The XT6 makes three Cadillac utility vehicles.
As GM’s luxury brand, Cadillac is tasked with delivering to customers the ultimate in design, opulence, tranquility, and technical prowess. The marque largely meets its mission through the varying vehicles it currently offers.
The Cadillac of old is gone – there isn’t a land barge in sight, although the burly Escalade certainly gets a nod. Also, it’s that very same Escalade that remains the only model that hasn’t assumed Cadillac’s current nomenclature, with sedans starting with a CT followed by a number (e.g., CT4 and CT5) and the utility vehicles doing likewise (XT4, XT5, and XT6).
At the moment, Cadillac doesn’t have an electrified vehicle to show for it, but that will soon change when its first “LY” family of vehicles debuts. The LYRIC is on schedule for a 2022 debut for the 2023 model year. It’s an all-electric utility vehicle.
Our test model is the latest Cadillac newcomer that isn’t the all-new Escalade. The XT6 is a midsize, three-row crossover that was introduced in 2020 and features a new “Luxury” trim for 2021.
2021 Cadillac XT6 Review
Cadillac prices the 2021 XT6 from $47,995 to $58,190, plus a $995 destination charge. Three trims are available: Luxury, Premium Luxury, and Sport. The XT6 is a front-wheel-drive model that seats up to seven. All-wheel drive is available across the model line.
We’ve seen the Cadillac design evolve over the past two decades or ever since this marque introduced its “art & science” schematic. In more recent years, Cadillac relaxed the edginess, but not dramatically. Its upright stance and pronounced angles supply definition; the XT6’s broad grille and sentry-like vertical taillamps evoke strength.
The XT6’s profile doesn’t have the standout look of the front end, as it offers a look familiar to the segment with its squared roof and high profile. Defining features such as character lines, body sculpting, and customized wheels are familiar expressions. That’s not a bad thing as a more conservative-oriented layout essentially rules the segment.
The list of standard features includes automatic high-beam assist, power-adjustable and heated manual-folding side mirrors, 18-inch alloy wheels, and a power liftgate. Move up to the Premium Luxury trim and Cadillac brings in front rain-sense wipers, 20-inch alloy wheels, and a hands-free power liftgate.
Move up to the Sport edition and this one features black trim across the grille, roof rails, and exterior accents. Special 20-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels are standard.
The XT6’s interior upholds the brand’s upscale appeal with choice materials, including available leathers, wood trim, and metallic touches supplying sophistication. Further, the look only gets better once you begin your search with the Premium Luxury trim, which was last year’s base trim.
Some manufacturers choose a “busy” interior layout with multiple layers, contrasting colors, and various materials to supply distinction. The XT6’s dashboard is layered from the driver side to the center stack, then eases into a singular panel that’s above a lacquered wood panel. Equally, the center stack shows restraint with few switches to interrupt the flow. Notably, the available wireless charging port at the base of the stack is a welcome feature – it’s our go-to upgrade when one is sought.
Most trims come with seven-passenger seating, while the Sport edition holds six. As mentioned, the XT6 shares its platform with the Buick Enclave and Chevrolet Traverse, but its more than seven inches shorter between the wheels. The result is a slightly smaller interior, especially in the storage compartment.
For example, the XT6 measures just 12.6 cubic feet behind the third row, while the Enclave has 23.6 cubic feet. With the third row folded, the Enclave has 58 cubic feet to the XT6’s 43.1 cubic feet. Behind the first row, the Enclave’s cargo space measures 97.6 cubic feet to 78 cubic feet for the Cadillac. To be clear, the Buick and Cadillac have matching first- and second-row legroom space, with the Enclave offering a few additional inches for the third row.
Cadillac equips the XT6 with imitation leather seats, power front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and three-zone climate control. Move up to the Premium Luxury trim and this model features leather seating, wood accents, an automatic heated steering wheel, and a power tilt-and-telescopic steering column.
