Bridges the gap between the XT5 and the Escalade

Introduced in early 2019, the Cadillac XT6 is the company’s first three-row SUV besides the massive Escalade. It bridges the gap between the latter and the compact XT5 and it rounds off Cadillac’s four-SUV lineup for the 2020 model year. It’s built on the same platform as the Chevrolet Traverse, so it’s pretty much a rebodied, fancier version of the GMC Acadia Denali.

The XT6 arrives to compete in a crowded SUV segment that already includes high sellers like the BMW X5, Audi Q7, and Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class. The Caddy also goes against the new Lincoln Aviator, the popular Acura MDX, and segment leader Lexus RX. How does it compare to some of its most important rivals? Let’s find out in the review below.

2020 Cadillac XT6 Exterior

  • New design language
  • Escala-inspired headlamps
  • Sporty yet elegant
  • Smaller than the Escalade
  • Traditional front grille
  • Two trims
It's available in two trims, each of them offered with distinctive features

The Cadillac XT6 introduces a new design language. Although it still features the vertical daytime running lights in the outer vents of the front bumper, they are no longer connected to the headlamps, like seen on the CT6 sedan and other XT-badged SUVs. The headlamps are also slimmer and seem inspired by the Escala concept. Of course, the SUV features the familiar trapezoidal front grille, which the bumper is sportier thanks to its big central outlet and tall side vents.

The XT6’s profile bridges the gap between the XT5 and the Escalade. While it’s not as muscular and sporty as the XT5, it’s not as boxy as the Escalade either. The tall beltline and the beefy fenders keep it exciting, while the somewhat simple door panels and glasshouse add a bit of elegance. It’s pretty obvious that the XT6 is aimed at German SUVs like the BMW X5 and Audi Q7.

In the back, the XT6 fits well in Cadillac’s current lineup. It features the familiar vertical taillights, the chrome trim that runs across the entire width of the tailgate, and the big trapezoidal license plate recess. Cadillac also added a diffuser-like element under the bumper, which also incorporates big exhaust pipes.

2020 Cadillac XT6
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The XT6 is only marginally smaller than the Escalade at 198.8 inches, a 3.7-inch decrease

The XT6 is available in two trims, Premium Luxury and Sport, each of them offered with distinctive features. The Premium Luxury model comes with a Bright Galvano finish on the grille, window frames, and roof rails, red taillights lenses, and through-fascia exhaust outlets. The Sport, on the other hand, features a black grille with V-Series-inspired mesh, and matching window trim and roof rails. The taillights lenses are clear on this model. Both come standard with 20-inch wheels, but the XT6 Sport can be ordered with 21-inch rollers as well.

So how big is the XT6 compared to the Escalade? It’s actually only marginally smaller than the regular wheelbase SUV at 198.8 inches, a 3.7 decrease. It’s also only three inches narrower, while its wheelbase is 3.3 inches shorter.

Compared to its German rivals, the XT6 is five inches longer than the BMW X5 but on par with the Audi Q7. It’s similar to both SUVs as far as width and height goes, but its wheelbase is more than four inches shorter.

2020 Cadillac XT6 exterior dimensions

Wheelbase (in. / mm): 112.7 / 2863
Overall Length (in. / mm): 198.8 / 5050
Overall Width (in. / mm): 77.3 / 1964
Overall Height (in. / mm): 68.9 / 1750 (w/o luggage rack)
70.2 / 1784 (incl. luggage rack)
Track (in. mm): 66.4 / 1686 (front)
66.2 / 1682 (rear)
Ground Clearance (in. / mm): 6.65 / 169

2020 Cadillac XT6 Interior

  • Clean design
  • Premium materials
  • Eight-inch display
  • Digital instrument cluster
  • Optional semi-aniline leather
  • Three-row layout
  • Smaller trunk compared to rivals
  • Competitive passenger room
2020 Cadillac XT6
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The eight-inch diagonal is rather small for the premium market

The XT6 is pretty basic inside the cabin. I’m not saying that it lacks the luxury of a proper Cadillac, I’m just pointing out that the company went with a clean and simple layout. The dash has a somewhat complex design though, with the center trim becoming increasingly wider toward the center stack in order to incorporate the infotainment display. Likewise, the lower dash is color-matched to the lower center stack, so they look like one big element on which the upper dashboard is floating.

