If your idea of a Cadillac sport-ute is some mile-long, hulking Escalade with blacked-out windows and wheels that could have come off a Peterbilt, think again.
At the other end of the size scale is Caddy’s XT4. Since 2019, it’s been wooing buyers with its more compact dimensions, zippy performance, nimble handling and classy interior.
And it’s right at that pricing sweet-spot for small premium crossovers. Entry versions kick off at just under $38,000, topping-out at around $55,000 for a blinged-out Sport or Premium Luxury model that has more toys than FAO Schwartz at Christmas.
I’ve just spent a joyous week with the range-topping XT4 Premium Luxury AWD version that stickers for $43,290, but with $12,130-worth of options ended up at a non-trivial $55,420.
But it’s right up there with key rivals such as Audi’s Q3, Mercedes’ GLA, the Lexus UX, Acura’s RDX, Jaguar E-Pace and BMW’s X1.
To me, what sets the Caddy apart is its head-rotating design. It just looks gorgeous with that big, shiny shield-like grille, that swoopy, sloping roofline, and swept-back windshield.
And those front lights are still a piece of automotive art. The way the running lights cascade down in a sliver of LEDs is nothing less than stunning.
Our XT4 tester also came with the so-called Radiant Package that, among other things, replaces the stock 18-inch rims with a set of gorgeous, mirror-polished 20-inch seven-spoke alloys.
Not cheap at $2,695 for the package, but it certainly adds to the XT4’s cool styling and bold stance.
Powering the compact Caddy is a silky-smooth 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. It cranks-out a healthy 235 horseys and drives all four wheels via a quick-shifting nine-speed automatic.
No, it’s not especially sporty – zero-to-60mph sprinting takes a so-so 7.8 seconds, which is around 1.5 seconds slower than BMW’s feisty X1.
But on the road, the XT feels so much more sprightly than the numbers suggest, scooting away from a stop light, merging easily on to the Interstate and zipping past slower traffic with ease.
Much of that is down to that rapid-fire, nine-speed auto which responds right-now to calls for kick-down. And for d-i-y shifters, there’s a pair of paddle shifters on the steering column to play with.
One slight disappointment with the engine package is its mediocre fuel economy. In these days of $4-a-gallon gas, 22 city and 24mpg combined doesn’t win any accolades.
But the XT4 always feels poised and confident through the curves, it steers nicely with plenty of feel and precision through the helm, and it generally rides smoothly.
That said, deep potholes and sharp ridges tend to send jiggles and jolts through the suspension. Especially with those 20-inch wheels.
Looking for a sportier XT4? There’s also a XT4 Sport model in the line-up that costs roughly the same as the Premium Luxury. But here you get exclusive active suspension with adaptive dampers to really sharpen-up the cornering and increase the fun quota.
Inside, XT4 has more space that you’d imagine for a compact crossover. Up front, the seats are nicely-shaped with lots of support and adjustment, while in the back there’s decent kneeroom and headroom for adults.
But with that sloping roofline, don’t expect to bring home that big, flat-screen TV from Best Buy. The tailgate opening at the back is less than four-feet wide and a skinny 26 inches high. That’s low.
The cabin throughout is really nicely-appointed, especially in Premium Luxury trim, which replaces the standard leatherette with glove-soft leather. Our tester’s off-white perforated leather gave the whole interior a classy, upscale look.
Yes, there’s some serious competition in this booming section of the market. But the XT4 is still a serious contender and a design stand-out that makes it worth a long look.