Words: Don Cheng
Photography: Don Cheng
Published: October 3, 2020
Cadillac has worked tirelessly to revitalize its brand as of late. Starting with its distinguished coat of arms crest, the brand has simplified the details and removed the wreath that surrounds it. The revamp coincides with a slew of new products that represent an evolution of the marquee’s Art and Science design language, and the latest to join the family is the XT6. It represents the largest of the XT series, slotting above the XT4 and XT5, and allows for three-row seating. Fret not Soundcloud rappers and Soccer athletes, the beloved Escalade isn’t going anywhere.
One quick glance at the sheetmetal and it’s clear the XT6 is quite the looker. There’s a certain gravitas that the XT6 commands when parked among a sea of grey SUVs. Clothed in Garnet Metallic, the burgundy shade compliments the chiseled lines of the crossover well. The front grill is broad and its center is finished in black mesh. The outline in bright silver mimics the Cadillac crest found in the middle of the grille and extends to the narrow headlamps flanking either side. It's a clear nod to the Cadillac Escala concept.
Step inside and the dash immediately commands your attention with large swathes of glossy bronze carbon fibre weave. You will also find the same finish embedded within the doors and steering wheel too. It’s mixed with semi-polished aluminum accents, and the carbon weave flashes yellow in the light, giving it an almost kevlar-like appearance. The rest of the materials are similarly high quality too, with semi-aniline leather seating surfaces and a full leather dashboard. That’s not to say the interior is perfect, as there are elements that still betray GM’s bean counting efforts. The gear lever for example appears low-rent, as does the array of knobs and buttons surrounding it. Look up and the sunroof control panel also feels out of place, likely because it’s shared across other vehicles in GM’s lineup, from the Trailblazer all the way up to the current Escalade.
The infotainment system is a rise above not just Cadillac’s CUE of yesteryear but also of a lot of competitor units today. Cadillac’s own native UI is excellent to use via the high resolution 8-inch touch screen. Renders are crisp and the system remained consistently responsive throughout my week of use. Connectivity options are extensive too, with GM’s LTE data service wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon’s Alexa. Connect it with your Amazon account and you can ask Alexa to help you do things such as remotely start the car, switch on your favourite playlists, and presumably order everything to your Amazon shopping cart.
Under the hood sits a naturally aspirated 3.6-litre V6 that’s shared with other models under the GM corporate umbrella like the GMC Acadia, Blazer RS, and Buick Regal GS. It’s mounted transversely and power is directed via a 9-speed automatic. It can route power just to the front axle or to all four wheels via a user-selectable toggle. The 9-speed remains unintrusive in daily driving situations, gear changes are largely imperceptible, and the system adeptly shuffles among the nine ratios to keep the motor in its sweet spot.
Notice the 400 badge on the rear lift gate? You’d expect that to be the horsepower figure, as manufacturers often do to flex on plebeians driving lesser vehicles, but here the 400 denotes the V6’s torque output. The discerning reader will quickly point out that the naturally aspirated V6 only makes 310 horsepower, so how is it managing 400 lb-ft of torque without being force-fed? Turns out the 400 represents torque in newton-meters and even then, Cadillac seems to be rounding to the nearest hundred - 271 lb-ft equates to 367 NM. Don’t be fooled.
That’s not to discredit the XT6. I quite like the drive. Acceleration isn’t as dramatic with the sheer amount of mass in tow but it’s ample for city driving and passing on freeways. The ride feels dense, and the suspension tuning maintains composure even on the roughest of roads, as if you’re driving a tank through the streets. The substantial feeling translates to confident handling characteristics. It’s not exactly sporty but when pushed but pitches and dives are minimal, which further adds to the feeling of self-assuredness. Meanwhile, the semi-aniline leather seats are supremely comfortable and while the industry has gotten a chance to catch up and release better massaging seats, the Cadillac still offers a ride befitting its storied badge.
At an as-tested price of $78,478, the Cadillac also has a price befitting its name. And it’s in this regard that the XT6 struggles. While still excellent, the performance doesn’t hold a candle to the offerings from German contenders. Instead the Cadillac is more suited to face off against its rivals across the street in Lincoln’s new Aviator. But even then, the XT6 lacks the power and curb appeal of the Aviator’s gorgeous cabin. Dealers know this, and perhaps this is where the silver lining exists. Discounts for the XT6 are currently in the five-figure mark, bringing the price down substantially and crucially enough to warrant a closer look at Cadillac’s latest three-row.
Model: 2020 Cadillac XT6 Sport
Paint Type: Garnet Metallic
Base Price: $63,798
Price as Tested: $78,478
Length/Width/Height (mm): 5,042 / 1,964 / 1,784
Curb weight (kg): 2,127
Engine: 3.6-litre V6
Horsepower: 310 hp @ 6,600 rpm
Torque: 271 lb-ft @ 5,000 rpm
Transmission: 9-speed automatic
Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway ) L/100km: 12.7 / 9.5
Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 11.3