All-New 2020 Cadillac XT6: First Drive22
Last week, GM Authority traveled to Washington D.C. for a first drive of the all-new 2020 Cadillac XT6. After several briefings on Caddy’s new three-row crossover, we got into an XT6 Sport and drove off toward the gorgeous backroads of Virginia.
All in, we spent about 150 miles with the XT6, both behind the wheel, in the passenger seat, and in the two back rows. On the paved roads, this “midsize-plus” crossover felt very composed, even at high speeds. In fact, we can’t praise this quality enough: the XT6 is easy to drive at any speed, whether navigating traffic-packed city streets or when eating up miles on the interstate.
When getting into higher speeds, the ride is very quiet and peaceful, though that comes somewhat as a double-edged sword: the ride is so serene, that the steering in Cadillac’s newest crossover feels detached. That’s a significant departure from the incredibly-connected feel delivered by the now-discontinued Cadillac ATS and CTS. A little more steering feedback would add a doze of fun to the XT6’s serene yet composed personality. But whether or not a more connected steering feel is something buyers in this category will appreciate is another matter entirely.
At this point, we must once again emphasize just how quiet the new Cadillac XT6 is, and how easy it is to drive quickly. This is something we noted in our remarks about five times during the drive, often finding ourselves glancing at the speedometer and realizing that we were well above the speed limit.
Currently, the only powerplant for the Cadillac XT6 in North America is GM’s newest naturally-aspirated six cylinder, the 3.6L V6 LGX making 310 horsepower and 271 pound-feet of torque. In China, the XT6 gets the turbo-charged 2.0 I4 LSY as the only engine, but that’s a story for another day. Swapping the cogs is the newest GM 9-speed automatic transmission.
Power from the atmospheric six-banger is plentiful and comes on smoothly. It should suffice for family-carrying duties as well as some spirited driving through the twisties. But from a handling standpoint, don’t expect to get the same feeling as you would from driving an ATS, CTS, or CT6.
Speaking of the twisties, Cadillac told us a few times during the press briefings that the XT6 offers trick cornering capabilities thanks to its twin-clutch AWD system, which is capable of directing most engine power to an outside rear wheel. That would only come in handy when accelerating through a turn, which we tried several times, one of which was at an empty traffic circle.
We couldn’t really tell if some form of mechanical magic was taking place in the chassis, since we were trying to hold on just to remain in the seat. While comfortable on long-distance trips or runs around town, the chairs simply don’t have the upper or lower bolstering necessary to hold the driver and front passenger in place during spirited driving maneuvers, so keep that in mind in case you’re planning on recreating an episode of Gymkhana in your XT6.
Now, the cockpit is based on the XT5. In fact, it’s identical to that of the refreshed 2020 Cadillac XT5, which both share the GM C1 platform. While some will deride this as a negative quality, we don’t think so whatsoever. Taken at face value, the XT5 is Cadillac’s best-selling model by a long shot, so it’s obvious that people like that interior. Hence, it’s safe to assume that most customers in this category will have a similar reaction to the cabin of the XT6.
The materials are all high-quality stuff, with every touch point wrapped in some kind of a soft-touch appliqué. There’s genuine wood or carbon fiber for the large insert spanning the dash as well as the door inserts. The speaker grilles of the Bose Performance Series audio system have a highly-technical look, with graduated gauges – 0.6 mm on the external portions of the grille going to 1 mm on the internal portions. Besides communicating a precision feel, the grilles just look good. The audio system sounds good too, whether playing spoken word radio/podcasts or bumping the latest hip hop jams. We did both.
The AC vent surrounds and door handles are finished in a tasteful chrome, and everything else has a good, solid feeling. The only exception to that are the bottom portions of the doors, which have a hard plastic finish, like on the ATS. A more fitting material for such a premium product is the softer lower door liner like on the CTS and Escalade.
