In our first test drive of the new 2017 Cadillac XT5 luxury crossover SUV, striking was the freshly cut nature of it – much more than a tossed salad of familiar ingredients.

All new for 2017, the XT5 represents the next move for Cadillac to invigorate its showrooms with all-new products that take on the brand’s modern design motifs, their luxury ethos, and a new global strategy that includes impressing customers in China.

To wit, the new XT5 gets a two-inch longer wheelbase than the SRX it replaces, the majority of the extra room going to the rear passenger seating space. Though longer, the new XT5 is nearly 300 pounds lighter than the SRX, and several hundreds lighter than most competitors.

Weight savings comes from the latest design strategies in its body structure and a liberal use of high-strength steels. Along with an all-new chassis platform, the result is a freshly minted design that promises better driving experience and better fuel efficiency.

Design is crisper and less bulky looking than the SRX, though it shares a family resemblance. The face is bright and confident with carved billet style slats finished in satin chrome. LED headlights on our Premium Luxury trim grade turn with you at night and feature vertical LED signature lights that harken back to Cadillac silhouettes of the past.

Its LED taillights have a wrap-over boomerang shape that creates a fin effect in their form, an integrated rear spoiler features a wide LED brake light, and lower valance has the expected dual exhaust tips.

Moving inside is where the XT5 really raises the bar over the old SRX. Cadillac has clearly concentrated their design priorities on their interiors as this one feels entirely fresh. The wide sweeping horizontal lines and rich materials leave nothing for the eye’s want.

Stitched soft materials line virtually every square inch of the door panels, console, and dash. There are are slabs of wood grain trim, with genuine rosewood available on upper trim levels. Satin chrome accents continue the metallurgic themes of the exterior.

The center stack is free of buttons and knobs, a nice look. The poison pill is however the touch sensitive nature of the light-up virtual buttons and sliders. Both for HVAC and accessories as well as the major audio settings, they are not nearly as easy to use as the old fashioned controls.

17-cadillac-xt5-7The CUE infotainment system has been improved with better touch reaction and better graphics but still remains one of the more difficult to use touchscreen audio and navigation systems. Menus are not all that intuitive and there is no easy way to do things like adjust volume or tune a station. Audio quality from its 14 speaker Bose back end I very good once you get it set.

Leather seats with heating and ventilation are found up front, comfortable and supportive with a slight firmness found in European brands. Driver seat memory as expected also stores the positions of the side mirrors and the power tilt and telescoping steering wheel.

Rear seat passengers will enjoy a comfort level above class with a lower seat cushion mounted just at the right height. Seats are soft and supportive with adjustments for slide and rear back rake. Rear vents are provided along with USB ports for device power.

17-cadillac-xt5-24Those seats fold down in a 60/40 split as expected by pulling a convenient lever at the rear cargo hold or at the seat back. A nearly flat load floor can be had with built-in cleat rails for a number of dealer accessories that are available for cargo management.

Powering the XT5 in North America is a heavily revised version of the brand’s 3.6 liter V6 engine. Here it has 310 horsepower and 271 pound-feet of torque that’s delivered through an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The engine features direct fuel injection and variable displacement technology that allows it to operate on four cylinders to save fuel when extra power is not needed. This enables it an EPA estimated 18 mpg city, 26 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined. In our time with the XT5 we achieved 20 mpg combined.

17-cadillac-xt5-17Power comes on in a refined way in most settings. When you dial up sport mode and use the paddle shifters for some aggressive driving the engine responds with a healthy growl that’s appealing in this class, on par with the Lexus RX350 FSport.

With the optioned Continuous Damping Control adaptive performance suspension, its 20-inch wheels and selectable drive modes it feels sharp and crisp on the road, particularly in Sport mode. Steering is responsive and light, its ride quiet and well isolated from the harsher of surfaces out there.

Set on Touring the ride is a bit more forgiving and offers a scant bit of float at highway speeds that some customers may prefer. Overall, the system seems well tuned and offers up a ride and drive fitting of this price range.

The price on ours as tested was $56,730, a Premium Luxury trim grade with all-wheel drive, a $995 special paint option and a cargo divider for $350. That puts it square against competitors like the Lexus RX and Lincoln MKX in features vs dollars.

While there are many more competitors, the Cadillac XT5 does set itself apart with a style and personality that is all its own. While this has always been the case with Cadillac, the quality level of engineering and build is now on par with its entire class.