My Car Quest

March 27, 2023

Driving Impression: 2019 Cadillac XT4

Sampling a Smaller Luxury SUV….

by Wallace Wyss –

Because SUVs are so popular, along with pickup trucks, automakers have developed as many categories as they can so now there’s one called, in slang, the “Tweener” because it goes below the larger ones and is still larger than the smallest ones on the market. I chose one of these “tweeners” to drive up to Monterey from Los Angeles, to see if this size could meet my needs for a short vacation with four adult passengers, and some luggage.

2019 Cadillac XT4

One of the most re-assuring things is it had a spare. Not the same width as the regular tires but same height. Call me Old School, but I would not own a car without a spare.

Years ago I drove a Cadillac Escalade test car but that’s the largest Cadillac, say the size of a full size Chevrolet Tahoe. I was hoping to test drive something that would get above 20 mpg. And this car did, getting a high of 32 mpg but averaging 25 mpg on a flat road.

What you need depends on how many children you have and/or what you carry around. We don’t have children but still needed extra space for our luggage. By the way my old worry about thieves “casing your car” and stealing the luggage compared to a car with a steel trunk lid is diminished because the side windows in the back set of doors came tinted so dark it was hard to see the contents. And I never see any SUVs with smashed rear windows so I am thinking it is not a big danger.

It took some mental adjustment to cope with the fact that a car that topped out at $48,000 with extras had only a four cylinder engine. But why have a V8 or V6 when most of the time you don’t need it? This one comes with a turbo so the engine is rated at 237 hp with 258 lb-ft of torque. It is four wheel drive but not marketed as a four wheeler as the meaning is in the Jeep world where it means more able to cope with rough ground. It has a nine speed automatic and more than adequate ground clearance ground clearance at 6.7 inches.

The styling is what sells me on this and other Cadillacs of the present. The most daring part is the vertical running lights on the front edges of the fenders defining the shape. These are matched by equally bold “hockey stick” style taillights in the back. I think it’s important to Cadillac’s image that every model have the same family resemblance.

2019 Cadillac XT4

And I’m glad it didn’t have a CVT, a Continuously Variable Transmission. Nissan had hung its hat on that and I find they don’t use the engine to full advantage, electing lower rpm shift points to maintain good mileage. But when you are accelerating onto a freeway you need all the power you can get.


The Cadillac dash looked moderately expensive, the French seam stitched top cover for the dash looking good. The big display screen was easy to see and multi-colored. Fortunately for radio volume and a few other functions you don’t always have to go to the screen there’s a couple manual controls on the console.

The feature we appreciated most is the TV camera facing to the rear which defines the target parking spot with colored lines, and warns you how close you were getting to the car in back of you. I got so dependent on this I missed it when I went to my regular car. I’d like to suggest they also put a camera in front so when you shift to “Drive” it gives you the same info for parking up front. One wag said “Well, why don’t you just look over the hood?” but that just doesn’t tell you what’s happening a few feet below the hood, where the bumpers are. The technology for the rear view is perfected. We just need that for the front as well.

One of the luxury features was providing air vents and heated seats for the second row. We had three passengers around 6 ft. tall so there was a minimum of legroom and headroom in the second row. Unfortunately the rear seats did not recline as they do in at least one of the foreign competitors.

We made the whole trip tuned to Sirius XM radio, satellite served system so it isn’t dependent on bad signals from local radio stations. The 16 speakers in the Cadillac are high clarity, on a par with Infiniti’s QX50.

I like to try various safety devices and on the Cadillac I found the system that keeps you in your lane useful. It buzzes your seat and wakes you to the fact you have left your lane. Also the outside rear view mirror tips you off that there’s a car coming up in your blind spot.


The engine was spirited when you wanted it to be, and didn’t sound like it was straining even when going uphill with a full load of passengers and cargo. The XT4 had responsive steering. It shifted when it needed to, didn’t hold back performance for good mileage like the competitors with CVT.

2019 Cadillac XT4

It had paddle shifters (little paddles under the steering wheel) but I rarely used them. Sometimes you forget you’re in the Manual mode, which you need to be for paddle use, and it’s annoying to shift back to regular Drive from Manual so that’s one option I could get along without in an SUV.


The way Cadillac handles connectivity is with an updated version of its once-pilloried CUE system. It behaves like a smartphone and has modern graphics that are sharp and easy to use. Through an 8.0-inch touchscreen, passengers can use their phone via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, or they can choose to use the contemporary navigation system to get around.

Cadillac also added a knob to the center console so some things can be controlled by a knob so you don’t have to take your eyes off the wheel to look at that 8-inch screen. I prefer some manual controls.

I believe a lot of folks today buy their next car solely on the state of the art technology on the dash so I think dashboards should be designed for replaceable connective devices, so say you buy a 2019 car, but by the year 2021 there’s new technology, then you could bring the car to the dealer and get the new technology plugged into using the same hole in the dash. Tell me it’s possible….

The trouble is the pace of new inventions in connectivity is far outstripping the pace of innovation in the car industry in general. A three year old system is ancient.

The lane departure warning came into use often, letting me know when I was drifting out of my lane.

In sum, I think the price tag buys you a distinctive motor car in the XT4. Whether that initial amount is worth it depends on how much the Cadillac name holds up on resale. I like to think if Cadillac continues to build a strong image, it will hold up in value better than the competition.

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss

THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss has been a staff member, doing road tests, for CAR LIFE and MOTOR TREND magazines. He is a co-host of Autotalk, a show on cars broadcast weekly out of KUCR FM Riverside.




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Driving Impression: 2019 Cadillac XT4
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Driving Impression: 2019 Cadillac XT4
Our reporter takes a 2019 Cadillac XT4 from Los Angeles to Monterey for the Car Week events.

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