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Cadillac XT5 vs BMW X3: A Comparison of Luxury SUVs

1. Introduction

Lastly, the fuel economy. Given by official sources, it can be said that BMW X3 has a better fuel economy than Cadillac XT5. But in today's global warming and environmental awareness, the difference in MPG is not huge, given it is only separated by 2-3 mpg. Something needs to be sacrificed for a better picture and given the cost and picture of both vehicles, it is much worth investing in a Cadillac XT5. Step-up XT5 is better comparable to BMW X3 when comparing sizes and targets. But tradition and competition are tight and Cadillac still has a long way to go. With no discounts, X3 has been a better seller than XT5, and the used car market price of an X3 after a few years is tempting. But getting a new XT5 is a better decision and with increasing SUV sales and dropping sedan sales, perhaps in a decade Cadillac can bring revolution and start becoming a better option to German cars. (Rush et al., 2022)

The third point is value and running costs. The estimated fuel cost for BMW X3 is £11,965 – £15,340 and the estimated fuel costs for Cadillac XT5 will be around £11,652 – £15,214. Though the Cadillac XT5 fuel cost is a rough estimate based on current fuel prices won and using USD to CAD conversion, Cadillac is still a better buy given the price difference. With a cheaper price, we can be quite sure the running maintenance cost will be less compared to the BMW. And at around $5,000 cheaper, with a 4-year warranty and a better overall quality and ride, comparing the XT5 to the X3 seems like a very bad idea for a value standpoint. This is considering the fact that for the same price, a better-built and faster X5 is available at around 50k and the XT5 can do almost anything the X5 can.

In terms of interior, both the vehicles provide excellent quality of material used. All gadgets are pretty much available on both cars. The seats are absolutely comfortable.

In terms of exterior, it can be said that Cadillac XT5 exterior is a modern take on heritage emphasizing on advanced technology. The vehicle lights, grilles, and the overall feeling of the vehicle reflect modernity. This is something more relevant to today's automotive industry. While BMW X3 is relatively a small vehicle which does not reflect much prestige. BMW X3's size is indeed smaller than 5 series touring. The quality of work in BMW X3 is good but in terms of exterior, Cadillac wins.

Comparison and general analysis of Cadillac XT5 and BMW X3 helps better understand which luxury SUV model is better and the reason behind it. To make the comparison accurate, the comparison was conducted on certain basic dimensions that are considered for buying a car.

1.1 Overview of the Cadillac XT5

A full suite of highly intelligent technology and advanced safety features give the XT5 a unique edge from its competitors.

Step inside the 2017 XT5 and be embraced with a level of luxury that has always been anticipated from any Cadillac model. High-quality materials are used throughout the cabin, such as laser-cut wood trims and Acadia trim. A floating center console armrest and armrest storage with inductive charging offer new storage functionality. Five interior colors and eight different leather seating options let you customize to your liking. The XT5 also comes with heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel. New to the 2017 models are adjustable rear seats with a 40/20/40 split, allowing for various different cargo and seating arrangements from the rear.

The 2017 XT5 receives an all-new 3.6L V6 engine featuring cylinder deactivation and stop/start technology to save fuel. Mated to the engine is a new 8-speed automatic transmission with electronic precision shift. The new system is more intuitive and simpler to operate than many traditional shifters; a simple switch of buttons puts the car into park, reverse, neutral, or drive. The XT5 is also available with all-wheel drive with a twin-clutch design, transferring power to the rear axle when required to optimize traction. New builds of the XT5 also come equipped with an advanced stop/start system, which may at times disable the all-wheel drive and instead use the front-wheel drive in the name of fuel efficiency.

The 2017 Cadillac XT5 is constructed to exceed any expectations, with clean-cut edges, a roofline that is slightly arched, and a more toned-down approach to the grille, which is lined with sparkling chrome. The illuminating headlights and vertically installed lights on the rear give the 2017 XT5 a distinctive look from past Cadillac models. A strong and stiff structure decreases cabin vibrations, allowing for a peaceful and serene environment. Thanks to the use of lightweight components, the XT5 has been trimmed before adding new features. Wheelbase and overall length have been increased to allow more room in the cabin, with the rear seat having the ability to slide forwards or backwards to increase legroom. The rear hatch is now easier to access with a larger lift-over height, and to top it all off, the 2017 Cadillac XT5 has a trailering package allowing for a hauling capacity up to 3,500 pounds.

