Review update: 2020 Cadillac XT6 fades from 3-row party

March 11, 2020

The 2020 Cadillac XT6 is late to the three-row crossover SUV party. For some, such as the BMW X7, Lincoln Aviator, Kia Telluride, and Hyundai Palisade, being late to the party is an art form in lasting impressions. 

That is not the case with the 2020 Cadillac XT6. The XT6 is so late it feels obligatory, like it had to make an appearance because its siblings—the Chevrolet Traverse, Buick Enclave, and GMC Acadia—dragged it there, and is now skulking to the outskirts to nibble the broken crackers left on the cheese tray. 

In my week with the 2020 XT6 in Premium Luxury trim with the swanky Platinum package, I wanted to like it; I wanted to believe Cadillac was back on track with an answer for Lincoln’s revitalized crossover lineup. In no way is the XT6 bad. It’s all very fine, and solid, and good. But that’s it. There’s nothing remarkable except that it lacks that new, fresh and hot feeling found in the X7, Aviator, Telluride, and Palisade. And for $71,585, including $995 destination, it really needs to have that feeling.

Otherwise, it feels like a nice vehicle from General Motors that’s about $20,000 overpriced. The similarities with the Traverse and Enclave are most pronounced in the back. Power-folding switchgear folds both the two seats in the back and the standard 60/40 bench is the second row. For the mid-row to fold complete the front seats will have to be moved up. Third-row seats can fit adults, despite the XT6 being half a foot shorter and more than an inch narrower than the Enclave and Traverse. That space differential is mostly lost in the back, where cargo volume is 12.6 cubic feet, or about half of GM’s larger siblings. We couldn’t fit a hockey bag, and risked a liftgate spill with two duffel bags back there. With the third row power folded down, there are 43.1 cubic feet of cargo room. 

Getting into the third row is where the XT6 disappoints in its sameness. A latch on top of the seat slides and tips forward the semi-aniline leather hides, which are part of the $8,550 Platinum package bundle. It’s no longer a trim in the Cadillac family and the XT6 only comes in Premium Luxury or Sport trims. 

A lower latch on the second-row bench or available captain’s chairs helps collapse the seat for a flat floor or for kids to stomp on if they forget the top latch while getting in back. Air vents and USB ports lets the wayback passengers maintain sovereignty, and each row gets two USB charge ports. 

2020 Cadillac XT6 Sport

2020 Cadillac XT6 Sport

2020 Cadillac XT6

2020 Cadillac XT6

2020 Cadillac XT6 Sport

2020 Cadillac XT6 Sport

Very little behind the first row is new, but the cabin is where the XT6 becomes a Cadillac. The five-sided Cadillac crest design carries over to the shape of the climate controls in the center stack and the overall orientation of the long, horizontal dash. An 8.0-inch touchscreen heads the clean dash, and redundant steering controls minimize the need to press somewhat small icons on the screen. Cadillac’s new rotary control dial presents a third option in controlling audio or navigation, though I didn’t need to use it due to the steering controls. My 12-year-old passenger preferred the dial and the volume knob in the console to the touchscreen, however.  

The pricey Platinum package includes heated leather front and rear seats, heated leather-wrapped wheel, velvety suede-like headliner, and carbon fiber dash elements. It looks and feels good. 

Behind the wheel, the power from the familiar 310-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6 engine with a 9-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive was present but the 271 pound-feet of potential torque didn’t cause any gut drops. It’s not made for performance, but if you’re active with the paddle shifters in Sport mode it’ll handle most, if not all, passing moves. Under normal acceleration, the XT6 is smooth and quiet. Cylinder deactivation while cruising keeps fuel economy competitive at 17 mpg city, 24 highway, 20 combined. 

Fortunately, a slew of standard active features are baked into the steep price of the XT6. It comes with automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, active lane control, blind-spot monitors, rear-cross traffic alert, and a rear camera that can be washed clean with a button in the cabin. Maddeningly, adaptive cruise control is an extra cost, unless you’ve already shelled out for the Platinum package. There are some other fun features, like a night vision ($2,000) infrared camera that detects objects at night at a greater distance than headlights, but that takes the XT6 further out of range.  

Cadillac needed a three-row alternative to the Escalade to slot above the XT5, but compared to the competition, and even the relative value of other GM three-row SUVs, the XT6 is an outlier and will leave the party as forgettably as it entered. 

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2020 Cadillac XT6 Premium Luxury AWD

Base Price: $55,890

Price as tested: $71,585

EPA fuel economy: 17/24/20 mpg

The hits: Thoughtful tech, attractive cabin, good interior space

The misses: Expensive, indistinct, uninspired.

2020
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2020
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