A new kind of Cadillac for a new kind of buyer
THE GOOD
  • Tidy exterior and interior styling
  • Spacious interior
  • Good cargo space
THE BAD
  • Loud engine
  • Unrefined nine-speed transmission
  • Lack of standard safety tech


It may seem trite, but there’s no denying that the typical Cadillac buyer is on the upper end of the age spectrum.

Back in 2018, the company’s then-CEO, Johan de Nysschen, said the brand had broadened its appeal among millennials and was proud to report that half of its buyers were now under the age of 56 – still a high average for an automaker that has been trying to bill itself as a sporty, Americanized BMW.

Enter the 2021 Cadillac XT4. This subcompact crossover was designed with an active, city-dwelling millennial buyer in mind. It also has a more approachable base price than the average Cadillac model that’s more often marketed towards older shoppers. It is, however, up against an abundance of rivals from other premium automakers and features a pricey options list that can add up in a hurry.

Styling: 7/10

Despite its more youthful target demographic, the Cadillac XT4 has fairly grown-up looks. It has an approachable and stylish exterior without any over-the-top styling elements, although the Sport trim our test came in stays true to its name with red-painted brake calipers, machined alloy wheels, and clear taillight lenses. Our sole complaint with regard to the vehicle’s exterior styling lies with the fact that Cadillac used quite a lot of black plastic cladding on the lower parts of the body, which cheapens the look of this otherwise handsome crossover.

Safety: 5/10

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) handed the Cadillac XT4 its highest-possible rating of “Good” across all crashworthiness evaluations. The agency does not rate the vehicle as a Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+, however, which designate the safest vehicles in their respective segments on sale today.

In addition to missing out on any IIHS awards, a lack of standard safety features also drags the Cadillac XT4 down. This luxury crossover comes standard with automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, although most other active safety features are optional, including lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, and automatic high-beams. For context, lane-keep assist and adaptive cruise control are standard equipment on the cheapest Honda CR-V, so it’s not like we’re asking for too much here.

Features: 8/10

While the safety features leave something to be desired, the Cadillac XT4 at least keeps you connected. It comes standard with an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connection, a seven-speaker audio system, and a subscription-based onboard Wi-Fi hotspot. Other notable standard equipment includes a 4.2-inch instrument cluster display, active noise cancellation, power front seats, heated front and rear seats, and keyless entry with remote start.

There is one area where the XT4’s features let us down, though. We recently tested a 2021 Cadillac XT5 and loved using the vehicle’s available wireless charging pad, which pairs well with those wireless phone connections, but this is an option that’s unfortunately not available in the smaller and less-expensive XT4. As a vehicle purportedly courting the younger, always-online demographic, surely a wireless charging pad would be a good fit.

Practicality: 9/10

The Cadillac XT4 is slightly bigger than most subcompact luxury SUVs, although it’s still smaller than a regular compact, making it an in-betweener. It has a spacious backseat compared to some rivals as a result, along with a respectable cargo capacity of 637 L behind the second row. The award-winning Volvo XC40, by comparison, has 586 L behind the second row – and that’s widely considered to be a smartly packaged and spacious subcompact crossover.

Comfort: 7/10

Standard active noise cancellation and good build quality make the Cadillac XT4 a nice place to sit for extended periods of time. Some of the interior materials are a bit lacklustre, especially compared to rivals like BMW and Lexus, but by no means does the XT4 come off as cheap or inexpensive inside.

The XT4’s ride quality, meanwhile, is well-tuned and definitely not as crashy and rough as the Cadillac XT5 Sport we sampled recently, though it still leaves some room for improvement with regard to overall refinement. It’s also worth pointing out that our tester came with the 18-inch alloy wheels that are standard on the Sport trim level, which have a bit more sidewall than the optional 20-inch alloys. While the larger wheels may look good, we’d suggest going for the smaller wheel option that offers more sidewall; Canadian roads are far from perfect, remember.