1.2 Overview of the BMW X3

The BMW X3 is a compact luxury crossover SUV and an entry-level model in BMW's X Series of SUVs. It is offered with two petrol engine options and comes with a high level of standard equipment, with a choice of four specifications. The X3 comes with an eight-speed automatic/steptronic gearbox. The first-generation X3 was designed by BMW in conjunction with Magna Steyr of Graz, Austria, who also manufactured all X3s under contract to BMW. The new X3 is available, as a BMW spokesperson expressed it, only "in an all-American package." The G01 X3 is BMW's second model to use the Clar platform after the G11 7 Series. The new X3 is longer and wider than the previous, with a 54mm-longer wheelbase, significantly larger boot capacity, and the option of air suspension. Another option will be gesture control for the infotainment system, borrowed from the 7 Series. (Nicoletti et al.2021)

2. Exterior Design

Not all who are at a family level are looking for an all-black automatic gearbox. Some of them may be looking for a high ride height with four-wheel drive, but would prefer to remain economical. With a good ground clearance and higher center of gravity, but not the go-anywhere ability of an off-roader, BMW has catered to just these needs with the X3. This car was actually a big player in the trend for SUVs to become more road-biased and was one of the first of the smaller 4x4s to favor on-road performance over off-road ability. The looks of the X3 are actually not too dissimilar to that of the XT5, with a slightly curved and sloping rear end, and a fairly sharp-angled front end with a large grille. However, it is generally squarer than the Cadillac, and the overall look is more subtle. The X3 is quite regarded in the motoring public to be a very good-looking car, but the looks are standard BMW, and it can sometimes be hard to differentiate from other similar-looking models. The styling of this BMW lacks engine diversification, which can sometimes make finding the right model difficult. Overall, it should be noted that the final choice between these two cars will likely come down to personal preference and desired driving experience. Although they may be from the same market segment and same era, they have very different propositions and potentially even appeal to different consumers. In conclusion, the Cadillac XT5 and BMW X3 are two different results from the same previous requirements of an all-road capable family vehicle, from two different manufacturers both regarding on-road performance higher than off-road ability. The XT5 being an all-out non-eco SUV from Cadillac but is quite luxurious and sport-themed with bold American styling, as opposed to the X3 which is a classically good-looking BMW with a sturdy build and will likely be more efficient and cost-friendly than the Cadillac.

2.1 Cadillac XT5's Bold and Stylish Exterior

From what we've seen, the XT5 looks perfectly competitive in its intended market, while avoiding the design themes that have limited the appeal of some of its predecessors (and present rivals). Step by step, Cadillac is re-establishing its relevance in the luxury market, and the XT5's styling should do its part in advancing that goal.

Moreover, the XT5's profile is clean and uncluttered, with tastefully integrated chrome door handles and window surrounds. Wrapping up the exterior is a strong style statement in the LED taillights, which run halfway up the rear roof pillars and are linked by a chrome strip giving a distinctive light signature.

Refusing to play a game of "one-upmanship," the 2018 Cadillac XT5 projects an image of taste and stylishness. It's not overly showy and avoids the boy-racer chic that some of its rivals still find hard to resist. Jewel-like LED headlamps flank a modestly sized grille that wears Cadillac's familiar crest. We do find it a shame that Cadillac has seen fit to inscribe its name in characters nearly an inch high along the XT5's front doors. It's a bit too over the top for a vehicle of this class.

2.2 BMW X3's Sleek and Sporty Design

Everything about this vehicle is tight and sleek. The X3 makes a statement no matter where it goes. Up front, the large kidney grille and twin round xenon headlight assemblies give the X3 a distinct look that's all BMW. The side profile is dominated by a strong character line that slopes upward as it moves rearward, giving it a sense of forward motion even while standing still. At the rear, the L-shaped taillights are an unmistakable BMW touch and the dual exhaust tips punctuate the X3's athletic nature. All of this comes together to create an extremely well-proportioned vehicle with a taut, athletic posture. BMW has made sure there is no mistaking the X3 for anything other than a BMW. Compared to the XT5, neither BMW nor Cadillac can truly say one's design is better than the other, as they are both good in their own respect. Cadillac has definitely stepped up its design game in the past few years and the XT5 is a big improvement from the earlier SRX and Escalade. That said, the X3's design is still a little more contemporary, and with its proportions it looks more like an SUV (whatever that means in this day and age) as opposed to a jacked up station wagon. The X3's sporty design matches its driving feel, but at times it can feel a little stiff and buttoned up. Many X3 owners tend to agree that sometimes the X3 can drive too much like a car and not enough like an SUV. During inclement weather, those same owners will wish they had stepped into an X5 instead, but we can save that for another comparison. In all, the BMW X3 is the difference between good and great. There is no doubt that it will set a new benchmark for CUVs, SUVs or whatever they're being called now, to aspire to. (POSTERS)

