As an enthusiast, when I think about Cadillac, my thoughts invariably turn to the CTS-V. It’s a luxurious, 640-horsepower rocket of car, as comfortable slaying tires at the track as it is at the valet station Ruth’s Chris Steak House. Unquestionably, it’s one of the greatest American sedans ever.
But currently, the crossover is king. So while Cadillac has proven it can deliver a sports sedan that’ll go head to head with the best European automakers have to offer, the company has pivoted to offer a suite of vehicles that’ll appeal to America’s shifting tastes. In September, the company debuted its first compact crossover, the XT4, and a mid-cycle refresh of its popular XT5 will be available toward the end of the summer. Now, the XT6 has arrived, to slot in between the XT5 and the Escalade, Cadillac’s harmonious blend of executive transport and urban tank.
To celebrate the arrival of the XT6, Cadillac brought a group of journalists to Washington DC, where we saw some sights, and got to experience the new three-row crossover on the gorgeous roads outside of the city.
2020 Cadillac XT6 Exterior
Crafting a compelling three-row SUV is a tough as a challenge as you can face as an automotive designer, and the XT6 presents beautifully. Like anything wearing the brand’s famous wreath and crest, you can identify the XT6 as a Cadillac from 100 yards away. But fans who’ve been following the company will also see some prominent elements carried over from the gorgeous Escala concept car, which wowed audiences when it debuted at the 2016 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
The resemblance to the concept is clear in the front clip, and it’s my favorite party of the vehicle. The slender headlamps flow into the prominent grille, and there’s aggressive mesh in the strip that sits above front splitter. Of course, there are also prominent vertical lighting strips — a Cadillac signature — at each corner. They complement the sharp angles present on the rest of the sheet metal, like the strakes that run along the door panels, and prominent crease in the center of the hood. The XT6 is two inches wider than the XT5, which gives it a more commanding presence than its smaller sibling, and in person, the flared fenders are more prominent than they present in pictures, which contribute to the XT6’s muscular stance.
Out back, the hockey stick tail lights help frame the great proportions between the hood, roofline, and wheel wells, and if you look close, there’s a Cadillac emblem inside the glass, as an Easter egg. All versions of the XT6 come standard with 20-inch wheels, but 21-inch wheels will be an option.
2020 Cadillac XT6 Interior
It wouldn’t be a Cadillac without a luxurious interior, and the XT6 delivers. The seats are supremely comfortable, and are exactly the kind of chairs you’d want to coddle you on a long commute — or a trip across the country.
All the touch points are soft, and there are elegant elements everywhere, like the ridges on the edge of the dial you can use to make the selections from the central display, and the solid, controlled way the leather-wrapped cover slides in over the cup holders.
Speaking of the center console, there’s also a clever little slot — complete with wireless charging — for your phone to sit inside. Open the lid, and you’ll find a little space cut in the center, making it easy to retrieve. Now, I realize that sounds like a simple thing, but when you’ve driven tons of vehicles with your smart phone awkwardly sliding around a tray, it’s one of the things you notice.
In my tester, the leather-work felt exceptional everywhere, and I loved the little strip of alcantara that ran between the border of the dashboard’s wood trim, and the leather area beneath the windshield. It continued along the door panels, which also feature lovely stainless steel speaker grilles, courtesy of the audio wizards at Bose.
The climate control vent directly next to than speaker was another example of the interior designer’s attention to detail, as the plastic of the vent was nestled neatly behind the metal trim, and the fit was seamless. The double pane glass in the roof also filled the cabin with light, and contributed to the airy spacious feel — though the potent summer sunshine led me to keep the cover in place for most of my time in the car.
I thought the eight-inch touchscreen in the center of the dash was well integrated, as I’m not a fan of units that poke out above the lines of the dash, as to often, they looked tacked on. It runs an updated version of Cadillac’s CUE system, and allows access to features like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Sirius XM satellite radio. Even in bright sun, the display was easy to read, and responded to inputs with crisp precision.
Cargo-wise, with all the seats folded, the XT6 will accommodate 78.7 cubic-feet. If you don’t want to go all in, there’s 43.1 cubic-feet behind the second row, and 12.6 cubic-feet behind the third row. While I fit fine in the way back — I’m 6’3″ — like most third rows in this class, the seats are best used for short jaunts or children.
2020 Cadillac XT6 Performance
In the XT6, power — or “propulsion,” as the press material refers to it — comes from a 3.6-liter V6, which is good for 310 horsepower and 271 lb-ft of torque. It’s mated to a nine speed automatic, which can be shifted manually with paddles.
While both the Luxury and Sport trims get the same amount of power, the Sport does get some go-fast bits the Luxury doesn’t, including standard all-wheel drive, a twin-clutch, torque-vectoring rear differential, and a more aggressive steering rack ratio. There’s also active ride control, and while Cadillac’s version uses slightly different tech than the General’s famous MagneRide, the goal of optimizing handling remains the same. Throttle response and shift points have also been sharpened to provide for more aggressive driving dynamics.
During the event, I got a chance to drive both flavors of the XT6 on the gorgeous roads outside of Washington, DC. Unfortunately, as luck would have it, those roads were in Virginia. As many gearheads know, the state has a decidedly Draconian view toward speeding, which is compounded by the fact that posted limits are comically low, so I was on my best behavior. That said, while the power wasn’t overwhelming, the 3.6-liter provided proper motivation for the big Caddy, and I thought the engine note, while muted somewhat by the cabin’s loads of sound deadening, made a nice throaty noise.
I can’t attest as to how the upgraded rear diff of the Sport handles twisties, as there was no real opportunity to push it in the bends. Because honestly, I had no desire to fly back to Virginia just so I could go to jail. But the steering is direct, the and while this isn’t a vehicle you’d buy of you were planning on carving canyons every Sunday morning, it’ll handle a back road sprint with aplomb. While underway, it’s worth noting how impressively quiet the cabin is, and unless you’re hammering on it, the shifts from the nine-speed are almost imperceptible.
2020 Cadillac XT6 Safety
Since the XT6 is an all-new model, it has yet to be tested by either the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. But the robust list of standard safety features indicates Cadillac’s engineering team made safety a top priority. Every XT6 model will come with cutting-edge tech like forward collision alert, automatic emergency braking, front pedestrian braking, and rear cross traffic alert. Lane keep assist, and blind spot alert are also standard, and even more advanced safety tech, like adaptive cruise control, reverse automatic braking, and rear pedestrian are on the options.
That’s to say nothing of the night vision feature, which displays a scan of the road ahead, and will identify pedestrians and wildlife on screen in the central gauge cluster. It’s an extremely cool bit of kit — and one I’d definitely opt for.
2020 Cadillac XT6 Overall
With its handsome looks, good driving dynamics, refined, spacious interior, and great standard safety tech, the new Cadillac XT6 is a great option in the mid-size luxury crossover segment. I’m looking forward to getting more time with it after it hits press fleets, so I can stretch its legs on a proper multi-day road trip.
You’ll be able to order the 2020 Cadillac XT6 at your local AutoNation-affiliated Cadillac dealer in the spring, and we’ll have detailed info on pricing long before then, so stay tuned!