by Ian Wright
Cadillac's XT6 is a mid-size crossover styled to have the road presence of a baby Escalade. Cadillac is leaning heavily into technology as it moves forward and makes its semi-autonomous Super Cruise and automatic parking available on the upper trims of the XT6. The premium three-row crossover boasts plenty of room inside, excellent safety ratings, and starts at $49,990 for the front-wheel-drive model powered by a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. Ideally, you'll want to go up the trim levels and get the 310-horsepower V6 engine for more comfortable cruising.
The Cadillac XT6 is a more affordable premium level three-row crossover and goes up against vehicles like the Lincoln Aviator and the tech-heavy Acura MDX. We've noted in previous reviews that the XT6 isn't as refined as its competitors, though. For 2023, the only updates are three new paint options and some standard creature comforts on the mid- and top-spec trims, so we're taking another look at the XT6 with a road trip, around-town driving, and some back road exploring to see if that opinion still holds against the competition.
See trim levels and configurations:
One of our favorite things about the XT6 is, admittedly, subjective. While it has the design language of the imposing Escalade, including the blade-style tail lights and expansive grille, we think the XT6 is measured perfectly. Without the aggressive size and the understated styling, it's a more sophisticated look. While we don't typically like black for a car, our Premium Luxury AWD tester perfectly suits the Stellar Black Metallic paint.
Vertical LED daytime running lights draw your eye to the narrow LED headlights. The sharp creases can't hide the fact the XT6 is a blocky crossover, but not everybody wants their crossover to look like a sporty hatchback since it isn't one. Base models roll on 18-inch wheels, while mid-range models like our tester and top-end trims run on 20-inch items - 21-inch alloys are available for some trims. On the 18 and 20-inch wheels, Cadillac doesn't go for crazy low-profile tires, which we appreciate on a vehicle built for comfort.
Modern leather is thinner but more durable and quite easy to care for, and is used generously throughout the cabin. The materials and styling are there in the Cadillac to put it in the premium bracket. Still, there's nothing that elevates it above the competition - no opulent wood trim, beautifully finished metal, or exemplary build quality. The XT6 doesn't disappoint in space and comfort, with legroom for adults in the middle seats and enough for kids in the back row. You can configure the XT6 with either two captain's chairs or a bench seat for the center row. With captain's chairs, the XT6 is a seven-seater, but with the middle bench seat optioned, it can accommodate eight people in total.
Features and tech are solid and make for a good selling point, with heated power front seats, cruise control, a sunroof, HD rearview camera, and an excellent driver display equipped as standard. The eight-inch touchscreen infotainment screen features wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard equipment. An eight-speaker Bose audio system is equipped from the base model up, with a 14-speaker Bose system available as an upgrade. However, our opinion is that a Bose system is a disappointment in any vehicle unless you like loose boomy bass and overly bright fatiguing treble. It's time automakers stopped trying to pass Bose's crappy sound tuning as a premium feature.
First, we've driven the 237-hp four-cylinder turbo model, and it's only just enough for a vehicle of this size. The 3.6-liter engine on higher trim models is not new, but it's solid and makes 310 hp with 271 lb-ft. It's an effortless cruising engine, and the nine-speed transmission is mostly smooth. We say "mostly" because when driving around town, the throttle can be twitchy at low speeds and the transmission jarring. Still, when the pedal goes to the floor for accelerating onto a freeway or passing unnecessarily slow traffic, its straining takes you out of the premium experience. If you accelerate hard from a stop, say from traffic lights and onto a ramp to join the freeway, unless you have and are specifically in all-wheel-drive mode, the torque steer is heavy. The XT6 feels like it should be rear-wheel drive, but it's not, and on all-wheel-drive models, the all-wheel-drive system is not permanent.
The ride on any model XT6 is smooth, even on bad roads like on our previously mentioned road trip. It's a lovely car to put freeway miles on, particularly with Super Cruise optioned - and you can find a full review of Super Cruise here. Seat comfort is also excellent over hours of driving, and the driver display is one of the best we've seen over the past year. The steering is light and direct, which this driver appreciated, although other CarBuzz reviewers didn't appreciate just how light it is. With the larger engine, the XT6 doesn't feel overly heavy, nor does it pitch and roll in corners. It's not exactly a serene luxury experience driving the XTC around, but more of an executive business vibe.
We are torn on the XT6 when it comes to recommending it. The crossover ticks many boxes, including those for excellent safety ratings, standard features (we particularly appreciate that blind spot monitoring doesn't come in an additional package), ride comfort, and interior comfort over long journeys. The parking assist is excellent when equipped, and Super Cruise is a helpful driver aid. It doesn't quite have the attention to detail we expect, though. The throttle response issue shouldn't be there, and the cabin should offer more luxury for the money on the higher trims.
However, it's the middle trim we recommend if an XT6 is what your heart desires most. The base trim is called Luxury, but it's not overly luxurious, and the weak engine highlights that. Premium Luxury is the trim to go for at $56,190 with front-wheel-drive or $58,190 with all-wheel-drive. The Sport trim tops the short lineup at $61,490, but it's largely pointless - not because it isn't an upgrade with its dual-clutch system, 22-inch wheels, and Brembo brakes, but because it defeats the purpose of the XT6.
On top of the $56,190 for the Premium Luxury trim, you'll want the Super Cruise package for $2,500 and maybe the driver assistance package to round off the XT6, putting you over $60,000 with delivery charges and another $2,000 to add all-wheel-drive. At that point, the Acura MDX, with its standard V6 engine and excellent all-wheel-drive system for $51,750, starts looking more attractive in terms of price and maybe looks if you prefer something more heavily stylized. Acura doesn't offer an equivalent of Super Cruise, though.
We want to love the XT6, but it needs some more refinement to recommend over the competition wholeheartedly. The technology is there, its safety scores are confidence-inspiring, the styling is impeccable, the ride quality is excellent, and the interior is comfortable. It's just missing the final parts of what a Cadillac model should have - a super-smooth drivetrain and some genuine opulence inside. While we can't wholeheartedly recommend it, we certainly wouldn't put anyone off considering it strongly and taking a test drive. It just might be the right crossover for you.
The most popular competitors of 2023 Cadillac XT6: