General Motors hopes the 2020 XT6 will be the Cadillac of premium midsize SUVs. It’s the third and largest in the newish XT series of SUVs. The XT6 rides well, the center stack isn’t confusing, and the cockpit trim is tasteful. On the downside, the XT6 is hampered by a too-small center-stack display, not enough noise-damping when you tromp the throttle, and poor luggage space with the third row in use.
The XT6 will be challenged to compete against a reinvigorated Lincoln and the Aviator SUV; the usual suspects from Audi, BMW, Infiniti, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo; and the unusual twin suspects of the dazzling Hyundai Palisade and Kia Telluride that are punching far above their weight.
The crown jewel of Cadillac technology is not yet available: the Super Cruise system that allows hands-off driving. Super Cruise can’t come to the rescue too soon. It is the best Level 2 technology out there and, yes, Tesla, that includes Autopilot.
Fine Highway Cruiser, Decent Handling
In a week of driving the XT6 on all kinds of roads and during the season’s first snowstorm, the 199-inch, 4,500-pound all-wheel-drive SUV (with winter tires) felt composed and confident. Really. The high-up driving position helped see around traffic driving into and out of New York City. (The big fella’s size also earned it a $20 surcharge at a midtown parking garage, even though it classifies as a midsize and it’s less than six feet tall, albeit barely.)
As Car and Driver notes, “The three-row 2020 Cadillac XT6 is a luxury SUV built from mainstream hardware … not that you’d ever realize it.” It rides on GM’s C1XX platform shared with the GMC Acadia on a short wheelbase relative to the length of 113 inches, and to the longer-wheelbase Buick Enclave and Chevrolet Traverse.
It’s also the same size, within an inch, of the Ford Explorer, which shares the same platform as the Lincoln Aviator. The Aviator is the vehicle with which the Lincoln Motor Company reinvented itself: truly luxurious interiors, warning chimes (not synthetic beeps) crafted by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Revel audio, and a surprisingly good ride. It is worlds beyond the Aviator’s more-or-less predecessor, the Lincoln MKT, one of which I own, and which has, well, a truly spacious rear seat, THX audio, and an unforgettable rear roofline.
First-Class Driver Assists, Technology
The XT6 comes with most of the safety and driver-assist features baked into the list price of $55,000: low-speed automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot warning, and lane-departure warning. Adaptive cruise control is an extra-cost option, which, we wind up repeating too often in premium-car reviews, comes standard on run-of-the-mill $25,000 Hondas and Toyotas.
The head-up display is first class. When it lights up the windshield with the Brake Now! warning, it cannot be missed.
A Big Improvement on Past Caddies
The XT6 may be the best SUV Cadillac ever made. It’s less bulky than Caddy’s first SUV, the Escalade of 1999 to present, which excels at interior space although the third is still snug unless you get the ESV that is 20 inches longer. The XT6 avoided the cramped rear legroom of the SRX that ran from 2004 to 2016. If it existed in a vacuum – no Lincoln, no international automaker competitors – Cadillac would be riding high.
XT6 In the Cadillac Hierarchy
The Escalade measures 204 inches long (the stretched Escalade ESV, 224 inches), and for many folks, that’s too big. The XT series was intended to provide a newer interpretation of Cadillac SUVs in less fortress-like vehicles: XT4 compact SUV (181 inches, and a vast improvement on the SRX with annoyingly snug back seat room), XT5 midsize SUV (190 inches), and large midsize XT6 (199 inches long, and 11 inches lower than Escalade’s 81-inch height).
Should You Buy?
The 2020 Cadillac XT6 has been on the market for a half-year. It is offered in two trim lines, Premium Luxury, which is front-or all-wheel-drive, and Sport, which is AWD-only. Cadillac says the Premium Luxury will be the bigger seller since you can get most of the Sport offerings.
There is a long and interlocking options list which, when you choose option B, often undoes option package A. They can also bring you into the upper seventies on price. You almost certainly want adaptive cruise control because the XT6 is a great highway cruiser, possibly the camera-rear-view-mirror option, along with things like power-vented front seats and heated row-two outboard seats.
My test car, an XT6 Premium Luxury AWD, came in at $63,810, including $995 freight, $2,530 for an Enhanced Visibility and Technology Package (rear camera mirror, an 8-inch LCD in the middle of the instrument panel, auto park assist, useful surround cameras and recorder, and HUD), $1,300 for the Driver Assist Package that gives you ACC and enhanced auto emergency braking, $2,000 for polished rims, and etcetera. It could have been more.
The XT6 is a very good vehicle for a Cadillac, whether sedan or SUV. But at this point, Cadillac has been leapfrogged by Lincoln. And the Hyundai/Kia twins are nice, luxurious, and affordable. The addition of Super Cruise in 2020 will make the XT6 much more competitive.
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