Dressed to kill. There’s no way around it – Cadillac’s 2023 XT4 is a seriously stylish SUV. Far more striking than its hunchback XT5 sibling, there are points of design interest from every angle. Just look at those weeping front headlights, or the Volvo-esque taillights sitting pretty above twin rectangular tailpipes. We’re not fans of the brilliant white paint, but otherwise, the XT4 looks poised and purposeful from any angle and in any color scheme.

It’s what’s on the inside that counts. You might expect this visual drama to continue once the solid doors clunk shut behind you. Yet settle into the driver’s seat, and your surroundings could have been lifted from a budget Chevy. There’s plastic everywhere – gloss black on the gear shifter, scratchy dimpled gray on the steering wheel boss, fake silver on one of two extensive rows of buttons beneath the blocky infotainment screen. Not only does everything look last-decade, it feels it, too. The cynical individual might be tempted to try and peel back the Cadillac badge on the steering wheel, to see if there’s a plus hiding underneath.

At least the low-rent interior isn’t cramped. In fact, there’s loads of room in here. You wouldn’t fit three in the back, but two rear riders will luxuriate in almost 40 inches of legroom, while those up front gain an additional four inches over and above that. Oddment space is lacking, but the trunk is decently sized and can accommodate 50 cu ft once the back seats are dropped. It’s a shame that the shallow rear windows make it hard for smaller passengers to see out, while the thick rear pillars obscure visibility in car parks and at junctions.

Impressive road manners. Nobody expects a mid-sized SUV to set the heather alight as a driving tool, so the XT4’s pleasant road manners are a welcome surprise. The stock in its soup is a 235 hp turbocharged gas engine, which spins smoothly and applies its power seamlessly through a nine-speed auto box. On smaller 18-inch wheels, it rides comfortably and grips pretty well; if you’re going for 20-inchers, we’d recommend the adaptive dampers available on Sport models. Look past the name, though, since there’s nothing sporty about this model.

The supple ride is bolstered (pun intended) by well-sprung seats which are probably the most Cadillac-y part of the interior. Front and rear occupants alike are equally well supported whether they’re perched on real or synthetic leather, with front-seat massaging functionality an optional extra.

2022 Cadillac XT4 Interior

Generous equipment. There’s little reason to stray higher up the XT4 food chain than base Luxury trim, which has the added advantage of costing just $37,000. It comes with everything you need – power adjustable synthetic leather seats and wireless smartphone mirroring through an eight-inch touchscreen.

You won’t miss out on much safety tech at the lowest price point, either. Every XT4 is sold with blind spot monitoring, automatic emergency braking and more airbags than you could shake a five-star NHTSA rating at. You can add a surround-view camera system and adaptive cruise as options, and we would recommend the former since the roof pillars are too thick for wraparound visibility. All-wheel drive is an across-the-range option, though it has an annoying FWD function which is easy to forget about when road surfaces become more treacherous.

Final thoughts. Looking at the section headings above gives you a pretty good steer on our conclusions. The XT4 is a good driver with a well-equipped cabin whose dourness seems jarring after the exterior’s visual drama. Since you’ll spend a lot more time looking at the melted-down-action-figure dash than the hunky exterior, that’s a major flaw. It’s also disappointing when you consider how effortlessly cool and stylish modern Volvo and Mazda SUV cabins have become, with their double-stitched leather and tactile plastics.

If you can live with its bargain-bucket cabin, the Luxury trim makes a great deal of sense. It’s well priced, spacious and generously equipped with good safety ratings. There’s little body lean in corners, and the smaller 18-inch wheels provide a refined ride that complements high-caliber seating. Don’t be tempted to upgrade to the false-advertising Sport or the unjustifiably expensive Premium Luxury trim, whose price can hit $55,000 with a few options.

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