2020 Cadillac XT6 Sport silver parked

10 Things You Need to Know About the 2020 Cadillac XT6

Cadillac was one of the first brands to field a seven-passenger mid-size crossover suv. The 2004 SRX combined sports-sedan performance with three-row versatility. But its awkward styling and unremarkable interior kept Cadillac from getting much traction in the segment, and the company replaced the SRX with a more stylish five-passenger vehicle a few years later. But now, Cadillac is back. The all-new 2020 Cadillac XT6 is almost undeniably handsome; it’s laden with modern safety, luxury, and convenience features; and it’s pleasant to drive. Priced from $52,695, it faces competitors that include the Acura MDX, Audi Q7, Lexus RX 350L, Infiniti QX60, and Volvo XC90. Whether you’re looking to haul your kids or just yourself, here are 10 things you need to know about the 2020 Cadillac XT6.

  1. 1. It's a comfortable, easy-to-drive crossover.
  2. 2. Active yaw control and an adaptive suspension help keep it agile.
  3. 3. The “400” badge refers to its metric torque rating.
  4. 4. It seats up to seven, but it’s not GM’s largest crossover.
  5. 5. The designers chose elegance and functionality over flashiness.
  6. 6. The interior is more user-friendly than dazzling.
  7. 7. Advanced safety features come standard.
  8. 8. It can see in the dark.
  9. 9. Next year’s model might drive itself.
  10. 10. It’s a big step up from its more affordable counterparts.
1. It's a comfortable, easy-to-drive crossover.

1. It's a comfortable, easy-to-drive crossover.

The best-known Cadillac suv is the full-size Escalade. That’s a heavy-duty body-on-frame vehicle, like a pickup truck. This design makes the Escalade rugged and capable, but it's missing some of the polish you'd find in a more car-like crossover.  That's where the XT6 comes in. It has the smooth ride of a luxury sedan, without the jiggling and bouncing you find in the Escalade and similar truck-based SUVs. The XT6 is only a few inches smaller than the Escalade in every dimension, but there’s a world of difference from the driver’s seat. Moreover, the XT6’s front-wheel-drive-based architecture is more space-efficient than the rear-drive Escalade’s.

2. Active yaw control and an adaptive suspension help keep it agile.

2. Active yaw control and an adaptive suspension help keep it agile.

Even more than its ride quality, the XT6 stands apart from the Escalade’s driving experience for its agile handling. It feels smaller than it is on the road; its composed suspension and responsive, well-weighted steering inspire confidence. You won’t get the same sports-car-on-stilts vibe as an Audi Q7, but the XT6 still has above-average agility for a seven-passenger crossover. The XT6 is available in three degrees of handling performance. Buyers choose between the Premium Luxury and Sport flavors, while the Premium Luxury model is available with a Platinum Package that splits the difference between the two. That’s what we tested, and it has a sportier suspension tune, an adaptive suspension that can continuously adjust to road conditions, and a selectable “sport” mode that sends more power to the rear wheels. The Sport model brings quicker steering responses and an active yaw control system, which directs torque to different wheels to help guide the vehicle around a corner.

3. The “400” badge refers to its metric torque rating.

3. The “400” badge refers to its metric torque rating.

Power-hungry SUV buyers might get their hopes up when they see the “400” badge on the XT6’s liftgate. No, this crossover doesn’t have 400 horsepower, or even 400 lb-ft of torque. Its 3.6-liter V6 has a still-respectable 310 horsepower and 271 lb-ft of torque. The “400” figure is the XT6’s metric torque rating, rounded up from 367 newton-meters to 400. It’s a new naming system that’s spreading across the Cadillac lineup this year. Cadillac followed the Japanese competition’s preference for naturally aspirated V6 engines over the turbocharged four-cylinders found in most European mid-size luxury crossovers. The turbos tend to offer better gas mileage but the V6s tend to sound better, and the XT6’s sounds especially nice. True, its EPA fuel economy ratings are a couple mpg behind most competitors, even those with V6s: 18 mpg in the city, 25 mpg on the highway, and 20 mpg combined with front-wheel drive, and about 1 mpg less with all-wheel drive. However, depending on your local gas prices, the Cadillac should actually be less expensive to operate; it wants only regular-grade fuel, while most competitors prefer premium.

