By: Jag Dhatt
Every manufacturer is trying to fill in their subcompact, compact, and full-size SUV’s gaps so that there is a vehicle that appeals to every buyer. Many years ago, Cadillac only had their full-size Escalade. Then the XT5 and XT4 were added but there was still a sizable gap between these and the Escalade; well, Cadillac has now filled that void with the XT6, a three-row luxury SUV that I found to be handsome, powerful, and of course, filled with amenities.
The most attractive angle of the new XT6 has to be the front end. It’s minimalist and not flashy, but looks aggressive, especially with the Sport package. Our test vehicle, painted in Garnet Metallic (dark burgundy) was matched nicely with gloss black accents, including front grille, roof rails, side window surrounds, and came with unique 20” sport wheels, a chassis damping control and body-colour door handles. The front-end shares similarities with other GM vehicles, with the narrower headlamps and lower stance. Side and rear profiles are attractive as well. I think black wheels would have made the XT6 look the look, but that’s just a personal opinion. Most people who saw the XT6 thought it was quite attractive and looked like a Cadillac, but with a modern touch.
Now let’s talk about the Sport model I drove, which is more than just cosmetics. The XT6 Sport’s Chassis Damping Control adds an adaptive suspension system that actually makes the ride quite smooth, even after the potholes appeared after the winter storm in Vancouver. Cadillac’s damping control is one of the best out there for sure.
What’s more is that the Sport model has the Sport Control System, which adds two clutches in the rear axle mount. Whereas the Luxury model feels doughy in corners, the Sport takes corners with confidence by sending up to 100% of power to the outer wheel in corners. And take corners I did, and the Sport handled very well. Remember, it’s not a sports car, but does much better than some other SUVs.
Some others have commented that the XT6’s engine can be loud, especially under heavy acceleration, but I didn’t experience that at all. In fact, it sounded like a Cadillac, and when you put the Sport in Sport mode, the exhaust has a throatier sound. Under the hood sits the only powerplant available, a 3.6L V6 that produces 310 horsepower and 271 lb-ft of torque. Although the torque number may seem low, the XT6 gets off the line quite quickly. The Sport adds a nine-speed automatic transmission, which holds shifts a little longer than what you’d find on the Luxury trim. The engine and transmission are really well matched and provide an engaging driving experience, not something we’d usually find on a Cadillac like this.
Fuel economy is also impressive; the XT6 has cylinder deactivation, which shuts down two of the cylinders when the load on the vehicle is low. It’s a technology that other manufacturers should adopt.
In all honesty, I didn’t think I’d like the 2020 XT6 Sport as much as it did, and like it I did. Whether it was driving around town, dropping kids at school, or going to business meetings, I liked almost every single aspect of the XT6.
The cabin is a nice mix of classic Cadillac and contemporary design. Rather than being busy, the interior layout of screens, controls, and technology has a very modern look to it. And of course, the materials reflect what you’d expect from Cadillac. Being a three-row SUV, the first two rows offer a lot of leg and head room. Where some competitors have a puny third row, the XT6 actually has usable room for adults. The second row has a bench seat as standard, but I would upgrade and choose the captain chairs.
The center dash is home to the XT6’s latest version of the Cadillac User Experience software, called CUE 3.5. The 8” screen isn’t the largest in the market, but it does suffice. Not only is it touch but can be controlled by a console mounted wheel; I found I used both methods equally and they work well. As expected, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard, as is 4G LTE Wi-Fi and wireless charging. Speaking of wireless charging, Cadillac nailed the location as rather than have a flat pad that takes up space, the XT6 has an angular spot just in front of the armrest. In fact, it’s so convenient that I forgot my phone there on more than just one occasion.
The seats are very comfortable for short or long drives; however, I would have liked more bolster support. No, I’m not asking for Recaro seats, but this was the Sport model, just saying. Heated and cooled seats are offered for the front, while only heated seats warm those in the second row. I was looking for the massage seats, but nope, not in the Sport.
The driver’s seat also is fitted with one of Cadillac’s safety systems, and one I find very useful. When nearing an object or when avoiding a potential collision, the driver’s seat vibrates; other manufacturers have chosen the steering wheel to vibrate, but with Cadillac, the seat does. Even more impressive is that seat vibrates in intensity and location depending on where the object or collision is about to happen.
So, you may be asking about the XT6’s pitfalls and yes, there are some. Although Cadillac has made the interior very nice, it does need a complete refresh to make it completely modern. At this time, it’s good, but improvements can be made.
The other knock against this Caddy is the price to value equation. Yes, it’s a good SUV but when it’s also not amazing value, especially when you have to bundle options together, which get costly. As an example, my test Sport, with optional packages was just over $81K. That’s a lot of money, especially when newcomers like the Kia Telluride or established models like the Acura MDX offer more value.
The 2020 Cadillac XT6 is a really good SUV that delivers all what you’d expect from Cadillac. Offering a three-row option, the XT6 will surely be a good option for those who want or need a vehicle of this size, but don’t want to move up to the Escalade. Yes, it’s pricey, but then again, it is a Caddy.