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Cadillac's new XT5 crossover steers toward lightweight luxury

Cadillac unveiled its new XT5 crossover in Dubai Monday morning. It's more than a simple new car debut, the mid-size crossover signifies several new directions for the American luxury brand.

Before we get to what the CUV (crossover utility vehicle) means more broadly, let's look at its details. Along with sleeker lines and a much more opulent interior, the XT5 also includes a new engine: a 310-horsepower V6. Paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission and an optional all-wheel drive system, the XT5 is aimed to do battle with the Mercedes-Benz GLE and the Audi Q5.

First off, it is the first crossover to receive the brand's new SUV moniker nomenclature. XT, Cadillac claims, stands for "Crossover Touring." And though it doesn't specifically say this, but the "5" denotes the vehicle's place in the Cadillac crossover lineup.

Before the reshaping and renaming, the XT5 was known as the Cadillac SRX. New Cadillac head Johan de Nysschen reworked the brand's naming scheme for fear buyers didn't understand the letter jumble assigned to the carmaker's various vehicles. Cars are dubbed CT and crossovers will be XT. The Escalade will remain unnamed, as it has too much cache to be messed with.

Secondly, Cadillac engineers worked tirelessly to make the XT5 lightweight. For some reason, Cadillac even opened its press release about the XT5 touting that the CUV weighs 650 pounds (295 kg) lighter than the Mercedes GLE. Let me tell you: This is a weird thing to lead off with when unveiling a new car of any kind — let alone an American luxury crossover.

Ignoring the brand's odd preoccupation with curb weight, it has included some nice extras in the XT5, including a rear camera mirror, Apple CarPlay and Android auto compatibility as well as a new CUE infotainment system.

I'm hoping that Cadillac designers spent as much time refining cabin NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) as they did trimming the fat. The XT5's predecessor, the SRX, was a dreadful — and dreadfully overpriced — crossover. And previous iterations of the Cadillac CUE system were quite atrocious as well. So here's to hoping the XT5 drives and infotains as good as it looks.

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