Fresh styling, powertrain upgrades on tap for 2020 Cadillac XT5. Is a V-Sport coming, too?

2020 Cadillac XT5

What changes will make the 2020 Cadillac XT5 different?

Revised styling, new features, and updated drivetrains — including the possible introduction of a high-performance. Model-year 2020 marks the midcycle refresh for this five-passenger, premium-compact crossover, Cadillac’s best-selling vehicle.

The XT5 bowed for model-year 2017 and shares elements of its underskin engineering and its V-6 engine with the less expensive GMC Acadia. It slots into Cadillac’s crossover lineup between the subcompact XT4 and the brand’s three-seating-row midsize XT6. The XT5’s blend of edgy styling, smooth drivetrain, and nicely appointed cabin was well-received, and it ranked behind only the Mercedes-Benz GLC and Audi Q5 — and ahead of the Acura RDX and BMW X3 — in the 2018 premium-compact-crossover sales race.

Note that driving impressions and other subjective conclusions in this review are based on road tests of the 2019 Cadillac XT5. In areas where the ’20 might be different, we will reserve judgment.

Should I wait for the 2020 model or buy the 2019?

Wait if you’re curious about the extent of changes to its appearance, features, and powertrain. The basic engineering and dimensions of the XT5 won’t change but waiting for the ’20 gets you the most current styling, more advanced technology, and almost certainly higher fuel-economy ratings. The 2020 midcycle changes will carry the crossover through, with minimal alterations, to its next full redesign, tentatively slated for model-year 2022.

On the flip side, consider a 2019 if a dealer offers you a solid discount off sticker price. That’s highly likely: cut-rate lease deals and low-cost factory financing have been plentiful over the XT5’s lifespan. Those incentives will get stronger as dealers look to clear their 2019 XT5 inventories as the facelifted 2020 is ready to hit showrooms.

Even with the expected changes, the ’20 XT5 model lineup probably will return with Base, Luxury, Premium Luxury, and Platinum grades. There’s a chance, although slim, that Cadillac could add a sporty V-Sport variant with around 400 horsepower and specific performance enhancements and styling cues. Along with the Platinum trim, a V-Sport would likely come standard with traction-aiding all-wheel drive (AWD), while Base, Luxury, and Premium Luxury models would again offer a choice of front-wheel drive or extra-cost AWD.

Will the styling be different?

Yes. Spy shots suggest an evolution of Cadillac’s latest design language, as first seen with the debut of the 2019 XT4. Although the 2020 XT5 prototype was camouflaged, the photos revealed a new grille and lower fascia. Expect new headlights to match those of the new XT6. They’re less exaggerated than those of the current XT5 and would convey an almost Audi-like appearance, which we think will increase its appeal. The balance of the exterior changes will likely be limited to a rear bumper nip and tuck. The crossover’s overall profile should remain largely unchanged. If a V-Sport model enters the picture, it’ll probably have more aggressive fascia front and rear, with exaggerated air intakes in front, maybe a blackout grille, and a more muscular stance, thanks to specific wheels and suspension tuning.

Inside, the 2020 XT5 would benefit greatly from an entirely new instrument and control interface updated to match the more modern, ergonomic, and user-friendly layout of the XT4. We suspect, however, the current XT5’s older, less intuitive layout will largely carry over. Usability of the infotainment system should improve slightly, though, with addition of two rotary dials that premiered on the XT6.

Other than that, all 2020 XT5s should continue with a standard 8-inch touchscreen that includes support for Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto. In a world where luxury vehicles are including larger, ultra-widescreen and portrait-mode infotainment displays, sticking with such a comparatively small screen seems like a missed opportunity. Imbedded GPS navigation will likely be exclusive to the Premium Luxury, Platinum, and V-Sport.

All grades but the Platinum will likely continue with a combination of analog and digital instruments. Platinum would have a fully digital cluster that users can configure to show a variety of data, a la Audi’s Virtual Cockpit. The V-Sport would likely use the digital gauges but with a racing theme to make it more special.

Cabin materials should continue to be pleasing and quite competitive, if not quite up to Mercedes, Audi, and Volvo standards. Leather upholstery should again be standard on all but the Base model. For 2019, Cadillac made available some very nice Kona Brown leather with complementing leather dashboard trim and Sapele wood accents.

With no changes in interior dimensions, the ’20 XT5 will again provide passible though not outstanding passenger comfort. In particular, rear occupants might find headroom a little tight beneath the housing of the panoramic sunroof that’ll likely remain standard on all but the Base model. Cargo capacity should remain slightly below class average, at 30 cubic feet behind the rear seatbacks and 63 with them folded.

Any mechanical changes?

Yes. It’s a near certainty the 2020 XT5’s sold transmission will be a nine-speed automatic, a welcome update from the eight-speed automatic in the 2017-2019 model. That should improve drivability and gas mileage.

As for the 2020 XT5’s engines, count on the return of a 3.6-liter V-6 with 310 horsepower and 271 pound-feet of torque. Widely used in other General Motors cars and crossovers, the 3.6 V-6 has thus far been the XT5’s sole engine offering. Alas, expect acceleration to remain less than impressive, despite the more sophisticated transmission better matched to the engine’s power band.

