It has plenty to offer, but Caddy still left a lot off the table

Cadillac filled a big void in its SUV lineup at the 2019 North American International Auto Show, unveiling the three-row XT6 to occupy the space between the mid-size, two-row XT5 and the company’s granddaddy SUV, the irrepressible Escalade. The addition of the XT6 gives Cadillac four crossovers and SUVs to choose from, establishing a clear hierarchy for consumers. The XT6, for all intents and purposes, is Cadillac’s luxury-SUV-that-isn’t-the-Escalade. It’s big, looks good, and offers the kind of three-row space families fawn over when they’re looking for a spacious ride. Cadillac’s price for the XT6 remains an open question, but by virtue of the XT6 sitting between the XT5 and the Escalade, expect Caddy’s new big rig to start somewhere in the vicinity of $50,000.

The Cadillac XT6 is a Ground-Rule Double That Should've Been a Home Run
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On the surface, the Cadillac XT6 is the SUV that Cadillac needed to roll out to bridge the gap between its more mainstream lineup of SUVs that includes the XT4 and the XT5 and the iconic Escalade.

It works on that level, too, at least for the most part. The rectilinear profile doesn’t excite, but it’s not a shoebox, either. Fortunately, the front section is arguably one of its biggest strengths. There’s a lot of mesh going on in that face, but it’s thankfully drowned out by a striking headlight-and-grille design combo that gives it a real visceral look. The vertical LEDs sitting on the corner of the intakes look fancy when they light up, too.

The XT6 is handsome in plain sight, but it doesn’t have the chiseled physique of a three-row SUV. In a lot of ways, the SUV’s exterior design actually serves as a microcosm of what you can from the whole package. The XT6 has its high points and low points. How you judge it based on its merits and demerits will decide whether it’s worth your time and money.

The Cadillac XT6 is a Ground-Rule Double That Should've Been a Home Run
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Most of the action involving the XT6 can be found in the interior, though that’s to be expected for a three-row SUV that promises five-star levels of space and comfort. Thankfully, Cadillac lived up to that promise.

Outside of its striking exterior front end design, second- and third-row space are two of its biggest claims to fame.

That’s a bit of a surprise itself considering that, despite appearances, the XT6 actually uses the shorter-wheelbase version of GM’s three-row-crossover platform. The wheelbase stretches 112.7 inches long, which is only 0.2 inches longer than the XT5. In terms of size, it stands with the GMC Acadia, which shares the same wheelbase, in line, well short of behemoth SUVs like the Chevrolet Traverse and Buick Enclave. Give Cadillac credit, then, for being resourceful in this respect. It created more space — actual or otherwise — by raising the XT6’s roof by 0.2 inches relative to the Acadia. Granted, you’re not going to notice a height difference of 0.2 inches when you’re inside the XT6, but it plays well on paper, or at least in this case, model brochures and catalogs. Customers see that and those 0.2 inches might as well be 2.0 inches. Access to the second- and third-row seats is easy, too. The passenger-side second-row seat can be manually folded and slid forward, opening up space to climb into the back. On the other side, the second-row seats slide forward but they don’t fold. It’s a bit trickier to climb aboard, sure, but it’s nothing that most adults can’t handle.

The Cadillac XT6 is a Ground-Rule Double That Should've Been a Home Run
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Cargo space is adequate in the XT6, but there will be instances where you’re going to wish that there could be more. Fold the second- and third-row seats and you’re looking at 79 cubic feet of cargo space. It’s a good number considering that the Ford Explorer, considered as the standard-bearer among three-row SUVs, isn’t that far away with 80.7 cubic feet of cargo space in the same configuration. Fold the XT6’s third row and you have 43 cubic feet of cargo space and if you leave all the rear seats alone, that space shrinks to a rather disappointing 13 cubic feet of storage space.

The volume is small — the Explorer has 21 cubic feet of space in this setup — but it’s the same figure you’ll get in the GMC Acadia.

At this point, the XT6 looks like a strong contender. It still is in the bigger picture, but it does have some shortcomings, specifically the abundance of cheap plastic that you probably wouldn’t expect from a flagship SUV. Granted, this isn’t a new development among Cadillac’s models, but it’s alarming when you consider what the XT6 is supposed to compete against the likes of the BMW X5, Audi Q7, and Volvo XC90. These are three of the most well-appointed three-row SUVs in the market today, and, quite frankly, the XT6 doesn’t hold up against any of them. Simply put: there’s too much cheap plastic in the XT6. You’re not going to convince people to shell out money on the XT6 if they’re not going to get an interior that can live up to their luxury standards.

The Cadillac XT6 is a Ground-Rule Double That Should've Been a Home Run
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If you can get past that, you’ll be happy to know that, at the very least, the XT6 isn’t a performance donkey.

It’s powered by an engine that some of you might be familiar with if you already own an XT5, Acadia, or a Chevrolet Traverse. I’m talking about a 3.6-liter V-6 engine that produces 310 horsepower and 271 pound-feet of torque and is mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission that can either send all that power to the front wheels or all four wheels depending on the trim you choose.

Cadillac plans to start taking orders for the XT6 sometime in the spring. That should give a lot of you enough time to think about what whether it’s worth it to spend at least $50,000 on an SUV that brings a lot to the table, but leaves a lot off it, too.

The Cadillac XT6 is a Ground-Rule Double That Should've Been a Home Run
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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.)
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

2019 Detroit Auto Show - Everything You Need to Know
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2019 Detroit Auto Show - Everything You Need to Know

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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