2020 Cadillac XT6 Review

2020 Cadillac XT6 - Cadillac XT6 hits the heart of the luxury crossover market.


After adding the subcompact XT4 and refreshing the compact XT5, Cadillac has an all-new 3-row crossover ready for the 2020 model year. Not surprisingly badged XT6, the new wagon shares some underpinning with the GMC Acadia and is slightly smaller in size than the Chevrolet Traverse. XT6 seats either 6 or 7 passengers depending on choice of second-row captain's chairs or bench. Competitors are many and include the Acura MDX, Audi Q5, BMW X5, Infiniti QX60, Land Rover Discovery, Lexus RX 350 L, Lincoln Aviator, Mercedes-Benz GLE and Volvo XC90.

XT6 comes in two trim levels: Premium Luxury and Sport. Both are available with either front- or all-wheel drive. The only engine offering is a 3.6-liter V6 that makes 310 horsepower and 271 pounds-feet of torque. It mates to a 9-speed automatic transmission that has a manual shift mode. Maximum towing capacity is 4,000 pounds.

Prices start at $54,315 for the front-drive Premium Luxury and climb to more than $58,715 for the all-wheel-drive Sport. Premium Luxury models skew toward more traditional interior trappings, while the Sport predictably adds a bit more flair to the interior and a sport suspension with real-time damping and heavy-duty cooling and alternator. Each is available with a Platinum package that adds additional upscale trim, enhanced tech and additional features.

While most competitors offer at least two engines, Cadillac feels it's V6 provides a solid mix of performance and economy. For the most part, that's true. The engine willingly revs and pushes the XT6 from 0 to 60 MPH in about 7 seconds. That's more than adequate for most. With six passengers aboard, acceleration is blunted somewhat, but still acceptable. More importantly, the engine is smooth and refined and mates well to the slick-shifting 9-speed automatic. True, others may offer more powerful engines that provide heartier acceleration, but for most Cadillac buyers the V6 is a wise and affordable choice.

The XT6's all-wheel-drive system does not have a low range and is not intended for severe off-road use. Sport models get active torque vectoring that can help from a handling perspective, but does not have much impact on slippery surfaces. It is important to note that Sport models are offered with summer tires that may need to be swapped out in the winter.

EPA numbers for the XT6 with all-wheel drive are 17 MPG city, 24 MPG highway and 20 MPG combined. Those numbers are class average if not a bit below. Unlike most in the class, the XT6 does not require premium-grade fuel and runs fine on regular-grade gasoline. In routine suburban commuting it is easy to average north of 20 MPG overall and in straight highway driving most will see better than 25 MPG. It should be noted that front-drive models get a 19-gallon fuel tank and all-wheel-drive models get a 22-gallon tank. Either way, range is impressively close to 500 miles overall.

Cadillac will be the first to tell you that the XT6 is no sports crossover, but driving along at extra-legal speeds it more than acquits itself on twisty roads. Manners are more carlike than expected, but the vehicle's 4,500-pound curb weight is quickly felt in sudden lane changes or abrupt maneuvers. Perhaps the best description is that the XT6 is one of those vehicles that shrinks around the driver the more it is driven.

There's modest lean in corners and body motions are nicely controlled, something that is especially true with the Sport, which includes an adaptive suspension as well as a quicker steering ratio and sportier transmission tuning. In addition, the adaptive suspension provides improved ride. The Sport also gets an electronically controlled dual-clutch rear differential that can shift torque side to side. The variable steering is light at parking lot speeds but firms up nicely with added pace. Though it lacks feedback, it is precise and tracks true on the highway. Brakes provide good stopping power and an easy-to-modulate pedal.

Interior noise levels are what you'd expect from a Cadillac -- quiet and serene. Wind noise is noticeably lower than in some competitors and there's little interruption from the engine in hard acceleration.

Cadillac played it safe when designing the interior of the XT6. The design is simple, straightforward and gimmick free (refreshing perhaps). Materials are class appropriate but seem a cut below some other offerings, most notably the new Lincoln Aviator.

Some others in the class have all digital instrument clusters, but in the XT6 drivers face a very traditional analog twin-dial setup with programmable central information display. The center stack is dominated by a large display screen and a handful of climate and seat control buttons. Some of the buttons are capacitive (meaning they don't move when you touch them) and that makes them a little harder to operate without diverting your attention. In the center console there's a BMW- or Mercedes-Benz-style shift paddle and then volume knob and jog dial for the infotainment screen.

The latest version of Cadillac's CUE infotainment system is standard. It is much improved and very easy to use on the fly. The system can be controlled by either the jog dial or touching the screen. It responds quickly, is intuitive in operation and supports Android Auto and Apple Car Play. In addition, General Motor's "magic" rear-view mirror is available. It can be used as a standard rear-view mirror or activated to be a rear-view monitor that eliminates the rear pillars to provide a sharp and clear view out the back. While it takes a bit of familiarization, it quickly becomes a great asset.

The front seats are firmer than expected and provide excellent support. Some might find them a bit too confining, but, overall, the strike a nice balance between overly padded and strictly sport. Second-row captain's chairs are very comfortable, offer ample head and leg room and provide a quick fold feature for access to the third-row seats, which are neither roomy nor comfortable for adults. Outward visibility is good forward and fair to the sides and rear. Paying extra for the tech package seems well worth it as it brings adaptive cruise control, higher-speed front collision system, rear automatic braking and pedestrian alert, magic rear-view mirror, 360-degree camera system, head-up display, automatic parking system and infrared night vision system that displays on the dash and alerts to upcoming hazards.

Maximum cargo volume is nearly 80 cubic feet, which is impressive in the class. On the downside, max. space with the third-row seat in use is a paltry 12.6 cubic feet. Folding the third row provides a more usable 43 cubic feet. The load floor is flat and the opening is wide. Interior storage is adequate with a few open and covered bins throughout.

Bottom Line - The XT6 is an impressive piece given that it is Cadillac's first attempt at a three-row crossover (the Escalade is an SUV). Remember though, Audi, BMW, Lexus and the like have been building vehicles like this for nearly half a decade. XT6 strengths include a quiet and comfortable cabin, no-fuss powertrain and good overall cargo capacity. On the downside, it doesn't feel as luxurious or as polished as its competition or its premium price might suggest. Definitely opt for the Sport with the tech package and be looking for a nice discount.

Mark Bilek

Mark Bilek is the Senior Director of Communications and Technology for the Chicago Auto Trade Association and the General Manager for DriveChicago.com. He is also responsible for developing and maintaining the Chicago Auto Show Web site.

Mark has been reviewing vehicles for more than two decades. Previously, he was associate publisher at Consumer Guide, where he oversaw publication of Consumer Guide Car & Truck Test, Consumer Guide's Used Car Book, and ConsumerGuide.com. He was also responsible for publication of "Collectible Automobile" and various hardcover automotive titles. In 2001 and 2002 he served as president of a Midwest Automotive Media Association. Mark has appeared on NBC TV, ABC TV, Fox News, WGN and MotorTrend TV as an automotive consultant. He hosts the Drive Chicago radio show on WLS 890 AM and was a regular guest on WGN Radio's Steve & Johnnie show. Mark lives in the northwest suburbs with his wife and three sons.