2023 Cadillac XT6 –The Escalade alternative
In the past, choosing a three-row Cadillac SUV was simple. There was the Cadillac Escalade and if you wanted to go even larger, there was the Escalade ESV. But recently Cadillac added another three-row SUV to its lineup – the XT6 – and its opening new doors for the American luxury automaker.
Out since 2020, the Cadillac XT6 is a car-based three-row luxury SUV slotted right below the Escalade and above the smaller XT5. Its exterior design is pure Cadillac – with its wide grille and slim LED headlights to its boxy profile, the XT6 is well-proportioned and very handsome. There should be little doubt to those that see the XT6 that it is indeed a Cadillac.
Enter the cabin of the XT6 and you’re greeted to an impressive setting. Up front, drivers and passengers are treated to a revised version of Cadillac’s CUE infotainment touchscreen system which includes a secondary dial controller on the center console for those who prefer not to reach out to the screen. Next to dial controller is a volume knob, which is a nice addition. Both are positioned next to an electronic shifter all of which appears very tidy and works very well.
Moving on to the second row, a three-person bench seat is standard, but I’m sure most buyers will shell out the extra $800 for a pair of captain’s chairs. The third-row is for two, and it’s actually quite spacious. At 5-foot 9-inches, I’m able to sit back there without having to see a chiropractor afterwards. Third-row passengers get their own cupholders, climate control vents and USB ports.
Cadillac offers the XT6 in three trim levels – Luxury, Premium Luxury and Sport. Luxury, which is considered the entry-level model, is hardly that. Offered with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, it’s loaded. Features like a huge sunroof, a power liftgate, heated front seats, 18-inch wheels and a tri-zone automatic climate control system are all included. The Premium Luxury adds to the Luxury 20-inch wheels, a hands-free liftgate, heated steering wheel, power folding mirrors and rain-sensing wipers. The Sport gets standard all-wheel drive, quicker steering and an active suspension along with black exterior accents.
The Luxury trim level also gets its own engine – a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder rated at 237 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque). Both the Premium Luxury and Sport models continue to use Cadillac’s 3.6-liter V6 engine that makes 310 horsepower and 271 lb-ft of torque. All XT6s use a nine-speed automatic transmission.
The tester, a Sport delivered a comfortable, yet firm ride that shouldn’t upset anyone. Its suspension handily soaks up road imperfections and practically glides over bumps but at the same time has nice stable handling characteristics that give the driver confidence in controlling the vehicle. The V6 powerplant provides plenty of power, and when put into Sport mode, delivers a nice exhaust note at full throttle. The gas pedal is a little jumpy and takes some getting used to, making your passengers question your intentions.
Super Cruise, Cadillac’s first true hands-free driving feature is now available on the XT6. When Super Cruise is engaged, it can take over steering, acceleration and braking duties on supported highways and interstates under the driver’s supervision. While not a fully autonomous system, it does allow the driver to remove their hands from the steering wheel during extended periods of highway driving – perfect for playing air guitar or air drums.
Night Vision, another high-tech feature uses infrared to detect pedestrians or large animals beyond the reach of the headlights.
As you can see, the XT6 is available with a lot of high-end technology, some of which its main competitors, the Acura MDX and Lincoln Aviator, don’t even offer. But the XT6’s best selling point may be its mid-size dimensions that make it far more maneuverable than an Escalade — and more satisfying to drive too. The XT6 is the ideal vehicle for the Cadillac buyer that wants a three-row luxury SUV, but just feels like the Escalade is simply too big. Pricing for the XT6 starts at $50,000.
— Christopher A. Randazzo
By The Numbers:
2023 Cadillac XT6 Sport AWD
Base Price: $60,095.00
Price as Tested: $75,090.00
Layout: front-engine / all-wheel drive
Engine: 3.6-liter Direct Injection V6
Transmission: 9 – speed automatic
Horsepower: 310 hp
Torque: 271 ft-lbs
EPA Fuel Economy: 18 city / 25 highway mpg
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