Every year, I take a trip from Detroit to Barryton for a golf outing/fishing trip. At a roughly three hour drive, it’s hardly a long hike, but it’s long enough that you’re ready to take a break by the end. Interestingly enough, every year that I’ve gone up I have ended up taking a different car. The first year, it was my father-in-law’s 2006 Audi A6. Next, it was my old trusty 2004 Buick Regal GS (that’s the supercharged one for those of you that know). After that it was a Honda Accord, Cadillac ATS, Subaru Legacy, and last year, it was a brand new Cadillac XT5. My brother-in-law was supposed to drive his ATS again, but since it was in the shop getting some warranty work done (again), we were given a new Cadillac XT5 loaner.
This got me thinking. What is the best mid-size luxury SUV available today? The first two that came to mind were the BMW X5 and Cadillac XT5. The XT5 vs X5 is an interesting match-up from two companies that started life with very different focuses but have come to represent a similar mentality in today's market.
Luxury SUVs ride differently than the old luxo-barges of yesteryears. They are composed and comfortable, sporty and luxurious. Somehow, the manufacturers have found a way to take the best of both worlds, and check all the boxes. Both Cadillac and BMW took different routes to get here, but have merged to fill the same segment, and the difficulty is choosing the right one!
In such a competitive class, the engine choice in an important decision. BMW offers you two choices to find what fits your needs. Cadillac, on the other hand, operates under the "you get what you get" mentality, and only offer one engine option.
The BMW X5 has two strong engine choices available. The entry-level, a 3.0l turbo inline 6-cylinder, puts out an impressive 335 horsepower and 330 lb-ft of torque. More importantly, the engine is capable of 20 mpg city and 26 mpg highway. Fairly decent numbers overall. While some SUV’s may have slightly better fuel economy, for a turbo straight six with 335 horses under the hood, it’s not bad. The other, more powerful engine offered by BMW is a 4.4l turbo V8 with 456 horsepower and 479 lb-ft of torque. Not too many family SUV’s have more horsepower than the 1990’s Ferrari’s. Fuel economy is unsurprisingly lower but less so than expected. 17 mpg city and 22 mpg highway, though with an engine like that, I assume you might be punching it a bit more often, drastically lowering those numbers. Eventually, the X5 M will return as well, which one can expect to have a twin turbo variation of the 4,4l V8. Horsepower of the previous model? 567. Yeah, I think that'll do.
The Cadillac XT5 engine choice is sufficient, but that’s about all that I would say about it. The 3.6l V6 has an adequate 310 horsepower and 271 lb-ft of torque and has an EPA fuel economy rating of 18 mpg city and 25 mpg highway. I hate put it this way, but those numbers are, for a lack of better terms, blah. It’s not enough horsepower to really be fun, not fuel-efficient enough to be a class leader, and rides the meh-train all the way to Mehville.
That being said, the 3.6l V6 is a proven reliable engine. It has ben used over and over again in countless GM vehicles and has millions of miles of testing under its belt. There is a lot to be said there. As far as we know here, there are no other engine options planned for further XT5's. Though we would love to see an XT5-V (Cadillac I hope you read this).
The BMW may have a more potent powertrain, but how do the two SUV’s when it comes to interior built quality, comfort, convenience and frankly, how good they are on a long road trip?
BMW’s interior quality has come a long way from the early E30 3-Series creaky pleather of the ’90s. The seats are comfortable and supportive, as well as wrapped in a quality leather that doesn’t squeak at all. The switchgear has an excellent quality about it and a true high-class look and feel. Every button you push is an event, it really feels like you’re operating a $100,000 machine. Which in some circumstances, you may be. Let’s just say, BMW didn’t have to put a high definition mini screen to show the temperature, but they did, and the above and beyond attention to detail shows throughout the cabin.
The Cadilac XT5 is no short on occasion either. The interior is chock full of soft, plush leather that is soft to the touch. It’s soft to even look at, it makes the whole interior feel like an opulent sea of cushion and comfort. Not a bad look. Once you get to the switchgear however, there is a noticeable lack of an event. The cabin as a whole is just not as dramatic as the BMW. The BMW feels like a special place to be, while the Cadillac, unfortunately, feels like a classed-up Chevy. Man, that hurts to say, but it’s true.
Comfort, quality, and tech are all outstanding in the Cadillac. The ride is quiet and composed, and the infotainment system is intuitive. The seats are also far superior, with soft leather, comfortable foam, and a supportive back. But the lack of flair is truly where the cabin lacks. The missing attention to detail and the “that’ll do” attitude of the entire car is really felt inside the Cadillac.
Bang for your Buck
The BMW X5 vs Cadillac XT5 truly lends to some difficult questions. Namely, where are you willing to sacrifice. If your only focus is comfort, sacrificing sporty feel, power, and a bit of drama, the XT5 is the best choice for you. If you are one for the dramatic flair, or want your SUV to be faster than anything else on the road, but are okay with a higher monthly rate, perhaps the BMW X5 is for you.
So the question lies, what is the best bang for your buck? The Cadillac XT5 is an outstanding bang for your buck, especially when looking at the AWD Luxury trim package. It’s well equipped with an MSRP barely above $50,000, it’s entirely possible to get one of the most comfortable SUVs available today for under $50k.
However, if you are not willing to sacrifice your sporting aspirations, the BMW X5 xDrive40i (with the 3.0l I6) is a comfortable luxury SUV that is fast enough to fulfill your Lewis Hamilton needs and still affordable enough that you’re nowhere near the six-figure top end the X5 can get to. MSRP starts at $60,700 for the xDrive40i. If you aren’t concerned about the small details or the sportier feel, the extra $10,000 over the Cadillac XT5 may not be something that would be worth your time.
The luxury SUV segment is a quickly growing segment. With more competition popping up every year, the vehicles have to continue to get better and better. The BMW X5 has held onto the class leader position for some time now, but the more affordable Cadillac XT5 is a strong contender.
Each SUV has a strong suite. The Cadillac's comfort is far superior to the BMW’s. With less focus on sport, Cadillac has freed itself to adhere to a more comfort-focused customer base. Without a sporty version, however, one can’t help but think they are missing a large, high-paying, consumer. The BMW, on the other hand, is an objectively better vehicle all around, but the high premium BMW expects of you may not be worth the extra monthly payment.
The Cadillac XT5 vs BMW X5 are both outstanding vehicles. Making the extra financial income from the Cadillac to the BMW is a decision you’ll have to make after taking both for a test drive. Give them a good ‘ol butt dyno test and see what option is the best for you. Feel free to reach out to us as well at 1800CarShow. Myself, Elena, Ryan, Jesse, Emi, or any of our Specialists will be happy to help you!