The 2020 XT4 is a compact luxury SUV powered by Cadillac’s 2.0L turbo engine that pairs with a nine-speed automatic transmission. The XT4 has as standard automatic emergency braking, front pedestrian braking, forward collision alert and safety alert seat. Its starting MSRP of $36,690 includes the destination charge. Metro News Service photo

Cadillac’s XT4 helps bring swagger to ultra-competitive segment

The word scrum has its root in the sport of rugby. Without giving you a rugby rules lesson, it’s a big group of people lined up against each other, shoulder to shoulder, all fighting for a ball. It’s one of the most chaotic things in sports, so it’s apropos to use the term scrum when it comes to the luxury subcompact segment.

The subcompact SUV segment is highly competitive. On the luxury side of the ball it’s equally competitive. So, Cadillac jumped into the scrum pile last model year with their subcompact luxury crossover.

The XT4 is now in its second model year. The 2020 XT4 has very little changed from its introductory year but still feels fresh and new. My tester was actually my first time driving it, so it was new to me.

On looks the XT4 has distinction and I can appreciate that. Many vehicles in this segment look so similar that when a vehicle stands out from the crowded field, I take note. The XT4’s headlights alone make it stylish. The shape is quite bold. The grille itself could be a little more aggressive for my tastes, but Cadillac in general has lost its way when it comes to aggressive styling. Early 2000s Cadillacs regained their swagger with bold styling, but since then the marque wandered back to being more generic and conservative.

The XT4 does fulfill some of that as it is attractive, luxurious-looking and personable. It’s a start in the right direction, for sure.

Speaking of aggressiveness, the XT4 lacks that with its powertrain. The XT4 has a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes a paltry 237 horsepower. The nine-speed automatic transmission redeems the performance somewhat as it offers smooth, seamless shifting with no noticeable turbo lag. Three driver modes also help to redeem it by offering settings for snow/ice, sport and tour. The overall handling was nice. The sport setting was a little wonky with the shifting; I preferred the more controlled tour setting.

Also, for a luxury vehicle, road noise was a little pervasive, especially off the engine. I expect a quieter cabin and more refined ride from a luxury brand, even with the affordable price point of the XT4.

Otherwise, the interior is nice. Cadillac may have lost its way with exterior styling, but it still knows how to make a luxurious, high-quality interior. The five-passenger interior is loaded with niceties and creature comforts. There are even massaging seats, which for a vehicle under $50,000 is hard to find.

The back seat has good legroom for a vehicle this size. The seats are comfortable and the touch points in both the front and back are high quality and consistent. Behind the rear seats there’s 22.5 cubic feet of cargo room – a good amount for this segment. The rear seats do split 60/40; that expands the overall cargo area to 48.9 cubic feet.

I’ve been a fan of Cadillac’s infotainment system called CUE. While there’s a small learning curve to grasp everything it offers, there’s a ton of technology in it, and it is fairly intuitive. I found it to add to the overall value of the XT4.

There are three trim offerings for the XT4 including Luxury, Premium Luxury and Sport. My tester was the Premium Luxury. The starting price of this was $42,295. With features and packages like advanced entertainment, special wheels and a cold weather package, my tester’s final MSRP was $48,785.

AWD is available on all trim levels, but front-wheel drive is standard. The FWD option is slightly more fuel efficient. My tester, with AWD, had an EPA rating of 22 mpg/city and 29 mpg/highway. In a week’s worth of suburban driving, I averaged just over 24 mpg.

All in all, the XT4 offers me hope that Cadillac has found its mojo again. They seem to be back on their game with this subcompact offering. This smallish crossover, with Cadillac distinction, is viable, affordable and competitive in its segment.

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