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2017 Cadillac XT5 Platinum AWD Review: Putting the Luxury SUV to Work

While the vast majority of 2017 Cadillac XT5 owners will never attempt to tow or haul anything, this midsized luxury SUV makes good on the “utility” aspect of the name – comfortably pulling a lightly loaded horse trailer and hauling 800lbs of grain surprisingly well.

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A few weeks back, I took delivery of the 2017 Cadillac XT5 shown above and while taking some pictures of the angular luxury SUV, my friend Jim stopped by to check out the newest test vehicle. He looked over the interior and we were talking about the exterior styling when we noticed that it had a class IV trailer hitch receiver. Jim commented that the trailer hitch must be a joke, because there was no way that this “small luxury crossover could pull any real trailer”.

Well, upon checking online, I found that the XT5 can tow 3,500lbs and haul 1,691lbs, so I would be able to do some of the same tests with the new midsized Cadillac that I do with the larger trucks and SUVs. Jim said that it was ridiculous, but I was going to put the new XT5 to work around the farm which my wife and I manage.

Expected Premium Luxury
Before getting into how well the 2017 Cadillac XT5 Platinum AWD handles the work around the stable, let’s take a quick look at what truly attracts all luxury car buyers – the cabin.

Like the rest of the modern Cadillac lineup, the XT5 has a gorgeous interior layout with plush light-colored leather covering the front and rear seats – with the front seats being heated, cooled and electronically adjusted while the rear outboard seats are also heated. That light leather treatment continues across the dash and through the door panels, with real wood trim accents running along with the light colored leather – all of which is joined by black trim along the lower portions of the dash, the doors and the carpeting. The plush leather, the premium wood trim and the contrast of the light leather and light upper areas with the dark lower areas all combine to give the XT5 a very premium look.

xt5 17 fr sseats

Next, the 2017 Cadillac XT5 Platinum features the CUE infotainment system, which incorporates an 8 inch touchscreen, a small touch-sensitive panel below the touchscreen and an array of buttons on the steering wheel to adjust pretty much every aspect of the vehicle’s interior. Although the XT5 does have a dedicated climate control panel which allows easy access to the HVAC system and the temperature settings for the heated and cooled front seats, you can adjust all of the temperature settings, the sound system, the navigation system, the hands-free phone system and many of the vehicle settings from the CUE touchscreen and while driving, you don’t need to remove your hands from the steering wheel, since almost everything in the infotainment system can also be adjusted from the steering wheel buttons or the voice control system – which is also activated via a button on the steering wheel.

17 xt5 dash

The CUE infotainment system has been beaten up by owners and reviewers who struggle with the relatively basic technology, but having used this system in a handful of vehicles, I like it. It is not quite as straightforward as some other systems and it takes a bit of learning, but in spending just 10 minutes, sitting in your driveway, playing with the CUE features, most drivers will be able to use the system for all of their daily needs (radio, navigation, climate control) without any problem. Frankly, shy of the swipe-style volume control located below the touchscreen, I honestly cant figure out why so many people have a hard time with CUE. I like it and I really like the 14-speaker Bose system, which provides crisp, clear sound with all sorts of music, even at very high volume levels.

xt5 rear seat 17

The piece of the interior puzzle of the 2017 Cadillac XT5 Platinum AWD is seating space, and there is plenty of it. For a “smaller SUV”, the XT5 offers a ton of space for the driver and front passenger, comfortably accommodating even a very tall driver. Things are a bit tighter in the back seat, with leg space being a bit short for very tall adults, but the XT5 rear seat will easily fit 3 kids or 2 smaller adults – all while offering tons of cargo space out back.

Putting the 2017 Cadillac XT5 Platinum to Work
There are plenty of reviews of the 2017 Cadillac XT5 for the people who will use the midsized luxury SUV to get to and from the office each day, stopping along the way to pick up the kids at school or to grab something for dinner. Those reviews will all tell you how smooth the XT5 is on even rough roads and how the standard 3.6L V6 makes this loaded SUV surprisingly quick, but that is often as far as their driving impressions go, because that is as much as most buyers need to know.

xt5 side 2017

But what about those prospective Cadillac XT5 buyers who want to pull a small trailer or haul supplies to a horse show? I have seen plenty of Cadillac SUVs at horse shows, so it is not uncommon to see one packed full of supplies for a weekend long event, but while I have seen quite a few Escalades pulling horse trailers, I have never seen an XT5 (or the previous SRX) pulling a horse trailer. However, with a towing capacity of 3,500lbs, I wanted to see if the new XT5 could do some of the work of the larger SUVs.

To test the real world towing ability of the 2017 Cadillac XT5, I hooked it up my routine horse trailer which I use for testing every new truck and SUV, but rather than adding two horses and some other normal items for a loaded weight of around 5,500lbs, I loaded one smaller horse into the trailer, leading to a loaded weight of roughly 3,200lbs. Upon sizing up the trailer relative to the XT5, I was a bit skeptical, but as soon as I pulled out onto the road, I was pleasantly surprised by this midsized Caddy.

