In September, I flew to the US for training. Having frequently been stuck in the smaller cities with inclement weather, I decided to go into Chicago O’Hare and drive around the Midwest and South.
With the larger vehicles and trucks on American roads, and also not wanting to spend the money to rent the very-safe Volvos that I usually prefer to drive, I rented a mid-size SUV (example vehicle from the rental company was the Toyota RAV4).
When picking up my rental car at Sixt, I had the good fortunate to have a free upgrade… to the Cadillac XT5.
Having grown up in a GM family, in a GM town, and having had a GM subsidiary as my first employer, I had previous experiences with Cadillacs. As comfortable as a good living room sofa was the memory I had. Or more colourfully described by a good friend and fellow student, after a test drive of the late 90’s era Seville STS with the 32V Northstar as “it’s like putting your living room sofa on some big springs attached to a rocket engine”.
Another memory was a competitive assessment benchmark in the early 00’s with an Eldorado where I was continually frustrated that putting the car in park resulted in the mirrors and seat going to a fixed position automatically. However, putting the car back in drive didn’t result in the reverse action. Furthermore, it was my first experience with the driver lockout feature…. which was not a happy memory.
Worst of all, the Eldorado (and as a result, I) drew a lot of unwanted attention at every place I visited. As a female, extra unwanted attention isn’t really a good thing. Although the interior was still as comfortable as a good living room.
So my thought in picking up a Cadillac was along the lines of “At least I’ll be comfortable…”
I was pleasantly surprised. And even more so on returning to Sweden, where I checked some of the features I experienced with colleagues with newer cars than mine.
First of all, the powertrain (a V6 rather than V8) was nicely done and achieved a 30,1 mpg average for my trip. This is slightly better than my 2004 Saab Aero with a 4-cylinder engine that was the last car I had in the US. Acceleration was sufficient, even for overtaking on county and state roads, and more like driving a European turbo engine than US muscle cars. The suspension was much better than the living room sofa on springs, still not European-car tight, but given the state of US roads, probably appropriate. Handling was good, even in sharply curving exit/entrance ramps at high speed, no instability or leaning which is awesome for a SUV.
Second of all, the safety features (Lane Departure Warning, Cross Traffic, Alert, Forward Collision Warning) had both the visual warning that Volvo has, but also a vibration in the seat (left side vibration for left side drifting, right side vibration for right side drifting, both sides for Forward Collision and Cross Traffic). I admit that the first time this came on, during an aggressive lane change downtown Chicago on the Dan Ryan, it scared the hell out of me. However, after a while, it both helped me in one or two high risk scenarios, but also made me more compliant in turn signal usage. By the end of the trip, I wished my Volvo had it (and unfortunately found out it doesn’t even come in the most recent cars).
And it is still comfortable, even more so with firmer seats and great lumbar support (even in the backseat, according to my passengers). Despite 3000 miles and many hours daily in the car, I had no back or leg pain. Even more, I enjoyed driving the car and didn’t seem to draw any extra attention anywhere I drove or parked.
Storage room was adequate, and I really liked the protective strip on the painted bumper at the tailgate opening. I am used to seeing rental cars badly scratched in that area and was pleased to see Cadillac thought of this, both for rental car users avoiding high cost scratch repairs, but also owners wanting to keep their car in good shape for many years.
All in all, by the end of the trip, I summarised the experience with that I would actually consider buying one (if I lived in the US). It’s honestly not something I thought I would ever say about a Cadillac.
A few things that were not so good…
…I would prefer the speech button in the steering wheel control to use Siri if you are active in Car Play, instead of going to the vehicle system
… the extremely sensitive volume control just below the strangely slanted touch screen, so if you try to stabilise your wrist to use the touch screen, you are constantly changing the volume. (I won’t even go into the touch screen, which I hate, but is now standard in almost all cars… at least Cadillac’s HMI was fairly usable, even while driving)
— the transmission shift control took a couple tries to figure out with the safety lock features