Cadillac’s replacement for the SRX is called the XT5, and though it’s similar in spec and size and kit to an abundance of posh-ute competitors, a number of notable differences help it stand apart in a market segment that’s more crowded with chrome and leather and glitz than a burlesque expo.

Like its ringmates, the XT5 has six-cylinder power, all-wheel drive, a great big sunroof, a spleen-rupturing stereo, and climate-controlled leather memory seats. But the differences, and how they contribute to a uniquely modern luxury utility offering, are what stand out most here – and they’ll be the focus of this review.

The first of these differences relates to the use of a signature Cadillac technology that might just require drivers to reprogram their muscle memory.

We’re talking about Continuous Damping Control. It helps the XT5 adapt to different road conditions and give a smooth ride.

But what’s this about muscle memory?

Big squishy crossovers are heavy and ride softly on springs. When exposed to bumps and humps and whumps, the result is a ride that churns and lurches like your digestive system after Taco Tuesday in the office cafeteria. Hit a bump or dip mid-corner, and your back and butt muscles tighten, subtly and subconsciously, in anticipation of the ensuing body movements of the vehicle. But with Continuous Damping Control, there’s no need for it – since those subsequent body motions are all but arrested the instant they think about existing. You hit a bump, feel it a touch, and hear it a little, but the XT5 just stays flat, maybe with a little squirm. And it’s funny, because you still tighten your muscles up in anticipation, and it takes a while before they learn they don’t need to.

Result? You don’t feel like you’re driving a four-wheeled inflatable bouncy castle, and after hours on the road, you feel more relaxed, fresher and less strained. Continuous Damping Control, as used in the XT5, is an easy-to-appreciate feature for the long-haul driver after a consistently stable and comfortable ride.

A Sport mode stiffens the dampers, gives a more direct feel, and better communicates the condition of the road beneath. Operated thusly, XT5 is unbothered by quick browsing of winding roads. Thanks again, Continuous Damping Control: usually, crossovers this comfy handle like a trash-bag full of pudding, but XT5 is surprisingly tidy and flat. It’s not the sports car of the luxury utility scene, but it’ll play ball eagerly if you want to push it.

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