Advance to the Sport trim and the features remain the same. However, shoppers have the option to choose six-passenger seating by swapping out the middle-row bench seat with captain’s chairs. That’s our preferred seating layout for this segment.
There are also several package options available for further customization. We won’t break them down, but we can say that such features as semi-aniline leather seats, a leather-wrapped instrument panel, illuminated front door sill plates, and unique interior trims are available. Further, other available amenities include ventilated front seats, heated outboard second-row seats, and illuminated cargo sills may be worth your consideration.
Cadillac equips the XT6 Luxury trim with an 8-inch touchscreen display with voice recognition technology. This model also comes with Bluetooth, wireless Android Auto, wireless Apple CarPlay, and four USB ports. An 8-speaker Bose audio system is standard. Satellite radio and wireless charging is also available.
Move up to the Premium Luxury grade and several upgrades become available, including a 14-speaker Bose audio system, navigation, and a Night Vision system. Wireless phone charging is standard beginning with this trim.
We’re generally pleased with Cadillac’s safety offerings with the XT6. Automatic emergency braking is standard as is GM’s OnStar suite of emergency and roadside assistance package. All trims come with forward collision alert, following distance indicator, front pedestrian braking, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, front and rear park assist, and an HD rear vision camera.
Beginning with the XT6 trim, Cadillac offers a Driver Assist Package ($1,300). This one combines adaptive cruise control with automatic seatbelt tightening, enhanced automatic emergency braking, and reverse automatic braking.
If there one thing we don’t like, then that would be that the Driver Assist Package requires opting for the Enhanced Visibility and Technology Package ($2,350), which includes a head-up display, an HD surround vision camera system and recorder, rear pedestrian alert, a rear camera mirror with washer, and automatic parking assist with braking. We like the tech package, but we don’t think it should be a requirement to access the Driver Assist Package.
The Cadillac crest has changed in recent years, losing its wreath in 2014. As for the XT6, only the brand’s logo is evident on the exterior. There is no sign of “Cadillac” anywhere on its surface.
For its first year, Cadillac offered one engine choice for the XT6. Now in its second year, a second engine arrives, slotting in below the previous offering.
The standard engine is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 237 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. This engine also serves the XT4 and the XT5, but in the XT6 it’s tasked with moving an additional 400-plus pounds over the XT5. That’s a big ask for such a small engine.
We didn’t test drive an XT6 with the new base engine, so our comment is based largely on practicality. Specifically, on how difficult an engine must work to motivate any vehicle, including one fully loaded with passengers and all their gear. Certainly, the base engine gets it done, but its fuel economy edge is only 2 mpg over the V6. Further, its towing capacity is just one-quarter of the larger engine.
The better choice is the 3.6-liter V6 found in many other GM products. We first “discovered” this powerplant when we drove the 2007 Saturn Aura. Yes, Saturn and, yes, it was that long ago.
One thing we can say about GM is that when they develop a new engine they stick with it, make improvements as needed, and then disseminate it widely. That Cadillac uses this engine liberally isn’t really a surprise – other than the Blackhawk V8, this luxury marque shares much of its remaining running gear with the rest of GM’s brands.
Our XT6 Sport model came with the V6 and all-wheel drive. But it isn’t any ordinary all-wheel-drive system either – you must push a button to activate it, which means it works part-time or on-demand. Now, we aren’t sure why Cadillac chose this approach – the company certainly knows how to make an all-wheel-drive system that kicks in automatically or when you need it. The advantage, though, is apparent in fuel economy – when the system is active, our mpgs fell by about 5 mpg. Once we turned it off, it climbed back to where it was.
Yet, most shoppers simply don’t need all-wheel drive, unless they live in a snowy climate. That’s about half the country. That said, we recommend all-wheel drive if you frequent twisty roads, mountainous areas, or simply prefer the greater assurance such a system supplies when the roads are wet.
