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2017 Ford Flex vs. 2017 Cadillac XT5

2017 Ford Flex
2017 Cadillac XT5

The differences between luxury and mass-market vehicles used to be plain and simple and it was pretty difficult to confuse one with the other. But increasing competition in the auto industry has seen volume manufacturers up their game considerably as they all fight for a bigger slice of the market. This has therefore seen the lines between luxury and non-luxury vehicles become increasingly blurred at times, which is very much the case with crossovers as you'll see here in our comparison of the 2017 Ford Flex vs. 2017 Cadillac XT5.

Exterior Styling

There won't be many vehicle comparisons where the difference between how two vehicles look is as stark as it here between the XT5 and the Flex. The XT5 is a brand new design and it's very sleek, modern and stylish. It's perhaps not as "Art & Science" as some Caddys of the last few years and some people will like that and other won't, but it does mean it's perhaps not as individual as it could be even though it's still every inch a Cadillac.

If you could accuse of the XT5 of bordering on the mainstream with its exterior styling, you certainly can’t level that accusation at the 2017 Ford Flex in any way, shape or form. If you want a vehicle that stands out from the crowd this is it. The unashamedly boxy shape not only offers a degree of uniqueness, it also means there's no hint of compromise when it comes to interior space and comfort for passengers. The design has been around for a while now but because it's so different from just about anything else in its class, the Flex doesn't appear to have aged in any meaningful way. It's hard to say which is better as it will inevitably come down to personal taste and the Flex exterior styling won’t be for everyone, but at least the Ford has masses of individuality on its side.

Comfort and Quality

Depending on how you look at it, the 2017 Cadillac XT5 is either a half a size bigger than the majority of compact crossovers or to the smaller end of the midsize segment. It can therefore be difficult to match it up directly against other rivals in terms of interior space, but what isn't in doubt is the quality of the interior and its materials. The XT5 is a Caddy, and that means luxury. There's nothing to complain about inside the cabin, but don't forget you are paying quite handsomely for this impressive interior and taller passengers might not want to spend too much time in the back due to somewhat restricted headroom.

The Flex is pretty cavernous inside, but if that was all it had going for it when you climb inside it wouldn't be a fair fight to compare it to the Caddy. Even if there wasn't a hint of luxury to be had in the Ford, the amount of legroom and headroom there is would deem it more comfortable for passengers than most rivals, luxury or otherwise. However, there is some serious luxury to be had if you want it in the Flex, although you will have to go for the top of the range Limited trim to have it comparable to the XT5. The Flex Limited might still fall slightly short of the XT5 Platinum in terms of sheer luxury, but the abundance of space in the Ford and a price of around $20k less makes it the winner here overall for comfort and quality.

Performance

The Cadillac looks like it's going to be fast and nobody is going to be disappointed by its new generation 3.6-liter V-6 delivering 310 horsepower and 271 lb.-ft. of torque. It's not all about sheer power though as the XT5 is also a very lightweight design so the performance is lively at the same time as being smooth and refined. Perhaps the only problem is the take-it-or-leave-it approach of only having the one powerplant covering all versions of the Caddy.

Buyers are presented with a choice of two different engines for the Flex, although it does mean going for the top specification Limited trim if you want the more powerful engine. The standard unit in all three trims of SE, SEL and Limited is a 3.5-liter V-6 producing a very respectable 287 horsepower and 254 lb.-ft. of torque. The optional unit really does put the engine in the XT5 to shame in terms of power though, as it's the outstanding 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 that puts as much as 365 horsepower and 350 lb.-ft. of torque at your disposal. The engine in the Cadillac is very good, but it's hard to look past those numbers with the EcoBoost V-6.

Conclusion

It's not straightforward by any means comparing two vehicles that are effectively pitched in different classes of the market, but the fact the considerably bigger price ticket of the XT5 doesn't immediately render comparisons pointless says a lot. At the entry level it's much easier to identify which is the luxury model, but the Flex still has some massive inherent advantages over its less practical luxury rival. But when it gets higher up the trim levels the Ford really does make an incredibly strong case for itself, and for something like $20k less for the Flex, it's easy to see why family buyers especially would see the Ford as the better option.