We've spilled plenty of ink criticizing Cadillac more recent products, like the CT4 and CT5 sedans in particular, so we expected to be equally disappointed jumping behind the wheel of the 2021 Cadillac XT6 crossover. But to our surprise, the XT6 isn't all that bad. Cadillac actually built a solid three-row that drives well, is decently comfortable, and has some good safety tech.
But when comparing it to alternatives from companies like Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Volvo, the XT6 feels like it's five years behind the competitive set. The Cadillac doesn't look all that interesting, it has a tiny screen and poor fuel economy comparatively, and costs an absurd $72,000 as tested. Cadillac needs to do way more to convince us that the XT6 is worth that kind of money.
Scores updated in February 2021. A vehicle's ratings are relative only to its own segment and not the new-vehicle market as a whole. For more on how Motor1.com rates its cars, click here.
The Cadillac XT6 has some attractive details. The three-row gets the same tapered edges and hard angles as other modern Caddies, and wears the brand's new front-end design very well. The slim headlights, large five-sided grille, and vertical LED accents afford the XT6 a bold look head-on, and our Sport tester ups the ante with standard 20-inch wheels (21-inchers are optional) and blacked-out trim on the window surrounds and grille. That said, there's nothing entirely attractive about this Cadillac, either.
The profile of the XT6 is generic and blends into a forgettable rear end. The angular taillights look like transplants from the crossover’s sedan siblings, and a single chrome accent piece runs the length of the boot lid. The XT6 simply fails to stand out visually in a class with much bolder options.
The same is true of the interior – the styling is clean and everything is well laid-out, but it's unremarkable. There's a single housing in the center console for the volume knob, infotainment controller, and quick-access buttons, which makes navigating the embedded 8.0-inch touchscreen a cinch. The dash, seats, and steering wheel wear a nice black leather with subtle accent stitching, and our tester has carbon fiber accents on the steering wheel and throughout the cockpit as part of the Sport package.
Even with big ol' 21-inch wheels (a $1,000 option atop the Sport trim) and rubber-band thin tires, the Cadillac XT6 has a very nice ride. The continuously adaptive dampers – standard on our tester – make the crossover feel silky smooth on the highway and tolerable over even the most imperfect pavement. Ticking the drive mode selector to Sport does stiffen up the suspension some for improved handling, but not dramatically so. Not only does the XT6 have a nice ride, but it's also extremely well-insulated – talking to your passenger only takes a whisper. Only when you hammer the 3.6-liter V6 does it make its presence known.
The black leather buckets up front are soft to sit on, but offer limited bolstering and lack support. And while heated functionality comes standard, ventilation is only available as an option on the $750 Comfort and Air Quality package. We attribute those same qualities to the second-row captain's chairs, which look nice but aren't the most luxurious. The captain’s chairs (as with the bench) don't have an electronic sliding function either, which means you have to pull a tab on the shoulder and shove the seat forward for third-row access.
Once in the third row, the XT6 has the best headroom in the class – a solid 37.2 inches. That beats the next-best Volvo XC90 by nearly an inch. Unfortunately, legroom leaves something to be desired. The XT6’s 29.5 inches of legroom are among the worst figures in the class.
The only major ding against the XT6 in the tech department is the tiny 8.0-inch touchscreen – which costs an extra $1,000 with navigation. Compared to the much larger and much nicer 12.3-inch screens offered in the BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz GLE, this one feels puny.
Other than that, the XT6 has the latest GM infotainment interface, which is crisp, clear, and relatively easy to use thanks to color-coordinated icons. And things like wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as Wi-Fi connectivity, come standard – not even BMW and Mercedes offer all of those out of the box.
By ticking the Enhanced Visibility and Technology Package option ($2,350), our tester also gets an 8.0-inch screen in the instrument cluster – offering readouts for things like audio, fuel economy, and more – as well as a configurable head-up display and a rearview mirror camera. Though it's not the clearest, the rearview mirror camera does help with blind spots when backing up this big SUV.
A turbocharged 2.0-liter engine comes standard on the XT6, good for 237 horsepower and 258 pound-feet, but our tester gets the peppier 3.6-liter V6, which comes standard on the Premium Luxury and Sport models. This engine produces a modest 310 hp and 276 lb-ft, routed through a nine-speed automatic to an optional all-wheel-drive system – front-drive is standard.
The XT6 isn't what we'd call fast; this Caddy does well puttering around at a modest pace with just enough oomph for highway passes and quick overtaking in the city. If you turn the drive mode dial to Sport and hammer the throttle, the XT6 will move a bit more hurriedly, but not without whining protest from the engine. The V6 doesn't feel hugely powerful compared to some of the alternatives, but the hefty 4,690-pound curb weight probably doesn't help its cause.
Dynamically, though, we really like the way the XT6 Sport moves. The steering has a nice weighty feel, the suspension reacts well to aggressive inputs, and there's not anywhere near as much body roll as you get on some of the alternatives. This model does have a few trim-specific engineering tweaks to make it feel more dynamic, like a tighter 15.1:1 steering ratio that replaces the Premium Luxury trim's 16.1:1 gearing, standard adaptive dampers, and different throttle and transmission mapping. The end result is a crossover that actually feels pretty nimble – or, as nimble as a big three-row can be.
The XT6 comes with a number of good safety features out of the box, including automatic emergency braking, cruise control with distance assist, lane-keep assist, cross-traffic alert, and a few more. But if you want things like adaptive cruise control with braking down to zero, high-speed automatic emergency braking, and rear automatic emergency braking, that will set you back an extra $1,300 as part of the Driver Assist package.
Our tester did have that box ticked (plus a nifty $2,000 Night Vision package) and it works very well on the highway. The adaptive cruise control with distance control and lane-centering tech is very intuitive. It keeps the XT6 doesn’t ping-ping in the lane and stays at a steady pace to the car in front of it without hard braking.
But we can't help shake the fact that, while yes, the Driver Assist package is pretty good, Cadillac does not offer its advanced Super Cruise active safety system on the XT6. On a $70,000-plus luxury crossover, that should at least be an option.
save over $3,400 on average off MSRP* on a new Cadillac XT6
The base Cadillac XT6 with a four-cylinder turbo and front-wheel drive gets a solid 23 miles per gallon combined. But adding all-wheel drive and a naturally aspirated V6, like on our tester, drops the fuel economy to a less-than-stellar 18 miles per gallon city, 25 highway, and 20 combined. That’s well below average compared to the competitive set.
Consider this: The dated Acura MDX and Infiniti QX60 with all-wheel drive and a six-cylinder engine achieve 22 mpg combined, as does the BMW X5 and the Mercedes-Benz GLE with the same setup. All-wheel-drive versions of the Volvo XC90 and the Lexus RX L, meanwhile, get 21 mpg combined. Only the Audi Q7 is worse than the Cadillac, achieving just 18 mpg combined.
How much does it cost to get into this thirsty, mild, faux-lux crossover? While the Cadillac XT6 starts at a very reasonable $47,995, our tester comes in at $72,165 post-options. Ouch.
From there, all-wheel drive is a $2,000 extra, while opting for the Sport model is a $7,200 premium above that. Options on our car include the $3,700 Platinum package, the $2,350 Advanced Visibility package, $2,000 for night vision, $1,300 for the Driver Assist package, and a few other features that bring the total in extras to a whopping $13,975 (not including $995 for destination and handling fees).
So while it may be one of the more affordable players in the class with a base price that undercuts most alternatives, save the QX60 and MDX, the Cadillac XT6 does get extremely pricey depending on options and trims.
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