The digital infotainment display is integrated in the center console, just like in other Cadillacs. However, its eight-inch diagonal is rather small for the premium market. where most automakers offer displays that measure at least 10 inches. The good news is that it features the same technology introduced on the XT4, so you get the same jog function that lets you tilt the knob for easier navigation. It also provides access to a state-of-the-art navigation system, SiriusXM, 4G LTE wi-fi hotspot (with 3GB or three months of data), Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as wireless charging.

2020 Cadillac XT6
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When it comes to materials, the XT6 is definitely of the premium variety. Most surfaces are covered in leather, including the top of the dashboard, the steering wheel, the center console, and the door panels. We can also see a gloss insert in the dash and metal trim on the steering wheel and door panels. The Premium Luxury model features exotic wood trim, while the Sport replaces it with carbon-fiber. Semi-aniline premium leather is available on both models.

The options list also includes heated and ventilated front seats and heated second-row outboard seats

The options list also includes heated and ventilated front seats and heated second-row outboard seats, an air ionizer, and a Bose Performance Series sound system with 14 custom-tuned speakers. The heated steering wheel comes standard. Cadillac also includes adaptive cruise control, night vision, NFC phone pairing, an HD surround vision camera, hands-free tailgate, and keyless open and adaptive remote start.

2020 Cadillac XT6
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The XT6 also features a standard power-folding third-row seat and remote fold-down feature for the second-row seat. A tip/pitch-and-slide feature on the second-row seat allows easy access to the third row.

Slightly smaller than the Escalade, the XT6 has less passenger volume. Headroom is down from 42.8 to 39.8 inches in the front room, from 38.7 to 39.1 inches in the second row, and from 38.1 to 37.2 inches in the third row. The XT6 also offers less legroom in the front row, down from 45.3 to 41.2 inches. However, second-row legroom is similar at 39 inches, while third-row legroom is greater in the XT6 at 29.5 vs 24.8 inches.

But how does the XT6 compare to its director competitors? Headroom in the front row is slightly inferior compared to the X5, which offers an extra inch at 40.8 inches. The XT6 offers a bit more legroom though, almost 1.5 inches in the front row and almost two in the second row. The X5 doesn’t have a third-row seating option, and we can’t compare the SUVs in this department. When it comes to shoulder room, the X5 is a bit wider. You’ll benefit from almost two extra inches in the front row and 0.7 inches in the second row.

2020 Cadillac XT6
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The XT6 offers less cargo room compared to the BMW X5 and Audi Q7

Compared to the Audi Q7, the XT6 offers similar headroom up front, but adds an additional 3.2 inches in the second row. Likewise, front-row legroom is similar, with a half-inch more in the Q7, but the Caddy wins in the second-row by a whopping 10 inches.

Moving over to cargo volume, the XT6 offers only 12.6 cubic-feet behind the third row, but that figure increases to 43.1 cubic feet behind the second row. Fold the second-row seats flat and overall cargo room increases to 78.7 cubic feet. As you might expect, it’s not as spacious as the Escalade. The bigger SUV offers an extra 2.6 cubic feet behind the third row, an extra 8.5 cubic feet behind the second row, and an additional 15.5 cubic feet behind the front row.

Although similar in size, the X5 is inferior in this department, as it takes only 33.9 cubic feet behind the second row. When these seats are folded, capacity increases to 72.3 cubic feet, a 6.4-cubic-foot decrease. The Audi Q3 also offers less space. With all three rows in place, it can swallow 10.4 cubic feet, more than two cubic feet less than the XT6. Folding the third-row seats increases capacity to 27.2 cubic feet, but that’s almost 16 cubic feet less than the Cadillac. With the second row folded flat, the Q7 can take up to 69 cubic feet of luggage. Again, that a significant 9.7-cubic-foot decrease compared to the XT6.

2020 Cadillac XT6
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2020 Cadillac XT6 interior dimensions

Headroom (in / mm): Front: 39.8 / 1010 (with sunroof)
2nd row: 39.1 / 993 (with sunroof)
3rd row: 37.2 / 945 (with sunroof)
Legroom (in. / mm): Front: 41.2 / 1046
2nd row: 39.1 / 994
3rd row: 29.5 / 750
Shoulder Room (in. / mm): Front: 58.3 / 1482
2nd row: 57.4 / 1459
3rd row: 53.5 / 1360
Hip Room (in. / mm): Front: 56.1 / 1424
2nd row: 55.7 / 1416
3rd row: 39.5 / 1003
Cargo Volume (cu. ft. / L): 78.7 / 2228 (behind first row)
43.1 / 1220 (behind second row)
12.6 / 356 (behind third row)

2020 Cadillac XT6 Drivetrain

  • 3.6-liter V-6
  • 310 horsepower
  • 271 pound-feet of torque
  • Nine-speed automatic
  • Tows up to 4,000 pounds
  • Needs a performance version
  • No hybrid
2020 Cadillac XT6
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The 3.6-liter V-6 delivers 310 horsepower and 271 pound-feet of twist

Unlike the Escalade, which features a naturally aspirated, 6.2-liter V-8, the XT6 comes with a 3.6-liter V-6 under the hood. This engine is the same LGX found in the smaller XT5 and delivers the same 310 horsepower and 271 pound-feet of twist. The mill is also shared with the ATS, CTS, and CTS, as well as the Chevrolet Camaro and Blazer.

The engine mates to the nine-speed automatic transmission that’s already common among General Motors vehicles. It features the company’s new Electronic Precision Shift function and Active Fuel Management technology. The latter enables the engine to use only four cylinders when V-6 power is not needed in order to enhance fuel economy.

2020 Cadillac XT6
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The XT6 can tow up to 4,000 pounds, far less than the competition

All-wheel drive is standard on the Sport trim and optional on the Premium Luxury model. The two vehicles have different tunings. While Premium Luxury is focused on refinement and a quieter ride, the Sport is tuned to deliver enhanced agility. The latter comes with a Sport Control active twin-clutch AWD design with active yaw control, Continuous Damping Control active handling, and a faster steering ratio.

The XT6 rides on a MacPherson strut suspension with stabilizer bar up front and a five-link independent suspension with coil springs to the rear. It features disc brakes with ABS at all four-corners, consisting of Duralife brake rotors and low-drag calipers.

There’s no word on performance yet, but Cadillac says the XT6 can tow up to 4,000 pounds. That’s far from impressive when compared to the BMW X5, which tows up to 6,600 pounds. The Audi Q7 does even better in this department with a towing capacity of up to 7,700 pounds. That’s twice as much as the XT6!

2020 Cadillac XT6
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2020 Cadillac XT6 specifications

Engine 3.6L V-6 DOHC VVT with Direct Injection
Bore & Stroke (in / mm): 3.74 x 3.37 / 95 x 85.8
Block Material: Cast aluminum w/ cast-in-place iron bore liners
Cylinder Head Material: Cast aluminum
Valvetrain: Dual-overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder, continuous variable valve timing
Fuel Delivery: Direct, high-pressure fuel injection with electronic throttle control
Horsepower (hp / kW @ rpm): 310 / 229 @ 6600 (est.)
Torque (lb.-ft. / Nm @ rpm): 271 / 373 @ 5000 (est.)

2020 Cadillac XT6 Safety

2020 Cadillac XT6
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Like any premium vehicle, the XT6 is packed with safety and driver assistance technologies. The standard equipment list is quite extensive and includes HD rear vision camera, forward collision alert, following distance indicator, automatic emergency braking, and front pedestrian braking. The XT6 also features front and rear park assist, lane change alert with side blind zone alert, rear cross traffic alert, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, safety alert seat, and a speed limiter.

Although it’s already on par with most of its competitors, the XT6 can be upgraded with optional features like rear camera mirror, adaptive cruise control; automatic parking assist with braking, rear pedestrian alert, HD surround vision and recorder, reverse automatic braking, night vision, and hitch guidance with hitch view.

2020 Cadillac XT6 Pricing

2020 Cadillac XT6
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Pricing information for the XT6 is not yet available. But since it slots between the XT5 and the Escalade, it should cost more the former but less than the latter. On the other hand, I wouldn’t split the difference between the XT5 and the Escalade, as the XT6 will most likely cost closer to the Escalade rather than the XT5. With the compact priced $41,695 and the full-size SUV priced from $75,195, the XT6 will probably start from at least $60,000. Such a sticker would put it on par with the six-cylinder BMW X5, priced from $60,700, and the V-6-powered Audi Q7, which retails from $59,950.

2020 Cadillac XT6 Competition

BMW X5

2019 BMW X5 Exterior
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Redesigned for the 2019 model year, the BMW X5 is one of the most advanced SUVs on the market. While the XT6 is on the more modern side of this niche, the X5 boasts a sportier appearance thanks to that massive double-kidney grille sharp-edged headlamps, and muscular body panels. Although the cabin isn’t necessarily fancier than the XT6’s, the X5 features a much larger 12.3-inch infotainment display, a fully digital instrument cluster, and the optional Sky Lounge panoramic roof with 15,000 illuminated graphic patterns. On the flipside, the X5 doesn’t have a three-seat layout, so it won’t provide seating for more than five people. Unlike the XT6, the X5 comes with more than one engine option in the U.S. The base model is somewhat similar to the Caddy, as it features a 3.0-liter six-cylinder rated at 335 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque. Opt for the more expensive trim and power comes from a 4.4-liter V-8 that generates 456 horses and 479 pound-feet of twist. On top of the more powerful engines and better performance, the X5 also benefits from a superior towing rating of 6,600 pounds. Pricing for the X5 starts from $60,700 for the xDrive40i trim and from $75,750 for the X5 xDrive50i version.

Read our full story on the 2019 BMW X5.

Audi Q7

2017 - 2018 Audi Q7 High Resolution Exterior
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The Q7 is the oldest vehicle in this comparison, having been introduced in 2015, but that’s not to say that it’s dated. While the X5 looks downright sporty, the Q7 boasts a milder appearance. It’s actually very similar to the XT6, blending simple styling cues with an overall elegant look. The cabin is packed with Audi’s latest technology, and the continuous air-vent strip on the dashboard gives it an upscale look. Two drivetrains are available in the U.S., starting with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder rated at 252 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of twist. The second gasoline engine is a 3.0-liter V-6 that cranks out 328 horsepower and 325 pound-feet. Unlike the X5, the Q7 comes with a three-row layout, so it matches the XT6’s seven-passenger capacity. The Q7 is the most capable as far as towing goes, as it can pull up 7,700 pounds. Pricing for the Q7 starts from $53,550, but opting for the V-6 model will set you back $59,950 before options.

Read our full review of the 2019 Audi Q7

Final Thoughts

2020 Cadillac XT6
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The XT6 is an extremely important SUV for Cadillac. Not only it fills the gap between the CT5 and the massive and really expensive Escalade, but it finally gives the brand access to a big market dominated by the BMW X5, Audi Q7, and Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class. It also rounds off a proper SUV lineup that includes four different products. But even though it’s a well-equipped crossover tech-wise, it falls behind the competition when it comes to luggage room. What’s more, the XT6 is actually a rebodied GMC Acadia Denali and not an entirely new product. The XT6 will also go against the new Lincoln Aviator, which features a few fancier premium items, like 30-way adjustable power seats and a 28-speaker audio system. So Cadillac starts this race a tad behind the competition, but it may catch up if sales are strong and GM decides introduce a big update in a few years. The XT6 also needs a more powerful drivetrain to compete with the range-topping X5, as well as a hybrid drivetrain to go against the Aviator.

  • Leave it
    • Small trunk
    • Needs a more powerful engine
    • Could use a hybrid too

Further Reading

2019 Cadillac XT4 Exterior
- image 775499

Read our full review on the 2019 Cadillac XT4.

2017 Cadillac XT5 – Driven
- image 745026
All-new design but with familiar cues

Read our full driven review on the 2017 Cadillac XT5.

2016 Cadillac Escala High Resolution Exterior AutoShow
- image 685728

Read our full review on the 2016 Cadillac Escala Concept.

2016 Cadillac CT6 Wallpaper quality
- image 624547

Read our full review on the 2016 Cadillac CT6.

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