User Friendliness: 9/10

The Cadillac XT4 and its interior technology are simple and straightforward to use. There are clearly marked physical buttons for the HVAC system; large, easy-to-read text on the infotainment screen; and a steering wheel with convenient controls for the audio and cruise control. It’s also easy to see out of, easy to park, and has a relatively tight turning circle. Cadillac’s electronic shifter is a bit counterintuitive to use, but it’s easy enough to get used to and isn’t much different than the gear-select systems in other luxury crossovers from BMW or Mercedes-Benz.



Power: 6/10

The only available engine is a turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder producing 237 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, which is paired with a standard nine-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is available for a price premium of $3,400, although the Sport trim level that we tested comes with it standard.

The engine feels powerful enough in most daily driving scenarios, although it produces a loud and unrefined racket under heavy throttle. It also sounds a bit tractor-like when idling, removing some of the perceived quality of this $50,000 luxury vehicle as you walk up to it. The nine-speed transmission also has somewhat rough downshifts, a problem we’ve encountered in other Cadillac products with this transmission. The XT4’s powertrain seems to be made up of solid parts, but it needs a bit more tuning and refinement to be deemed truly great.

Driving Feel: 5/10

Crossover buyers looking for a vehicle that feels truly sporty and engaged should probably look elsewhere. The XT4 has a squishy throttle, muted steering, and run-of-the-mill engine and exhaust notes, making spirited drives a fairly joyless experience. It’s plenty comfortable for the daily jaunt down to the shops, though, and we’ve certainly driven more yawn-inducing vehicles over the years. If your idea of driving excitement is giving it a little bit more gas than usual here and there, the XT4 offers more than enough sportiness.

Fuel Economy: 8/10

Natural Resources Canada rates the 2021 Cadillac XT4’s fuel economy at 9.9 L/100 km city, 7.8 highway, and 8.9 combined. With premium fuel required, it’s comparable to other rival luxury crossovers like the BMW X2 and Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class, which have similar combined fuel economy ratings.

Value: 5/10

Pricing for the 2021 Cadillac XT4 starts at $38,398 for the entry-level Luxury trim model with front-wheel drive including the non-negotiable destination charge. This is cheaper than most direct rivals, including the BMW X1 and X2, which start at $39,900 and $43,275, respectively. However, all-wheel drive is optional on the XT4 and adds a significant $3,600 to the vehicle’s price tag, whereas it’s standard on almost all of the XT4’s direct rivals.

Pricing also adds up quickly once options are factored into the equation. The range-topping Sport trim we tested starts at $48,438, but it also came equipped with the pricey $3,195 Sun and Sound package, which adds a power sunroof, 13-speaker stereo, and satellite navigation. Most Cadillac XT4 buyers can expect to pay close to – or even more than – $50,000 for this vehicle, making this one expensive subcompact crossover. The XT4 would represent better value if it came with more standard advanced safety equipment and all-wheel drive.

The Verdict

The 2021 Cadillac XT4 is a stylish, well-built subcompact luxury crossover, though its powertrain lacks refinement and the list of standard options could be better. The price also rises rapidly once additional options are added on, undoing some of the perceived value of the $40,000 base model. Unless you can get yourself a handsome discount on the XT4 or an incentive offer is running, we think most luxury market buyers will be better served by more traditional offerings.

Competitors

Specifications

Engine Displacement 2.0L   Model Tested 2021 Cadillac XT4 Sport
Engine Cylinders I4   Base Price $43,798
Peak Horsepower 237 hp @5,000 rpm   A/C Tax $100
Peak Torque 258 lb-ft @1,500–4,000 rpm   Destination Fee $2,200
Fuel Economy 10.9 / 8.2 / 9.7 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb   Price as Tested $50,738
Cargo Space 637 / 1,385 L seats down  
Optional Equipment
$4,095 – Shadow Metallic paint, $900; Sun and Sound Package, $3,195; Driver Awareness Package, $545