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New York — Cadillac is making a late entry to the compact SUV market with the debut of the sporty XT4 crossover.

The XT4, which debuted Tuesday at Cadillac’s headquarters in Manhattan, is a much-needed entry for the brand in the fast-growing compact SUV segment. It will compete with the likes of segment leaders BMW, Mercedes and Audi for a sliver of the luxury SUV market.

Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen said in a statement that the XT4 introduction “sets off a dramatic expansion and elevation of the product range, that will see a new Cadillac virtually once every six months through 2021.”

The XT4 is built on a unique compact SUV architecture. It’s powered by Cadillac’s all-new 2.0-liter 4-cylinder with a twin-scroll turbocharger. It develops 237 horsepower. The engine is paired with a nine-speed transmission to help the XT4 achieve an estimated 30 miles per gallon on the highway.

Cadillac is also debuting a new global trim approach on the XT4, dubbed the “Y” trim strategy, that includes Premium Luxury and Sport models built off the Luxury base trim.

The Sport trim offers sporty alloy-wheel choices as well as gloss-black window moldings and a mesh grille inspired by Cadillac’s V-Series performance models. Luxury and Premium Luxury models feature more flashy grilles, aluminum window moldings and chrome-accented door handles.

This new trim strategy will also be available on the 2019 CT6 sedan.

Cadillac says the interior is expected to lead the segment in backseat legroom, with 39.5 inches to stretch. The XT4 offers 48.9 cubic feet of maximum cargo volume when the rear seats are folded.

Cadillac isn’t exactly synonymous with outdoor activities like skiing or kayaking but the 116-year-old luxury brand is in the middle of a repositioning that includes appealing to a younger, more refined audience. This started in 2014 when de Nysschen, a former Audi exec, took the helm and started the charge to move the brand’s headquarters to New York, distancing Cadillac from its mid-market siblings at General Motors Co.

That youthful push was at the center of the design strategy for the more sculpted XT4, which Cadillac said was designed by “a team of young designers representing the heart of XT4’s target customer demographic.”

The compact SUV is the first in Cadillac’s six-month product cadence through the end of 2020, designed to more quickly flesh out the Detroit luxury brand’s SUV offerings. The XT4 joins the larger XT5 and the Escalade.

Customers will be able to pre-order the XT4 — starting at $35,790 — from participating dealers this month ahead of the vehicle’s arrival in showrooms this fall.

NNaughton@detroitnews.com

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