Cadillac entered the sport utility vehicle segment 21 years ago to compete with several luxury rivals new in the family mover revolution. It’s now further expanding its presence in a saturated SUV segment with the 2020 Cadillac XT6.
It’s the manufacturer’s first three-row crossover, joining the stately, apartment-sized Cadillac Escalade. It has three rows of seating as a truck-based SUV about weight 1,200 pounds more than its new sedan-like smaller sibling.
Cadillac’s debut in the class — the Audi Q7, Acura MDX, Lincoln Navigator, Mercedes-Benz GLE and Volvo XC90 are main rivals — is presented refreshingly. It has only two trim levels. Who needs to make a car purchase based on too many confusing choices with only nuances as differences?
The XT6 is offered in Premium Luxury and Sport trims, both including a 3.6-liter V6 engine with 310 horsepower and a nine-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard on Premium Luxury models, with all-wheel drive optional. Sport trims are all-wheel drive only.
The new Cadillac attracts attention. It has the carmaker’s signature exterior appearance. Somehow, the sharp angles, pointed contours and modern-style, tear-drop-designed lights work together. The look has defined Cadillac for decades.
The XT6 has a dual personality interior. With all seats up, there are only 12.6 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row. With the easy-to-maneuver rear two rows down, carbo space is a near-cavernous 78.7 cubic feet. The XT6 can be configured for six (with optional, second-row captain’s chairs), or seven passengers. Both seat offerings offer ample headroom and legroom.
Both XT6 trims are similarly equipped. There’s an eight-inch touchscreen display, two USB jacks for each row of seats, a Wi-Fi hotspot (4G LTE Wi-Fi connection), Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and satellite radio. A wireless charging pad, conveniently placed on an angled slide-in opening on the console, is among many options.
Technologically advanced and traditional systems are controlled by the Cadillac User Experience (CUE) infotainment system. It features touchscreen and rotary controls to adjust various settings. It’s not a particularly quick system but it’s intuitive and user-friendly.
Safety and comfort features are abundant. A sunroof, hands-free liftgate, heated front seats and a heated steering wheel are included in both trims. The Sport trim also adds an adaptive suspension, gloss-black exterior trim accents and towing aids.
One small disappointment: The heated front seats offer three touchscreen settings, all efficient. But the steering wheel function provides uneven heating.
The 14-speaker Bose sound system, touchscreen navigation system, upscale leather upholstery and interior trim impressively add to the overall appeal. Automatic emergency braking, blind-spot warning and lane-keeping assist parking sensors and a back-up camera give the XT6 further considerations while matched against established competitors.
With its powerful engine, the new Cadillac scoots along the road with sufficient acceleration. Its 0-60 miles per hour performance is 6.8 seconds and the XT6 offers a quiet ride, particularly at freeway speeds.
At prolonged intersection stops, the engine shuts down until acceleration resumes. Handling is smooth, notably at freeway speeds. Gas mileage averages are 17 miles per gallon in city driving, 24 mpg on the freeway.
The introduction of the XT6 gives Cadillac a chance in the congested luxury SUV segment. The Escalade doesn’t get top praises in the behemoth category. Its base price is $20,000 more than the XT6, which begins at $57,095 and tops out at $71,840.
General Motors enthusiasts will be impressed. But it’s not GM believers who need to be convinced. The XT6 is new and shiny and worthy as a handsome alternative. But it’s unlikely to make buyers with other favorites stray for their next purchase.