4. It seats up to seven, but it’s not GM’s largest crossover.

4. It seats up to seven, but it’s not GM’s largest crossover.

GM sells its three-row crossovers in two sizes. The biggest models are the Chevrolet Traverse and Buick Enclave, which maximize interior space but are bulkier. At 204 inches, they're even longer than Escalade. The GMC Acadia, meanwhile, trades some roominess for additional agility and maneuverability; it measures 193 inches long. The 2020 Cadillac XT6 splits the difference between the two, at 199 inches long. That means there’s enough room for seven passengers to squeeze in but not stretch out. The third row is more habitable than some competitors, and the fore/aft-adjustable middle row lets folks decide how to share their precious legroom. The main thing the XT6 gives up is cargo space behind the third row, where Cadillac provides just 12.6 cubic feet — barely half what you’d get in the Traverse or Enclave. You may have to fold down the third row even to carry your groceries. The second row is spacious and comfortable, and it's available either as a three-passenger bench seat or two separate captain's chairs, the latter cutting total seating capacity to six. 

5. The designers chose elegance and functionality over flashiness.

5. The designers chose elegance and functionality over flashiness.

The Cadillac Escalade’s glittery chrome and other dazzling embellishments are the definition of bling. The new XT6, meanwhile, takes a more conservative approach that still communicates the vehicle’s high-end status. The XT6’s straight lines, slim headlights, and a modestly sized grille are simple and classy. This is a handsome SUV, nothing garish. And its boxy shape stands apart from sport-themed rakish models — which you’ll appreciate when you need to fit adults in the third row or haul cargo. At the same time, you wouldn’t confuse the XT6 for ordinary. Its intricate mesh grille, vertical LED running lights, and standard 20-inch wheels.

6. The interior is more user-friendly than dazzling.

6. The interior is more user-friendly than dazzling.

Unlike some luxury brands, Cadillac doesn’t fill the XT6 with digital displays and touchscreens — just one 8-inch screen at the center of the dashboard and a small readout between the analog gauges. The Cadillac User Experience (CUE) infotainment system is improved over its past iterations, with more physical buttons, quicker responses, and a useful navigation knob located between the front seats. Some buyers will appreciate the relative simplicity, though others might ask for more technological dazzle from a luxury SUV. Materials are a mix of extra-posh surfaces and mainstream-grade plastics. Our test car included the optional semi-aniline leather upholstery and microfiber suede headliner, but if you’re coming out of a Mercedes-Benz or Audi, you might think some of the Cadillac’s buttons and stalks feel out of place at this price point.

7. Advanced safety features come standard.

7. Advanced safety features come standard.

Some General Motors products have been stingy with their safety equipment, saving some desirable — potentially life-saving — features for top-of-the-line trim levels. That’s not the case with the Cadillac XT6, which comes standard with a great suite of safety features. This includes a forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection; a blind-spot monitoring system with a rear cross-traffic alert; a lane-departure warning with lane-keeping steering assistance; front and rear parking sensors; a vibrating “Safety Alert Seat” that’s a classier alternative to dings and chimes; a remote washing system for the backup camera; and GM's Teen Driver system that monitors and oversees your kids’ time behind the wheel.

8. It can see in the dark.

8. It can see in the dark.

The list of cool safety tech doesn’t stop there. While a lot of great technology comes standard on the XT6, you can upgrade to even better stuff. One of the highlights is the Night Vision system, which uses infrared technology to show you pedestrians or large animals even before they appear in your headlights. Cadillac created this technology nearly two decades ago, but it never caught on — we hope it does better this time. Other optional safety and driver-assistance features include a rearview camera mirror that eliminates blind spots, adaptive cruise control with a more advanced forward emergency braking system, reverse automatic braking with pedestrian detection, a surround-vision camera with a recording function, and a self-steering parking system.

9. Next year’s model might drive itself.

9. Next year’s model might drive itself.

Cadillac has one of the world’s best self-driving systems, called Super Cruise. On more than 200,000 miles of highways, vehicles equipped with Super Cruise can accelerate, brake, steer, and maintain a safe distance from surrounding traffic — all with no intervention from the driver. Unlike normal driver-assistance features, like those on the 2020 XT6, Super Cruise doesn’t require you to keep your hands on the steering wheel, though you're asked to remain attentive to your surroundings. So far, Super Cruise is only available on the Cadillac CT6 sedan. But the company says the 2021 XT6 will likely receive this feature as well.

10. It’s a big step up from its more affordable counterparts.

10. It’s a big step up from its more affordable counterparts.

When a luxury car is derived from a more affordable model, it’s worth questioning whether the price premium is worth it. In the case of the 2020 Cadillac XT6, you’d most closely evaluate the slightly smaller GMC Acadia and the larger Buick Enclave. Both cost thousands less despite being available with many of the same luxury equipment, the same platform and engine, and — for the most part — a similar grade of interior materials. The XT6, though, handles with more agility than its counterparts, and it does have some extra features that you can’t get on the Buick or GMC. Its styling is also entirely different from its siblings, and it entirely looks the part of a high-end luxury vehicle. And best of all, Cadillac cuts the XT6’s cost premium with its generous list of standard features, including advanced safety technology, that cost extra on the Acadia and Enclave.