2020 Cadillac XT6 Sport AWD
2020 Cadillac XT6 Sport AWD Review By Auto Critic Steve Hammes
It’s been a little while since Cadillac offered a car-based 3-row crossover in their lineup but the all-new XT6 is here to fill that vacancy. So, when the Escalade is more than you need Caddy now has another head-turning SUV with a more palatable price tag.
With the body-on-frame Escalade starting at $25,000 more than the XT6, this is clearly the most affordable path to a 7-passenger Cadillac since the SRX shrunk to 2 rows a decade ago. The base front-wheel drive Premium Luxury trim, accentuating road isolation, starts at $53,690 while this Sport AWD focusing on a greater feeling of agility, begins at $58,715. It also takes on a more aggressive appearance with V-Series inspired black accents, specific front and rear fascias and optional 21” wheels. Along with its similarly fresh smaller sibling the XT4, this is Cadillac’s finest design work in years. The proportions are just right and the angularity of the sheet metal is spectacular.
So what do you want out of a vehicle like this? For me, with a sticker price of $73,000, there’s an expectation of over-the-top power, grand touring-level ride and handling, and robust creature comforts. And this XT6 fulfills most of those criteria while coming up short in a few specific ways.
Beyond the handsome styling, the XT6 Sport shines in its quiet, comfortable, straightforward cabin making it a great family vehicle for long highway trips. With an abundance of driver assist features such as a heads-up display and night vision and intuitive comfort settings like automatic heated and cooled seats and automatic heated steering wheel, I could drive this XT6 all night without ever getting antsy to take a break. And when your 440 miles of range is up, you can skip the 93 octane pump at the gas station because regular unleaded is perfectly fine…you won’t find that from other luxury brands. Your passengers are treated to the same long-trip comfort with 2nd row seats that recline, heat and can be positioned to nap in, climate control, and the soothing sounds of the mightily impressive 14-speaker Bose Performance Series sound system that can be tuned for specific areas of the vehicle.
The cargo area can be accessed with a kick of the foot near the illuminated Cadillac crest and the power folding seats are the fastest I’ve ever tested…no wasted time here.
With its real-time adaptive suspension and more sophisticated all-wheel drive system, this XT6 Sport possesses that very perceptible luxury-level drivability; the taut, well-engineered kind that lets you know you’re behind the wheel of something special. And though it’s satisfactorily quick, I think GM has spread this 3.6 V6 too thin here. You just can’t have a 310 horsepower motor in a $73,000 luxury SUV that wears the ‘Sport’ moniker. As a matter of fact, beyond its swaggered appearance there’s really not much sport to be had here.
The 9-speed auto is as smooth as butter and the 271 pound-feet of torque is no slouch but I was expecting something more akin to a sports sedan persona whereas it’s clear the XT6 Sport is happier when you don’t ask too much of it. Despite the Sport mode, torque vectoring all-wheel drive and wider tires this isn’t a 3-row that’s going to thrill you on the back roads. It’s competent at best. That being the case: why not just engineer it for a softer, Lincoln-like ride quality most owners would appreciate. 0-to-60mph takes about 7 seconds. Towing is maxed at 4,000 pounds.
And there are a few of more things that confound me: 1) SuperCruise should have been made available from job 1. It’s the best semi-autonomous driving system on the market and it’s only available on a sedan no one buys. 2) For all of its strong suits, this just doesn’t look like a $73,000 cabin. Little omissions like massaging seats, rear window sunshades and cool ambient lighting play big at this price point. And thirdly, Cadillac’s user experience, along with other GM infotainment systems, has actually taken a small step backwards in terms of ease of use. This new rotary controller with jog function supplements the long reach touchscreen and voice commands but it just feels a little clunky. The features are amazing though, with items such as the surround vision recorder, Marketplace apps for dining and other conveniences and OnStar. The surround vision camera is always a favorite of mine but there’s no true button to activate it. The vibrating safety alert seat, rear view camera mirror and wireless device charging are also excellent additions. The shifter has also improved its intuitivenessthough it’s still too easy to inadvertently select manual mode.
In the way back, the 3rd row seats are kid friendly –not exactly adult territory – but the connection points are USB-C only out here…so prepare accordingly.
My tester equipped with the Platinum Package, Enhanced Visibility and Technology Package, Night Vision, Driver Assist package, CUE with navigation, 21” wheels, 2nd row captain’s chairs, Comfort and Air Quality Package, Premium Headlamp System, Smart Towing and a couple of other small options checks in at $73,040. Gas mileage is rated at 17mpg city/24 mpg highway with the help of a V4 engine mode and start/stop system.
Built at the old Saturn plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee, the XT6 makes up for 10 years of attainable 3-row absence for the brand and does it sufficiently well.