LA Car reviews the XT6, Cadillac’s entrant in the red-hot three-row crossover market.
I recall quite vividly the day one of my former bosses rolled up into the parking lot with a Sailfin blue and silver Toyota Sienna almost 20 years ago. Being a stupid 20-something who felt sufficiently close to my manager, I felt it entirely appropriate to ask him why in the world he would trade in his sweet Lexus GS sedan (so much VIP-style potential!) and essentially give up on being cool. His answer –my kids love it and I have a lot of stuff to carry around. I swore to myself I would never let my clones dictate my automotive purchases let alone my tastes.
Fast forward 25 years and I am officially obsessed with wagons. Why? I have a ton of stuff to carry around and oh yes, my kids love them. Karma has a way of striking doesn’t it? I also like to point out that there is a cubic inch of passenger and cargo space to center of gravity ratio I value (let’s call it the Gearhead Dad Quotient) by which I judge all cars – and wagons are the big winner. I know, I know, I’m basically alone in this worldview.
Rise of the SUV/CUV
While wagons aka estate are still popular across the pond, here in the States they even more verboten than minivans. As I’ve covered extensively SUVs, CUVs, and any other car ending in -UV are in high demand. Crossover utility vehicles in particular are where it’s at – both in terms of consumer demand and manufacturer bottom lines. According to Experian, the combined SUV/CUV market represented a whopping 47.6% of the market in 2018 as compared to a paltry 2.3% for passenger vans and a miniscule 1.7% for my beloved wagons.
Enter the Cadillac XT6, the luxury brand’s mid-size SUV that slots between the venerable Escalade SUV and the smaller XT4 CUV. After a busy week that included hauling cargo in and out of storage, commuting to DTLA, and a trip to the Huntington Library I am of the opinion that the XT6 should be in the consideration set for anyone with a need to transport 7 people (or if you’re like me, two kids with sports gear and/or lots of Sanrio toys). Parents who are holding on to coolness for dear life take heart, just because you have kids in their teens doesn’t mean you have to drive a huge SUV with mpg in the teens too.
Exterior: The fashion-forward SUV
Starting from my time with Cadillac’s 2019 CT6 sedan, I’ve really taken notice of their latest design language. It’s futuristic and literally edgy, in a tasteful and stylish way — not in the let’s make everything look like a Stealth fighter way (remember the avant garde CTS coupe?) I love the way the current Cadillac line-up looks and the XT6 has an upscale look that provides a unique alternative its European counterparts from a styling perspective.
Whoever is on the design team deserves an A+ for the front. The headlights and hit that sweet spot in the Venn diagram featuring aggression and subtlety. In a world of ever-expanding grilles that make cars look like catfishes on wheels, the XT6 features one that is sporty and proportionate to the rest of the car.
The rest of the XT6 is not as striking as the front but perhaps that’s the point. If you’re looking for wild design cues this is not the SUV for you. The XT6’s side profile is your standard SUV fare and from a distance you would be forgiven for thinking you were looking at a slightly smaller Escalade, unlike the XT5 and XT4 which cut a distinctly crossover figure. Out back the subtle angles of sheet metal and the taillights give away this is a Cadillac. I prefer the squared-off haunches of the XT6 to more bulbous SUVs and CUVs. The XT6 is a step up the luxury ladder its GM SUVs stablemates, the Chevrolet Traverse and Buick Enclave.
Interior: Corner office on wheels
The interior is where the XT6 shines. Our loaner was a top-of-the-line Premium Luxury AWD trim, loaded up with sixteen grand worth of options that pushed the overall vehicle price close to $72,000.
The baseline configuration for the Premium Luxury trim features all the bells and whistles you’d expect of any Cadillac — heated leather seats, hands-free tailgate, and HD rear vision camera to name a few. On the connectivity front the Cadillac User Experience (CUE) features an 8” color display, Apple Carplay/Android Auto, and wireless device charging.
The Platinum Package, Technology Package, and Drive Assist Package added baby-seal-soft semi-aniline leather seating in all rows, real-time damping suspension, and a host of high-tech driver assistance features including heads-up display, surround vision recorder, and reverse automatic braking.
On the entertainment front I thoroughly enjoyed having a personal auditorium at my disposal, thanks to the XT6’s 14-speaker Bose Performance Series sound system coupled with SiruiusXM. The generally soul-crushing drive from the SGV to DTLA became more tolerable, which is saying something.
The beauty of CUVs and SUVs is not only their ability to coddle you, but their ability to hold things — specifically, cargo and people. In my case the loan came at the perfect time for me to haul some big boxes full of holiday decorations (think, giant Christmas tree) and even some tires to storage. The power-folding third road came in incredibly handy in transforming the 7-seater into a cargo van. With 78.7 cubic-inches of cargo capacity behind the front row, I began wondering how much I really needed my pick-up truck.
With a flick of the switch the XT6 transformed back into a family-transport shuttle, and the kids loved every second of riding in it. The huge ultraview sunroof provided plenty of vitamin D and smiles for the whole family. They loved not having to hire Sherpas to get them into my truck — a common reason we truck-owning parents fall prey to minivans — and of course, forcing me to change the radio to Kidz Bop (btw, why do kids need a version of Shawn Mendes’ very spicy Senorita?).
Performance: Comfort over Speed
I found the XT6 to be adequate for my needs in the burbs and getting to work. The 3.6-liter V6 turns out 310 horsepower and is not going to win any land speed records with a base curb weight over 4,400 pounds to haul about. That being said, the 9-speed automatic transmission delivered smooth downshifts with aplomb as needed to keep things rolling.
In normal city driving I didn’t find myself wishing for more power or acceleration. Long on-ramps with wannabe Vin Diesels next you may have you longing for a little more oomph, but that could diminish the XT6’s 20 mpg city/highway combined rating. That’s a bit thirsty if you’re cross-shopping hybrids, but still better than an Escalade’s 17 mpg.
Wrapping It Up
If you’re in the market for a luxury three-row family and cargo hauler and you don’t generally tow anything, then you’ve got a ton of choices to consider. I would add Cadillac’s XT6 to that list and give it a few extra bonus points for upscale styling that makes the right impression at both the office and the school dropoff line.
For more information, visit the Cadillac website.
2020 Cadillac XT6 Premium Luxury AWD
Total Vehicle Price: $71,585
Engine: 3.6L V6, 310 hp, 271 lb.-ft. torque
MPG (Combined/City/Highway): 20 combined/17 city/24 highway
Max. Cargo Space: 79 cu. ft.
Passenger Capacity: 7
Connectivity: 8″ diagonal color displays, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Wireless Device Charging, Cadillac User Experience (CUE) with embedded navigation, 14-speaker Bose Performance Series
Wheels: 20″ polished (dealer installed)
Safety: Driver Assist Package (Auto Seat Belt Tightening, Adaptive Cruise Control, Enhanced Automatic Emergency Braking, Reverse Automatic Braking,) Front and Rear Park Assist, Following Distance Indicator, Lane Keep Assist w/Lane Departure Warning, Front Pedestrian Braking, Vehicle Inclination Sensor, Rain Sensing Windshield Wipers, HD Rear Camera with Wash