about the number I expected. It’s like a Batman movie doing well at the box office.

        Now the CT6’s ~6700 sales does impress me because that’s about 3x more than I expected. I really thought it would be a flop.

        • 0 avatar
          heavy handle

          I wonder how much of the CT6 business is fleet/livery. The Town Car has been out of production for a long time, there’s bound to be pent-up demand for a traditional American limo.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            “I wonder how much of the CT6 business is fleet/livery.”

            I think the XTS is their fleet sales queen. And as RWD limos go, an Escalade fills that role better than a CT6 would.

        • 0 avatar
          Chocolatedeath

          WOW the CT6 sold that many in one month…So a big RWD Caddie is what the people wanted after all.

        • 0 avatar
          bd2

          The CT6 is doing well relative to the other RWD sedans in the Cadillac line-up b/c this time, wasn’t underpinned by the Alpha platform (or variant) which has severe packaging issues (limiting passenger/trunk space).

          The issue was never that Cadillac buyers wouldn’t buy smaller sedans, but rather that they wouldn’t buy Cadillac sedans that offer less passenger and trunk space within their segment than the competition (the 1G/2G CTS sold well for Cadillac when it was Cadillac’s offering in the compact segment and offered greater interior space than anything aside from the G35/37).

          The replacements for the ATS and CTS will be on a new platform and hence, will correct the packaging issue.

          As for livery/fleet sales, even the supposed “livery queen” XTS never was particularly high in fleet sales %, so doubt that the success of the CT6 is based on that.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I want to know the package breakdown. Are the majority of these XT5s base, Luxury, Premium Luxury, or Platnum? (And are those some of the worst package names in recent memory?)

  • avatar
    Click REPLY to reload page

    Cadillac’s naming regimen for its models leaves most people completely in the dark. Most people have no idea which is which, and perhaps more importantly, most people don’t even care.
    It could be because all the numbers and letters have been already taken. The only words not squirreled away in a patent file are those invented by pharmaceutical companies for new synthetic compounds.
    No car company has named a model “XTC” yet. Ms. Barra, are you paying attention?

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I’ve said this many times before…but I believe Cadillac’s problems are more due to a shift in the marketplace and buying tastes than anything else. Unfortunately, their sedans became competitive right in time for the market to move away from them.

    And it’s not just Cadillac that has this problem. If you go to Tim’s site, pretty much EVERY premium sedan is also down, most by double digits. The market wants CUVs.

    • 0 avatar
      LS1Fan

      It is a shift in the marketplace alright.

      Here’s the problem-Cadillac isn’t a luxury brand in the real world. How can they be with substandard product quality and inflated prices?

      The XT5 is a hit because of its packaging, not its brand. I’d gather most of the sales were hopeful Lexus RX buyers who couldn’t seal the deal and went for The Next Best Thing their budget allowed.

      • 0 avatar
        James2

        “The XT5 is a hit because of its packaging, not its brand. I’d gather most of the sales were hopeful Lexus RX buyers who couldn’t seal the deal and went for The Next Best Thing their budget allowed.”

        No, I’m hoping these buyers just couldn’t stand the Predator grille and the bizarre black trim desecrating the C-pillar. Or the ghastly overhangs. Or the…

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          The most offensive RX BY FAR is the RX450h F-Sport.

          Because it’s a CUV, which is also an eco-friendly hybrid, which also wears the tinsel of performance – the antithesis of what a hybrid is for.

          Make me an organic tofu raspberry salad with foie gras garnish, won’t you?

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            The idea that performance is “the antithesis of what a hybrid is for” doesn’t square particularly well with the fact that the three lap-time-iest supercars ever built are all hybrids.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Referring to mainstream here, senor!

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            But even in the mainstream… hybrids are often quicker than their mainstream counterparts. See Camry and Accord hybrids (compared to four-cylinder gas versions) or even the GS450h.

            Better fuel economy and better performance are not always mutually exclusive.

            Not singling you out… just want to see more enthusiast-friendly hybrids and BEVs.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      The problem with Cadillac is the packaging issue with the ATS and CTS due to the Alpha platform and the lack of crossovers (in part due to the Alpha not being suitable for crossover duty).

      This is all on the prior regime at Cadillac.

  • avatar
    Wunsch

    We like to make a lot of noise about how Cadillac should be developing dedicated platforms for its vehicles, or else they won’t have the proper premium appeal. But as this article points out, its best sellers by far are actually the models that are built on top of regular platforms shared with the rest of GM. The cheapest to develop *and* the best sales… that sure isn’t going to convince anybody to spend the money to develop “premium” platforms.

    • 0 avatar
      LS1Fan

      Consumers don’t care where the platform comes from. See BMW X3 among others for an example.

      They DO care about what the car looks like. They REALLY care about being asked to spend $700+ per month on a car with rattles and panel gaps large enough to merit surveys by the USGS.

      Cadillac needs to cut its prices, steal some platforms from Chevy and spend the saved dev $$ to make the best mass produced interiors modern production science can manage.

  • avatar
    Speed3

    Forget the Escala and Elmiraj. GM needs to build XT1-4, 6-9 asap.

  • avatar
    14Tundra

    Cadillac needs to get back to making big, V8 powered cars. There’s nothing luxurious sounding about “2.0 Turbo”. Big, comfortable seats and a V8 will sell in the US.

  • avatar

    Deadweight

    Deadweight

    Deadweight

  • avatar
    ttiguy

    My wife and I purchased an XT5 in July, and all CUV-hating aside, it really is a fantastic vehicle. Perfect? No. the engine is a bit course under acceleration and feels underpowered unless you slam the gas pedal down. But its perfectly sized, its comfortable, gets good MPG and has a great interior. CUE also works very well now with the better processor in the 16s and 17s.

    For all of the Cadillac griping on here, people gotta give Cadillac credit and concede they have a success with theXT5. Not just because of the segment, but because it’s a nice vehicle.

  • avatar

    The SRX has been doing well for years, its obvious that the XT5 would simply follow in the wake of the SRX and do well.

    As the Germans continue to explore all the possibilities of “luxury” at lower prices, and increasing “blandness” the XT5 stands out.

    Does Cadillac really need a smaller “utility” that would compete with the Encore? Perhaps it could use one…or folks simply step up to the XT5.

    As for the CT6, if you want to be a player in the luxury segment you need a flagship sedan. The CT6 is the flagship sedan.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    This Tim Cain soundbite brought to you by Johann’s Old Fashioned Cafe Latte, now with extra douche!

    SRX was something like half of all sales volume in 2014. If the XT5 continues to have the same sale figures, it may not be a failure, is it really a success?

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