Cadillac made a costly error by paying attention to auto enthusiasts. Years were spent by the GM luxury brand striving to outperform BMW with sports sedans and building a successful motorsports program. Although this was well-liked by aficionados, few products were sold. Cadillac is suddenly reversing its course. In order to satisfy that insatiable demand, it will continue to produce sedans while also expanding its inventory of crossover vehicles.
This new approach is best demonstrated by the 2020 Cadillac XT6. The XT6 is a three-row crossover positioned between the XT5 and Escalade that is designed for families. Although it is the exact opposite of an enthusiast’s vehicle, the Detroit carmaker has a higher chance of making good sales with it. But there are already a lot of Lexus RXs, Audi Q7s, and Volvo XC90s parked in private schools. What does Cadillac do better than they do?
Digital Trends spent a day touring Virginia in the XT6 to find out. We tried the Premium Luxury ($53,690 starting price) and Sport ($58,090 starting price) trim levels. We can easily understand why Cadillac would want to make a car like this given the current popularity of crossovers, but does that imply you should buy it?
Good day, Stranger
Cadillac has recently made some daring stylistic decisions, but the XT6’s designers were far more conventional. The grille, taillights, and headlights all identify the car as a Cadillac, but if you covered them up, it might have been made by any number of automakers. Although Cadillac claimed it didn’t want to disguise the XT6’s size, the vehicle does have some visual presence, but there isn’t much to visually link it to the brand.
However, the interior is more significant than the outside for a family vehicle like the XT6. The XT6 begins to feel more like a Cadillac as you get inside. The quality of the materials is extremely outstanding for a car in this price range, and the front seats are just as soft as lounge chairs. At this price point, leather upholstery is expected, but the XT6 also has a ton of actual metal detailing, including speaker grilles made of stainless steel. Only a small portion of what you can see and touch is made of plastic, and the majority of that is found in places where less expensive materials are more vulnerable to harm. Even genuine carbon fiber trim is included in the Sport trim level
The good news is that. The bad news is that these materials are not organized in an engaging or practical manner. The dashboard appears to have melted in the sun due to its droopy general form and mismatched components. The leather-lined cubby behind the HVAC controls is a nice touch, but because to its size and form, it can only hold your key fob. Things get a little congested due to the shifter, two cupholders, and rotary infotainment system controller being located on a little span of the center console.
In terms of interior size, the XT6 is competitive but not a class leader. In reality, the Cadillac comes out on top a little bit more. For adults, the third-row seats are more than sufficient. They provide adequate legroom without requiring second-row passengers to fully recline their seats. Third-row headroom is also increased compared to most competitors thanks to the lofty, upright roof line. But getting in and out of the third row is never an elegant gesture. Although third-row seats generally take up a lot of cargo room, the XT6 shows a notable difference. The Cadillac offers greater cargo room than an Audi Q7, Volvo XC90, or Acura MDX when the second and third rows are folded, but when those seats are in their upright positions, it has significantly less interior space than any of those cars in the same configuration.
Cadillac has continually made improvements to the Cadillac User Experience (CUE) infotainment system since its first iterations, which were a little clumsy. The system version of the XT6 might be the best one yet. Despite the enormous amount of dashboard space available, the 8.0-inch touchscreen is responsive and has crisp images. A rotary controller with a “jog” function that enables users to traverse menus by tilting the device forward, similar to a joystick, was also provided by Cadillac. We valued the option of using traditional controls in addition to the touchscreen.
For a car in this price category, the material quality is extremely excellent.
The XT6 comes equipped with a standard WiFi hotspot and is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, just like other Cadillac models. The XT6 features a touch point for near-field communication that enables quick pairing of Android devices. Additionally, wireless phone charging is an option, and all three rows include USB outlets. Additionally, the XT6 is the first Cadillac with SiriusXM 360L, the company’s new streaming service.
The Super Cruise driver-assist system that is offered in the Cadillac CT6 is not available on the XT6. The XT6 receives a less sophisticated adaptive cruise control system, and even that is an add-on. A 360-degree video system, a head-up display, and night vision are among available options. Cadillac started selling these features in the early 2000s, long before the technology was ready for widespread use.
In order to assuage anxious parents, Cadillac does include autonomous emergency braking, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, and blind-spot monitoring as standard features. When one of the several driver alerts is activated, the Safety Alert Seat from Cadillac vibrates. Sometimes it takes a second to recognize that you’re about to crash rather than just receiving a massage.
The XT6 also receives a video rearview mirror, a feature first seen in the Cadillac CT6 car, which is less strange. Although it is not the first model to have this function, the XT6 is the ideal car for it. It allows the driver to view footage from a rear-mounted camera through the mirror. The size of the XT6 can make parking lot maneuvering difficult, and packing the back seats with passengers creates blind spots that the camera view eliminates.
