New Car Previews

Preview: 2019 Cadillac XT4

Photographs by Peter Bleakney, Stephanie Wallcraft, and courtesy Cadillac.

On the eve of the 2018 New York Auto Show, at the Cadillac House in Manhattan, Cadillac pulled the wraps off the upcoming XT4 crossover, a vehicle that will flesh out its SUV lineup by jumping headlong into the fiercely competitive and quickly expanding premium compact crossover fray. And yes, you could say Caddy is more than fashionably late to this party, as this segment was arguably established by the BMW X3 back in 2003.

Gone is the chintzy chrome trim, replaced with clean and shear surfaces. 

Arriving in late 2018, the 2019 Cadillac XT4 will be targeting the BMW X1, Audi Q3 and Mercedes-Benz GLA. And Cadillac is obviously dead serious about this. The XT4 rides on an all-new Cadillac exclusive architecture and is powered by an all-new Caddy 2.0L turbocharged four cylinder. All engineered in North America. In other words, we’re not looking at a warmed over, re-badged GM crossover from NA or overseas.

As would be expected, the XT4 carries all the current Cadillac highly sculpted styling cues – a knife-edge swath of vertical LED running lights, vertical taillights, sharply creased bodywork and bold grill. Cadillac’s design chief Andrew Smith says they had a young team of designers working on this, and the missive was, “Create a crossover you would buy.”

Cadillac debuts its new global “Y” trim strategy with the XT4 – the “bottom” of the Y representing the base Luxury model, expanding upward to either the Premium Luxury or Sport. The Luxury rolls on 18-inch wheels while both Premium Luxury and Sport get their own 20-inch wheel designs. As would be expected, the Sport model strays from the more traditional chrome embellishments of the Luxury and Luxury Premium by incorporating gloss black window moldings, a gloss black mesh grill inspired by the performance V-Series models, and clear LED taillight lenses.

This 2.0L clean-sheet design turbo four-cylinder makes 237 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque from 1,400-4,000 rpm. It features a twin-scroll turbocharger, electric water pump for active thermal management, and Active Fuel Management (cylinder deactivation). Auto start/stop is also standard.

Transmission duties are handled by a nine-speed auto, and further to the quest to reduce fuel consumption, the all-wheel-drive system can decouple entirely from the rear wheels. Available on the XT4 Sport is Active Sport Suspension with continuous damping control. It uses electronic sensors to monitor the road in real time and make damping adjustments every 2 milliseconds.

One area where Cadillac has trailed its target European offerings has been in interior design and execution. A quick perusal of the XT4’s cabin shows Caddy is making an about face. Gone is the chintzy chrome trim, replaced with clean and shear surfaces. The interior gets a completely new component set – steering wheel, gauges, HVAC controls, the works. It does feel premium in here, if a little plain, but the workmanship is stellar and back seat legroom very generous thanks to this platform that has the wheels push out to its extremities.

Also debuting here is a new CUE (Cadillac User Experience) interface, that in all likelihood is coming not a moment too soon. The original CUE, although updated a few times in its life span, still doesn’t garner much love from the press or punters. This new CUE gets a rotary controller that includes volume and seek forward/back functionality for the audio system, finally doing away with the imprecise touch-sensitive slider controls. Thank you. All XT4s get a generous 8-inch high-resolution touchscreen with proximity sensor, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, LTE wi-fi hot spot and all the other expected safety and driver aid systems.

Built in Kansas City, the 2019 XT4 will be a very important vehicle for Cadillac, as not only will it tap into the fastest growing luxury segment, it could also draw in a younger demographic. The XT4 will be available in Canada with both front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive.

No pricing yet, but in the US it will start at $35,790.