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New Cadillac fills lineup slot

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The words “compact Cadillac” are not generally associated with success with prior Cadillac model years, proven by previous efforts to sell compact models and their shortcomings.

That could change with the all-new compact 2019 XT4 crossover sport utility. It’s a compact Cadillac that fills a big hole in the automaker’s crossover lineup. I tested the XT4 during a media program introduction that provided us with some serious seat time in several trim levels.

A few things you should know about the XT4 is that it has a starting price of $34,795 (base price, that zooms up), and it does not currently share its compact SUV architecture with another vehicle. It comes in Luxury (base model), Luxury Premium and Sport models. The Sport was my favorite with blacked-out trim/wheels, interior upgrades, and optional performance suspension.

The exterior starts with standard LED lighting slivers that bookend the nose from fender tops to the bumper top. Exterior body creases from hood to tail are sharp and precision cut like a diamond. The doors are tall, the wheels are 18-inch (20’s are available), the roofline is fast, and the rear LED lighting is signature Cadillac.

Cadillac wants to re-establish its “Standard of the World” especially in technology and recently announced plans to challenge Tesla in luxury EV and autonomous leadership. On the XT4, technology integration begins with the first-ever rotary controller in a Cadillac. Use it to access a full complement of navigation, news, and entertainment apps via 4G LTE connection on an 8-inch screen. The interior is covered in leather hides and simulated leather look, soft-touch areas. Plastic intrusion is not too bad, and the metal accents and real wood trim are up to snuff. Standard amenities in the Luxury model include Leatherette trim 8-way driver/6-way passenger power front seats, aluminum interior décor, Rear Park Assist, four USB ports, 60/40-split rear seat, Dual-zone automatic climate control, and Adaptive Remote Start.

My Sport model tester added: tinted neutral-density taillamp lenses, gloss black grille, body-color door handles, Front and Rear Park Assist, power mirrors, ambient lighting, carbon fiber interior décor, sport steering wheel and pedals, Lane Change Alert with Side Blind Zone Alert, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Safety Alert Seat, Auto-dimming inside mirror, driver’s seat memory and a power liftgate.

Passenger comfort was surprisingly good (not great) for four adults, and you should be able to comfortably accommodate a child in the center seating position. Cadillac indicates rear seat legroom measures 39.5 inches and that cargo room comes to 22.5 cubic feet (second row up) and 48.9 (rear seats folded), good for a compact SUV.

Hitting some city streets, we put the 2.0-liter turbo-four and nine-speed automatic to the task. Cadillac indicates that this combo will return 24 mpg city and 30 highway (FWD)-I observed slightly less, but the engines were not fully broken-in yet. AWD versions are about 1 mpg lower.

Hot-footing this 3,660 lb. SUV from 0-60 took about 7 seconds (un-instrumented), but you’re not purchasing an XT4 for speed. The 2.0-L engine has some advanced technology that’s fitting for a Cadillac. Using multiple lobes per cylinder and sophisticated engine management technology delivers quick power and efficiency changes to meet demands nicely. Cylinder deactivation is nothing new, but Cadillac provides seamless deactivation to two cylinders for improved gas mileage, but this technology and additional engineering, components, and materials should return higher mpg figures. Exhaust manifold cylinder head integration provides faster warmups, better turbo response, and improves emissions.

Driving observations include a stiff chassis employing a suspension setup of struts up front and a five-link independent rear. It felt surprisingly responsive due to adjustable settings. Cadillac indicates XT4 introduces electro-hydraulic braking assist, which supplants the existing vacuum-assisted power brakes. The new system is said to enhance fuel economy and require less space under the hood. I noticed no difference when braking.

On city streets, the comfort setting provided a smooth, yet connected ride. The XT4 is fairly quiet, with low wind noise and no chassis vibrations. Steering is crisp and the radius is not as big as some competitors.

So, of the two models I tested, I prefer the Sport model with Cadillac’s Active Sport Suspension with Continuous Damping Control.

This auto review was researched and written by SteinPro Content Services and provided to the Sun-Times for publication