From the full-size Escalade to the midsize XT5, Cadillac SUVs enjoy rampant popularity. The 2019 Cadillac XT4, which debuts at the 2019 New York Auto Show, seeks to repeat that success within the realm of compact luxury crossovers by offering the brand's iconic design, a fuel-efficient powertrain and competitive pricing.
The five-seat XT4 blends into the group neatly in terms of footprint. Its exterior size lines up close to the Audi Q5 and the Lexus NX, which are the segment's best-sellers. While the XT4's front seats have similar interior space as the rest of the group, Cadillac expects it to be a class leader when it comes to rear-seat roominess. Behind those seats sits 22.5 cubic feet of cargo space — 48.9 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down — which falls in the middle of the segment's spectrum. You'll find more in a BMW X3, but less in the Lexus.
Up front, the premium vinyl-wrapped seats have prominent bolstering, and you can opt for leather and a massage feature. The 8-inch, 768-pixel resolution center display shows the latest version of Cadillac's entertainment system, which grows more capable with each iteration. Previous versions of this system have relied on often-frustrating touch-sensitive controls, so we're happy to see the XT4 has a rotary controller to work in conjunction with the voice controls.
Standard near-field communication should make pairing Bluetooth much easier, and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support comes on all XT4s. Charging options include four USB ports and three 12-volt outlets, though wireless charging, a 4G LTE connection and navigation are optional.
Power comes from a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 237 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, figures that match those of most similarly priced competitors. At an estimated 27 mpg combined (25 city/30 highway), the XT4 offers slightly better fuel economy than most thanks in part to standard cylinder deactivation, where the engine selectively runs on fewer cylinders when they aren't needed to save gas.
The sole transmission is a nine-speed automatic, and front-wheel drive is standard. Like the engine, the optional all-wheel-drive system can deactivate and stop sending power to the rear wheels to reduce fuel consumption. We don't know exactly by how much this helps yet since Cadillac did not release a separate mpg figure for all-wheel-drive XT4s.
The XT4 will be available in three trim levels. The base Luxury adds amenities such as dual-zone climate control and a rearview camera, while comfort features such as a sunroof, navigation and a Cold Weather package are optional. Upgrading to the Premium Luxury or Sport model nets higher-quality interior materials and advanced driver safety features such as parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.
The Premium Luxury and Sport represent the intentions their names describe. For example, the former includes leather seating and wood or aluminum interior trim, while the latter offers a sport steering wheel, carbon-fiber interior trim, and blacked-out exterior parts that evoke Cadillac's performance-oriented V and V-Sport models. Both are available with 20-inch wheels, but the Sport offers optional adaptive dampers that can quickly adjust to different road conditions.
Options range from a tow package that increases capacity to 3,500 pounds to a suite of driver assistance and active safety features, including a surround-view system and a rearview mirror that doubles as a wide-screen monitor of a rear-facing camera. Alas, Cadillac won't say whether the XT4 will offer the brand's hands-free driving Super Cruise system now available on the CT6 sedan.
With a starting price of $35,790 (including destination), the XT4 is one of the least expensive ways to get into a compact luxury SUV. The larger XT5 is priced similar to its midsize competition, so we'll find out if that translates into similar success when the XT4 goes on sale in fall 2018.