For 2020, Cadillac may well add a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder choice aimed at bolstering fuel-economy ratings and possibly lowering starting prices. Most rivals offer just such an engine and as with the six, this turbo four is used elsewhere by GM. For the XT5, however, you can expect somewhat more than the 252 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque it produces in the Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain compact crossovers. As will the V-6, it would use the nine-speed automatic.

A 2.0-liter-turbo XT5 could feel somewhat sprightlier off the line than a 3.6-liter V-6 model, but the six’s flatter torque curve would probably lead to better highway passing and merging response. To compensate for the four-cylinder’s lack of mid- and upper-end punch, GM could limit its availability to front-wheel-drive models.

An XT5 V-Sport would give XT5 shoppers an alternative to high-performance editions of premium-compact-crossover rivals, such as the Audi SQ5, BMW X3 M40i, Jaguar F-Pace S, Mercedes-AMG GLC43, and Porsche Mecan Turbo. Four-hundred horsepower or so is the price of admission to that club, and a 2020 XT5 V-Sport would probably get around 404 horses and 400 pound-feet of torque from a derivative of the twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 available in the Cadillac CT6 sedan. Its transmission would be an eight-speed automatic.

Ride and handling of four-cylinder and 3.6-liter V-6 2020 XT5s probably would aim for the softer side of the spectrum: comfortable, quiet, and predictable with no hint of the sporting pretensions offered by XT5’s German-branded rivals. Cadillac would leave that to the V-Sport, which — at least on paper — would have the chops to keep up with its direct rivals.

Will fuel economy improve?

Slightly. We project the EPA will rate 3.6-liter 2020 XT5s a 19/27/23 mpg city/highway/combined with front-wheel drive and 18/26/22 with AWD will rate. That would be increases of 1 mpg highway over 2019 XT5s with the same engine and eight-speed automatic. If GM adds the 2.0-liter four-cylinder to front-drive models, you can expect ratings of about 21/17/24 mpg. Naturally, the V-Sport would have the worst ratings of the bunch, likely around 17/23/20 mpg.

The 3.6-liter engine would use regular-grade 87-octane gasoline. GM would require premium-grade 91-octane for the V-Sport but only recommend it for the 2.0-liter turbo.

Will there be new features?

We hope so and would urge that Cadillac add its complete array of driver-assistance features as standard equipment to all 2020 XT5 grades. On the ’19, forward-collision warning, lane-departure alert with automatic steering correction, and blind-spot alert with rear cross-traffic detection were standard on all but the Base model. More important, adaptive radar cruise control and full-speed autonomous emergency braking were standard only on the Platinum and optional on the Premium Luxury. Luxury and Premium Luxury included a low-speed emergency braking system.

Otherwise, the 2020 XT5 should retain the solid level of standard equipment as the 2019 model. The Base model should come standard with rear-obstacle detection, Bose-brand audio system, power liftgate, keyless access with pushbutton and remote engine start, heated power front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, CarPlay and Android Auto support, and a power tilt and telescopic steering column.

Moving up to the Luxury would add a panoramic sunroof, leather upholstery, driver-seat memory positioning, heated steering wheel, wireless smartphone charging, front-obstacle detection, and rain-sensing wipers.

The Premium Luxury would include a sport suspension, 20-inch wheels (18s are standard), upgraded audio system, imbedded navigation, LED headlights, LED interior accent lighting, ventilated front seats, and three-zone automatic climate control.

Platinum grades will likely continue with standard all-wheel drive, digital instrument panel, upgraded leather upholstery, head-up instrument display, hands-free power liftgate, rear camera mirror, surround-view camera, heated outboard rear seats, and specific exterior trim.

The V-Sport model’s standard equipment will probably fit between the Premium Luxury and Platinum.

Will 2020 prices be different?

They’ll almost certainly be higher. Estimated base prices here include Cadillac’s destination fee, which was $995 on the 2019 XT5.

For 2020 XT5s with front-wheel drive, estimated starting prices are $43,000 for the Base model, $50,000 for the Luxury, and $55,500 for the Premium Luxury. AWD should remain a $2,500 option on these models. Platinum models should again come with AWD standard, at an estimated base price of $67,500. Expect a 2020 XT5 V-Sport to be priced from around $70,000.

Among options, most paint colors will cost an extra $625-$1,225. Base, Luxury, and Premium Luxury should return with some appearance packages. The $2,295-$2,800 Radiant Package adds a chrome grille and polished aluminum wheels. The $3,930-$4,435 Black Ice Package adds specific wheels and dark chrome exterior trim.

When does it come out?

Look for a fall 2019 release date for the freshened 2020 Cadillac XT5.

Best competitors

Acura RDX, Alfa Romeo Stelvio, Audi Q5, BMW X3, Infiniti QX50, Jaguar F-Pace, Lincoln MKC, Mercedes-Benz GLC, Porsche Macan, Range Rover Velar, Volvo XC60

About Chuck Giametta

This nationally recognized, award-winning writer brings to two decades of automotive testing and reporting for newspapers, books, magazines, and the Internet. The former Executive Auto Editor of Consumer Guide, Chuck has covered cars for, Collectible Automobile magazine, and the Publications International Ltd. automotive book series. This ex-newspaper reporter has also appeared as an automotive expert on network television and radio. He’s a charter member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, the president of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Media association, and a juror for the annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards. Chuck writes from Colorado Springs, Colo. If you have a question for Chuck, write to him at [email protected]