When it comes to building a vehicle, from passenger cars, to trucks, to airplanes, to spaceships, using the right materials is critical, especially with regard to two specific characteristics: strength and weight. In the automotive sphere, strength is needed for high crash safety as well as high torsional rigidity and stiffness, the latter of which affects handling and ride quality. However, the stronger a material, the heavier it tends to be, which can negatively affect performance and efficiency. It’s all a game of balance, and a precisely-calculated one, at that. And now, as most automakers incorporate aluminum into their vehicles at an increasing rate, the 2020 Cadillac XT6 gets specialized high-strength steel.
Speaking at the debut of the 2020 Cadillac XT6 at the 2019 North American International Auto Show, engineering manager Joel Hoffman addressed Cadillac’s approach to keeping the three-row luxury SUV riding smoothly without loading up on the heft.
“No aluminum,” Hoffman said, “It’s all steel.”
Thanks to the inclusion of materials like high-strength and press-hardened steel, as well as construction techniques like tailor-rolled and tailor-welded blanks, the 2020 Cadillac XT6 offers significantly greater torsional rigidity than the rest of Caddy’s crossover lineup. Although Hoffman admitted “it’s a little bit tricky” to calculate exact figures, the XT6 uses significantly more high-strength steel than stablemates like the XT4 and XT5.
In fact, this fact alone flies in the face to those who believe the XT6 is simply a longer version of the XT5, despite both models sharing the same basic GM C1 platform.
The increased structural stiffness allows the suspension of the 2020 Cadillac XT6 to be more effective, thereby improving the crossover’s ride characteristics. Cabin noise is also reduced as a result. “It’s not vibrating, it’s not wiggling,” Hoffman added.
This is especially difficult for a structure as square as that of the XT6. “That was the trick,” Hoffman said. “[…] The team did a great job.”
What’s more, the steel-centric construction has the added benefit of easier repairs, as aluminum is notoriously difficult to work with, by comparison.
For reference, the XT6 rides on a variant of the GM C1 platform. The basic architecture is also used to underpin the Cadillac XT5, GMC Acadia, the Chevrolet Blazer. The second-generation Buick Enclave and Chevrolet Traverse use the long-wheelbase variant of the same platform. Meanwhile, the up-and-coming three-row Chevrolet Blazer and Chinese-spec Buick Enclave will also be built on exactly the same platform as the Cadillac XT6.
The Cadillac XT6 is the brand’s first three-row crossover since the first-generation SRX. The new model is larger than the midsize XT5 but smaller than a full-size crossover, placing it into the “midsize-plus” category.