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2020 Cadillac XT6 Review

  • Evolved styling
  • Standard automatic emergency braking
  • Available all-wheel drive
  • Smart Sport suspension tuning
  • Supple, supportive seats
  • Small third row
  • Too far from Escalade in looks?
  • Lacks SuperCruise, at least for now
  • The 2020 Cadillac XT6 makes more sense in Premium Luxury trim, but we’d be lying if we said we didn’t prefer the XT6 Sport’s handling.
The 2020 Cadillac XT6 takes a more family-friendly tack to the three-row crossover than the big Escalade.

The 2020 Cadillac XT6 stakes its claim in the realm of three-row crossover SUVs, but it has its work cut out for it. 

The 2020 XT6 sits between the smaller, two-row XT5, and Caddy’s perennial luxury SUV bestseller, the Escalade. It arrives in Cadillac showrooms at the same time some non-luxury brands have fielded some compelling three-row SUVs of their own: Explorer, Palisade, and Telluride.

In Premium Luxury or Sport trim, we give the 2020 Cadillac XT6 7.0 out of 10 points overall.

With the 2020 XT6, Cadillac leverages the same basic running gear and engine with the similarly sized Chevrolet Traverse and Buick Enclave, but the Caddy gets swathes of soft leather and active safety tech that others miss.

Cadillac puts its vertical ribs of LED lights and its wide and toothy grille on the front of the XT6 and puts plenty of distance between it and GM’s other big crossovers, but doesn’t go far enough at the back. The nose telegraphs Cadillac, while the roofline at the rear gives us pure dial tone, the same note played by Pilots and Santa Fes and a host of less expensive SUVs. The V-shaped dash carries echoes of Acura, too, with sueded trim and handsome wood studded by digital displays; the central touchscreen wears Google livery and is hemmed in by the dash while widescreens wrap cabins from Mercedes to Land Rover to...Kia.

Cadillac installs GM’s lovely sounding 3.6-liter V-6 in the XT6. Its 310 horsepower sounds marvelous and its 271 pound-feet of torque shift seamlessly through a 9-speed automatic for rapid if not rapid-fire acceleration. The combo is rated to tow up to 4,000 pounds—and for 20-mpg combined EPA ratings, which is on the low side of average.
Smart off the line, the 2020 XT6 gets smarter in Sport trim, where adaptive dampers and a part-time AWD system (it must be engaged by a button tap) meld together better than the Premium Luxury’s mix of slower steering and less firm ride quality. Like other recent GM SUVs, the XT6 hustles down the road with more confidence in its more extreme version: The Sport has more useful weight in its steering and doesn’t compromise its ride much to deliver it.

The XT6 cabin checks in with up to 78.7 cubic feet of space behind the front seats, but just 12.6 cubes behind an in-use third-row seat. It seats up to seven; in the six-passenger version, deeply pocketed front and second-row seats deliver long-distance comfort and a wide range of adjustment, while the third-row bench suits only small passengers who won’t mind the knees-up seating position or the hard plastic armrests and scant leg room.

Every XT6 comes with automatic emergency braking, active lane control, and front and rear parking sensors—but neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS has crash-tested one yet. Other safety options include adaptive cruise control, a surround-view camera system and night vision. All XT6s come with Bose audio, leather upholstery, a power tailgate, and LED headlights—but Cadillac pinches buyers for more money if they choose a paint color that’s not silver. 

The XT6 sketches Cadillac style on a conventional crossover body.

Cadillac drapes vertical LED lighting and pins a wide toothy grille t its new three-row XT6 crossover, while it rounds out the SUV with a generic rear roofline.

For style and execution, we give the 2020 XT6 a 6, with a point above average for its runway face.

The XT6 doesn’t stray far from Cadillac’s style playbook. It borrows the XT4’s mesh grille and floating badge up front and the Escalade’s tall, vertically oriented taillights in the rear. It’s distinguished from the related Enclave and Traverse with sharper angles and a more upright appearance. We’ve appreciated the tall front end across a range of Cadillacs, from the outgoing CTS to the Escalade, and on the XT6 it relieves what turns into a more pedestrian look out back. The three-row crossover-SUV realm is filled with vehicles that share a similar rear roofline, though some avoid it notably: Aviator, Telluride. The XT6 could use more of that distinction. The stickpin-shaped taillights go a long way to relieve the standard-issue roof.
Inside, the XT6 is covered in soft leather and real wood in Premium Luxury versions; leather and carbon fiber in Sport versions. The XT6 also takes the rotary knob controller from the XT4 and pairs it with an 8.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment.

The shapes are handsome, though they’re undercut by a clash of textures. Diagonal striped wood on pricey versions dazzles, but the Sport’s woven texture looks less luxurious. The smooth leather door caps seem ready to grab any particle of dirt, while the lower door trim panels are clad in hard plastic. The V-shaped dash confines the XT6’s touchscreen in placement and in size; the world’s moved on from 8.0-inch screens already, and the race to super-wide screens has hardly begun.

The Cadillac XT6’s buttery power gets kudos.

With the XT6, Cadillac antes up one of GM’s most refined powertrains and pairs it with high-tech suspension hardware for mostly invisible performance. It doesn’t annoy, but the XT6 doesn’t deliver any wow moments, either.

We’ve scored it 6 out of 10 points here.

Both XT6 trim levels tap the same 3.6-liter V-6 for power, and strap it to the same 9-speed automatic transmission found in other Cadillacs and other GM vehicles. The V-6 pumps out 310 horsepower and 271 pound-feet of torque, and it emits a lovely snarl when it’s tested. Quick but no revelation, the XT6 steps smartly off the line and rifles through all its gears without ruffling any feathers. Power doesn’t peak, acceleration doesn’t startle, and the 9-speed automatic doesn’t flutter and wow between gears as some 9-speeds have been known to; its shift quality is excellent. 
Premium Luxury trim levels get standard front-wheel drive, with all-wheel drive as an option. Sport versions get standard all-wheel drive. The all-wheel-drive system is the same twin-clutch system found in the XT4, which can split power across the rear wheels and can fully disconnect the rear axle for better fuel economy—but it requires a tap of a button to engage, a step back in sophistication for a company that pioneered trucks with automatic AWD.

The XT6’s powertrain can change its mood as well, through drive modes that flip from Touring to Snow/Ice to Sport on most models; Off-Road and Sport modes come with all-wheel-drive models. The differences show themselves mildly on the powertrain side, a bit more vividly in steering weight when engaged.

When properly equipped, the XT6 can tow up to 4,000 pounds.

On the ride and handling front, the XT6 sits on front struts up front and a five-link suspension at the back. The Sport variant gets standard adaptive dampers and a faster steering ratio for a more engaging feel. The XT6 comes on standard 20-inch wheels, while 21-inchers can be acquired.
Cadillac outfitted every XT6 we drove with adaptive dampers, and after a hundred miles of Virginia horse-country touring, the Sport version showed finer responses. On Premium Luxury models, the ideal combination of an elastic ride and smart steering response felt off, like a recipe with a pinch too much salt. On low bumps it felt more stiff than expected, while bigger ones left the suspension too soft to handle the next. Some German automakers have adopted cameras to predict road surfaces in tandem with adaptive dampers; it’s a clear next step here. Sport models had a better ride/handling formula, with more firmly controlled vertical ride motions, not to mention the ability to move power across the rear when in Sport drive mode (while the base AWD car simply adjusts power front to back). 

Sport XT6s also carry a quicker steering ratio and more off-center steering weight, so they didn’t show the low-grade wander that the Premium Luxury models did as we cruised the Dulles Toll Road in search of a city. The XT6’s optional 21-inch wheels won’t improve any of this, we think, but they’ll fill out the wheel wells more in exchange for more of your money. Tread wisely.

Comfort & Quality
Excellent seats fill out the XT6’s cabin.

Cadillac fits the XT6 with six or seven seats and folds many of them down to create its biggest cargo bin this side of the Escalade. Were the interior a bit richer and more reflective of its price, it’d be perfect here. As it stands, it’s a 9.

The XT6 rides atop a wheelbase that’s 112.7 inches long, and measures 198.8 inches from bumper to bumper. Like the Enclave and Traverse that share its architecture, the XT6 nominally seats up to seven, although second-row captain’s chairs are available.

All-day comfort comes to just about any XT6 driver and front passenger in the form of 8-way power-adjustable, heated seats. They’re great; they have supple cushions, wide-enough seat bottoms, a pocket for derrieres, and ample adjustment to tilt or recline both seat sections so that drivers tall and small can find a good driving position. The footwells are mostly flat, and the console and sunroof make wide berth for knees and heads. 
In-car storage for front passengers is OK. The under-console bin can hold a small bag, while the console itself can stow a middle-sized Yeti vertically. The door pockets hold a slim water bottle—but we’re flummoxed by the convex leather-lined bin under the climate controls. Is it for...keys? Someone fill us in.

Second-row riders get nearly 40 inches of leg room, which is on par with others in its class such as the Acura MDX. We can’t vouch for the bench seats, which we haven’t tested, but the captain’s chairs in six-passenger XT6s are as nicely pocketed as those in front; it’s like being caught by Cal Ripken Jr. and then finding his mitt has fold-down armrests. The chairs slide forward for row-three access, but we’ll warn you now, the back seats are limited. Third-row adult passengers get a scant 29.5 inches of leg room and hard plastic armrests to go with a knees-up seat position, though head room is fine. Nearly any rider will find the low seat cushion a long-trip inconvenience.

Behind the third row, the XT6 offers 12.6 cubic feet of cargo space that can expand to 43.1 cubes with the third row folded, or 78.7 cubic feet with both rear rows of seats dropped.

Cadillac trims out the XT6 well for its pricey mission, but some textures clash. Order an XT6 with the extra-cost mocha paint and tan interior, and the smooth leather on the door caps looks like tahini, while the sueded trim on the dash lip looks like another nut butter entirely. The seats have stitching that would look great on Under Armor, but the diagonal-grain wood trim has the flair of an Art Deco bar cabinet. The digital displays add a high-tech sheen, but they live in a V-shaped wedge on the dash that limits future screen size upgrades, while Tellurides and Palisades flaunt wider screens in almost every configuration—for less money.

Cadillac piles on safety technology in the XT6.

The 2020 XT6 aced safety tests, comes with standard automatic emergency braking, and has a bunch of optional safety features. It almost aced our safety rating, but the outward vision can be somewhat obscured in the sides and rear. The three-row SUV earns an almost perfect 9 out of 10.

The NHTSA gave it a five-star overall safety rating, with five stars on every crash test except for four stars on rollover risk, which few crossover SUVs ever ace. 

The IIHS award the 2020 XT6 as a Top Safety Pick+, with "Good" ratings on all crash tests, "Superior" ratings on front crash prevention for vehicles and pedestrians, and "Acceptable" standard headlights. 
Each XT6 comes with active safety features such as automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitors, automatic high beams, front and rear parking sensors, active lane control, and a reminder for children in the rear seat. 

Option bundles outfit the XT6’s LED headlights with cornering control; another package adds automatic park assist, a rear camera mirror, a surround-view camera system, and a head-up display. Night vision and adaptive cruise control are options as well.

The XT6 has decent forward vision, but the rear’s semi-obscured by thick roof pillars and rear seats, though the third-row headrests fold down and out of sight.

The 2020 XT6 isn’t shy to ask for more of your money, but it’s well-equipped.

Cadillac trims out the 2020 XT6 crossover SUV with a bucketful of standard features, and puts more behind a velvet-rope options list. 

Its standard warranty coverage is fine but not exceptional, and it’s shy on value, so we give it an 8 here.

Buy the $53,690 XT6 Premium Luxury, the base model, and you’ll drive home with 8-way heated front power-adjustable seats, a second-row bench seat, leather upholstery, power tilt-and-telescope steering, a heated steering wheel, remote start, keyless ignition, wireless smartphone charging, 20-inch wheels with P235/55R20 all-season tires, a sunroof, LED headlights, a power tailgate, and a power-fold third-row seat. Make sure to tip the paint-shop crew: The XT6 comes in silver paint, and any other color choice costs at least $625 more. It’s a depressing extension of the nickel-and-dime pricing common to many luxury cars in an era when cheap Nissans and Hyundais offer a rainbow for free.
Each XT6 sports an 8.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment, six USB ports, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and an AM/FM/XM audio system with 8-speaker Bose sound, which can be upgraded to a 14-speaker system. The infotainment system wears a new skin that resembles Google’s, and also adopts a redundant rotary controller with a jog feature. The touchscreen part works very well, though its screen size is locked into an outdated size, but the controller is finicky and distracting. We ignored it.

All-wheel drive is a $2,000 option. Navigation costs $1,000; 6-passenger seating is $800; a rear-seat entertainment system costs an extra $1995.

On the $58,090 XT6 Sport, Cadillac springs for all-wheel drive, adaptive dampers, and performance suspension tune.

On either trim, a $4,900 Platinum package boasts semi-aniline leather, a snazzy nappa headliner, adaptive dampers and performance suspension, and a choice of jazzy brown interior trims; we like the Maple Sugar look. A $2,350 package gets a head-up display, a rear camera mirror, a surround-view camera system with recorder, and automatic park assist. Adaptive cruise control costs $1,300, and for $750 the XT6 gets cooled front seats and rear outboard heated seats. 
Cadillac offers 4 years and 50,000 miles of warranty coverage on the XT6, but does not include complimentary maintenance as some rivals do. The powertrain warranty extends to 6 years or 70,000 miles.

Fuel Economy
The XT6’s middling EPA ratings are par for the three-row SUV course.

Cadillac hasn’t made huge strides in fuel economy with the 2020 XT6. Its EPA ratings are strictly average. 

Given the available data, we rate it 4 out of 10.

According to the EPA, the front-wheel-drive XT6 quaffs gas at a rate of 18 mpg city, 25 highway, 20 combined. With part-time all-wheel drive consumption increases to 17/24/20 mpg.

The XT6’s 3.6-liter V-6 can shut down two of its six cylinders to save fuel on the highway, and has stop/start to save fuel at stoplights. The SUV doesn’t have any hybrid powertrain or alternative-fuel setups.

An Acura MDX, by comparison, rates 23 mpg combined in front-drive form, 21 mpg combined with all-wheel drive—and comes in 27-mpg hybrid trim.
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