No big fins, but Caddy recaptures luxury in an SUV …
Luxury, and the perception of luxury, dictate price in the auto world, always have.
But today the statistical differences between vehicles within a segment often are miniscule, a half inch here, five horsepower there. Exterior or interior styling, and the vehicle’s brand perception are the differentiators. The decision to buy often comes down to these.
Is Cadillac still America’s most luxurious brand, or do you prefer an Acura, Lexus or one of the European makes, for which you generally will pay a premium?
Cadillac certainly would argue that it’s the No. 1 luxury brand made in the U.S., although Tesla could argue that point as it’s now No. 3 overall behind BMW and Lexus. Yet if you think traditional American brands, well Cadillac is still light years ahead of Lincoln in sales.
SUVs of course are the growing segment and that’s where this week’s XT6 falls. It’s a handsome, elegant mid-size SUV, and bigger than Caddy’s XT5.
XT6 is based on the GMC Acadia platform and premiered in 2020. On looks, inside and out, the Cadillac is a winner. Performance and luxury feel also should put it on any luxury 3-row SUV buyer’s must-drive list. Both XT models are sharply styled, particularly those vertical running lights up front and (it’s amazing to say this) its understated Cadillac crest-shaped grille.
The test ute was a sophisticated Rosewood Metallic, a sparkly red-tinted copper color ($625 extra) that was blessedly not gray, silver, or white, as are nearly all other SUVs on the market. The interior also featured an equally stylish, tasteful two-tone tan and black cockpit with semi-aniline leather seats topped by Cadillac crests atop their back cushions. The dash was tan over black with a glossy fake wood trim, silver Bose door speaker covers, and chrome trim around the dash and doors’ wood.
Cadillac’s center info screen is an 8-incher, somewhat smaller than those in many of its competitors, but easy to see. My only serious interior complaint is the glossy nature of that wood trim which morphs into a glare monster on sunny days. Matte finishes rock, so tone it down!
Like the similar Acura MDX tested last year everything functionally is exactly what you’d expect, sufficient for a luxury vehicle, but not standoutish.
Power churns from a 3.6-liter V6 that is not turbocharged. It cranks 310 horsepower so is strong enough to pull 4,000 pounds of trailer and motorized boy toys. MDX, by the way, pulls 5,000 pounds.
Ride is well cushioned with MacPherson struts up front and a five-link independent rear suspension. Here’s where Cadillac excels compared with many competitors who feel even their mid- to full-size SUVs must be sporty, right down to a rump-thumping stiff ride. Instead, Cadillac smooths the ride, isolating the passengers from even serious bumps and thumps. Bravo!
Handling is respectable and steering feedback a bit better than I’d expect in this size SUV. The XT6 was simple to control on the freeway and an easy ute to park.
The tested Premium Luxury model (mid-level of three trims) also sported AWD, which is easily accessed via a large button on the console. That drive mode includes Sport, Touring and Off-Road. Traction was good in moderate snow and the Sport setting automatically put the vehicle in AWD to best hook up the power to the pavement.
I used Sport only when needing a quick burst of speed. It helped smooth the acceleration and add more low-end torque, so a driver may prefer to use it, but the ute defaults to Touring. In Touring and AWD there was a bit of acceleration lag, a bit odd because this is a naturally aspirated V6, not a turbo, where lags are more likely.
Some might say that’s a disadvantage in that gas mileage is rated 18 mpg city and 25 mpg highway. Turbos usually achieve better. I got just 17.5 mpg, but admittedly we had a few sub-zero mornings during my test.
One might also expect a hybrid model to be available with enhanced mileage figures, but so far Cadillac doesn’t offer a hybrid XT6. There is a 9-speed automatic tranny though and that, in theory, aids fuel economy. It certainly shifts smoothly.
Safety equipment is as expected, including automatic braking with pedestrian recognition, lane-keeping assist and blind-spot warning. But other items are optional, somewhat surprising at this price.
For instance it takes a $2,350 technology package to add a HUD (head-up display), park assist with automatic braking, HD surround view and recorder, plus rear pedestrian alert and a rear camera mirror (hot trend) with washer.
Another $1,300 driver assist package adds reverse automatic braking, enhanced automatic braking and adaptive cruise control, now becoming standard across the industry. The package also adds the super annoying automatic seatbelt tightening feature. This over-snugs the belt just as you put the car in Drive, then loosens it. Useless!
A cool night vision option is $2,000, but obviously not needed. I did find it entertaining as it lights up on the dash when it sees a person or animal way ahead of you at night. During these dark winter days that could be especially helpful.