Back to the primary function of the new Cadillac XT6 as a luxurious people hauler: the seating position for the driver and front passenger is low in the vehicle and it took a while to find just the right position. Meanwhile, the passenger seat is comfortable for just sitting, and also for doing some work: during our drive, we had to send off two emails to our GM Authority colleagues from the laptop, and were able to do so in comfort from the passenger seat using the built-in Wi-Fi hotspot running through the
OnStar Cadillac 4G LTE network.
The second row on the new Cadillac XT6 can be ordered as either captain’s chairs seating two passengers or a bench seat for three passengers. All XT6 units we sampled had the captain’s chairs configuration, which get the job done with sufficient legroom and overall comfort.
The third row seats two people and is quite usable. We spent roughly 30 minutes there during rides around town. However, a full-sized adult probably wouldn’t want to spend a lot of time back there. Ingress and egress to the third row can also be troublesome for the older population, particularly those with knee or hip issues, but kids should jump in and out just fine.
Cargo space is palatial with the third row folded. But with the third row upright, it’s greatly reduced. In other words, a family of six would fit inside the new Cadillac XT6 just fine for a ride around town. But if that same same family needs to get to the airport to fly for a week-long vacation to Disney, we’re not sure how where they’d fit their luggage.
This issue isn’t specific to the XT6, and also impacts other models in this segment, including the Acura MDX, Volvo XC90, Infiniti QX60 and Lexus RX-L. In fact, the XT6 is less compromised than those models in this regard.
Besides that, we had two other gripes with the seating. First, the XT6 desperately needs tilting headrests; without them, finding a comfy driving or seating position is that much more difficult. In fact, we’re not sure why a luxury crossover that starts in the low $50,000 range, and that will sell most units in the $60,000 range, does not offer tilting headrests in the first and second rows. Second, there needs to be an option for extendable thigh bolsters on the front chairs, especially on Sport models. As it currently stands, the seat cushion is not long enough to deliver ample support on long trips.
Overall, the Cadillac XT6 is a good first effort at a three-row crossover (not counting the first-generation SRX). It is smooth, calm and quiet, while also being filled to the brim with the latest technologies. It’s also pleasing to the eye, as it is a good-looking vehicle. But there is room for improvement, and we hope that these improvements are made throughout the model’s lifecycle.
We’ll have a lot more about the XT6 in the coming weeks, so be sure to subscribe to GM Authority as we bring you the latest Cadillac XT6 news, Cadillac news and ongoing GM news coverage.
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This thing sucks. No 3D camera like BMW. The interior sucks it’s cheap. I’ve been inside of an XT6. The gauge looks awful. Weak engine. The door assembly is from the old ATS/CTS and Buick Enclave – but’s all new. Just add a shinny speaker no one will notice. Typically Cadillac/GM Fashion late to the party still cant get it right.
The Q7, X5, GLE along with the RX-L and MDX will kill this in sales.
Exterior wise the XT6 can pretty much compete with all the Three row Luxury CUV’s but Powertrain wise and especially interior, it is almost borderline a joke when compared to its competition.
The XT6 has the same interior as the XT5….which is a great thing. The XT5 has a knockout interior, especially in platinum trim. It’s very well finished and appears to be on par with Lexus (but with better tech) and flat out embarrasses the Infiniti and Acura products.
The XT6 will be a tremendous success for Cadillac. Good work!
Now for the next gen, let’s move the front axle forward and apply power to the “correct” axle.
Not trying to be rude or smart but have you set or even driven the competition?
The XT5 is not even in the same Ballpark. Cadillac might as well be playing a completely different Sport altogether. The XT5 interior is great for say a Buick.
I own a 2018 Volvo XC90.
So yeah, I am aware of the competition having recently test driven nearly all of them.
And you think the XT6 is as nice as the XC90 in the interior Department?
Let alone the Q7, X5, and GLE.
Give it a rest already! People are not going to be persuaded by your negativity towards Cadillac. Your loss.
There will be people who will find the interior more attractive than the competition and succeed his or her expectations.
Why do you think I am being Negative?
I am strictly stating that the XT6 interior is about five years old now and hasn’t even hit the Market yet. I am stating that the materials and Tech is not up to Par when compared to its competition.
