2020 Cadillac XT6 Review by Larry Nutson
2020 Cadillac XT6
Moving with luxury into the roaring 20s
By Larry Nutson
Executive Editor and Bureau Chief
The Auto Channel
In spite of predictions of declining new vehicle sales, automakers continue to introduce new models. This is especially true when it comes to SUVs.
Analysts forecast that 2019 will end up at about 17.1 million sales. So far we are on that track even though the second half of this year had a slight rally. As we roll into 2020 forecasters says sales will drop to 16.7 million vehicles. SUV sales are expected to continue to dominate the market.
Cadillac’s completely new XT6 is a three-row 7-passenger crossover (XSUV) that fills the gap between its 5-passenger XT5 and range-toping iconic and pricey Escalade. For the sake of completeness, the compact XT4 sits at the bottom of Cadillac’s people-hauler lineup.
As is the case with many vehicle programs today, no matter which automaker, sharing of architecture is the norm. The XT6 and the GMC Acadia are siblings. The new mid-size XT6 can seat seven, with its two-seat third row. It also comes as a 6-passenger model with two center row captain’s chair seats.
Cadillac employs a “Y strategy” to define trim levels that split into luxury or sport equipment. The Premium Luxury trim comes in front- or all-wheel drive and has a bit more sparkle. The Sport trim is available only with all-wheel drive and has a few tweaks to enhance overall driving dynamics. Both XT6 trims offer a Platinum package with leather and suede trimmings.
All XT6s are powered by a 310-hp 3.6-liter V6 paired up with a nine-speed automatic transmission. Trailer tow rating is 4,000 lbs.
My XT6 driving experience was in a 7-passenger Premium Luxury AWD model with a base price of $54,695, plus a $995 destination charge. A number of optional packages drove the total price up to $71,585.
A Premium package ($4,900) added semi-aniline leather seating and leather trim plus the performance suspension with real-time damping. The Enhanced Visibility and Technology package ($2,350) added a rear camera mirror which provides an unobstructed view to the rear view mirror when you have a bunch of bobbing heads in the rear seats. Also added is a head-up display, surround vision, rear pedestrian alert and parking assist with braking.
An infrared Night Vision system ($2,000), 20-inch polished wheels ($2,095), Driver Assist package ($1,300), Cadillac User Experience ($1,000), Premium Headlamps ($800), Comfort and Air Quality packages ($750) plus Satin Steel Metallic paint ($625) rounded out the options.
My first in person look at the new XT6 was at the 2019 Chicago Auto Show. Following that I had a brief 20-minute test drive at the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA) Fall Rally. Among the reasons for this brief drive is the XT6 is a candidate for the MAMA Luxury Family Vehicle of the Year award.
This time around I had a week’s time with the XT6. As fortune would have it, I would get plenty of seat time since I was driving the XT6 from Chicago to Southeast Michigan for the family Thanksgiving gathering.
Highway road trips provide a good opportunity to test out many features. Car makers equip new vehicles with lots of equipment but not everyone uses everything. Heated seats and steering wheel are wonderful in cold weather. The hands free tailgate makes life easy with a load of travel gear in your hands. Power-folding third-row seat saves lots of climbing around and finding release levers. The remote start made my wife happy when she entered the warm interior.
On the highway the Bose 14-speaker audio plus Apple CarPlay made for great tune and podcast listening. I like smart/adaptive cruise control if the traffic is not too dense. The HUD is great for checking your speed without taking your eyes off the road. My wife handled some business issues via the 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot. My mother-in-law questioned the hug she got from the automatic tightening front seat belt. Wireless charging for my iPhone made that convenient, rather than having cords all over the place.
Overall the 2020 Cadillac XT6 has refined and comfortable driving dynamics. The engine and transmission combo work well together to deliver good power with very comfortable overall acceleration and mid-range cruising performance. The XT6 drives smaller than its size would lead you to believe. It has car-like driving manners plus the adaptive suspension equipped on my XT6 smoothed out road imperfections.
EPA test-cycle fuel economy ratings for the XT6 with AWD are 20 mpg combined with 17 city mpg and 24 highway mpg. The FWD models are rated one mpg better in both. The 22 gallon fuel tank on the AWD model can make for over 500 miles of all day cruising.
On our trip east the XT6 got an amazing 28 mpg—-even with my lead foot. However, we had a very strong tailwind that day plus heavier, slower traffic which helped to get that fuel mileage. On the way back home heading west we got 25 mpg which seemed to be more the norm.
The XT6 has an automatic engine stop-start that works very smoothly with the intent to reduce both fuel consumption and tailpipe emissions. It comes with a disable off-switch for those times in city driving when you want instant acceleration. Many drivers dislike stop-start. If the system has a disable switch and functions with smooth restarts I am fine with it.
The XT6 fills a big void for Cadillac in the 3-row SUV arena since the large, truck-based Escalade can be a bit of overkill for many. It’s equipped with a complete contingent of Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS) active safety feature for safer driving. More info and details on the XT6 can be found at www.cadillac.com.
As I wrap-up this review voting is going on to select the winner of the MAMA Luxury Family Vehicle of the Year. The winner will be announced at the MAMA opening breakfast during the 2020 Chicago Auto Show on Feb. 6. Stay tuned to see if the 2020 Cadillac XT6 gets the spotlight.
© 2019 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy