2020 Cadillac XT6: Close To Great
Cadillac is one of those companies whose storied history makes it hard to change or do anything new, but things have started coming together for the company in the last few years. The brand has shifted away from making uninspired velvet-clad barges to selling sporty and sleek cars and SUVs that try to appeal to younger buyers. The new XT6 is one of four crossovers Cadillac makes and slots between the larger Escalade and smaller XT5 in the lineup.
Cadillac has a lot to live up to, especially since Lincoln has made so many great vehicles in recent years. The XT6 mostly meets expectations but falls short of being truly exceptional in a few ways. First, the interior, while comfortable, has a confusing mix of materials, some of which feel flimsy and fall beneath what we'd expect to be Cadillac's standards. Second, the all-wheel drive models' combined fuel economy rating of just 20 mpg leaves plenty to be desired. Lastly, some of the controls are bafflingly confusing to use when the vehicle is in motion. Outside of that, there's a lot to like about the XT6, so let's dive in.
As recently as a decade ago, Cadillac was still making huge, frumpy cars with sedate styling, but marketing your vehicles exclusively to the oldest consumers isn’t a sustainable business model. Somebody at Cadillac caught on a few years ago, because the company’s vehicles have become almost futuristic in their appearance. The XT6 features a large grille and aggressive front fascia with large vertical LED running lights. It’s an aesthetic that could easily become too busy, but the crossover pulls it off with ease.
From the side, the XT6 is almost anonymous, though the long uninterrupted lines stretch its profile and make it look long and sleek. Things around back are equally as spartan, with very little in the way of badging and logos.
Further evidence that this ain’t your grandparents’ Caddy comes inside the XT6, where an almost cockpit-like scene unfolds in front of the driver. The cabin is roomy, but the driver is surrounded by controls. The front seats are wide, deep, and though the miles-deep padding from Cadillacs past is gone, there is plenty of soft stuff to keep backsides happy. The armrests are high, which allows for a comfortable cruising position, though shorter drivers may find that their arms have to sit uncomfortably high.
The second row of my XT6 tester was equipped with captain’s chairs, which allowed for plenty of legroom and made it easy to install car seats. Parents will also find that the extra distance between seats makes it easy to settle arguments over personal space.
General Motors has some of the best soundproofing and most comfortable ride quality of any company, and the Cadillac does not disappoint. Our roads in northern New England are always rough and very bumpy this time of year, but the XT6 glides over the roughest pavement without much of a hiccup. My daily ritual of taking my youngest daughter for a nap ride was made all the more pleasant by the Caddy’s ability to completely absorb terrible road conditions and block out almost all noise.
The XT6’s 310-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 produces 271 lb-ft of torque and works well with the nine-speed automatic gearbox to produce effortless power and acceleration. It’s the same powertrain we see in the Buick Enclave and Chevy Traverse, and it’s as adequate here as it is in the other GM vehicles. My Luxury tester felt agile enough, but for people wanting something “faster”, the XT6 Sport comes with a torque-vectoring rear differential and sharper steering. In either vehicle, expecting a nimble and quick crossover will lead to disappointment. It’s a Cadillac, not a “V” model, and still rides and drives like we'd expect from a Caddy.
Cadillac’s CUE (Cadillac User Experience) has been maligned for its clunky and hard to use interface over the years, but the company has finally gotten close to success with its latest version of the software. The XT6 has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard equipment, and navigation can be added. The eight-inch touchscreen is bright and easily visible in a variety of lighting conditions and controls like the volume knob have been moved down near the gearshift for easier access without stretching. That's a good thing, but there's a confusing mix of physical and on-screen controls for climate settings and other vehicle functions, which can make operation while the vehicle is in motion very difficult.
The XT6 earned a Top Safety Pick + from the IIHS, thanks to standard automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, and blind spot monitoring. Adaptive cruise and Cadillac’s trick night vision tech are optional.
The Cadillac XT6 is a solid contender in the mid-size luxury crossover segment, but it has fierce competition from Lexus, Lincoln, Audi, and the list keeps on going. Lincoln is head and shoulders above Cadillac in their interior design, but the XT6's styling and decent powertrain give it a fighting chance. The brand may have lost some of its old school swagger, but it still offers much of the luxury experience we've come to expect from a Cadillac.
I cover autos and technology for several outlets online and in print. My goal is to bring the complex and sometimes confusing automotive world into focus for everyone. The views and opinions expressed here are my own and may not align with the founders of Everyday Driver.