Clothes tell a lot about a person, especially when it comes to one’s tastes for the finer things in life. I admit to enjoying designer wear, but the garments must be comfortable and stylish. What does this have to do with a luxury SUV like the 2020 Cadillac XT6? Simple: familiarity, style, and value for money.
You look for something recognizable, something that you can easily get accustomed to. Like clothing, a vehicle must feel right and should fit your needs accordingly. And you need to feel that, if you paid more for a luxury badge than you would have for a mass-market brand, you still got a good deal.
The big, family-friendly Caddy’s demeanor is just what you expect out of it: cushy, imposing, and isolated. However, is its execution of traditional luxury car values strong enough for you to put one in your driveway?
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Cadillac XT6 Driving: Soft Ride, Disappointing Powertrain
Our tester was a 2020 Cadillac XT6 AWD with the basic “Premium Luxury” kit (the other option is “Sport”), which is reminiscent of an old-school luxury car. Thanks to a suspension that handily soaks up road imperfections, the XT6 rides comfortably; you feel like you’re in a cushy cocoon. The SUV glides over bumps but not to the extent that the vehicle bobs around uncontrollably. Stable handling complements the XT6’s soft ride, giving you confidence for executing evasive maneuvers. Light yet accurate steering adds a sense of effortlessness, allowing you to easily move the SUV even in tight spaces. The standard 20-inch wheels wrapped in 235/50R20 tires add more compliance and isolation over rough roads. You could get 21-inch wheels on the Sport grade, which adds wider 265/40R21 rubber.
The familiar theme continues under the hood where Cadillac stuffed a 310-hp 3.6-liter V-6 that is shared with several Buick, GMC, and Chevrolet SUVs. This naturally aspirated mill delivers just-adequate power, and you must rev it out to get the most from the engine (and how many SUV drivers actually do that?). Unlike the immense low- to midrange torque of turbocharged competitors, the XT6’s engine won’t give you instant enjoyment when you accelerate.
Another minus: Although the nine-speed automatic attempts to keep you in the powerband, it lacks refinement. In certain situations, such as when asking for more of that high-revving horsepower, the gearbox hesitates and downshifts clunkily when you ask for a lower gear or two.
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The all-wheel-drive systems also differ within the XT6 family: The XT6 Sport uses clutch packs to transfer torque left and right for improved handling, whereas the Premium Luxury trim uses the brakes to maintain traction at each corner.
What’s the Interior Like in the 2020 Cadillac XT6?
A spacious cabin helps make the XT6 a good vehicle for road trips, provided you fold the third row. The first two rows offer excellent comfort, even on longer drives. If you plan to use the third row, it only fits small children. Plus, with the third row in place, the cargo space is very limited.
Once on your way, good sound insulation ensures you’re secluded from the outside world. Minimal exterior noise enters the cabin, while the engine note never gets intrusive, even during hard acceleration.
A luxury SUV should be your well-appointed sanctuary where you can relax during a commute or long journey. Unfortunately, the 2020 Cadillac XT6’s cabin falls short in that regard. The fit and finish isn’t on par with its Lincoln Aviator rival, let alone the similarly priced BMW X5, Mercedes GLE, or Volvo XC90. Many low-quality pieces like the electronic gear shifter and control stalks mounted on the steering column came right off sister vehicles from Chevrolet, Buick, and GMC. Operating the haptic feedback buttons on the dash doesn’t give you any satisfaction, either; only frustration.
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When compared to the Sport, which is priced $2,400 higher, the base Premium Luxury model features a generous amount of chrome exterior trim. The XT6 Sport also has more standard features..
Cadillac’s CUE touchscreen infotainment system in the 2020 XT6 doesn’t take much time to learn; however the paucity and location of redundant hard controls forces you to take your eyes off the road far too often, and for too long, for even the most basic functions (there is a set of knobs and buttons behind the gear selector, but they aren’t very intuitive).
The 8.0-inch touchscreen, while quick to respond, looks dated and tiny because of the massive side bezels. At least the home menu has a logical layout; nothing is buried under multiple submenus. The optional 14-speaker Bose Performance Series audio system is crisp and well tuned, immersing the cabin with rich sound, making it a worthwhile $1,000 upgrade for music enthusiasts.
Is the Cadillac XT6 Worth the Price?
Defining luxury depends on one’s values, needs, and desires. To some, flashiness is important, while others put a premium on simple elegance. Like your favorite designer wear, the 2020 Cadillac XT6 Premium Luxury is exactly what you expect a big luxury SUV should be: comfortable, spacious, and serene. Unfortunately, that familiarity may also be the Cadillac XT6’s weakness. Sure, the SUV has a cushy ride and a spacious, quiet cabin (for the first two rows), but those traits alone don’t make for a proper luxury vehicle.
Interior trimmings, feature content, and build quality also play a significant role in luxury cars, and it’s in these factors where the 2020 Cadillac XT6 falls short. Our tester checked in at $70,890—including $15,200 in options—yet it lacks features like massaging seats, which you find in a similarly priced Lincoln Aviator or Volvo XC90.
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During our SUVOTY evaluations, we reasoned that it’s perfectly acceptable for a premium SUV from Detroit to be priced similarly to its European and Japanese luxury rivals, if the driving dynamics, interior fittings, packaging, and refinement are on par. And while we find that the case with the Aviator, we cannot make the same argument for the Cadillac XT6.
Driven in isolation, the XT6 is adequate. But when compared with the similarly priced class leaders, it trails by a significant margin. It’s like paying Nordstrom prices for Target clothing.
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