Cadillac’s interior offers everything one would expect in a luxury SUV from all that leather on the seats, steering wheel and horn cap ($5,000 platinum package) to the suede headliner.
Standard are heated front seats, wireless phone charger, power tilt/telescope steering wheel, OnStar, remote start, tri-zone climate controls, power hatch, heated steering wheel, panoramic sunroof and rain-sensing wipers.
A $750 comfort and air quality package adds heated rear seats, cooled front seats and an air ionizer. One minor annoyance here, the touchpad used to activate front seat heat or cooling, along with climate directional controls. The pad’s surface flexes just enough that it doesn’t always engage the first time it’s pressed, especially if the user is wearing gloves. The nearby temperature toggles are fine though.
The CUE system (Cadillac User Experience) also is upgraded to include a 14-speaker Bose Performance audio system, for $1,000. I mostly hear no difference, other than wattage, from most such systems, but this one really separated instruments’ sound during songs so that they sounded as if they were coming from various areas of the car. That was cool!
Note too this was a 6-passenger model ($800 extra) with captain’s chairs in the second row. A second row bench is standard and would allow the XT6 to carry seven. Room is generous in the third row, as the second row seats will slide forward. But the floor is raised in row three so knees ride a little higher than in row two. All seats are comfy, both soft due to the leather surfaces, and well-formed for hip support support. Cadillac also provides power buttons inside the power hatch to lower the third row seats, and buttons inside the second row doors to lower third row headrests and seats.
Naturally the interior is extremely quiet.
XT6 also excels at cargo space, if either the third row, or second and third are lowered. The space is massive. With the third row in place there’s just room for a row of grocery bags behind the seat.
Two more add-ons to mention, one for $800 upgrades the headlight system, including curb spotlights that shine to the side when the turn signals are activated, plus lighted door handles, which are classy.
Optional too is a retractable cargo cover that adds $150 to the bottom line. You’re kidding right?
Speaking of which, the starting price for the Premium Luxury’s bottom line is $56,040, including delivery. That’s less than most of the European competitors, but more than the MDX. And with its long list of options the tester hit $70,965. My first house cost half that much.
An entry-level Luxury model with 2.0-liter turbo I4 with 237 horsepower starts at $49,740. Adding AWD pushes it up $2,000.
A top-level XT6 Sport, which comes with AWD, red Brembo brake calipers, a torque vectoring differential, adaptive suspension and quicker steering, lists at $59,415.
Competitors beyond those listed include the likes of the Audi Q7 and BMW X5 at the higher price end, although the Caddy offers a better warranty. Or consider the Genesis GV80, Volvo XC90 or Lincoln Aviator nearer to the Caddy’s price range.
So many choices!
FAST STATS: 2022 Cadillac XT6 Premium Luxury AWD
Hits: Handsome 3-row SUV, good power, well-cushioned ride and AWD. Quiet luxury interior, 4 drive modes, heated wheel, heated/cooled front seats, heated rear seats, panoramic sunroof, power tilt/telescope steering wheel, wireless charger, HUD, comfy seats, oodles of storage (rear seats down).
Misses: MediocreMPG and no hybrid available, dash’s fake wood extremely reflective, hesitant acceleration except in Sport mode, touch pad for seat heat and some climate controls flexes so doesn’t always engage first touch.
Made in: Spring Hill, Tenn.
Engine: 3.6-liter V6, 310 hp/271 torque
Transmission: 9-speed automatic
Weight: 4,700 lbs.
Wheelbase: 112.7 in.
Length: 198.8 in.
Cargo: 12.6/43.1/78.7 cu.ft.
Tow: 4,000 lbs.
MPG: 17.5 (tested)
Base Price: $56,040 (includes delivery)
Platinum package (semi-aniline leather seats, Modena leather-wrapped wheel, leather horn pad, suede headliner, premium floor mats, real-time damping suspension), $5,000
Technology package (HD surround vision, automatic parking assist w/braking, 8-inch color gauge cluster, HUD, rear pedestrian alert, surround vision recorder, rear camera mirror w/washer), $2,350
Night vision, $2,000
Driver assist package (auto seatbelt tightening, reverse automatic braking, enhanced automatic braking, adaptive cruise control), $1,300
Cadillac User Experience w/navigation, Bose Performance audio 14-speaker system, $1,000
6-passenger seating, $800
Premium headlamp system w/lighted door handles, $800
Comfort and air quality package (heated rear seats, air ionizer, cooled front seats), $750
Special paint, $625
Security cargo shade, $150
Test vehicle: $70,965
Sources: Cadillac, www.kbb.com
Photos: Mark Savage