The new-for-2020 XT6 is Cadillac’s newest SUV, slotting in below the Escalade in the lineup. Sportier drivers may have better choices, but most shoppers will find XT6 to be one of the segment’s most compelling overall packages.
Though your author occasionally wished for a little more horsepower and a bit more flair from the clean-cut cabin, the XT6’s impeccable ride quality, approachable tech, and fantastic after-dark driving environment left a lasting impression.
The XT6 exudes a tailored confidence. Plenty of sculpting keeps the eyes busy, and signature styling elements help set the look off. This might be one the market’s most handsome faces, and the overall package looks distinctive and modern.
My tester’s dark cabin flaunted brown leather seating set against a black leather and wood trim dash. Metal accents are used to dial up the sophistication, and glossy surfaces add further richness. Display screens are adequate but not massive, leaving room for more leather on the dashboard.
Flashier interiors are available for the money, but many drivers will like the subtle elegance and straightforward layout to their surroundings. Those who find some luxury crossover cabins to look too busy should approve.
A note on build quality: It’s excellent. The stitching looks laser-precise, various corners and edges are shaped to catch reflected light more effectively, and there’s even leather inside the storage cubby on the centre console.
The safety savvy folks get 360-degree parking camera coverage, a wide-angle rear-view mirror camera, and a full arsenal of the latest advanced safety features like lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control, and parking sensors that can even detect cars and pedestrians approaching as you back up. The systems are typically reliable and consistent, and handy on-screen infographics help keep first-time users on top of what’s happening with the advanced features.
In addition to an array of must-have hazard-detection tech and driver support systems, the XT6 sets drivers up for safe and comfortable motoring in a variety of effective ways. Key among these are the headlights. Standard on all units are LED elements that cast heaps of white light far and wide with precise aim and great peripheral illumination of nearby treelines and culverts. The pure white colour, clean focus and thickly saturated illumination far up the road help reduce eye strain, especially on long drives. Lighting systems don’t get much better.
The XT6’s OnStar system adds further safety and security by way of integrated cellular and GPS systems. Even without your phone on board, a button-press summons a human operator for assistance in case of a setback. With GPS built in, the XT6 can call for an ambulance after a crash and transmit coordinates, even if the driver can’t.
Front seats offer loads of space in each direction, and most occupants will board these via a relatively uneventful sideways shift. Second-row seats offer stretch-out room, even for large or leggy adults. The second-row captains chairs also have armrests and recline functionality that provide easy access to the third row.
That third row of seating will handle the smallest passengers you’ve got with relative comfort, but I preferred them folded down. With this setup, XT6 works great for grown-up road-trip mode, with space galore for four big adults and heaps of their stuff.
The third-row seats come and go at the touch of a button. Note that the cargo load height might be a bit tall for some canines, but lets us humans load and unload gear with less bending.
Plenty of thoughtful storage helps keeps occupants organized on the move. Some examples include a large bin beneath the centre console that’s accessible by either front-seat passenger, as well as a small smartphone wireless recharging slot that’s angled steeply to hold your handset firmly in place while it juices up.
User Friendliness: 9/10
Little about interfacing with the XT6 should cause much stress. Plug in your smartphone and full connectivity automatically arrives on-screen via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Controls are logical and easy to learn in quick order; most fall to place where expected.
The central command screen is glossy and vivid, and boasts good graphics, logical menu layouts, and fluid response. It handles hundreds of functions easily, and requires little driver bandwidth to operate after a few days of practice.
Shoppers can expect to feel like they’re getting their money’s worth from the XT6’s feature content. My tester’s sticker of about $76,000 left me feeling nicely backed up and wanting for little.
Headlights aside, favourite features include the punchy and bright Bose stereo system, and the handy wireless phone recharging slot. I used Android Auto while driving, and it worked flawlessly.
