Expert Reviews

Preview: 2020 Cadillac XT6

Cadillac is hoping to capitalize on the runaway success of the XT4 compact CUV – one of the top sellers in the segment in Canada last year, the model’s first – with the addition of its new, bigger, three-row brother: the XT6, debuting at this year’s North American International Auto Show.

Cadillac Canada wouldn’t confirm or deny whether the front-wheel-drive version will be coming to Canadian markets.

The full-size XT6 is the latest GM model to get the C1XX long wheelbase platform that currently underpins the Buick Enclave and Chevrolet Traverse; the shortened version of the platform, meanwhile, underpins the XT5 mid-size CUV.

Power comes from a 3.6L V6 good for 310 hp and 271 lb-ft of torque; there’s no turbocharging, but there is direct fuel injection in an effort to provide good power without too much of a hit to fuel economy. It’s fed to two or four wheels via a nine-speed automatic; Cadillac Canada wouldn’t confirm or deny whether the front-wheel-drive version will be coming to Canadian markets.

“We have to finalize that,” said Hoss Hassani, managing director of Cadillac Canada. “The segment in Canada is about 95 percent AWD, and we happen to be one of the ones that are in that 5 percent that offer front-wheel drive (it’s available on the XT4 and XT5).” Guess we’ll just have to wait and see on that one.

As far as the engine goes, while there are no plans yet for an alternative powertrain – something smaller and turbocharged, perhaps, or even a hybrid – that may not be the end of the story.

“Powertrain diversity is a good thing for manufacturers to offer,” said Hassani. “What that diversity should be – whether it’s a more affordable engine, a higher performance engine – varies from market to market. There are people that want electric vehicles, and people that want ICE vehicles; the 3.6 is definitely the sweet spot not just in the US, but in Canada as well. Even on a world with multiple powertrains, that would be the most popular.”

Depending on which model you specify, you will get a slightly different drive experience. Cadillac confirmed that the both the spring and damper rates are slightly firmer on the Sport model and the steering is quicker, although both models get a “Sport” mode to go along with front-wheel-drive-only “Tour”, as well as “Snow and Ice” and “AWD” modes; these modify throttle inputs, traction control settings and transmission timing, while optional adaptive dampers – available on both models – take things yet a step further. They aren’t of the magnetic variety as seen on some other GM products, but the Cadillac folks on hand assured us that the difference could definitely be felt.

Styling-wise, while there’s a clear connection to the rest of the Cadillac family thanks to its five-point blacked-out grille adorned with that classic Cadillac shield, that’s kind of where it ends up front. The headlights are much slimmer than recent Caddies and no longer do the daytime running lights appear to extend into the bumper as the gap that separates the upper DRLs from the lower is much larger on the XT6 than it has been previous. The view in profile, meanwhile, reminds more of the Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class than the XT4 or XT5. Kind of a shame about that new DRL treatment, really, as they’ve helped provide a nicely distinctive look on many Cadillacs since the Art and Science design language took hold. There’s no mistaking those pointy, vertical wraparound LED taillamps, though, those are all Cadillac and one of the nicest styling features of the car.

How your XT6 will look depends on which of the two models you choose– Premium Luxury or Sport. On the Luxury model, the Sport’s blacked-out grille gets replaced by a more jewelled example, while inside, wood accents replace the Sport’s carbon-fibre trim. The Sport, meanwhile, is the only model to get a 21-inch wheel option; 20s are standard on both the Premium Luxury and Sport models.

Inside, all three rows of passengers get treated to a new Bose Performance Series Sound system with 14 speakers, all tuned specifically to work within the confines of the XT6’s cabin. Of course, this being a Cadillac, luxury features abound, such as supple leather (that can be upgraded to semi-aniline spec) and brushed aluminum, with a dash dominated by the latest incarnation of Cadillac CUE infotainment with 8-inch display. It provides customizable user profiles stored in the cloud, so users have easy access to their profile settings in the XT6 or any other GM vehicle with the current-generation CUE system. There’s also a 4G LTE hotspot, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and Teen Driver, an app-based system that allows owners to track at what speeds the car’s being driven, how much gas is left and even the volume the audio system has been set to.

For the XT6, the big addition is a jog-type control wheel for the infotainment. No longer are we required to only make use of a touchscreen or touch pad – that has been a bone of contention with CUE for some time – we now get a knob/joystick that can be used to control everything.

The 2020 Cadillac XT6 will arrive in Canadian dealers this summer.