2020 Cadillac XT6 Sport AWD: The sportier Escalade
Cadillac already has one of the most iconic three-row SUVs on the market, the Escalade, a well-understood status symbol for upwardly mobile urbanites. So why did it need to introduce the all new 2020 Cadillac XT6?
The answer is immediately obvious when you first approach the XT6. The Escalade is a huge old-fashioned SUV, based on GM's full-sized trucks and powered by a gas-sucking V8. In contrast, the XT6 is a thoroughly modern smaller crossover with a much more efficient V6 engine. Both will carry up to eight passengers, but the XT6 is a lot easier to drive everywhere.
To be honest, I was more than a little surprised to see the XT6 only comes with a 3.6-liter V6 engine. Most competitors offer more advanced turbocharged fours. But when I first hit the gas, my doubts were dispelled. Acceleration off the line is strong and freeway passing is not a problem. It is even faster in the Sport mode.
Handling was also surprisingly nimble, thanks in part to the performance enhancing extras that came on our Sport version, including a torque-vectoring rear differential and retuned steering. That's something no one will ever say about the Escalade.
But luxury SUVs are also about comfort, and that's where the XT6 also scores well. It is very smooth and quiet on the road, even when outfitted with the huge 21-inch wheels and low-profile tires that came on our Sport version. All-whhel-drive is a welcome option for wet Pacific Northwest driving.
Despite being significantly smaller than the Escalade, the XT6 offers a surprising amount of interior room, even in the third row of seats. Much of that is because of its upright design, which maximizes head and shoulder room. But deft exterior styling touches, like the aggressive grill and sculpted sides, prevent it from looking too boxy.
The interior design is pleasantly subdued for a luxury SUV. While some competitors strive to dazzle with the flashiest displays of the most advanced technologies, the XT6 is refreshingly understates. For example, the 8-inch display screen was not pretending to be an iPad. It was proportional to the dash, not a replacement for it.
Because Cadillac is a General Motors luxury brand, it's not surprising the XT6 has a lot in common with two of its other mid-size SUVs, the redesigned 2020 Chevy Traverse and 2020 GMC Acadia. They share platforms, engines and transmissions, although the XT6 is slightly larger and much more refined. That's typical of luxury brands owned by affordable vehicle manufacturers, including Acura, Infiniti, Lexus, and Lincoln. The Acadia offers an AT4 version with some serious off-road hardware, however.
All XT6's come loaded with a long list of standard equipment, of course. But our upgrade Sport model include nearly $15,000 worth of options, from the aforementioned wheels to even more advanced safety systems. That pushed the total price to more than $73,000, which is a range where potentials are likely to do a lot of comparison shopping before making a decision. We think they'll find the 2020 Cadillac XT6 a serious contender.
2020 Cadillac XT6 Sport AWD
Base price: $57,095
Price as tested: $73,040
Style: Midsize SUV
Engine: 3.6-liter V6 (310 hp, 271 lbs-ft)
Transmission: 9-speed automatic w/manual mode
Modes: Tour (2WD), AWD, Sport, Off-road
EPA fuel economy: 17/24
Length: 199 inches
Weight: 4,441 to 4,690 pounds
Final assembly: Spring Hill, Tennessee
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