Unveiling the New Cadillac XT5

More efficient, lighter materials, more space and a new engine make up this tech-integrated auto

Cadillac unveiled the all-new XT5 today, the first of four new crossovers that will bear the XT badge in the coming years. The XT5 replaces the current crossover, the SRX, with lighter and more efficient materials, more space, a new V6 engine, transmission and shifter, chassis and new technology, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Most importantly, the XT5 sharpens the brand’s design focus on “modern craftsmanship and the artistic integration of technology,” explains Andrew Smith, Cadillac’s Executive Director of Global Design. The XT5’s exterior design is much improved over the SRX, featuring a more aggressive stance, well-rounded presence and sharper lines—all to be expected in a major overhaul of the vehicle.

It’s the evolution to the interior of the car that caught our attention—a substantial redesign and focus on creating a cabin with a presence as strong as the sheet metal it’s wrapped in. Fewer, bolder lines articulate the horizontal focus of the dash, which now features a 10” display. Many manufacturers use molded components for the dash, but Cadillac continues to push its dedication to cut-and-sewn materials, and all trim levels have been upgraded and refined.

Our focus for the interior was sophistication and simplicity, ensuring an economy of lines to reduce visual noise and clutter

To learn more about the brand’s focus on interior design we visited the color and trim studio in Detroit and met with the team that brought it to life—Sharon Gauci (GM’s Global Director of Color and Trim), Erin Crossley (Cadillac Color and Trim Design Manager), Eric Clough (Director of Cadillac Interiors), Liz Workman (Cadillac Color and Trim creative designer) and Smith. “Our focus for the interior was sophistication and simplicity, ensuring an economy of lines to reduce visual noise and clutter,” Smith tells CH.

Crossley walked us through their persona-driven interior design process, where the brand and design teams articulate customer profiles permitting them to “put together different packages of colors and decorative trims that really fit personas, rather than having a handful of generic colors and decorations and mixing and matching them.” She explained the five new color and trim packages: Jet Black with brushed aluminum; Dark Titanium with Cirrus featuring textured aluminum deco trim; the premium Jet Black with Sahara Beige which is available in two levels—one with high-gloss Okapi Kontra and one with high-gloss Sapele; Jet Black with Maple Sugar with satin rosewood trim; and our favorite, a unique, sophisticated Jet Black with Carbon Plum—a deep purple leather for the seats and armrests paired with a black olive ash-wood veneer.

How many things are too many things? When do you say stop?

The cabin is light, spacious, simple and elegant with strong horizontal lines. The dash is covered in cut-and-sewn pieces, some with both leather and alcantara contrasting materials. The grandest design gesture is the angled “winglets” that wrap the vents on both sides of the dash—striking in both wood and aluminum. It’s clear that the team worked hard to reduce clutter and create a more refined space. “It’s hard to do simple, there’s so many conflicting criteria and needs and to press and refine it into simplicity involves a lot of nudges of all of those contradictory things. It’s a challenge,” says Clough. Gauci adds, “How many things are too many things? When do you say stop?”

Comfort and practicality are evident as well; rear legroom has been increased by 3.2” and the rear seat reclines and slides forward and backward.

Our deep dive on the car’s performance will have to wait until we get behind the wheel in the spring of 2016, but we’re looking forward to the brand’s 3.6L V6 engine, which has been tuned specifically for the XT5. Handling and response should also improve as the car is 278 pounds lighter than the SRX. (Competitively, it weighs 695 pounds less than the Mercedes-Benz GLE, and 100 pounds less than the Audi Q5.) Unveiled in Dubai, it demonstrates the Cadillac’s commitment to being a global luxury brand.

Images courtesy of Cadillac