SEATTLE — For Cadillac, the XT4 compact crossover is more than just a new nameplate. It's the beginning of a long-promised brand renaissance that executives say will ripple through the lineup in coming years.
"It's a real important moment for the Cadillac brand," said Cadillac President Steve Carlisle during a media event here last week, calling the launch a "historic opportunity to work with a team that's going to do some remarkable things."
The XT4 is Cadillac's first small crossover. It's viewed as critical for a projected rise in sales for Cadillac's roughly 900 U.S. dealers, who have sat on the sidelines as compact luxury crossovers ballooned into one of the fastest-growing segments in the U.S., led by such rivals as the BMW X3 and X1, Lexus NX and Mercedes-Benz GLC. Cadillac's U.S. sales are up 2.1 percent this year through August, according to Automotive News Data Center estimates.
While the XT4 isn't Cadillac's flagship, many of its new technologies and design elements will carry into every new or redesigned Cadillac through 2021, according to officials. (The brand plans to launch a new or revamped vehicle every six months.)
Among them is a new center stack that includes an electric toggle gear shifter and a rotary dial that replaces a touch pad as a second control for the touch screen.
"You'll see that rolling out across all Cadillacs," Todd Pawlik, the XT4's chief engineer, told Automotive News.
Other elements may look familiar. Robin Krieg, the XT4's lead exterior designer, said the rear was inspired by the former CTS wagon, and he compared the XT4's overall proportions to a "puppy" Escalade.
The XT4 debuts a new "Y" trim strategy for Cadillac, starting with a $35,790 base model and separating to Sport and Premium Luxury models, which start at $40,290. All prices include shipping.
The XT4 is powered by a new 2.0-liter turbo engine with cylinder deactivation, generating 237 hp and 258 pound-feet of torque, paired with a nine-speed transmission. Fuel economy is rated at 30 mpg highway/25 city/30 combined.