And yes, some people may find the interior attractive. I never once stated anything about it’s design. You can have the worlds greatest design but if the materials are not up to Par then who cares?
I am a huge Cadillac fan and will not stop complaining about the Brand until they do better. This is after all a GM Fan site correct?
Does that mean whatever GM does I have to absolutely love and make excuses for if it is not up to Standards?
I think GM is almost Dead last in interior quality but someone like Bob Lutz agrees with me so whatever I guess. I will always demand better. Sorry that you do not agree with and or it bothers you.
One last thing, I am not trying to persuade anyone here. Customers are showing to GM that I am correct. They need to do better. Not my fault the Beancounters are running the Show now.
Huh? The XT6 has all the cameras you might need. It also has a rear camera mirror that no other vehicle in its segment has.
The gauge cluster is fine, and an improvement over the ATS/CTS. If you think the cluster looks awful, that’s your problem because it actually doesn’t.
The door assembly is from the XT5 you dimwit. No one complains about it in the XT5, as Alex mentioned it’s Cadillac’s best selling model… so now all of a sudden it’s a problem. That makes no sense.
You just don’t get this space, which is your problem -along with the rest of the naysayers. The XT6 does the three row luxury crossover thing better than the Q7, MDX and RX-L… and much better than the GLE and X5. Sales will reflect that in due time. It’s not a performance crossover, and it doesn’t try to be. That will be something GM does, but this isn’t it.
The XT6 does have a 3D camera, it actually has 11 views in total. It actually has a rear camera mirror feature that no BMW, Lexus, Audi, or Mercedes has. The engine is just fine, the transmission delivers the power great. Would a more powerful engine option be good? Yeah, but this is for hauling around a family with several kids so you don’t need to be racing from stoplight to stoplight as if your driving a sports car. If you think you do need to do that you probably should not be transporting children, adults, and quite frankly you shouldn’t be driving if you think you need to drive a three row SUV like a sports sedan.
Standard features also beat any other vehicle in this segment, just like the XT4, XT5, and Escalade this Cadillac SUV will likely be in the top 3 vehicles in its segment.
Lmao, “top 3 vehicles in its segment” are you for real? XT5 is dominated by the X3, GLC, Q5, and XC60 while the Lexus NX and X1 and XC40 dominate the XT4.
Gor, every vehicle you mentioned that dominated the XT5 (which they didn’t if you look at the sales figures) is a compact luxury SUV, while the XT5 is a midsize. The only midsize luxury SUV that outsold the XT5 last year in the US was the Lexus RX. And it is early to judge the XT4 against others since it hasn’t even been on the market for a year.
Is it just me. But if you cover the front end and grille and look at it from the side it makes me think of a Honda Pilot.
According to the thumbs up and down the votes show it IS ONLY ME who thinks this. I’m due for a vision test anyway.
I see much more Volvo XC90
I assume you think the head restraints too far forward–I certainly do since the damn things in every car of the last 10 years or so bang me in the head. Is it the lawyers or Federal DoT regulations that makes them do it?
Consumer Reports complained about excessive engine noise when accelerating. The XT4 engine reviews had the same issue: some said quiet, others loud. Cadillac has long wanted you to know when you’ve floored it.
Your photos show how much this car (and every Cadillac) needs a standard leather steering wheel hub. How much would that add to their cost–$200? They could at least use a nicer looking soft plastic.
I would just like to point out the chrome surround on the rear HVAC controls and how CADILLAC is spelled out in script. It’s small details like this that would sell me on the car.
My father hates (hated Cadillac). He was a very outspoken critic of my mom getting an XT5, he hated how small our 14 CTS was and how hard it was to get in and out of it. Currently he drives a Tahoe LTZ, but recently he said he wanted to go look at an XT6. He ended up loving the XT5, and he doesn’t want the image that comes with driving an Escalade.
This is going to be an outstanding rental car.
I find it interesting when people would complain (even are recent as a few years ago) that there were too many GM cars at the rental car companies. Now, it is flooded with Japanese and Korea cars, LOL, go figure.