Cadillac Aims to Make a Global Splash with New XT5 Crossover

Midsize crossovers are hot, the Cadillac SRX is somewhat old, so Cadillac is making a global launch of its new XT5.

Automakers typically don’t rename their best-selling model, especially when sales are on the upswing around the world. But that’s the tack Cadillac is taking with the all-new XT5 midsize crossover vehicle, which replaces the SRX in the luxury marque’s lineup. Global sales of the SRX increased 13 percent last year. In the United States, the SRX accounted for 40 percent of Cadillac’s sales and was second only to the Lexus RX in the midsize crossover segment. 

“To be successful, we need to take the brand global,” Cadillac president Johan de Nysschen says. So the XT5 was unveiled in November 2015 in Dubai (as well as in Los Angeles). “But the challenges are different around the world,” de Nysschen continues. “In China, we have to create an infrastructure and build brand awareness.” And as part of developing that infrastructure, Cadillac is going to produce the XT5 (along with the new CT6 sedan) in Shanghai. The XT5 is also being produced at the assembly plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee.

Lightweight Platform 
The five-passenger XT5 is the first vehicle to ride on GM’s new global crossover platform. The scale-able front-wheel-drive architecture also will carry the redesigned GMC Acadia as well as at least three more Cadillac models. Using a dedicated crossover platform allows the vehicles to share more components and eliminates previous tradeoffs required when using a car-based chassis, notes the XT5’s chief engineer, Paul Spadafora. 

“It was truly a clean sheet of paper,” Spadafora says. “We could optimize the underbody dimensions and fuel efficiency without having to make allowances for both high- and low-floor designs.” 

While the XT5’s overall length, width and height are slightly smaller than that of the SRX, it has a 2-inch longer wheelbase. This adds 3.2 inches of rear-seat legroom. The 40/20/20 split rear seats also recline and slide forward. 

Employing a highly targeted use of materials, the XT5 is 278 pounds lighter than the SRX. GM says the vehicle also is slimmer than two of its chief rivals, besting the Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class by 650 pounds and the larger Audi Q5 by 100 pounds. The bulk of the XT5’s weight savings are found in the chassis and body structure, which was achieved through the use of advanced computer-aided-engineering (CAE) tools to pinpoint stress points as well as increased use of structural adhesives. The CAE analysis allowed engineers to determine the best locations for mild, mid-range, high- and ultra-high-strength steels so there would be mass reduction and crashworthiness improvement. Another 50 pounds was cut by switching from a foam-based barrier acoustics system to a dissipative design. 

Power Dynamics
The XT5 is powered by a new 3.6-liter V6 engine, which Cadillac introduced in its ATS and CTS cars earlier this year. Featuring variable-valve timing, cylinder deactivation (a first for GM with an overhead-cam engine) and automatic stop-start technology, the new engine generates 310 hp and 271 lb-ft of torque. EPA fuel economy is listed at 22 mpg for the base front-drive model and 21 mpg for optional all-wheel-drive variants, both of which are up 3 mpg over the SRX. 

In China, the XT5 will be fitted with a turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine—one of the few features exclusive to that market—that makes 258 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. Both engines will be mated with a new eight-speed automatic transmission. The XT5 is the first Cadillac to get an electronically controlled transmission shifter, which improves efficiency and reduces noise and vibration. Eliminating the mechanical mechanism also allowed Cadillac to create a nifty storage shelf below the center shift knob, which the company notes is an ideal spot for women to stow their purses. 

The new twin-clutch, AWD system can transfer 100 percent of available torque to the front or rear axle and to either rear wheel as needed. A disconnect feature allows drivers to disable the system to bolster fuel economy if extra grip isn’t needed. Driving dynamics are enhanced via a diagonal A-frame underbody brace that Cadillac says improves performance in turns. The lightweight suspension features MacPherson struts with hydraulic bushings up front, a five-link independent design in the rear and a new ZF real-time damping system. 

More Tech, More Luxury
The XT5’s interior is highlighted by a clean layout and an abundance of high-end materials and appointments that match or exceed those of other luxury crossover models. Surfaces are wider and more horizontal than in the SRX, and anything that looks cut-and-sewn or made of leather, aluminum or wood are authentic, notes interior design manager Phil Kucera. 

A new rear-camera system displays streaming video images on the vehicle’s rearview mirror. Cadillac says the technology increases a driver’s field of vision by as much as 300 percent and effectively eliminates rear-seat visual obstructions. The XT5 also gets a color head-up display and an upgraded infotainment system with a faster and more powerful processor, a wireless charger, Wi-Fi connectivity and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone compatibility. 

Available safety features include rear-cross traffic alert, forward collision alert, automatic emergency braking and lane-keeping assist. Other goodies include a hands-free rear liftgate, surround-vision parking assist, LED headlamps with an automatic high beam function and automatic seatbelt tightening. 

“It’s the start of an amazing journey,” de Nysschen says. “Our goal is to bring Cadillac back to the pinnacle of the premium segment.”