2019 Cadillac XT4 AWD Sport Review - In a Realm All Its Own

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn
Fast Facts

2.0-liter turbocharged four (237 hp @ 5000 rpm, 258 lb/ft. @ 1500 rpm)

Nine-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel drive
22 city / 29 highway / 24 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
22.7 (observed mileage, MPG)
10.9 city / 8.2 highway / 9.7 combined (NRCan Rating, L/100km)
Base Price: $42,790 US / $44,995 CAD
As Tested: $51,585 US/ $56,160 CAD
Prices include $995 destination charge in the United States and $2200 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can't be directly compared.
2019 cadillac xt4 awd sport review in a realm all its own

The race to fill every nook and niche within the crossover market is on. No gap between existing models is too small, as consumer demand for tall wagons seems insatiable. A crossover for every purse, right?

Cadillac has often been seen as trailing broad trends over the decades, and fittingly the lux brand from GM has been sedan-heavy of late. Still, the midsize XT5 has been selling well, so shrinking it a bit to fit more wallets makes sense. Thus, this 2019 Cadillac XT4 has appeared. Will it, like the marketers claimed years and years ago, become the standard of the world?

Going on styling alone, the XT4 is a winner from all angles. The swooping LED running lamps defining the leading edge of each front wheel well are a lovely exaggeration of the more muted lamps on big-brother XT5. The pentagonal grille neatly apes the outline of the instantly recognizable Cadillac crest. The pair of creases on the hood create a traditional power bulge that doesn’t make sense on a transversely-arranged four-cylinder, but it still fits.

Squinting a bit at the profile, I see a bit of Ford Edge with more, well, of an edge. While I am fundamentally opposed to 20-inch wheels and the corresponding low-profile tires that tend to harsh the ride, the design of these 10-spoke alloys simply looks right here.

Out back, the taillamps smartly flank the rear glass – the unique bit here is the clear lenses on the brake lamps. A feature well known in the import aftermarket as an “Altezza lamp” after the similarly-equipped Japan-market version of the Lexus IS300, poorly-made versions of these tails flooded tuner mags for a decade. I’m surprised to see them here, but they look stunning in this application.

Unfortunately, the sheetmetal is the highlight of the entire XT4 package. The interior is not up to par. While it’s reasonably roomy and comfortable, the materials feel out of place in a car stretching to over $50k. The dash and the door panels tops are swathed in a decent-enough leather-like material, but the plastics used below the beltline are hard and cheap looking. The metal-finished HVAC buttons look and feel good, but a matching set of secondary buttons below would have been better than the cheap-feeling plastic switchgear for the seat heat/vent, hazard lights, parking sensors, and lane-keeping.

The eight-inch touchscreen for the infotainment works well enough – GM’s audio controls have come a long way. However, in the XT4 the screen is tilted a bit too far toward horizontal, giving an awkward glare when viewed in the wrong sunlight – or in this photo. For those who might struggle to reach the screen, the console-mounted knob works intuitively.

Rear-seat comfort is good for this class, though the tall driveline hump can interfere when your kid unexpectedly invites a friend along for the ride and someone has to sit in the center seat. Here again, the cheap plastics are on display, making one unsure if you actually bought a Cadillac.

Driving the XT4 does little to change opinions. The drivetrain is jerky, with a serious lack of smoothness to throttle application. The nine-speed automatic never seems to be in the right gear, so it shifts constantly. Power isn’t bad for a 2.0-liter turbo at 237 hp, but the indecisive transmission leads to slower stoplight drags than you’d expect.

The suspension is equally unpleasant. I’m baffled, honestly, as I know the roads around Southeastern Michigan (where the XT4 was developed) are just as awful as the tarmac here in Ohio – but a simple freeway expansion joint will send loud shudders throughout the cabin. The constant craters and cracks on my regular commute elicits a cacophony of thumps and creaks at my ears and seat. Further, sound deadening isn’t well managed, as wind noise around the A-pillar fairly booms through the passenger compartment at interstate speeds. The lack of poise is completely inexcusable at a thirty-thousand-dollar price point. At this sticker price, it’s laughable.

Like I mentioned, everyone is getting in the compact crossover game. General Motors has one for each of its four brands in North America. At least GM is differentiating the four models much better than they did a few decades ago, back when every marque needed a subcompact sedan.

Unfortunately for GM, the company made its premium brand trucklet somewhat less appealing than the models below it in esteem. If I’m buying a crossover from GM with my own money, I’m headed down to pick up an Equinox from Chevrolet. While this Cadillac XT4 looks better from the outside, the rest of the car isn’t worth the premium.

[Images: © 2019 Chris Tonn/TTAC]

Join the conversation
2 of 52 comments
  • Akear Akear on Nov 08, 2019

    Yet another flop from the Barra era.

  • Wodehouse Wodehouse on Nov 11, 2019

    Looks like that Mitsubishi Eclipse thing only with more black plastic on the outside. That wimpy, anodyne new Cadillac face is disappointing. Zero gravitas. Too bad GM is going to slap that same visage onto the next Escalade so that the visual neutering of the Cadillac lineup will be complete. I've been hoping for Cadillac to give me something with which to replace my CTS coupe, but, alas, nothing but 100 percent pure mediocrity.

  • Fred I don't know about those big screens. Is there a way to minimize the display, so it's not so distracting? Especially at night the glow doesn't make it easy for me.
  • Arthur Dailey Toronto Blue Jays' games are only available on AM radio. As I am 'on the road' quite often when the Jays play that is my only option for listening to the game. So an AM radio is something of a 'must have' for me.
  • JMII My brother tracked one of these for several years... it will embarrass other sports cars. He sold it to someone who still rips it around on track days. Given my previous VW experience I wouldn't touch it but these are surprising quick and handle well for hatchback credit going to a decent AWD system. $16k seems crazy, but Rs aren't that common and this one appears to be in great condition and seems well sorted.
  • Arthur Dailey I meant the grille and the profile along the passenger area. Look closely and it is reminiscent of the Journey.
  • Daniel 16500 pesos