After building the stage and gathering the band with the SRX wagon/crossover two decades ago, as well as providing the opening act with the very sporty (and highly potent) CTS and CTS-V sport wagons a decade ago, Cadillac is finally arriving at the wildly popular crossover dance. With three credible offerings working hard to make up for lost opportunities, Cadillac dealers finally have the mainstream vehicles that the luxury segment buyer is most looking for.
This week’s XT6 is the full-size, three-row crossover wagon with front or AWD (starting at $52,695), while the XT5 ($44,095) fills the mid-range/two-row segment, and the XT4 ($35,695) slips into the compact/entry-level end of the luxury segment. The spread between these offerings is dimensionally similar, starting with the XT4’s 181-inch length, ranging to the XT5’s 190 inches and the XT6’s 199-inch overall length, while turbocharged 2.0-liter engines supply base power and the venerable 3.6-liter Cadillac V-6 engine with 310 hp and fuel-saving V-4 mode provides more than enough oomph. Each of these stylistically fetching five-door wagons uses a nine-speed automatic transmission.
Cadillac and Chevy’s Corvette have long gotten the best technology from GM’s vast engineering resources, using cutting-edge chassis developments, engine management software, as well as numerous powertrain advances to create innovative designs that often outflanked the competition, but somehow got lost between development and the sales floor. Anyone lucky enough to sample the superior handling and ride dynamics of the CTS-V, CT6-V and ATS-V sports sedans can attest to their German-like driving abilities. Unfortunately, these excellent driving cars went beyond what the apparent Cadillac customer was seeking, as sales never reached expectations.
The XT6, and its siblings, hope to erase that gap. Our time in the three-row Cadillac revealed an excellent riding chassis, with good manners when pushed, relaxed comfort when not, all in a hushed, nicely finished cabin. Buyers looking for more space, more luxury, more towing capacity and more cache can still opt for the Escalade and its derivatives, however, the XT6 will fit more lifestyles. For comparison, think Acura MDX, Audi Q7, Mercedes GLE, BMW X7 and Lincoln Aviator.
Wearing a distinctive and clean face, and using elongated LED daytime driving lamps for emphasis, the Cadillac’s lithe-looking shape is more attractive than some rivals. While the interior has supportive seating and good spacing, the overall cabin is slightly less opulent than the latest Audi or even the Lincoln offering. Pricing, however, is reflective of this as well, so that could be a win for Cadillac’s sales.
As always, pros and cons exist. The V-6 was energetic, smooth and very refined while delivering 24 mpg — beyond the EPA estimate for our AWD tester. Apply the whip to pass on a rural two-lane road, and the 4,700-pound Caddy actually exhibited some front torque steer as the V-6 eagerly responded to the task. Usually, an AWD system will apportion some power to the rear axles to help push and stabilize this effect.
Our Premium Trim sample sported power folding second- and third-row seating (middle row captain’s chairs), plus the power liftgate is programmable for height, making for efficient cargo and passenger carrying for large articles.
Cadillac has continued to refine its CUE (Cadillac User Experience) center-dash info-entertainment system, but without any knobs, this touchscreen requires too many precise finger inputs for this driver’s tastes. Cleverly, the XT6 lets you select mirror or camera settings for the inside rear-view mirror, while the front memory seats are also heated and cooled leather.
Forward collision warning and automatic braking plus blind-spot detection system are all standard. The now customary laser-guided cruise, lane-keeping assist and other electronic driving aids (or nuisances, depending upon your perspective) are available or accompany certain trim levels. The XT6 also features a Five Star Safety Rating from NHTSA as well as a longer than usual six-year/70,000-mile powertrain warranty, making this three-row crossover not only a solid performer, but a sound value.
Otherwise, the revised Cadillac lineup includes new labels for the remaining sedans, now called CT4, CT5 and CT6. As before, Cadillac will mix in superior handling plus some high-performance engines like the BlackWing V-8 as well as some turbocharged V-6s for buyers seeking American muscle-car fun that meets silk and leather kind of luxury. The completely new Escalade debuts this fall as well.
Eagerly anticipated is the new Lyriq sedan, Cadillac’s first EV. A stunning visual design, the Lyriq will be a pricey Tesla alternative; guesstimates are a base price north of $75,000, coming in the first quarter 2021.