Cadillac has undergone something of a renaissance in recent years. It's gone from building heavy, soggy barges for Florida retirees to creating exciting sedans and coupes that can compete with the best Germany has to offer. But super-sedans don't make big money – SUVs do, which is why Cadillac's new lightweight XT5 is so important for the American brand.
Central to the XT5's appeal is its brand new chassis and body structure. Thanks to the use of ultra-high strength steel and laser welding, Cadillac's new crossover is 126 kg (278 lb) lighter than the SRX it replaces, as well as being 45 kg (100 lb) lighter than the much smaller Audi Q5. According to Cadillac it's also over 295 kg (650 lb) lighter than the Mercedes GLE, but performs just as well in body rigidity and crash tests.
It might have lost weight, but the XT5's designers haven't scrimped on interior space. Thanks to a wheelbase that's 5 cm (2 in) longer than the SRX, rear-seat passengers are treated to an extra 8 cm (3 in) of legroom on their reclining seats.
Reclining rear seats aren't the only nod to luxury inside. Cadillac is claiming the car's wider surfaces and horizontal design details emphasize the car's width, while the use of cut-and-sewn wrapped panels instead of molded materials for the trim should help make things feel properly premium.
Also helping to make the XT5's interior feel special is a clever new rear-view mirror. Alright, so a new rear mirror doesn't sound all that thrilling but Cadillac's device uses a camera to eliminate any potential blind spots like the rear pillars, giving drivers a clear view of what's behind them. It sounds like a small thing, but the small things make all the difference when it comes to luxury cars.
As for the exterior, you can judge for yourselves, but we think Cadillac has created a handsome car. There's a clear family resemblance in the edgy styling and vertical taillights, but that's no bad thing because it's a world away from the samey German crossovers it'll be taking on.
What's hiding under the hood depends on where you are in the world, because Cadillac has global ambitions with the XT5. American buyers will be getting theirs with a 3.6-liter V6 producing about 230 kW (310 hp) and 366 Nm (270 lb-ft), unless it's under low or moderate load. When you're not using all of the V6's performance potential the engine deactivates two cylinders to run as a miserly four-cylinder fuel-saver. Chinese buyers aren't quite as lucky, because their XT5 comes with a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder turbo engine as standard.
Regardless of where you are in the world, the XT5 comes with a new 8-speed twin-clutch automatic that is the first Cadillac gearbox to feature an electronically-controlled shifter to free up more space in the center console. Buyers also have the option of a "twin clutch" all-wheel drive system.
The XT5 will be publicly unveiled at the Los Angeles Motor Show, with production to commence in late 2016.