2.3 Comparison of Exterior Features

The exterior of both vehicles is lined with a multitude of features. The Cadillac XT5 and BMW X3 have several similarities on the outside. Some of these features include rain-sensing wipers and a power liftgate. The rain-sensing wipers on both vehicles are also paired with a windshield wiper de-icer. The power liftgate is a standard feature on most luxury brand vehicles. In terms of lighting, both vehicles are equipped with LED headlights. The taillights on the XT5 are LED as well, while the X3 has traditional bulbs. Both vehicles have heated exterior mirrors and a heated steering wheel. Step up to the Luxury and Premium Luxury collections in the XT5 and the following features are added. The XT5 comes standard with 18-inch wheels and the option to upgrade to 20-inch or even 20-inch polished rims. The X3 has 18-inch wheels as well, but the upgrade is to 19-inch rims. 20-inch Y-shaped and M Double Spoke wheels are also options. Step up to the Premium Luxury collection in the XT5 and only the X3 offers built-in window shades for the rear doors behind the driver. Both vehicles feature a panoramic sunroof, and the XT5 comes in a more advanced Ultraview. At the hands-free liftgate and rear seat sliding, the XT5 finishes off with a smoked taillamp. One of the most important things about any vehicle is safety. Both the Cadillac XT5 and BMW X3 offer a number of safety features that ensure that the vehicle's occupants will be as safe as possible. Some of these features include a rearview camera, park assist, and surround vision. The XT5 offers a number of features that ensure safety when driving, including lane keep assist, lane departure warning, and front and rear automatic braking. Teen driver mode allows parents to set parameters for younger drivers, while the Safety Alert Seat alerts the driver of possible obstacles by vibrating and directing the driver's attention to the safety threat. All of these features make the XT5 one of the safest luxury vehicles on the market. While the XT5 has a more open interior feel to it, both vehicles offer great cargo space. With the rear seats folded down, the XT5 and X3 offer 63 cubic feet and 62.7 cubic feet of cargo space respectively. Step up to the XT5 and the option for a full flat floor is available, while the X3 offers a cargo net and luggage tie downs.

3. Interior Comfort and Features

The gulf between true luxury vehicles and pedestrian crossovers has never been wider. Today's breed of luxury SUVs provides an unbeatable combination of comfort, spaciousness, and refinement. With the luxury segment heating up, car manufacturers are pulling out all the stops to offer a luxurious and sophisticated interior to stand out from the competition. The XT5's interior environment is designed to be both comfortable and accommodating, with a focus on maximizing space and convenience. The overall cabin has a spacious feel and is accentuated with authentic materials like cut-and-sewn leather or wood. A range of uniquely themed interior environments is offered on Luxury and Premium Luxury models. These allow for a more customized look, with wood and leather options that are tailored to the customer's taste. While these themed environments provide an elevated level of luxury and customization, base models are also well appointed, with premium materials and soft surfaces throughout. In stark contrast to the XT5's approach of offering a premium environment at all levels, BMW takes a more a la carte approach to luxury. The X3 offers a well-designed and upscale environment on higher trim levels, but base models look and feel more pedestrian compared to the XT5. BMW's attention to detail really begins to show on the high end, with top models offering a truly luxurious interior with premium materials and cutting-edge technology features. While choosing your desired options and packages can be fun and rewarding, it comes at the cost of added complexity and can significantly drive up the price of the vehicle. With well-equipped models starting well above 40k, going toe to toe with the XT5's features and starting price, it may be difficult for value-conscious consumers to justify the added cost. On a positive note, for those looking for top-level luxury, the X3 does a good job of providing an environment that is a significant step up from lower-end models.

