It looks like the right move, but the competition already beat ‘em to the punch

Big, luxurious SUVs and crossovers are as popular as ever these days, and the latest Cadillac XT6 looks like a solid fit for customer demands. However, there are still lingering questions that have us wondering if Cadillac is struggling to keep up with the times.

Keeping Up With The Joneses

The 2020 Cadillac XT6 Is What Caddy Needs, But Is It Too Late?
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Back in the day, Cadillac was considered a benchmark for luxury motoring, but now, it looks like the Europeans are the dominant force in the segment. Tesla is there to fly the red-white-and-blue as well thanks to the Model 3, but Cadillac gets lost in the mix.

At least nameplates like the XT5 and Escalade keep the brand on the board. Chalk it up to a seemingly never-ending demand for crossovers and SUVs - these are the real moneymakers, something industry folks have said for about a decade now, with luxurious cabin features and cutting-edge technology sealing the deal for many buyers out there.

And that’s why the XT6 is so damn important for Cadillac.

This is the first three-row SUV the brand has offered beyond the successful Escalade, with seven seats inside that come drenched in Caddy’s finest luxury dressing.

The XT6 is intended to fill the gap between the XT5 and Escalade, but it won’t be a walk in the park considering the European and Japanese competition. Big names in the other camps include the Infiniti QX60, BMW X5, Lexus RX350 L, and Audi Q7.

With a lineup like that staring it down, it looks like the XT6 is late to the party. The question is - will it still have the goods to perform as expected?

The 2020 Cadillac XT6 Is What Caddy Needs, But Is It Too Late?
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It’s a tough question to answer, and indeed, Cadillac itself is still struggling to establish itself in the modern era. For the past ten years or so, Caddy has tried time and again to rebrand and redefine, shucking the dated “snore machines for retirees” image in favor of performance, excitement, and technology. The V Series (CTS-V, ATS-V, etc.) is a great example of that effort.

Even so, Cadillac has been criticized for being too slow to react to market trends.

While enthusiasts like you and I love a thumping big V-8 and Nürburgring lap times, it’s hard to make money off bragging rights alone.

Thus, Cadillac introduced the XT5 in 2015 and XT4 in 2018, and now, we have the 2020 XT6.

Finding The Right Fit

The 2020 Cadillac XT6 Is What Caddy Needs, But Is It Too Late?
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One of Cadillac’s biggest issues is its image. With well over 100 years of history to point to, you’d think the brand would have no problem convincing customers that it knows what it’s doing with regards to luxury motoring. However, that’s not the problem. The problem is convincing younger folks that Cadillac is in step with modern buyer expectations, which is a tricky proposition when you’re just now getting around to capitalizing on the whole SUV/crossover trend.

However, Caddy is trying all the same, starting with the exterior styling on the XT6. The fresh SUV comes with the same aesthetic cues as the XT4, taking its inspiration from the Escala concept car that dropped a few years back. The fascia mixes horizontal and vertical elements for the lighting, plus a shapely main intake that mirrors the crest-like badge pinned to the nose. In the corners, the XT6 is equipped with standard 20-inch wheels, while 21-inch rollers are optional.

The 2020 Cadillac XT6 Is What Caddy Needs, But Is It Too Late?
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That modernized approach we see outside is echoed inside, but seems to be less effective overall. To my eyes, the look and layout inside the cabin feels dated - seriously, the whole thing looks like it came from 2009. The dash is the worst offender, with a tiny infotainment screen (just 8 inches) that just doesn’t hold up against the competition.

Luckily, there are a few nice features that help to justify the XT6’s premium pricing.

The materials are pretty slick, with hide upholstery, wood trim, and metal surrounds, and there are standard heated seats and a heated steering wheel.

You can also upgrade the rear bench to captain’s chairs if desired.

Grade levels include either the Premium Luxury or Sport, with carbon fiber trim replacing the wood in the cabin space on the latter.

Also critical is onboard tech, and overall, we feel like Caddy is a bit behind on this front as well. Granted, you still get basics like six USB ports, plus safety stuff like forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert, and lane keep assist, but there there are a few red flags to consider.

The 2020 Cadillac XT6 Is What Caddy Needs, But Is It Too Late?
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In an interview with Jalopnik, GM executive Steve Carlisle responded to questions over Cadillac’s decision not to include GM’s Super Cruise semi-autonomous driving feature, saying, “If you think about where we are with our rollout cadence, we have to consider, ‘Do we put Super Cruise in a product that’s getting close to the end of its life or do we put it in at the beginning of its life?’ This strategy reflects putting it in at the beginning of its life - not necessarily right at launch. We also want to consider the readiness of the technology.”

In all honesty, that sounds like a bunch of nonsense. Super Cruise is already in play on the CT6, and has successfully gone head-to-head with the Tesla Autopilot system in a number of comparison tests. So it’s definitely ready. What’s with the delay? Now is the time to be bold, Cadillac.

The powertrain options also feel a little behind the curve. Standard spec includes a 3.6-liter V-6 making 310 horsepower.

The drivetrain includes a nine-speed automatic transmission, with either FWD or AWD to put it to the pavement.

That’s all well and good, but unfortunately, the ‘six is the only option on the table right now. Ideally, Cadillac would have an EV option as well, or at the very least some kind of hybrid. This is where the market is headed, clearly, and Cadillac just feels like it’s lagging in that respect.

Conclusion

The 2020 Cadillac XT6 Is What Caddy Needs, But Is It Too Late?
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Don’t get me wrong - the 2020 Cadillac XT6 definitely has a lot to offer, both for customers and the Cadillac brand in general. We like the styling outside, and we like the interior’s luxury goodies (although the dash layout could use a refresh). We also like the fact Caddy is finally beefing up its crossover and SUV offerings to match market demands.

Indeed, as Cadillac gears up to introduce a new model every six months, this is a good start. The brand needs to feel fresh, and simply can’t go back to rehashing the same old formulaic sedan over and over again. That’s a surefire way to stagnation.

We’re also looking forward to new and exciting sports machines coming down the pipeline as a support to the standard crossover and SUV segment offerings - that’s the right move to keep the Caddy crest away from that old retiree association it was struggling with not too long ago.

The 2020 Cadillac XT6 Is What Caddy Needs, But Is It Too Late?
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However, there are issues that need to be addressed.

Cadillac needs to be bold with its technology strategy - ramp up the Super Cruise stuff, innovate with hybrid and EV powertrains, and do everything possible to get away from the stuffy brand perception of the old Cadillac.

And please update that dash - it really takes the wind out of the sails with regards to the whole luxury SUV thing.

There’s one last piece to the puzzle here. Cadillac is still a major force in the Chinese market, so you can bet that will play a large part in development going forward. Juggling the demands of customers overseas and at home will be tough, but finding some common ground certainly isn’t impossible.

Do all that, and I think Cadillac has a fair shot at taking on the likes of Lexus, BMW, Audi, and Mercedes.

Exact pricing for the 2020 Cadillac XT6 is still forthcoming, but is expected to start around $55,000. Look for it in dealers this summer.

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.)
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

Further Reading

The 2020 Cadillac XT6 Is What Caddy Needs, But Is It Too Late?
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The Cadillac XT6 is a Ground-Rule Double That Should’ve Been a Home Run

2019 Cadillac XT4 Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2019 Cadillac XT4.

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

Read our full driven review on the 2017 Cadillac XT5.

2016 Cadillac Escala High Resolution Exterior AutoShow
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Read our full review on the 2016 Cadillac Escala Concept.

2016 Cadillac CT6 Wallpaper quality
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Read our full review on the 2016 Cadillac CT6.

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