Luxury mid-size crossover
The Cadillac XT5 hit the market in 2016, and the luxury automaker is now more than four years into production of this luxury crossover, which serves as the spiritual successor to the Cadillac SRX.
Battling competitors from Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Lexus, Lincoln, Volvo, and others, the XT5 flaunted excellent ride quality, a potent lighting system, approachable high-tech features, and exclusive touches like OnStar and built-in Wi-Fi.
Look for strong crash-test scores along with driver support systems including a wide-angle rear-view mirror camera, and all manner of advanced crash-avoidance technology. For added peace of mind, some models came with a package of features meant to make the XT5 more difficult to steal.
Feature content included a full leather interior with climate-controlled front seats, Cadillac’s CUE infotainment system with full smartphone connectivity, premium stereo system options, a head-up display (HUD), power tailgate, keyless start and entry, and a full suite of automatic features including lights and climate control. Wireless smartphone charging was also on board.
Finally, an adaptive suspension enabled consistently luxurious ride quality and agile handling regardless of the surface beneath the XT5. From the driver’s seat, many owners report a peaceful coexistence of Cadillac’s signature ride and some pleasing handling characteristics.
Look for a 3.6L V6 engine, good for 310 hp. All units got an automatic transmission. Both front- and all-wheel drive were offered, the latter using GM’s latest twin-clutch system. With a fast-acting power coupler and sensor network, as well as a twin-clutch component used in place of a rear differential, this system provides superior control over power distribution for a more athletic and positive feel when driving in slippery conditions.
What Owners Like
Most owners report an excellent LED lighting system, very good ride quality on most surfaces, an elegant and easy to use interior, and a very relaxing and laid-back overall drive.
What Owners Dislike
Gripes include a rougher-than-expected ride on harsh roads, particularly on models with larger wheels and thinner tires. Other complaints include limited rear-seat headroom, and a large turning circle.
Pro Tip: Check the Wheel Size
Consider the size of the wheels and tires fitted to the XT5 you’re looking at; different wheel and tire combinations were available depending on the model grade. Larger wheels tend to be more pleasing to look at, but may result in reduced ride comfort on rougher roads. Larger wheels also wear bigger – and more expensive – tires. If you’re not dead-set on a model with the big wheels, note that a more modest wheel size will help keep running costs down in the long term, and may improve ride quality, too.
The Test Drive
For Best Results
For many shoppers, the best bet on buying a used XT5 is to seek a model familiar to the local dealership, possibly sold as part of a certified pre-owned (CPO) program. This may add perks like roadside assistance and extended warranty coverage, but also means the vehicle is up to date on servicing, maintenance, software updates, and inspections. Put simply, a vehicle sold through a dealer’s CPO program is required to meet a higher quality standard than a unit sold privately.
According to several posts on XT5 owner forums like this and this, some owners have reported frustration at annoying rattles that can be traced to the tailgate area. The culprit seems to be some combination of loose cargo-area panelling and the need to adjust the tailgate’s closing position by manipulating the rubber stops (and possibly the tailgate latch).
Head to the roughest surface you can find and quiet the XT5’s cabin. If you detect any unwanted sound effects from the rear of the vehicle, a dealer may be able to fix the problem, and some owners have had success with do-it-yourself fixes involving peel-and-stick padding applied strategically to the backsides of the offending interior panels.
On the Cadillac XT5 (and many other modern vehicles), some owners report an unpleasant smell from the air pumped into the cabin when the air conditioner is engaged. This is typically caused when certain conditions result in a build-up of moisture within the system, which results in the growth of smelly mould. Owners often liken the odour to a dirty gym bag, or smelly boots.
Run the A/C and use your nose. Unpleasant smells are a good reason to have the vehicle seen by a dealer technician. In some cases, a cleaning treatment is available. In other cases, a software update is the solution. If neither approach solves the problem, note that some owners have had evaporator cores replaced under warranty.
Wonky Parking Brake
Test the XT5’s electronic switch-activated parking brake several times on your test drive (after checking the owner’s manual for instructions on how to use it). A slight and momentary whirring or buzzing sound, approximately one second in length, is normal as the brake switches on and off; you’ll hear this more clearly with the window open.
If the parking brake doesn’t operate as outlined in the owner’s manual, or if any warning lights relating to the parking brake are illuminated, have the vehicle seen by a technician. In rare cases of problems with the electronic parking brake, the fix typically involves a painless software reflash, possibly accompanied by some lubrication of the affected parts.
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Check all seating surfaces for signs of premature wear, abrasion, or tearing, noting that the outboard edge of the driver’s seat tends to take the most abuse. Call this into your pricing negotiations if detected.
Note that numerous owners have reported problems with the XT5’s leather dashboard, which has stitched leather fitted over it on high-grade models. In some situations common in hotter climates, the leather may bubble and lift away from the dash beneath or appear deformed or wrinkly. Some owners have had dashboards replaced under warranty – some more than once.
Finally, be sure to consult the owner’s manual for guidelines on leather cleaning and care. Follow these closely, and choose your cleaning products cautiously. Proper care is vital to the long-term appearance and durability of your XT5’s leather surfaces.
Do This Test
Some owners have reported an unwelcome sound from the XT5’s driveline in certain specific situations. Many have not. To test for this particular sound, engage the XT5’s front-wheel-drive mode via the selector dial on the console.
While driving in front-wheel drive, find a place where you can stop the car, accelerate, and repeat the process.
Quiet the cabin and apply the throttle at varying levels as you take off, over and over. Do this several times, listening closely.
Next, engage manual mode and put the XT5 into first gear. Release the brakes. While rolling at very low speeds, gently but positively “prod” the throttle several times in succession. This may coax out the unwanted sound, which may resemble a metallic clanking or clanging that originates beneath your feet.
If detected, most owners say that a dealer software update as part of a Technical Service Bulletin (TSB) is the fix for this issue. Purchasing a used XT5 with an unexplained driveline sound is not advised.
Though some owners question it, there is one way to treat oil changes on your new-to-you XT5 if you want to keep any remaining warranty in good standing.
It involves observing the on-board Oil Life Monitor (OLM), which monitors dozens of factors and tells the driver when the oil is due for a change. Once the system alerts you that it’s time for an oil change, you’ll want to have an oil change performed using the oil and filter specified in the owner’s manual.
Ignore the XT5’s oil change requests and requirements, and you may be ignored if you ever need a powertrain warranty claim. Warranty coverage does not apply to damage caused by a failure to properly maintain your vehicle.
So far, XT5 seems to have earned itself a happy owner’s community who enjoys a comfortable and upscale drive, while reporting mostly minor issues and gripes as the vehicle ages. Many of these, as outlined above, are easy to detect on a test drive, and easily remedied with a quick visit to the dealer.
NHTSA: 4/5 Stars (2017)
IIHS: Top Safety Pick (2017)
Here’s a single recall.