The XT5 is powered by a 3.6L V6 which sends 310 horsepower and 271lb-ft of torque to the wheels via an 8-speed automatic transmission. According to GM, this setup is good for up to 3,500lbs of towing capacity, but I tested it around 3,200lbs, as my 2-horse trailer with one horse is a pretty common load in the equestrian world. With this partial load, the XT5 was able to get up to speed as quickly as you would want to with a live animal in the trailer, so compared to any larger pickup, the XT5 can safely accelerate just as quickly with the horse trailer.

xt5 trailer 1

Around town and on the highway, the XT5 comfortably pulled the trailer without any great effort, but in a situation like a long uphill climb on the highway, you do need to ask the XT5 to work a little harder than the larger trucks and SUVs. However, even in having to dig a little deeper to maintain highway speeds on a long, uphill climb, the XT5 does a really nice job of moving the trailer.

Due to the size of the horse trailer relative to the 2017 Cadillac XT5, I was concerned that handling and braking might be an issue. The XT5 does not have an integrated trailer brake controller, but this particular horse trailer was equipped with surge brakes. When working in conjunction with the trailer brakes, the midsized Cadillac SUV had no issue bringing the horse trailer down from speed, even when coming down from highway speeds on a downhill grade. Really, the XT5 comfortably stopped as quickly as you could want to stop with a horse in the trailer, so the braking system performed exactly how I would expect.

One area where the XT5 didn’t perform as well as the larger, heavier vehicles was in road handling. When cruising on the highway, the wind did push the Caddy SUV around a bit, but it was only noticeable with very strong gusts. More importantly, while driving on some twisty backcountry roads, I found that the trailer was pushing the XT5 around a bit, but that was quickly rectified by dropping down to lower speeds. The good news though, was that even with the horse trailer hitched up to the back of the Cadillac XT5, the ride quality was excellent.

In terms of road handling with a 3,200lb horse trailer, the smaller stature and lighter curb weight of the 2017 Cadillac XT5 are a bit of a hindrance, but only when compared to the larger trucks and SUVs. A larger, heavier vehicle (such as the Escalade) controls the weight of the trailer a bit better, but that is not to say that the XT5 handles the weight poorly – it just doesn’t handle the weight quite as well as larger vehicles.

xt5 towing side

After the Cadillac XT5 passed the horse trailer test with flying colors, we headed back to the stable, unloaded the horse, dropped the trailer and headed to the feed store, where we picked up 800lbs of bagged horse grain. That is 16 50lb bags of grain, which just about filled the cargo area of the XT5. We took a scenic route back to the stable, including the twisty roads and a few areas where we could let the Cadillac SUV stretch its legs a bit and with that extra weight in the back, the XT5 is a little slower to get to 60 miles per hour and you need a little more throttle to maintain speed going up some steep hills, but the midsized luxury SUV still handles the curves smoothly and comfortably.

In short, can the 2017 Cadillac XT5 really pull a horse trailer? Provided that you have a lighter trailer (my test trailer has a dry weight of 2,100lbs) with only one smaller horse (or large pony), the XT5 makes for a great towing vehicle. Along the same lines, anyone looking to pull a recreational vehicle trailer in the 3,200lb range, such as a small ATV or a jet ski, should definitely check out the 2017 Cadillac XT5. It is quick, smooth and comfortable in normal driving conditions, but as midsized SUVs go, the XT5 pulls the 3,200lb horse trailer very well.

Would I recommend the XT5 to someone who pulls the horse trailer twice a week and every weekend? No. That person needs to buy a truck or a larger SUV, but for the driver who pulls a trailer once a month, this smaller SUV does a great job of handling “truck work”. At the same time, I had to tell my friend Jim that he was wrong – the Cadillac XT5 most certainly can pull a real trailer and it does it well.

The Final Word
My 2017 Cadillac XT5 Platinum AWD carried a starting price of $62,500 and when you add on the $575 trailering package, the $2,340 Driver Assist package, the $350 spare tire and the $995 destination fee, you get a price as tested of $66,760. That is no small chunk of change, but if you are in the market for a midsized SUV which will serve as a great daily driver – while still being able to tow a small trailer and haul more than a half ton, the XT5 is an excellent option.

17 xt5 front

Again, while most Cadillac XT5 owners (and most midsized luxury SUV owners) will never need to pull a horse trailer, the key aspect here is that the XT5 WILL pull the horse trailer – so for the equestrian who is shopping for a new luxury SUV to pull their small horse trailer, this is one vehicle which should be test driven before making that next big purchase.

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TIMOTHY MOORE (not verified)    November 5, 2020 - 8:58AM