In our opinion, the V6 is ideally matched to the XT6. It supplies ample step-off acceleration and admirable passing strength. Mind you, we drove the vehicle with no more than two people inside and absent the gear families will take with them when going to faraway places. Still, we were pleased by how well the engine is a match for this crossover. We’d be remiss if we said nothing about the 9-speed automatic transmission: it fires off cogs with ease and works smoothly in the background, just the way we want it!
Like any high-profile vehicle, the XT6 does its share of rocking and rolling on twisty roads. However, we credit Cadillac’s sport-tuned suspension system with keeping this utility vehicle planted. The Sport edition comes with standard adaptive dampers and a quicker responding steering ratio, the latter for a more engaging driving experience. That’s everything for some crossover owners, including this driver.
Is there a demerit of note? Yes, there is. Notably, while most models in this segment pull around 5,000 pounds, the XT6 tops out at 4,000 pounds. That’s a critical difference for some shoppers and something that could dissuade them from the Cadillac.
The midsize, three-row luxury utility vehicle segment is filled with competitors. That Cadillac arrived so late to the segment may be attributable to its reliance on the Escalade to serve the market. But the Escalade is simply too large for shoppers in this segment and with the top models costing over $100,000, it’s about $30,000 more costly than the most expensive XT6. Clearly, the XT6 fills its mission.
Our survey of the luxury market reveals the following direct competitors to the Cadillac XT6: Acura MDX, Audi Q7 and Q8, BMW X6, Infiniti QX60, Land Rover Discovery and Range Rover Velar, Lincoln Aviator, Lexus GX, Maserati Levante, Mercedes-Benz GLE, Porsche Cayenne, Tesla Model X, and the Volvo XC90. Most competitors offer standard front- or rear-wheel drive. Each one supplies all- or four-wheel drive.
We mentioned the Buick Enclave earlier. Although it isn’t a luxury brand, the Enclave Avenir pulls out all the stops. Other mainstream models with high-end trims worth comparing include the Hyundai Palisade, Kia Telluride, Mazda CX-9, and the Volkswagen Atlas.
We don’t recommend the Luxury trim mostly for the reason we mentioned earlier: the base engine simply isn’t the best fit for this vehicle. Start at the Premium Luxury level and you get the V6, a hands-free power liftgate, an automatic heated steering wheel, additional safety features, wireless phone charging, and a power-folding third-row seat.
Opt for the six-passenger seating compartment and you’ll have a roomier cabin with better middle-row seats. For under $60,000 the XT6 is well within the range of most of its competitors and that’s without available all-wheel drive.
2021 Cadillac XT6 Specifications
|Price Range||$47,995 to $58,190|
|Engine No. 1||2.0-liter, turbo I4|
|Horsepower||237 @ 5,000 rpm|
|Torque (lb.-ft.)||258 @ 1,500 to 4,000 rpm|
|Engine No. 2||3.6-liter, V6|
|Horsepower||310 @ 6,600 rpm|
|Torque (lb.-ft.)||271 @ 5,000 rpm|
|Seating||6 or 7|
|Curb Weight (pounds)||4,362 to 4,690|
|Height (inches)||69.9, 70.2|
|Headroom (f,r…inches)||39.8, 39.1, 37.2|
|Legroom (f,r…inches)||41.2, 39.1, 29.5|
|Shoulder room (f,r…inches)||58.3, 57.4, 53.5|
|Hip room (f,r…inches)||50.1, 55.7, 39.5|
|Storage (cubic feet)||12.6, 43.1, 78.7|
|Gross vehicle weight (pounds)||NR|
|Towing (pounds)||1,000 (2.0); 4,000 (3.6)|
|Fuel Tank (gallons)||19.0 (2.0); 22.0 (3.6)|
|EPA Fuel MPG (city/highway/combined)||21/27/23 (2.0, FWD); 18/25/21 (3.6, AWD)|
|Manufacturing Plant||Spring Hill, Tennessee|
Chevrolet Trailblazer photos copyright Auto Trends Magazine. All rights reserved.
Data compiled by Tom Keegan. Specifications supplied by the manufacturer.