Eye-catching design. The 2021 Cadillac XT4 may not have the same on-road presence as the Escalade, but the subcompact SUV has sharp exterior styling that wouldn’t look out of place on a larger, more expensive vehicle. The sharp headlights are the SUV’s more distinctive elements at the front, while the extended taillights that start at the top of the liftgate are standout features.

The entry-level XT4 Luxury trim only comes in one paint color – Radiant Silver Metallic – as a no-cost. The majority of other colors cost $625, while a few, like Infrared Tintcoat and Crystal White Tricoat, are priced at $1,225. It’s a shame, because Cadillac’s paint schemes are bright and bring out the XT4’s sharp lines. The exterior colors are well worth the price.

The XT4’s interior isn’t nearly as daring or as sharp, but it’s different enough to where Cadillac’s subcompact stands out in the segment. The way the dashboard rises as it reaches the steering wheel and the infotainment system, which is perched on the center console gives the XT4 its interesting interior design.

Tiny, yet luxurious. If you’re so inclined, you can option an XT4 that costs more than $50,000. But you don’t have to get a fully-loaded model to get an agreeable model. Even the entry-level trim comes with a few upscale features for the subcompact segment.

The base Luxury trim comes with an 8-inch touchscreen, seven audio speakers, smartphone compatibility, Wi-Fi hot spot, dual-zone automatic climate control, and synthetic leather upholstery as standard. Power-adjustable front seats, remote start, a 4.2-inch display in the instrument cluster, and keyless entry are also standard. For a luxury vehicle that’s priced at $36,790, this is a strong list of standard equipment.

Going with the Premium Luxury, which is the most value-packed trim, brings the ability to add more upscale features. The available Comfort and Convenience Package brings leather upholstery, massaging front seats, as well as heated and ventilated front seats. These features are rare for the subcompact segment and are well worth the cost of entry.

Cadillac Xt4

Old-school comfort. Cadillac’s of old were known for putting comfort and luxury above all else. While that’s not the case with modern Cadillacs, which are starting to blend performance and comfort, the XT4 is a good blend of both. On the inside, the XT4 nearly matches Cadillac’s larger SUVs when it comes to material quality, as well as fit and finish.

With 40.4 inches of front legroom and 39.5 inches of rear legroom, the XT4 is the kind of subcompact SUV where passengers can stretch out. The main factor with being able to seat up to five passengers is the small amount of rear hip room. Still, the XT4 can accommodate four passengers comfortably.

The XT4’s cargo capacity is a mixed bag. With the rear seats in place, the subcompact SUV has 22.5 cubic feet of cargo space. That’s a great amount for the class. Fold the rear seats down, and you’re looking at 48.9 cubic feet of cargo space. That’s below average for the segment.

Peppy turbo engine. Instead of offering multiple engines in the XT4, Cadillac simplifies things by offering one engine in the subcompact SUV. The turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder makes 237 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. It’s a peppy engine that helps the XT4 scamper around town with little lag. The standard nine-speed automatic transmission is the only available gearbox and manages to shift quickly, while regularly finding the engine’s sweet spot.

If there’s one downside to the XT4’s powertrain it’s the available all-wheel-drive system. Front-wheel drive is standard, but drivers can get all-wheel drive as an option. The all-wheel-drive system is a part-time setup, which means it switches to front-wheel drive to save fuel. In day-to-day driving, this isn’t an issue. But in winter when you’re going through inclement weather, it means you won’t get all-weather capability until the last second.

While the XT4’s engine has plenty of power, the SUV’s ride struggles to be comfortable or sporty. A rough stretch of tarmac results in sharp impacts and numerous vibrations on the inside. The steering wheel fails to provide drivers with a decent amount of feedback, meaning the XT4 isn’t the most thrilling SUV to drive.

Final thoughts. Based on numbers, the 2021 Cadillac XT4 is one of the most affordable and smallest SUVs in the segment. While numbers usually don’t lie, the XT4 feels far more upscale and larger than its numbers let on. It comes with a long list of standard features, a powerful turbocharged engine, and a razor-sharp design.

The XT4 can be fitted with the latest safety features, but many of them are optional. A few competitors offer longer lists of standard safety features. Few consumers live in areas of the U.S. that have smooth tarmac. Unfortunately, that means the XT4’s rough ride could be a major drawback to some.

The Volvo XC40 has a similarly unique design, but its boxier. Volvo’s SUV comes with more standard safety features, has a more upscale cabin, and is more fuel efficient, but isn’t as powerful. The BMW X1 is far more agile than the XT4 and is more enjoyable to drive. It has a larger infotainment screen, more total cargo space, and a more high-end cabin.

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