The 2020 XT6 is a 2020 SUV of the Year contender, but far from the standard of the world
- Elegant exterior
- Intuitive infotainment
- Comfortable ride
- Falls short on price-value
- Outdated interior design
- The competition is better
The 2020 Cadillac XT6 is the first unibody 3-row SUV from Cadillac, and it arrives at a time when seven-passenger crossovers are quite popular. Its elegant styling, comfortable ride, and interior space were some of the attributes our SUVOTY judges liked about the XT6. Its as-tested price of $73,040 USD, however, made it hard to balance the value equation. And when being compared to the new Lincoln Aviator—its most direct competitor—the Cadillac falls short on many fronts.
We were fortunate to have Johan de Nysschen—who was president of Cadillac when the XT6 was being developed—as a guest judge. He didn’t pull punches, saying the 3-row crossover should have been based on GM’s Omega RWD platform, which underpins the CT6. But Cadillac chose to fast-track the XT6, given the popularity of 3-row SUVs and the hole the brand had in its lineup. That led to the XT6 being based on the five-seat XT5, saving development time and cost, “but inevitably, it would force compromises versus a purpose-developed premium crossover architecture,” de Nysschen said.
He’s exactly right. Compare the Cadillac XT6 to the rear-drive-based Lincoln Aviator, and there’s a significant difference in the handling, power delivery, and ride comfort. The Aviator feels a step above the XT6, and the interior design is superior, too.
The XT6 is still a comfortable vehicle to ride in; judges liked the way the suspension is tuned but noticed significant body roll and tire noise. “Its suspension tuning really helps make this front-drive-based crossover feel so much lighter and nimbler—sporty even on the winding road,” features editor Christian Seabaugh said. Despite his misgivings regarding platform choice, de Nysschen applauded the vertical body control over undulating road surfaces: “The overall suspension tuning and balance of ride comfort and handling is probably the best suit of the XT6. GM suspension engineers are good at their craft.”
The XT6 arrives with only one engine, a 3.6-liter V-6 that sends 310 hp and 271 lb-ft of torque to the front wheels via a nine-speed automatic. But compare its numbers with the Aviator’s 400 hp, and the XT6 already falls short.
Our tester was also equipped with the optional all-wheel-drive system, which behaved well on the off-road track. However, its default front-drive mode means battling torque steer, which irked Seabaugh: “It’s truly dumbfounding how poorly tuned this drivetrain is for a luxury vehicle. General Motors knows better.”
The interior design also disappointed judges. “In some ways, the XT6 is the ‘Cadillac of adequates,’” Zach Gale said. “The interior is all right, and transmission tuning is all right. The Cadillac name still means quite a bit to people, but there are a couple cheaper options.”
The rest of the interior—save for Cadillac’s revamped infotainment system, which is one of the best in the business—seems old. “The XT6 delivers the most basic-looking interior, not the standard of the world” editor-in-chief Ed Loh said. “Also, it’s not particularly space efficient, either.”
And although some judges appreciated its roominess, others complained about the difficulty of getting into the third row. The captain’s chairs were tricky to fold/slide for third-row access and the opening between the seats in the second row wasn’t wide enough.
In the end, it’s clear the Cadillac XT6 was a 3-row SUV conceived with limited resources. And when you compare that against other 3-row luxury SUVs, the Caddy falls short in almost every category.
“Is it the best Cadillac on the market right now?” executive editor Mark Rechtin asked. “Yeah, probably. But is it competitive with the rest of the segment? Not really.”
|2020 Cadillac XT6 Sport AWD 400|
|Base Price/As Tested||$58,090/$73,040|
|Power (SAE net)||310 hp @ 6,600 rpm|
|Torque (SAE net)||271 lb-ft @ 5,000 rpm|
|Accel, 0-60 mph||6.8 sec|
|Quarter Mile||15.2 sec @ 93.1 mph|
|Braking, 60-0 mph||131 ft|
|Lateral Acceleration||0.82 g (avg)|
|MT Figure Eight||27.2 sec @ 0.67 g (avg)|
|EPA City/Hwy/Comb||17/24/20 mpg|