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Forged Through Competition: 2019 Cadillac XT4 AWD Test Drive

Strong demand for SUVs and crossovers has automakers battling each other for every sale and every percentage point of market share. They can quantify their success in numbers and dollar signs, but none of them are the ultimate victors. Consumers are. Such fierce competition forces companies to make their existing products more appealing and create new vehicles to fill in size and capability gaps in the market.

The 2019 Cadillac XT4 is a perfect example of that. For years, Cadillac had a 2-model strategy for those who needed more space than a sedan provided. There was the SRX (which is now the XT5) and large Escalade/even larger Escalade ESV. Those models still exist, but they have company now. The 2020 XT6 will offer customers looking for a luxurious three-row crossover a Cadillac alternative to the new Lincoln Aviator. The 2019 XT4 is Cadillac’s first entry into the compact luxury SUV market, a sector populated by rivals such as the BMW X3 and INFINITI QX50.

I recently spent a week in a 2019 XT4 with the Premium Luxury trim package and AWD. The XT4 may be the smallest, least expensive SUV Cadillac makes, but my review vehicle had the looks, equipment, and creature comforts I expected to see in a vehicle from GM’s flagship brand.

2019 Cadillac XT4 Exterior

A Cadillac should stand out, whether it’s in a grocery store parking lot or flying down the highway. The XT4 definitely did. It packed all of the sharp, dramatic lines of a proper modern Cadillac into a small, well-proportioned package. Its crest-shaped front grille flared out toward the unusual Y-shaped LED headlights that visually connected the chiseled hood, front fenders, and front fascia.

In profile, the XT4 looked even better. Short front and rear overhangs, a sloped roofline, and optional 20-inch wheels gave it a taut, lean look. Brightwork on the roof rails, greenhouse frame, door handles, and rocker panels made it clear that Cadillac hadn’t forgotten its roots. Ruby-like L-shaped LED taillights framed the sides of the rear glass and angled toward the middle of my test vehicle’s hands-free liftgate (part of the optional Comfort and Convenience Package). Dual exhaust outlets added the finishing touch to the XT4’s attractive, well-executed design.

2019 Cadillac XT4 Interior

Thanks to a mix of standard equipment and options packages, the XT4’s cabin ticked all of the right boxes. Leather? Check. Ventilated, heated, and massaging front seats? Yes. Heated steering wheel and outboard rear seats? Oh yeah. Dual-panel moonroof? Affirmative. 13-speaker Bose audio system with impressive clarity and multiple sound modes (Driver, Normal, Centerpoint, and Rear)? Yep.

The XT4 also offered an equally impressive amount of tech. I could wirelessly charge my phone, connect it to the onboard 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, or check messages and place calls through Apple CarPlay on the high-definition 8-inch touchscreen.

Unfortunately, the second row left a little to be desired. I’m 5’10” and didn’t have enough legroom, but shorter passengers will have no problem riding in the back seat.

I didn’t have any complaints about the rear cargo area, though. I easily fit my medium-sized suitcase in it vertically. It’s too bad my girlfriend and I didn’t have time to take a trip in the XT4 because I could’ve put her suitcase beside mine and had room left over.

2019 Cadillac XT4 Performance

Cadillac developed an all-new engine for its all-new SUV. All XT4s have a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that generates 237 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque under their hoods. It uses a variety of technologies to balance performance and fuel economy. Engineers chose a fast-acting twin-scroll turbocharger and made the exhaust manifold a part of the cylinder head to quicken the turbo’s response times even more. Depending on how a driver operates the XT4, the 2.0 can adjust its amount of valve lift to maximize power or hit that sweet spot between power and efficiency. When peak performance isn’t required, the engine’s Active Fuel Management system shuts off two cylinders and the all-wheel drive system sends power through just the front wheels to save gas. With a gentle right foot, it’s possible to get 22 city, 29 highway, and 24 combined mpg out of an all-wheel-drive XT4.**

The XT4’s power figures were just as good on the road as they were on paper. The 2.0 packed plenty of punch. My test vehicle’s all-wheel drive system helped it hit even harder, especially when I bypassed the Driver Mode Select system’s front-wheel-drive Tour and AWD settings and went straight to Sport. The nine-speed automatic did a fine job by itself, but if I felt especially enthusiastic during a drive, I could shift it myself using the short paddles behind the steering wheel.

That wasn’t often, though. Relaxed cruising seemed more natural to the XT4, whose mostly smooth ride quality, electric variable-assist power steering, and electro-hydraulically assisted brakes (a first for Cadillac) felt better suited for a luxury vehicle than a performance SUV.

2019 Cadillac XT4 Safety

The XT4’s level of safety equipment made it feel even more luxurious. That may sound odd, but it’s true. Luxury isn’t just about leather seats and trick tech. Luxury also means not having to worry about certain things. The XT4 was filled with standard and optional features that gave me peace of mind every time I drove it.

Front, knee, side, and head curtain airbags; Lane Change Alert with Side Blind Zone Alert; front and rear parking sensors; Rear Cross Traffic Alert; and a rearview mirror connected to a high-definition camera that gave me a look at what was behind me unobstructed by headrests or body pillars were the XT4’s base level of protection.

The Driver Assist Package, which included features such as full-speed adaptive cruise control with stop/go functionality and forward and reverse automatic braking, added another layer of safety.

Forward Collision Alert, Front Pedestrian Braking, automatic high beams, and Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning, all part of the Driver Awareness Package, added one more.

The final layer of safety and security was my test vehicle’s Enhanced Visibility Package, which contained an HD 360-degree camera system with multiple viewing angles, a washer for the rear camera, and an automated system that could park and, if necessary, stop the XT4.

2019 Cadillac XT4 Overall

With so many SUV options to choose from these days, it’s hard to lose. If you want a distinctive, comfortable, and well-equipped compact luxury SUV, go to an an AutoNation Cadillac dealership and test drive the 2019 Cadillac XT4. Prices start at $34,795.* My XT4 Premium Luxury AWD press loaner had an as-tested price of $54,785.

*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.

**Based on EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.

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