3.1 Luxurious Interior of the Cadillac XT5

In contrast to the mechanical features and security systems, the interior of the Cadillac XT5 Hybrid offers detailed personalization and advanced engineering. It is meant to create a serene and luxurious ride, similar to what you would expect from the living room of a high-end home. Cadillac's global design director, Andrew Smith, was quoted as saying that the XT5 luxury crossover would be the first of a series of new models that represent the embodiment of the luxury brand. In the interior of the XT5, the phrase "attention to detail" immediately comes to mind. With premium materials chosen to create a sophisticated design, extensive use of cut-and-sewn leather and suede materials on the seats, console, and doors, along with decorative trim, all done with perfect alignment. The result is a precise, graceful design that is intended to provide the feel of hand-crafted artistry. To achieve this effect, Cadillac has actually employed a seat that has the capability of logging more than 100,000 seat adjustments and features a "massage" setting with heat that is meant to relax and soothe the driver and passenger. High adjustability and ergonomically friendly seats are meant to cater to an on-the-go lifestyle. The interior color and trim options are plentiful and range from a dark to light spectrum, depending on the buyer's choice, and each one is intended to provide its own unique character. Finally, the interior is built upon a strong foundation of space and convenience. The XT5 claims the most rear-seat legroom in its class and features a power fold flat rear seat and sliding rear seats for easier access and cargo carrying. High attention to detail is given in the form of the "infotainment" system. The XT5 features a completely new "user experience" infotainment interface to be used with integrated applications and smartphone gestures – the first system of its kind in the automotive industry. The system features a groundbreaking integration with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto where upon plugging in the main control device, the car will sense the preferred brand and switch the interface layout to its pre-destined preference. Overall, the interior of the XT5 encompasses the utmost luxury, ensuring an exceptional ride for its driver and passengers.

3.2 Premium Interior Features of the BMW X3

The car is fitted with the best technology available and you can make the most of a wireless charging tray which is all new to this model, a Wi-Fi hotspot, and the infotainment system is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. One of the best-to-have features is the in-built navigation, and users can use their voice to control the system of which the response is of very high quality. BMW's latest head-up display is much larger now, and it projects into the driver's line of sight all the necessary information needed during their drive. The system is able to control how much information is needed on the display and will adjust to the surroundings of your current environment. Finishing off with the best-of-the-lot sound system. Harman Kardon, who are known to be the best in the industry, have developed a surround sound system with equalizers and sound visualizers across the whole system, but like many others, this will be an additional cost.

3.3 Comparison of Interior Space and Technology

The XT5 and X3 have a similar amount of space, with slight variations throughout their cabins. The XT5 manages to offer an extra 3 inches of front legroom, while the X3 provides an extra 1.5 inches of front headroom. The rear passenger space results are quite similar, as both vehicles offer an identical 39.5 inches of legroom and about 38 inches of headroom. The cargo space results however, are likely where consumers will see the largest discrepancies. The XT5 offers 30 cubic feet behind the second row of seats and 63 cubic feet when these seats are folded down. The X3 only provides 28.7 cubic feet behind the rear seats, but bolsters this with a total of 63.3 cubic feet when the second row is folded down. In terms of technology, both models provide comparable offerings. Drivers and passengers can expect Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, Wi-Fi, and various driver assistance features on both the XT5 and X3. While both SUVs provide rather comprehensive infotainment systems, consumers may prefer the X3's pioneering iDrive system. Although the difference in quality and ease of use of these two systems is certainly a matter of opinion, the fact that the iDrive system has received years of development and improvement should not be overlooked. Step up to higher end models and the differences in technology offerings are made up purely by the additional value of added safety features into each model.

4. Performance and Handling

Terms like "agile handling", "smooth ride" and "dynamic performance" are too often just language to blanket over a vehicle's actual driving experience, but Cadillac and BMW have historically been fairly adept at translating that speak into action. Cadillac's new 2017 XT5 departs from the SRX with the sole powertrain option being the 3.6L V6 that also resides in the ATS and CTS. It's a refined and powerful mill that punches above the weight of the SRX's previous 3.6L, mostly due to the weight savings from the new chassis. It produces 310 hp and 271 lb-ft, running an 8-speed automatic transmission. 0-60 times are slower than the BMW, approximately 6.6 seconds depending on whether you opt for FWD or AWD compared to the X3's 6.3-6.5 range. It feels smooth and the low end torque is more than adequate for overtaking and hill climbs, although not quite as punchy as the 3.6L ATS. The transmission, while not bad by any means, didn't quite feel like it knew what gear it should be in at all times, particularly during cruising where it seemed to jump between gears a little more than it should. Fuel economy is said to be 19/27 MPG city/highway on FWD models and subtracting one MPG from each category for AWD. BMW's new B48 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder in the X3 is pretty much the benchmark for an all-around great 4-cylinder performance engine in a crossover. The 28i will be replaced by the X3's new base model, the 30i, but the engine is the same and power output is similar at 240 hp and 260 lb-ft. Its 0-60 times are faster than the XT5 at approximately 6.3 seconds and fuel economy is also slightly better at 21/28 MPG for both RWD and AWD models. This current X3 platform has been around for a while but it's aging like a fine wine and the driving dynamics are still very well intact. The 8-speed automatic and the all-wheel drive system work seamlessly with the peppy 4-cylinder and the X3 is an incredibly easy and fun car to drive. It's very balanced and has the nimble feel of a well-sorted car while retaining the higher ride height and seating position of a small SUV. The XT5 drives well for what it is, but the X3 may still have the best overall combination of engine performance and driving dynamics in the segment.

