Cadillac has long hosted fashion shows with acres of flat sheetmetal, glistening chrome, and cabins drenched with all the finest materials.
This once meant block-long sedans, but people aren't buying sedansthey're buying SUVs. Until recently, Cadillac's runway was threadbare with only the mid-size SRX and truck-based Escalade hosting the SUV party. Now, there's a full portfolio that includes the compact XT4, mid-size XT5, and finally the XT6 that arrives with style to cart you and your posse in three comfy rows of luxury.
We have the sport version, which means a black mesh grille and 20-inch alloy wheels. The front evolves Cadillac's design language with horizontal LED headlamps while the rear integrates horizontal elements with finlike taillamps. It looks ritzy in Garnet Metallic paint, but if I parked the XT6 next to a Volvo XC90, you might not know the difference. The XT6 is undeniably handsome, but Cadillacs should have more swagger.
Moving inside, the XT6 is more clearly a Cadillac. It's awash in layers of stitched materials on the dash/doors, swaths of carbon fiber, and soft leather. Heated front seats, heated steering wheel, and cherubic Bose audio system delight occupantsas does a panoramic sunroof, tri-zone automatic climate control, and wireless phone charging in the console. Connect via Bluetooth, 4G Wi-Fi hotspot, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. Kids fit better than adults in the third row, but adults can fit on shorter treks.
Beyond style, there's one area Cadillac should be compared favorably to Volvo: Safety. For drivers, it starts with a color head-up display that is easily adjusted, adaptive cruise, and rearview camera mirror. There's also crash mitigation with autonomous braking, rear cross traffic alert with pedestrian detection, lane keep assist, and blind spot warning. The safety alert seat vibrates in the direction of danger to warn drivers while an interior motion sensor notifies parents of kids left in the rear.
According to Cadillac's naming strategy, "400" on the power liftgate should represent 400 lb.-ft. of torque, a reckoning of the coming EV age where torque matters more than horsepower. That's cute because the 3.6-liter V6 delivers just 310 horsepower and 271 lb.-ft. of torque. It routes to the all-wheel-drive system through a 9-speed automatic transmission. That's enough power to stomp from 0-60 mph in 6.9 seconds, but not to challenge crossovers actually conjuring 400 lb.-ft. of torque. A couple of turbos would be fantastic. Fuel economy rates 17/24-MPG city/highway.
At least the engine is smooth and quiet, which also describes the ride. Real time damping smooths bumps and controls body lean in corners, but it could be even more aggressive in stiffening the suspension. Drive modes theoretically adjust the chassis, steering, and throttle response from Normal comfort mode to performance-oriented Sport mode, but there's not enough difference for most drivers to discern. No matter, it's peaceful traveling in all modes.
It took Cadillac way too long to fill out its crossover portfolio, but the XT6 has arrived with style and it's quite impressive. Just a little more distinctive styling, a true Sport mode, and another hundred horsepower would make the XT6 stellar. Let's hope an XT6-V is on the way. Until then, a base price of $52,695, or $62,065 as tested, seems quite reasonable against competitors like the Lincoln Aviator, Audi Q7, Acura MDX, and Lexus RX.
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