The Cadillac Escalade is a big, ballin’ status symbol.
For drivers who practice sensibility and don’t think too much about flash factor, the smaller 2022 Cadillac XT6 has a similar vibe and much of the same practicality in footprint that’s much easier to handle. This three-row luxury SUV has the goods to move a busy family in style.
While it doesn’t have the same in-your-face, imposing, and swaggy presence as its gargantuan sibling, the XT6 is still stylish but in a way that prioritizes quiet confidence. There’s not a lot to get excited about in terms of its design, but it’s handsome and understated. Inside, aluminum trim, carbon fibre, contrast stitching, and leather-covered surfaces help elevate the cabin and make it feel both luxurious and durable.
One of the XT6’s strongest features is its practicality. With 357 L of space behind the third row, 1,221 L behind the second, and an enormous 2,229 L with both sets of back seats folded, it was large enough to easily transport a huge shelving unit during this test. There’s also a huge underfloor storage compartment inside that’s long enough to hold a snowbrush and other supplies so they’re not taking up space in the cargo hold. Cupholders and storage cubbies for stashing small items are located throughout the cabin.
There are buttons to tumble the third row flat or put them back into place both in the trunk and by the rear doors; and while you have to hold the buttons down during the whole process, it’s still a huge convenience. The second row folds flat manually and can easily slide forward to give more legroom to the passengers in the back or make more room for cargo. It’s also easy enough for a kid to move the second row to access the third row and then put the seats back into place.
The tailgate can be opened hands-free on all but the base trim, and there’s even a Cadillac logo that projects on the ground to indicate where the kick sensor is, which is a weirdly rare but very appreciated feature.
The XT6 offers two engines: a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder in the base Luxury, and a naturally-aspirated 3.6L six-cylinder that comes in the Premium Luxury and Sport trims. All XT6 models come standard with all-wheel drive and a nine-speed automatic transmission. The V6’s 310 hp and 271 lb-ft of torque is perfectly adequate, though with peak torque arriving at 5,000 rpm, it requires a bit of time before a push at the accelerator results in a gust of passing power. The transmission displays some roughness from time to time, but is generally quite adept.
The XT6 has different driving modes including tour, AWD, sport, and off-road, and I appreciate the ability to drive the SUV in tour mode with only its front wheels getting power to help save fuel, or use the automatic AWD mode when conditions require more traction. Sport mode doesn’t change the SUV’s behaviour too noticeably except for holding gears longer, and perhaps providing a bit more urgency with its throttle response.
Driving Feel: 8/10
The Cadillac XT6 feels much smaller to drive than its huge practicality might suggest, so it’s easy to manoeuvre around tight parking garages and city streets. Visibility out of the front is also excellent. The Escalade is an enormous amount of SUV to handle that doesn’t fit inside my parking garage, so I really appreciate how nimble the XT6 feels and that it can fit everywhere. While I wouldn’t call it sporty, I came away impressed with how composed the XT6 feels in most scenarios.
Even with its upgraded performance suspension, the XT6 Sport remains comfortable and composed over broken roads without feeling sloppy on winding roads. It strikes a great balance of not feeling too floaty but also isolating the occupants well from road imperfections.
First- and second-row occupants get plenty of leg- and headroom, and even the third row isn’t too terrible for short drives. The seats are also comfortable and supportive and are heated and ventilated up front. (Rear seats are usually heated too but have been left out of this particular model — a casualty of the global microchip shortage.)
Fuel Economy: 7/10
The 2022 Cadillac XT6 Sport is officially pegged at 13.1 L/100 km in the city and 9.5 in the highway for a combined rating of 11.3. Over about 640 km of mixed testing (that included a particularly frustrating two hours of idling in gridlock traffic), my tester returned an average of 12.3 L/100 km. During that nightmare traffic jam, fuel consumption rocketed past 16.0 L/100 km, but it settled to a less scary number after a day of long highway and backcountry drives.
Even though this is a sizable V6-powered SUV, I was expecting better fuel economy because I drove it predominantly in front-wheel drive mode, it has automatic stop-start, and because the XT6 uses cylinder deactivation to run on four cylinders instead of six under lighter loads. Cadillac recommends premium fuel.
The XT6 Sport is the top trim available but it still requires add-on packages to get standout features like a heated steering wheel, rear-view mirror camera, automatic parking assistant, head-up display, surround-view recording (kind of like a dashcam), surround-view parking cameras, and more.
It would have been nice to see more of these features as standard in the top trim. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included, and Super Cruise, the brand’s hands-free highway driving assistance system, is also available as an add-on. It’s basically an advanced autonomous cruise control system that uses sensors and GPS data to keep a safe distance between you and the cars around you, as well as follow any bends in the road.
Super Cruise works exactly as it should, allowing people to drive without hands on the steering wheel or any driver input on certain highways, with sensors tracking a driver’s face to ensure they’re still paying attention. I wish it felt a bit more natural and left more space for large semi-trucks in the next lane when safe instead of focusing solely on staying centred in the lines. Not surprisingly, the system will force a driver to take control if there’s construction or any abnormalities that it doesn’t recognize.
All XT6s come standard with a long list of safety features including forward collision warning with pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, a rear seat reminder, teen driver settings, front and rear parking sensors (left out on this model, again, due to chip shortage), blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and automatic high-beam control. I like that when the left turn signal is used or if the steering wheel is turned that direction, the steering responsive headlights shine in that direction to illuminate your path.
One unique feature is that the XT6 will vibrate the driver seat — either the left, right, or both sides — to flag a potential collision and the direction it’s coming from. I find it a bit jarring, but it can be turned off and the SUV will use audio alerts instead.
The XT6 offers a few ways to interact with the infotainment system: the touchscreen and a rotary dial near the gear selector that also operates like a joystick. It’s great to have both options, because the knob is easy to use while in motion for certain tasks. It’s odd, however, that some of the buttons on the dash are touch-capacitive while others look the same but require a real push to use. Other random features I appreciate: the ability to unlock the doors from any door, the fact that each row gets USB ports for charging, and how surprisingly easy the XT6 is to park given its size.
The base XT6 starts at $57,998 before the $2,200 destination fee, while the Premium Luxury and Sport models both start at $62,698. As tested, the 2022 Cadillac XT6 Sport rings in at $78,483, undercutting its German competition while offering tons of interesting and useful tech that helps it stand out among many of its competitors.
The 2022 Cadillac XT6 has a lot of appeal and stands out in a crowded segment with its confident style, excellent practicality, useful technology, and long list of standard safety features. Combined with its composed driving dynamics and luxurious feel, the XT6 gets a lot right and is easy to live with day to day, making it worthy of consideration for a stylish but practical family on the go.
|Peak Horsepower||310 hp|
|Peak Torque||271 lb-ft|
|Fuel Economy||13.1 / 9.5 / 11.3 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb|
|Cargo Space||357 / 1,221 / 2,229 L behind 3rd/2nd/1st row|
|Model Tested||2022 Cadillac XT6 Sport|
|Price as Tested||$78,583|
$13,585 – Cadillac user experience with embedded navigation, AM/FM stereo, $1,250; 20-inch Gloss Black wheels, $3,675; Super Cruise, $2,875; Premium headlamp system, $805; Technology Package, $2,705; Driver Assist Package, $2,275