4.1 Cadillac XT5's Powerful Engine and Smooth Ride

The 2017 Cadillac XT5 offers an all-new 3.6-liter V6 engine that is all-new and includes cylinder deactivation and stop/start technology. This new engine replaces the previous 3.6-liter V6 and 3.6-liter V6 twin-turbo that we saw in the SRX. The XT5 engine produces 310 horsepower and 271 lb-ft of torque, which is a 12 percent increase in horsepower and 5 percent increase in torque over the previous model. Cadillac says this engine provides plenty of power from a stop, in the middle of the power band and when you need to charge away from a traffic light or to pass on the highway. This new V6 is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission that is more efficient and refined than the previous six-speed. Front-wheel drive is standard, but the new V6 engine is also available with a new advanced dual-clutch all-wheel drive system. This all-wheel drive system continuously and automatically delivers excellent traction across a variety of conditions. A rear drive unit can disconnect and reconnect the rear axle, to improve fuel efficiency. The XT5 also features a new lightweight chassis, which provides a 278-pound weight reduction over the last generation. This coupled with the new engine and transmission allows for a smoother and more dynamic drive.

4.2 BMW X3's Dynamic Performance and Agile Handling

The X3 offers high performance and is one of the best handling vehicles in the compact luxury crossover segment. The 8-speed Steptronic automatic transmission allows the driver to manually shift gears with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. This is superior to the XT5's automatic transmission which lacks a manual shift mode option. The X3 is also the only vehicle in its class to offer a sport automatic transmission as well as Dynamic Damper Control, which allows the driver to "change" the feel of the X3 by switching from comfort to sport mode. During this change, electronic systems change the firmness of the dampers which affects the car's ride and handling. Comfort is better for rougher road conditions, while sport mode is best saved for smooth road conditions such as highway driving. The XT5 only offers a "tow" mode with its automatic transmission and lacks any sort of automatic suspension. Usage of the X3's "intelligent" xDrive all-wheel drive system also separates it and makes it unique by being able to detect and adjust to road conditions. Time and time again, the xDrive system has been rated as one of the best AWD systems in its class. In comparison to the XT5 which uses a more basic "on-demand" AWD system, the X3 will have a significant edge on traction to form a more stable and safer drive.

4.3 Comparison of Performance and Driving Experience

Cadillac XT5 and BMW X3 are different cars meant for different purposes. That’s why, all evaluations are relative to what each potential owner is looking for in a luxury SUV. It's like comparing a pickup truck to a minivan. Both are for carrying stuff and/or people but they are different in how they carry out those tasks. It can be argued that a BMW X3 with plain styling cues and a lower cost would satisfy an analogous role to the Cadillac XT5 which is meant for someone who is already a Cadillac enthusiast and does not want to make the transition to an SUV under the GM umbrella such as the SRX and Escalade. Ignoring automotive brand loyalty relative to the individual product which BMW is guilty of at least 3 prior occasions it's fair to say that the X3 is about as much SUV as the XT5. Cadillac has dubbed the XT5's ride as both comfortable and sporty. This is actually a reasonable benchmark for luxury SUV performance suspension system evaluations this day and age where best handling no longer equals the firmest ride and performance evaluation enthusiasts are not as young as they used to be. Best handling = a comfortable ride that allows the driver to maintain control in adverse conditions. This is not as simply achieved as it sounds and is something we will revisit later in this evaluation.


Rush, L., Zhou, Y., & Gohlke, D., 2022. Vehicle residual value analysis by powertrain type and impacts on total cost of ownership. osti.gov

Nicoletti, L., Romano, A., König, A., Köhler, P., Heinrich, M. and Lienkamp, M., 2021. An estimation of the lightweight potential of battery electric vehicles. Energies, 14(15), p.4655. mdpi.com

POSTERS, D., . E200. namwheels.com. namwheels.com

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