If you ignore its crossover exterior, the XT6 is the ideal example of a contemporary Cadillac. A large vehicle, that cossets its passengers instead of pummeling them with noise and lateral Gs at a fast speed. Cadillac, though, has grown too accustomed to producing fast cars to revert entirely to its previous practices. That is when the issues start.
The same 3.6-liter V6 engine and nine-speed automatic transmission are used in all XT6 models. The V6 generates 271 pound-feet of torque and 310 horsepower. All-wheel drive is an option; front-wheel drive is the default. It’s a suitable solution for taking kids on summer road vacations or transporting them to and from soccer practice. But the narrative is not over yet.
This vehicle is designed to suck up highway miles, not turns.
Additionally, the XT6 is the most recent Cadillac model to employ the company’s new “Y” trim level system. One leg of that “Y” is made up of the Premium Luxury and Sport trim levels, each of which has unique exterior and interior style. But in addition, the Sport receives some technical improvements, such as adaptive suspension, quicker steering, revised shift and throttle maps, and a more advanced all-wheel drive system with a torque-vectoring rear differential. This improves handling by shunting power between the rear wheels.
The Sport model’s upgrades don’t quite turn the XT6 into a hot rod; they just seem out of place. The engine should be able to rev higher thanks to the reconfigured throttle and shift maps, but it just isn’t interested in doing so. The virtual tachometer on the head-up display is completely unnecessary because the V6 is satisfied to idle along at 2,000 to 2,500 rpm, much like a conventional Cadillac engine. When you exert more force, the engine groans like a child who has been woken up early for school. The acceleration isn’t exactly swift with all that noise either. A large, three-row crossover can be made to handle nicely, but that isn’t the case in this instance. Simply put, the XT6 Sport is too sloppy and inaccurate to serve as a fun backroad rocket.
It doesn’t follow that the XT6 is a lousy driver. Simply put, it indicates Cadillac is attempting to transform it into something it isn’t. The ride is superb and the interior is very peaceful when driven at a more leisurely pace (although we did notice quite a bit of tire noise while cornering in our Premium Luxury test car). This vehicle is designed to suck up highway miles, not turns. At least unless Cadillac decides to produce a V-Series performance variant.
The useful information
The 2020 Cadillac XT6’s combined fuel economy rating from the EPA is 20 mpg (18 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway) for front-wheel drive models. The combined mileage for all-wheel drive vehicles is the same at 20 mpg, but they perform worse on the interstate and in the city. During a day of driving that included both motorways and backroads, we were easily able to equal those numbers, though we also drove extremely cautiously to avoid Virginia’s strict traffic enforcers.
In this segment, the gas mileage ratings for the XT6 are not particularly impressive. The Volvo XC90 is offered with a plug-in hybrid drivetrain that enables a small amount of all-electric operation, while the Acura MDX and Lexus RX are also offered as hybrids.
Cadillac provides a four-year, 50,000-mile new car warranty with three years or 36,000 miles of complimentary basic maintenance (whichever comes first). Since the XT6 is a new model, it is challenging to forecast its reliability in the future. However, the reliability of contemporary Cadillacs is not generally regarded as being very good.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) do not yet have crash test results available.
How DT would set up this vehicle
We decided to go with the Premium Luxury XT6 trim level instead of the Sport. It begins with a cheaper beginning price ($53,690) than the Sport ($58,090), to begin with. We could live without the Sport’s performance features because they didn’t truly improve the driving experience. A respectable amount of standard features are also included with the Premium Luxury, such as wireless phone charging, a sunroof, Apple Car Play, and Android Auto.
The Enhanced Visibility and Technology package, which includes a surround-view camera system and head-up display in addition to the optional night vision system and Driver Assist package, which includes adaptive cruise control, would be added on top of the base equipment.
Cadillac had to create the XT6 in order to keep up with consumer demand, but that doesn’t imply that this newest three-row utility vehicle offers anything unique. More options are generally a good thing, but the XT6 doesn’t provide anything that its rivals can’t already offer. Although it has a great cabin and a smooth ride, cars like the Volvo XC90 and Audi Q7 aren’t exactly lacking in such aspects. The impending Lincoln Aviator ups the ante against Cadillac’s previous foe. The XT6 lacks all of the charm and heritage that define Cadillac as a brand. Furthermore, it doesn’t introduce any fresh concepts to Cadillac.
Do you need to buy one?
The 2020 Cadillac XT6 doesn’t separate out from the competition among three-row luxury crossovers, while having some attractive features. Although Americans may adore these cars, superior ones are currently made in Germany, Japan, and Sweden.
You can also check 2019 Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid first drive review