Cadillac has completed its SUV line-up with the launch of the XT6, marking the first time the brand has ever offered a three-row vehicle smaller than the extra-large Escalade.
Two XT6 models are available and are already arriving at dealerships. The Premium Luxury model starts from $60,998, and the Sport starts at $63,798. Unlike other Cadillac products, there is no entry-level Luxury model for the XT6 as of today, though brand representatives say that a lower-cost version may be added to the line-up later if the market shows demand for it.
Both the Premium Luxury and the Sport versions are equipped with a naturally aspirated 3.6-litre V6 engine that produces 310 horsepower and 271 lb.-ft. of torque and is matched to a nine-speed automatic transmission. This engine uses a system that deactivates two cylinders to save fuel in low-demand driving such as during highway cruising.
The list of standard features is long and includes heated and ventilated power-adjusting front seats, a heated steering wheel, 20-inch alloy wheels, power-folding third-row seats, and a hands-free power liftgate among others—plus heated second-row seats and all-wheel drive, which are not standard features in the United States but are included in Canada.
Technologies include standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, an in-car WiFi hotspot powered by an OnStar subscription, near-field communication pairing for Android phones, type A and C USB ports, and a wireless phone charger. Users interact with the infotainment system using Cadillac’s new rotary controller, a round device that can be turned and tapped in four directions to make selections and then pressed to confirm them without using a touch screen.
Many safety features are included such as forward collision alert with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian braking, rear cross-traffic alert, blind zone alert with lane change alert, lane keep assist and lane departure warning, cornering headlights with automatic high beams, rain sensing wipers, and the teen driver alert system that lets parents monitor a young driver’s behaviour.
Both models have available packages to add on additional technology and safety options such as the Cadillac rear camera mirror and a night vision infrared display, a 14-speaker Bose premium audio system, and upgraded interior finishes that include premium leather seating and carbon fibre or bolder-coloured wood inserts. Second-row captain’s chairs are also available, which reduce the seating capacity to six passengers.
The Premium Luxury model has chrome exterior trim finishes, red tail lights, and unique wheels. Both models have a four-wheel independent suspension, but some components are simpler versions on the Premium Luxury model such as spring dampers and single-clutch all-wheel drive.
On the Sport model, high-gloss black finishes and clear glass tail lights create a distinct exterior look. The higher price reflects additional technologies such as active damping that creates smoother rolling over rough roads, a twin-clutch all-wheel drive system that distributes torque between the axles and between the two rear wheels on demand, and active yaw control that uses this rear-wheel torque distribution to improve cornering performance. This model also incorporates faster steering, more responsive throttle mapping, and more aggressive shift points, and 21-inch wheels are optional only for Sport.
On a first drive on Quebec’s Îles-de-la-Madeleine in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, both models come across as being smooth, comfortable, roomy, and quiet in the interior, and they exhibit traditionally American design tastes through bold styles and plenty of use of colour. Cadillac says the XT6’s third row has the best headroom in its class, and smaller adults will find plenty of leg room there as well. This vehicle enters the three-row luxury crossover segment as one of the more well-priced, easy driving, and feature-packed vehicles on the market.
Those deciding between the two models will find that the Sport model’s more precisely tuned steering and throttle response, upgraded suspension, and more refined all-wheel drive system make a noticeable difference in ride comfort and handling that together give the impression of being worth far more than the additional $2,800 in price.
Harry Ng, product manager for the Cadillac XT6, says that he expects the Sport model to appeal most to Asian-Canadian buyers.
“I think the XT6 does have a lot of features that will appeal to the Asian population, just based on my personal experience,” Ng said. “A lot of people that I know, they tend to want a vehicle with a little bit of sporty flavour, so I think the Sport model of the XT6 will appeal to the Chinese community.”
Stephanie Wallcraft is an award-winning automotive journalist based in Toronto who was raised by a full-time autoworker and believes that Canada’s diversity is its strength.