If you’re between the ages of 29-44 and in the market for a new vehicle, chances are the criterial for your next set of wheels is a far cry from what buyers would be looking for two decades ago. Sure, back then there were those who looked for performance or prestige in a vehicle but one would never have expected to find both at the same time in one car. The number one purchase decision isn’t just finding a car that can get you from point A to B. Although we are still concerned with reliability and comfort, seeing as though the average commute time for drivers have quadrupled in recent years, we now also look at what we drive as an extension of our personal style and must reflect our lifestyle.
I will never be shy to admit my love affair with German vehicles (Porsche will always have my heart!) but my fondness for American cars have grown over the years after getting behind the wheel of several cars within General Motor family. There has been a lot of change going on in their portfolio of brands but the most impressive to date has been the $12 billion investment from General Motors to re-establish everything about Cadillac – from brand image and messaging, dealer experience, to even it’s vehicle naming system and product portfolio, which consists of plans to release 9 (yes, 9) brand new vehicles by the year 2021.
The future of Cadillac design and technology – The Escala
There has been much talk about what these 9 cars may be but they are rumoured to consist of the following; a sub sedan (CT2 or CT1) to compete with the Audi A3 and Mercedes Benz CLA-Class, a reimagined version of the ATS (CT3) to rival the BMW 3 series, Mercedes C-Class, Audi A4 and Lexus IS, an ultra luxury full size flagship sedan, a fifth generation Escalade, a B segment sub compact crossover to compete with the BMW X1 and Audi Q3, a C segment compact crossover to rival the X3, Porsche Macan and Mercedes GLC-Class, an entry full size crossover to tackle the Acura MDX, Volvo XC90, Audi Q7 and last but certainly not least, a full size flagship crossover , the Pièce de Résistance of the brand’s crossover lineup which will be a high end full size, three row CUV to rival the current Mercedes GLS-Class and upcoming BMW X7 and Audi Q9.
I got recently got acquainted with the new XT5 for a week, interested…knowing it’s job was to replace the brand’s first CUV, the SRX; with it’s sleeker exterior and sophisticated, contemporary interior. But mainly because I know the vehicle will foreshadow the future of Cadillac SUV’s to come. Inside, the cabin was surprisingly roomy, seats even proved comfy to my boyfriend during our drive to Prince Edward County, who often gets irritable during road trips. For those looking for extra cargo space for urban or out-of-town adventures, this XT5 will definitely surprise you. It seats five however when more space is needed, the adjustable rear sliding seats also fold into a 40-20-40 split for extra storage space, with a metal divider in the back that slides and locks in place to keep cargo from moving about There’s even a brilliant hidden storage compartment under the floor that is sure to please those meticulous, Type A personalities that love to keep things super organized.
The XT5′s V6 engine includes an active fuel management system that cuts down to four cylinders under light loads which is brilliant, but a less attractive feature is the “stop/start” that puts the engine in idle when you’re at a traffic light. Unlike other vehicles that also offer this feature, the XT5 does not allow you to disengage this feature, that could become a bit of an annoyance if you are not into the abrupt start every time the light turns green in rush hour traffic.
Although comfortable than most behind the wheel, winter driving can still prove to be nerving for me at times, but I felt super comfortable in my AWD model, which has three settings; front wheel drive only, sport (needed for extra handling and traction control) and AWD tasked to maintain continuous all wheel power for even the most slippery roads. For those young families concerned about safety, the Platinum edition is packed with amazing technology features within the Driver Awareness Package that also includes the most talked about tech piece, the rearview mirror camera, unique to the Platinum version. It works as a regular rear view mirror but with one simple switch, it converts into a video screen using a feed from, wait for it…a self cleaning camera in the lift gate. And the best way to give your loved ones the best passenger experience – Cadillac CUE Infotainment System with Apple Car Play capability and 4G LTE wifi hotspot.
But you’re probably thinking, “what’s up with that Escala? And when’s that coming out?” Beautiful vehicle I know, but for now just the brand’s latest concept car that has been making the rounds on the auto show circuit with it’s very own handler. Sounds a bit high maintenance, but if you’ve seen this beast in person, you would probably be more understanding of it having a babysitter.
I sat in an exclusive panel discussion put on by Cadillac during Toronto Auto Show week, moderated by Design Exchange President Shauna Levy who spoke with two of brand’s design team members, who dished the design details behind the Escala. Based on what I’ve been hearing and reading since the concept car’s debut at Pebble Beach, the goal of the Escala is to point in the direction Cadillac’s heading in and some of the features could very well be things the automotive company will debut on product models in the very near future. Could this be a prototype for the next CT8 flagship sedan model? Possibly! But what I do know is Cadillac’s design process starts three to four years in advance and inspiration is pulled globally from fashion, architecture, interior design to even accessories, to put them ahead of the game in producing colour and fabrication options. Assuming something close to this comes to market, it’s safe to say interested buyers who desire large, opulent transportation would shell out a lot of money for a car like this, so the designers have spared no expense with every single detail.
The exterior colour, called Gaia, is made up of nine layers of paint and changes colour in different lighting conditions. The spacious interior – surprisingly uses fabric, reminiscent of what you may find in bespoke suit, evoking fine tailoring and actually turns out to be more inviting and interesting than leather. A complex and labour intensive stitch pattern was created using special thread that brings the fabric to live where it meets the luxurious leather. As for technology, the features are a marriage of understated sophistication with two curved OLED screens layered into the dash but controlled via what designers call the “Goddess Dial” located in the arm rest. Not to be outdone by the cockpit, mix modality plays throughout the rear seat entertainment system as well. Oversized screens are nestled in the two front seats and retract into the headrests, leaving only a sliver of the bottom display in view to reveal a more streamlined finish. In this mode, the passenger only sees the basic necessities – time, weather, estimated time of arrival, etc. And if that’s not enough for you, the Escala design team employed famed American designer Jason Wu to create a custom set of travel sized bags and totes specifically to appeal to what we imagine the Escala driver to be…a purveyor of luxury lifestyle who needs chic luggage for their private G5 flight.Photos by JessBaumung.com and GM Authority
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