Cadillac says its XT4 subcompact crossover was, “Developed for the next generation of luxury customers, offering expressive design, confident performance, spacious accommodations and the latest technologies.”

I do not take issue with much of that sentence. After all, the XT4 looks sharp, has a punchy engine, is accommodating for its class and offers a nice helping of standard tech. However, I do contend that if the XT4 was designed for buyers taking the first of many steps in the luxury market, those buyers are being set up to expect far less of an opulent feel and lavish look.

The XT4 has large doses of hard plastics, and even the softer materials still lack a nice feel when compared to the competition. The high gloss wood trim on the dash looks and feels especially, well, not like wood. And aside from some Cadillac-badge inspired shapes to the center stack layout and ambient lighting, it’s all a bit dull in the cabin.

There are plenty of features to help the luxury cause, though. Three trims are available, Luxury (starts at $36,690), Premium Luxury and Sport, both of which start at $40,790.

Premium Luxury nets buyers illuminated door handles, front and rear park assist, power-folding outside mirrors and liftgate, ambient lighting, upgraded interior trim and added safety features, including rear cross-traffic, lane change and blind zone alerts.

Sport trim adds exterior styling changes like a gloss black finish on the grille, side glass molding and roof rails and “sport” pedals and steering wheel.

All-wheel drive is available on all models as a $2,500 upgrade, and a sunroof, trailering package, navigation with upgraded Bose audio system and the Cold Weather Package (heated seats throughout and heated steering wheel) are also available.

Premium Luxury and Sport trims open the door for more add-ons, including the Comfort and Convenience Package, which is highlighted by butt-cooling and butt-massaging front seats. Wireless charging, an 8-inch digital gauge cluster, rear camera mirror, adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking are also available in packages.

Only Sport trim offers active dampening included with 20-inch, 5-spoke alloy wheels.

Without active dampening, the XT4’s ride quality depends on where you take it. It levels out small bumps and road imperfections of less-than-stellar paths, but rougher roads can jar passengers. The seats are nicely comfortable and, being slightly firm, are supportive.

Powering all XT4’s is a 2-liter turbo four dishing out 237 horses and 258 torques. The XT4 does not bolt off the line but acceleration at speed is satisfactory, and the 9-speed automatic serves up smooth and smart gear changes.

Overall, the XT4 is has a suitable ride comfort and ample performance for everyday use.  

But using it everyday can cause some frustrations, especially with the electric variable-assist steering. Through gentle adjustments to direction, the XT4’s steering is extremely light and completely without feel. Even in a straight line the Caddy requires seemingly constant steering input due to the feathery steering. Things do tighten up through cornering, but unless your commute follows a Pac Man path, the light steering will likely prove bothersome.

The steering frustrations aren’t helped by the XT4’s brake pedal, which is stiff.

For those who look beyond its less-than-lux interior and fluffy steering, the XT4 is spacious, and there is a good dose of standard tech.

The cabin is accommodating for passengers throughout, with the rear row easily seating two adults with room to wiggle. Behind those rear seats is a good-sized cargo area for the subcompact class.

An 8-inch HD touchscreen is standard on all models, and Cadillac’s infotainment system is straightforward to use and attractive. The XT4 now comes the brand’s “jog” function for the rotary controller, which acts as a sort of joystick for navigating the infotainment system. While it is useful for giving input on a static screen, going through menus can be cumbersome using the feature.

The XT4 is the only 2020 X-series model to get the updated Cadillac User Experience system. The feature allows drivers to make a host of commands through voice recognition, shows real-time traffic and places of interest (in models with navigation) and the system learns a driver’s preferred routes and frequently visited destinations to offer route guidance based on traffic.

For added connectivity, all models get four USB ports, a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, 7-speaker Bose sound system and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity.

LED head and taillights, leatherette seats and dual-zone climate control are standard, as are safety features in the form of automatic emergency braking, front pedestrian braking and forward collision alert and rear park assist.  

For buyers breaking into luxury land, the XT4 is certainly worth a look. It has a good dose of standard features, plenty of connectivity, a smooth powertrain and it is quite accommodating for its size. But it is let down by frustratingly light steering, an overly firm brake pedal, a ride that could be more comfortable, and some bargain bin interior surfaces.  

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