By Peter Perrotta
Before the foreign invasion of imported luxury automobiles into the American market, Cadillac once stood as the proud icon of success.
If you were lucky enough to own one – big fins and all – it was a sign that you had made it (at least on the surface).
Duke Snider, Hall of fame centerfielder for the Brooklyn Dodgers, once said, “My high salary for one season was $46,000 and a Cadillac.”
On his 1964 football card, Jim Brown, perhaps the greatest running back ever, posed with his brand new, baby blue ’64 Caddy prominently placed in the background.
A lot has changed, obviously, in the decades that followed.
Nowadays, ball players rock out with their Mercedes Benz G63 AMG wagons with a price tag north of $150,000. Or, the just as expensive 8-series BMW M sport.
This week I am reviewing the 2021 Cadillac XT4 AWD Premium Luxury small SUV with a price tag of $51,435. But, even in this segment of the market, Cadillac struggles to keep up with the foreign competition.
Case in point, in its overview of the 2021 XT4, the editors at Car and Driver wrote: “Overall refinement (of the XT4) isn’t quite on the same level as its key rivals…the Audi Q3, the BMW X1 and the Mercedes Benz GLA.”
I’m not sure if I completely agree with that assessment, but I point it out as testament to what Cadillac is up against these days.
To be fair, I’m not sure that it’s even relevant to compare the XT4 to its German-made rivals.
Why do I say this?
Because the Q3, the X1 and the GLA are German imports that, for the most part, are engineered with the typical European-style ride to them, mixed in with some luxury accoutrements. They are more sporty than luxury styled and lend themselves to feeling the road underneath you as you drive them.
The Cadillac XT4 – and most Caddys in general – are engineered completely opposite of that.
First introduced in 2019, the XT4 was designed to appeal to what those older ball players sought decades ago: luxury and comfort.
On the outside the fairly new XT4 model is elegantly styled with a very angular but attractive stance.
Moreover, the ride is not European, but American. The XT4 floats along quite nicely and comfortably either on the highway or around town. It’s roomy, easy to steer and navigate and has great eye appeal as well.
I must admit, the one week I just spent test driving the 2021 XT4 AWD Premium Luxury SUV was thoroughly enjoyable and fun, as well.
This SUV is very easy to drive, comfortable and its interior buttons, switches and infotainment system are easy to use and function quite nicely.
I test drove the 2020 XT4 last year, but it seemed like I liked it a bit more when I drove it for the second time this year.
In my second go-round with the XT4, the handling seemed more precise to me and the ride was not as squishy and more down to earth, which I liked.
Powering the 2021 XT4 is a 2.0 liter, turbo-charged, four cylinder engine that puts out 237 horsepower. It pairs with a nine-speed transmission and is offered in front or all wheel drive versions.
This XT4 seemed amply powered to me. I didn’t zero to 60 time test it. But, the folks at Car and Driver has it clocked at 7.8 seconds for the zero to 60, which won’t win you too many Gran Prix races.
The base price for the Premium Luxury model I drove is $42,295.
However, my tester was loaded with option packages, which included: $2,500 for the comfort and technology package; $1,500 for embedded navigation and a 13-speaker Bose sound system; $1,500 for an enhanced visibility package; $1,100 for a driver assist package; $850 for a cold weather package; $625 for Garnet metallic paint and $470 for a driver awareness package.
The comfort and technology package includes: 8 way power seats; heated and cooled seat with massage and lumbar; wireless phone charging.
The enhanced visibility package includes: a rear camera mirror; parking assist; rear pedestrian alert and HD surround vision.
The EPA’s fuel economy ratings for the XT4 come in at 24 miles per gallon overall – with 29 miles per gallon for highway driving and 22 mpg around town.
The EPA estimates that it will cost $2,050 a year in fuel to run this XT4 as it uses, on average, 4.2 gallons of gas per every 100 miles driven.
In the government’s 5-star safety crash test ratings, the XT4 scored an impressive five stars on its overall vehicle score.
It received five stars for the side crash test, four stars for the rollover test, five stars for the front driver’s side test and four stars for the front passenger side test.
Overall, I feel the XT4 stacks up quite nicely when you compare it to the other competitors in this crowded small, luxury segment.
If you are considering leasing or purchasing a small, luxury SUV or crossover, the XT4 should be one have on your short list.
Peter Perrotta’s On The Road column appears weekly. For questions or comments he can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.