The XT6 is a front wheel drive luxury crossover from Cadillac using the same platform as the GMC Acadia, Buick Enclave and Chevy Traverse.
While the quadruplets are based on the same platform, the XT6 looks significantly different.
The XT6 is more upscale and sportier than the other three. It appears nimbler and more luxurious yet retains the same 310 hp 3.6-liter V6 used in the others.
When compared to its siblings, the XT6 has sharper lines, a lower body, and more chrome. The headlights are unique from all other Cadillac vehicles, but the grill, bumper, and fog lights all retain the Cadillac design. Something interesting on the grill is that it uses a black rectangular brickwork mesh, but on every other joint of the rectangles is a chrome Cadillac grill.
As expected in this class, the lighting is LED all around. Even the door handles light up with LED lighting. The taillights are massive and run nearly from the bumper to the glass. Only a small portion of the taillights extends onto the rear hatch. The third brake light is mounted in the rear spoiler at the top of the hatch.
The rear dual exhaust comes from a single Y-split just behind the rear differential, but unlike some other luxury vehicles, the dual exhaust tips are functional. The 20-inch 12-spoke polished wheels are a good match for the rest of the vehicle and we think they look great.
Inside is where the XT6 really separates itself from its many siblings. The leather is very high quality, and all of the top features are available. Our Premium test model included heated and ventilated seats, heads up display, night vision, and many other features.
The climate and infotainment systems are easy to use. Cadillac has minimized clutter on the dash, but still provides physical buttons for easy adjustment of the climate control. Audio is easily controlled from the steering wheel or center console behind the shift lever.
The 8-inch infotainment screen is easy to see and use. It is also well integrated and doesn’t look like someone taped a screen onto the dash as a last-minute design feature. Audio quality is great, but not the best in this class.
Seating is very comfortable in the front two rows, and the third row is still pretty good. The second-row seats can slide forward to provide more room in the third row for taller passengers. It is possible to fit adults in all three rows, but it can get a little tight if they are all over six feet tall.
There are power ports for the front and middle rows, but not for the third row. The large sunroof has glass for the first two rows, which certainly makes the second row feel much more airy. Of course, there are HVAC vents for all three rows providing comfort for all passengers.
Driving the XT6 isn’t much different from many of the other vehicles that share this platform. It is a little more agile than the others, but largely it remains the same. Like the others, power from the V6 is routed through a 9-speed automatic mainly to the front wheels. Our tester was equipped with AWD so it can transfer power to the rear as needed. It has four drive modes which are Tour (front wheel drive only), AWD, Sport, and Off-Road. As expected, there is additional sound dampening in the XT6 and the ride is very smooth for highway cruising.
In spirited driving, it becomes clear that the FWD biased system hasn’t been enhanced for Cadillac. There is a lot of power steer and understeer even with in AWD version. There is a lot of body lean when cornering hard and the steering feedback is a little numb. On the plus side, the steering is very direct, and we never felt like we were losing control of the vehicle.
In this class of powerful luxury RWD-based SUVs, the FWD XT6 is a little out of place in driving dynamics and power. The closest competitor is likely the Lincoln Aviator, and it has much better driving characteristics for the roughly same price.
The night vision system was very cool to look at but was more of a cool gimmick than a useful tool. The reason for this is that the screen for the night vision is mounted in the center of the gauge cluster. This means focus must be taken off the road and placed on a screen well below the dash. If the night vision were projected onto the windshield as part of the HUD, it would be less of an issue. We would save the $2,000 this system costs.
We always love it when we are supplied with AWD models, as it allows us to test the off-road abilities. The reason for this testing is not only for off-road prowess, but it also demonstrates how well a vehicle can handle bad weather.
High speed on well-maintained gravel roads is no problem for the XT6. Being front wheel drive biased helps it keep its composure when the terrain gets loose. However, suspension travel quickly runs out over larger bumps and dips making for a harsh ride and potential damage at higher speeds.
On the articulation hill there is little suspension travel, but the AWD system kicks in quickly to transfer power to the rear wheels. The brake based limited slip also does an ok job of transferring power side to side.
Climbing the steep hill required taking the easy line in Off-Road mode while starting with some momentum. The Off-Road mode does a good job of braking the wheels without traction to transfer power to the wheels with traction, but with no low range transfer case and an engine that doesn’t have low end torque, it struggled on the steeper sections with less traction.
This AWD system should perform very well in inclement weather. It can transfer power front to rear and side to side very well. Paved roads generally aren’t steep enough that the lack of low-end torque will stop the XT6 from moving forward.
Our XT6 premium luxury AWD tester had a base price of $54,695, but there were enough options to raise that over $15,000. Listed from most expensive to least the options were: Platinum package for $4,900, Enhanced Visibility and Technology package for $2,350, 20-inch polished wheels for $2,095, Night Vision for $2,000, Driver Assist package for $1,300, Cadillac User Experience with Embedded Navigation for $1,000, Premium Headlamp System with Illuminated Door Handles for $800, Comfort and Air Quality package for $750, Satin Steel Metallic paint for $625, and the Security Cargo Shade for $75. With the $995 destination charge the total price comes to a whopping $71,585.
Overall, the XT6 is a comfortable, smooth, and quiet three-row crossover. As far as looks and interior feel, Cadillac has done a great job of separating it from its many siblings. However, when compared to the other vehicles in its class, the XT6 doesn’t have the power and driving dynamics that are offered by other manufacturers.
We can’t help but wonder what the XT6 could have been with the RWD platform and Black Wing V8 Cadillac dropped to focus on EV’s.
Matthew Barnes is an experienced towing expert. He works as a mechanical engineer and his day job involves testing a variety of vehicles while towing trailers of all types and sizes. Matt shares his knowledge by writing for automotive news outlets in the evenings. When he’s not working he can be found spending time in the great outdoors with his family. He enjoys camping, hiking, canyoneering, and backpacking. Whenever possible he spends time riding in or on any power sports vehicle he can find and claims he can drive anything with a motor, which probably isn’t true.