Cost-benefit analysis. The most affordable path to owning Cadillac’s mid-size XT5 SUV involves the Luxury model and its relatively weedy 235 hp turbocharged engine. This is no fireball in the smaller XT4, and it’s significantly more lethargic here, where it has over four thousand pounds of weight to lug around. The obvious solution is to upgrade to the 310 hp 3.6-liter V6 engine that delivers far better performance, but this increases the cost. And that cost continues to spiral, until you’re looking at an AWD Sport model with a sticker price north of $60,000.

The XT5’s heavy curb weight also has a damaging effect on fuel economy, in the absence of any hybrid power. You’ll be seeing combined figures in the low twenties in AWD two-liter models and any V6-powered XT5s; a two-liter FWD model won’t return 30 mpg even on the highway.

Plenty of room. We’ve established that the XT5 is expensive to buy and run, but it does plenty of things well. Foremost among these is the level of standard equipment it provides, which also serves to improve an otherwise bland cabin. Two grades of leather join a vegan-friendly synthetic alternative across well-shaped and supportive seats (heated in the front on every model), while soft-touch materials dominate a cabin that offers generous space via wide-opening doors.

Cargo capacity is good enough at 63 cubic feet, and every model has a power tailgate, though there’s a plastic ridge above the bumper that complicates the loading of heavy objects.

2023 Cadillac XT5 Trunk

An instantly forgettable experience. If there’s one word that seems to sum up the XT5, it’s unmemorable. The side profile is more Korean than American, though there’s some family DNA in the boomerang headlamps, while the rear appearance is bland despite those unusual triangular taillights. Open the doors and a monochrome ocean awaits; nothing offends or displeases, but there’s no Scandi-chic or Germanic engineering excellence on show. It’s a classic case of function over form.

The 18-button steering wheel is confusing, but it does allow a cleaner dash than some smaller Cadillacs. The eight-inch touchscreen screen won’t win any design awards, though it’s straightforward to use and has smartphone mirroring as standard. Safety extends to automatic high beams and active lane control, with pedestrian detection part of the automatic emergency braking system. We’d love to see Super Cruise added to the options list, but it remains elusive for 2023. You’ll need Premium Luxury trim to receive blind spot monitoring, a sunroof and navigation, pushing the price over $50,000 even before you add AWD or a V6 engine.

It rides like a Cadillac should. If the interior is underwhelming, the excellent ride will win over some XT5 skeptics. It glides over good road surfaces and soaks up bumps with soft suspension tuning that complements the smooth nine-speed automatic transmission. There’s clearly been effort invested in vibration reduction, too. Just don’t expect much of a driving experience – there’s too much body lean, and even the adaptive dampers fitted to Sport models don’t deliver road manners befitting of the name.

Final thoughts. Cadillac must have been proud of the XT5 when they launched it. Unfortunately, it arrived onto a market already bursting with excellent European rivals. There’s the opulent Volvo XC60, the gorgeous Jaguar F-Pace, the ultra-responsive BMW X3… the list goes on, and we haven’t even mentioned SUV stalwarts Audi and Volkswagen yet, let alone premium marques like Porsche, Range Rover, or Mercedes.

To stand out in such a cut-throat sector, the XT5 needs to be an absolute knockout. Sadly, it isn’t. This is a competent car adrift in an ocean of superb ones, and it doesn’t advance the SUV as a concept in any respect. It has a comfortable ride, decent looks and plenty of space, but rivals offer all this with far more besides. The XT5 isn’t even a cheap way to join the high-riding masses, with spiraling sticker prices and weak economy, especially from the underpowered two-liter engine.

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