Flashy in some ways, but soft, subtle and everyday liveable in others.
The Cadillac has been synonymous with luxury status among North American buyers for decades, and Cadillac’s full-size Escalade (reviewed here) has found itself used in more music videos than all of its competition combined. While many people would love to be seen rolling around in an Escalade, not everyone wants to always be piloting their family around in a large, truck-based behemoth. Enter the 2020 Cadillac XT6 Sport, a brand-new vehicle for the brand introduced this year with seating for up to seven, and significantly better fuel economy than its larger sibling.
The XT6 is based on the same C1XX platform as the GMC Acadia and longer Chevrolet Traverse (reviewed here), among others. By eschewing the truck frame design and using a unibody chassis, the XT6 manages to fit three rows of seats in a much smaller footprint than the Escalade. Inside the XT6 are all of the expected Cadillac design cues, from premium materials to a dashboard design that is on-brand with lots of soft touches. The Cadillac CUE system is present for infotainment purposes, and features Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The climate control buttons in the dashboard are an odd flexible touch plastic type, which feels flimsy compared to proper tactile buttons. There’s an HVAC screen in CUE that provides more options as well as rear seat climate controls.
Two trim levels are available on the XT6, with the entry level model called the Premium Luxury. The upper tier trim, to which our test vehicle was built, is known as the Sport (starting at $63,798) and it replaces the wood interior accents with carbon fiber, adds a unique exterior appearance package and a twin-clutch Sport Control all-wheel-drive system and active damping suspension. The AWD system and suspension is really the main differentiator between the trims. Both models can be equipped with the Platinum package ($4,255), which adds semi-aniline leather seats, leather and suede to the dashboard and doors, and a microfiber suede headliner. This combination really elevates the XT6.
Cameras are the name of the game in the XT6, and opting for the Enhanced Visibility Package ($2,705) adds a lot of cameras enabling surround vision, automatic park assist, a heads-up display and a surround vision recorder. The Night Vision option ($2,300) adds an infrared camera, allowing the screen in the gauge cluster to show you pedestrians or animals near your path when the headlights just aren’t enough. A Driver Assist Package ($2,275) takes advantage of all of these cameras to enable autonomous emergency braking and adaptive cruise control. Our test vehicle was equipped with all of these packages, as well as a few other options for an as-tested MSRP of $79,128 plus fees and taxes.
The XT6 has a fairly comfortable ride, so don’t let the “Sport” trim name fool you. Despite the active suspension and sport tuning, the passenger experience is your typical soft and floaty Cadillac style, where bumps of the road aren’t really felt and the seats are very supportive. A panoramic sunroof allows for great views of the sky for all passengers and provides additional headroom to climb into the third row. Getting back there is not all that easy for adults, and impossible if you are a two-carseat family, so consider opting for the captain’s chairs if you need that third row often.
Cargo volume with all three rows in use certainly takes a bit of a hit versus a large SUV, but with all three rows up, there is 357-liters of space that can be put to good use. Using the buttons located by the trunk opening, both third and second rows can be power-folded flat to open up 1,220L and 2,229L of volume respectively.
Motivation for the XT6 is provided by the standard GM 3.6-liter direct-injection V6 tuned for 310 horsepower at 6,600RPM and 271 lb-ft. of torque at 5,000RPM. While we might dream of one day finding a turbocharged version of this engine under a V-badged example, just for fun, the current engine has no shortage of power for the platform and primary uses of the premium crossover.
With a nine-speed transmission and that dual-clutch all-wheel-drive system always at the ready, the 3.6-liter engine never has to work very hard to get the 2,127-kilogram (4,690 pound) XT6 where it needs to go. Gearing in the GM in-house nine-speed automatic is very well suited to the power of the engine and the tuning is spot on, minimizing gear hunting.
Fuel efficiency ratings come in at a very respectable 13.7L/100km in the city and 9.7L/100km on the highway, for a combined rating of 11.8L/100km. A nice perk here is that this luxury Cadillac achieves all of this luxe greatness running on regular 87-octane fuel, so filling the 83-liter tank doesn’t hurt too much at the pumps.
Spending close to $80,000 for a three-row crossover might seem absurd if you haven’t been car shopping in a while, but take one look at the competition and you will know why Cadillac decided this was the time to introduce a larger product below the Escalade. GM has already been in the game for a while with the Buick Enclave (reviewed here), a platform mate to the XT6. Lincoln has the same idea with their recently launched Aviator based on the Ford Explorer. Volvo offers the XC90 (reviewed here) and last year Lexus pushed out a three row version of its highly successful RX vehicles in the form of the RX 350L.
The 2020 Cadillac XT6 Sport has a reasonably subtle presence in person, though it’s more prominent from some angles. This two-sided personality matches the way it feels on the inside and to the driver; it’s flashy in some ways, but soft, subtle and everyday liveable in others. The powertrain is sharp and responsive, but the adaptive sport suspension feels a bit too soft, especially when compared to some of its platform mates with better on-road feel. This mix of driver engagement and passenger comfort for long family trips might just be perfect.