by Frank A. Aukofer
With its 2020 XT6 crossover and the upcoming refreshed XT5, Cadillac fields its first-string four corners offense against competitors in the sport utility tournament.
The big difference is that this offense does not seek to stall or dribble in place. It’s more of a full-court press against Lincoln, Acura, BMW, Infiniti, Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, Audi and Volvo.
Pair the XT6 and XT5 with the compact XT4 crossover and the silk-gloved brute Escalade, with its truck-like body-on-frame construction, and General Motors’ luxury division has a lineup that can compete across the premium SUV spectrum.
The XT6 slots in below the giant Escalade. Like its bigger sibling, it comes with three rows of seats and either seven- or eight-passenger seating, depending on whether the buyer wants a second-row bench seat or separate captain’s chairs.
Though it is three inches shorter than the 17-foot long Escalade, the XT6 has generous interior space of 153 cubic feet, with 140 for passengers and 13 for cargo behind the third row. The Escalade has 178 cubic feet of interior room, divided 163 for passengers and 15 for cargo.
A touch of a button drops the XT6’s powered third-row seatback to deliver 43 cubic feet for cargo. Fold the second row, which also provides access for third-row passengers, and the cargo space expands to 79 cubic feet.
The XT6’s standard configuration is front-wheel drive, with all-wheel drive available, where the Escalade starts with rear-wheel drive like the Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck and adds four-wheel drive and all-wheel drive.
With its car-like unit body construction, the XT6 has a stiff structure that contributes to secure handling. As a luxury vehicle, it also must deliver a quiet and comfortable ride. To that end, the Cadillac engineers incorporated 15 different insulating enhancements, including hush panels in the side doors and noise absorbent shock towers.
However, no road-going vehicle is completely silent—not even electric cars — especially traveling pockmarked U.S. highways. The XT6 manages quite well though some wind and tire noise work their way into the cabin.
Power comes from a robust 310-hp V6 engine with 271 lb-ft of torque. It quietly works its power through a nine-speed Hydra-Matic (remember that?) transmission. The combination is enough to propel the XT6 to 60 mph in a guesstimated less than seven seconds.
Cadillac offers two XT6 trim levels: Premium Luxury and Sport. The names are descriptive. The more expensive (by $2,400) Sport is oriented toward driving dynamics with quicker steering, continuous active suspension damping and aggressive transmission shift points at higher rpms.
The Sport also gets a more, to be sure, sporting interior featuring trim that looks like woven carbon fiber, while the Premium Luxury version gets beautiful genuine wood enhancements.
Not unlike its European counterparts, the XT6 makes its reputation on the options side of the window sticker. Both the Sport and Premium Luxury models offer Platinum option packages ($3,700 or $4,900 respectively) with upgraded perforated leather upholstery for all seats; leather-wrapped instrument panel, door trim and console; microfiber suede headliner, and premium carpeted floor mats.
It doesn’t end there. The $58,090 all-wheel drive Sport model, the focus of this review, carried $14,950 worth of options, including such items as $2,000 for night vision and $2,350 for enhanced visibility (a rear camera lens washer among other things), that brought the sticker to $73,040.
A similarly equipped Premium luxury version came with a base price of $56,690 and, when tricked out with a long list of options, checked in at $70,890.
Both models had full safety equipment, including forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning and lane-keeping assist, blind-spot warning, following distance indicator, front and rear park assist, and rain-sensing windshield wipers.
An innovative feature hides the rear camera, with a washer for inclement weather, underneath the spoiler at the top of the hands-free power tailgate. The rear windshield wiper also is located there, protected from snow and ice.
Among the luxury accouterments are a panoramic “ultraview” glass sunroof, tri-zone climate control, 21-inch alloy wheels, powered and heated tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, an air ionizer and particulate filter, wireless smart phone charging and color head-up display.
In the first half of 2019, sales of Cadillac’s crossovers and the Escalade SUV totaled 56,827. But the XT6 was barely a blip. With the 2020 model, Cadillac’s aggressive four corners offense has the potential to close the gap with other luxury nameplates.
- Model: 2020 Cadillac XT6 Sport AWD four-door crossover sport utility vehicle.
- Engine: 3.6-liter V6; 310 hp, 271 lb-ft torque.
- Transmission: Nine-speed automatic with all-wheel drive.
- Overall length: 16 feet 7 inches.
- Height: 5 feet 10 inches.
- EPA passenger/cargo volume: 140/13 cubic feet.
- Weight: 4,690 pounds.
- Towing capability: 4,000 pounds.
- EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 17/24/20 mpg.
- Base price, including destination charge: $58,090.
- Price as tested: $73,040.
Disclaimer: This test drive was conducted at a manufacturer-sponsored press event. The manufacturer provided travel, accommodations, vehicles, meals and fuel.
Photos (c) Cadillac