Also worthy of note is the head-up display (HUD). Further adding to XT6’s after-dark driving appeal, its clear and simple display is modestly sized, easy to position, and likely to become the technophile’s favourite new gadget.
Automatic lights, brights, wipers, and climate control contribute to set-it-and-forget-it motoring, and the remote start with automatic steering wheel heater was a great touch for chilly mornings.
The XT6 runs a 3.6L V6 that’s good for 310 hp. It’s creamy smooth, mild-mannered, and unfailingly polite – even when opened up, where it sounds lovely. Fans of smooth and silky will love it, though fans of face-peeling acceleration have better choices.
The engine teams up with a just-as-silky nine-speed automatic transmission that capitalizes on its generous low-end torque to minimize gear hunting at lower revs. At full throttle, the transmission shifts with speed and precision, cleanly and quickly severing one gear from the next. With light throttle application, you’d never even know it was there. All said, the XT6 is quietly responsive around town and feels sufficiently lively, even from lower revs.
Note that you are the boss of the XT6’s ride and powertrain. A button tap can engage drive modes for sportiness, touring, and off-road use, and the all-wheel drive system can be switched off manually when not needed, helping save fuel.
The XT6 deploys various attributes to turn in a comfortable drive. Even at highway speeds, noise levels are kept nice and hush, and there’s no need to use anything but your indoor voice when chatting.
Heated seat and steering wheel provisions get piping hot in quick order, and I noted no issue with the seats, even after several hours-long drives.
Most will find this cabin a comfortable place to be during long drives.
Driving Feel: 9/10
The ride quality and overall road feel are likely the XT6’s most valuable assets. The ride is smooth and dense, not jiggly or bouncy. It’s well-sorted, even when challenged by rougher roads and potholes. Body motion control is excellent, with relatively uneventful roll and pitch characteristics when cornering, and no residual undulation after contacting a dip or bump.
My tester softly pitter-pattered over many surfaces that coaxed roughness and noise out of the BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class. By my estimation, the XT6 is pretty much the ride-quality leader amongst large utility vehicles as I know them. (See also: Lincoln Navigator).
Steering is as expected: Light and dynamic at low speeds, heavier and thicker at higher speeds. And in typical Cadillac fashion, it’s nicely calibrated against the ride and suspension to give the whole drive a touch more polish.
Fuel Economy: 7/10
On my watch, I found the XT6’s fuel economy to be impressive on the highway, and slightly disappointing around town. Cruising along in ninth gear, the XT6 is relatively thrifty – but drivers who frequently take in the engine’s lovely high-rpm snarl can expect a good hit at the pumps.
At times during my highway-intensive test drive, the XT6 also left me wishing for a slightly larger fuel tank to facilitate longer distances between refueling stops. Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) rates the XT6 at 13.5 L/100 km in the city and 9.7 L/100 km in the city for a combined 11.8 L/100 km.
My tester clocked in around $69,000 with a hearty list of optional equipment. At that price point, all but the most heavy-footed drivers can expect to feel like they’re getting their money’s worth, more so if you’re a ride-quality connoisseur after a relaxing and engaging drive.
The XT6’s dialled-in driving experience and stellar after-dark driving environment quickly made it one of your writer’s favourite drives in this segment. The XT6 is one of the most comfortable, connected and confidence-inspiring drives in this segment right now.
|Peak Horsepower||310 hp @ 6,600 rpm|
|Peak Torque||271 lb-ft @ 5,000 rpm|
|Fuel Economy||13.5/9.7/11.8 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb|
|Cargo Space||357 / 1,220 / 2,229 L behind 3rd/2nd/1st row|
|Model Tested||2020 Cadillac XT6 Premium Luxury AWD|
|Price as Tested||$71,248|
$8,050 – Enhanced Visibility and Tech Package, $2,705; Driver Assist Package, $2,275; Cadillac User Experience with Navigation, $1,250; Six-Passenger Seating, $920; Stellar Black Metallic, $900