Three-Row 2020 Cadillac XT6 Is a Luxury SUV Built from Mainstream Hardware

Eric Tingwall
·4 min read
Photo credit: John Roe - Car and Driver
Photo credit: John Roe - Car and Driver

From Car and Driver

UPDATE 9/24/19: This review has been updated with test results.

Automakers building luxury vehicles from mainstream models is kind of like people picking their noses. Everyone does it, but no one wants to be caught in the act. While the 2020 Cadillac XT6 mines the corporate parts bin, General Motors won't be caught two knuckles deep with this overdue three-row crossover. Most buyers will never suspect that there's a Chevrolet on the dealer lot next door that shares so many nuts and bolts.

The XT6 rides on the size-medium variant of the platform also known as C1XX (or sometimes Chi), with a wide track and a relatively short wheelbase. It is dimensionally most similar to the GMC Acadia, while the Chevrolet Traverse and the Buick Enclave ride on a longer wheelbase. The slender headlights and clean look of the handsome Escala concept car make their first appearance on a production vehicle here. Unfortunately, those styling cues lose their impact when applied to the XT6's overall proportions, which resemble a refrigerator box and a microwave box sitting next to a Volvo XC90.

At least that shape proves efficient for putting people inside. The six- or seven-passenger XT6 offers more third-row space than the 5.1-inch-longer Tahoe-based Escalade, but less than the taffy-stretched (and Suburban-based) Escalade ESV. There's room back there for small and average-size adults, although the third-row cushions sit on the floor like beach chairs in the sand. And you'll be hard-pressed to fit much more than three carry-on bags in the cargo space behind the XT6's back row.

Photo credit: Cadillac
Photo credit: Cadillac

The interior design shows better than the exterior, especially if you spend $9875 or more on extras. The rich materials and quality fitment of the pricey Platinum package deftly mask the humble hardware below. It includes upgraded leather on the seats, a leather-wrapped dash, a suedelike headliner, and genuine wood or carbon-fiber trim along with a host of convenience features. Cadillac's CUE infotainment system is improved with the addition of a new rotary knob just aft of the shifter, although it remains less intuitive than BMW's iDrive or the (outgoing) Audi MMI system.

If there's a tell that the XT6 isn't built from blue-chip bits, it's the naturally aspirated 3.6-liter V-6, which is the only available engine. We like this silky and quick-revving six-cylinder in, say, a reasonably priced Camaro or Colorado. But it's out of its element in a 4700-pound three-row luxury-brand crossover. The XT6 needs a turbocharger to provide the low-end torque that minces suburban traffic so effortlessly. At least the nine-speed automatic transmission is alert and shifts smoothly to drop the 310-hp V-6 into its sweet spot at a moment's notice. Sixty miles per hour arrives in 6.4 seconds, 1.6 seconds behind the BMW X5 xDrive40i and 0.9 behind the larger X7 xDrive40i.

Photo credit: John Roe - Car and Driver
Photo credit: John Roe - Car and Driver

The XT6 lineup starts with the $53,690 front-wheel-drive Premium Luxury trim, with all-wheel drive offered for an additional $2000. Add another $2400 to step up to the all-wheel-drive-only Sport model, which places actual substance behind the name. Beyond the gloss-black exterior trim, the Sport includes a quicker steering rack, adaptive dampers, a heavy-duty cooling package, and a twin-clutch rear axle that varies the torque distribution between the left and right wheels.

Cadillac tunes the suspension for what it calls "isolated precision," which seems accurate, although this XT6 skews more toward isolation than apex-clipping accuracy. The din of the outside world barely trickles into the cabin, and there's none of the hoof clopping you might expect from the 21-inch wheels, a $1000 upgrade for Sport models. Body motions are gracefully restrained, and the Sport's rear axle and brake-based torque vectoring help pivot the XT6 into turns willingly. It's all well controlled, but you won't call it sporty. More important, though, you won't call it a Buick, a Chevy, or a GMC.

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