Mountain Wheels: Cadillac’s slightly upsized XT6 crossover conveys understated luxury
For committed fans of General Motors products who seek quiet power, a smooth ride and a level of luxury in their SUV that’s sophisticated but not outlandish, or German, the Cadillac XT6 provides a new option.
Yes, from the first time you set eyes on it, it is not necessarily setting the world on fire in the level of bold aggressiveness that has come to epitomize the full-sized Escalade or recent particularly sharp-edged Cadillac sedans.
Rather, XT6 provides a higher-end build of the three-row family category, which also includes the accomplished Chevrolet Traverse, adding an additionally noise-resistant envelope of motoring which, ironically, includes more conservative and flashy finishings than its Chevy counterpart or the Buick Enclave. While its size is close to those vehicles, its wheelbase is common to slightly smaller family members including the Blazer, the Acadia and the XT5. Base price for the AWD premium luxury model I drove was $54,695, with an extensive list of options pushing that to $71,585.
Out in the wild, this all meant a reasonably sized crossover that’s comfortable and adequately powered, vaguely sporty and nice enough over bumpy midwinter highways. If it again does not strike you as looking explosively Cadillac in its demeanor, you are probably correct, though it does carry the lineage with a face replete with tiny, Camaro-inspired cat-eye LED headlamps and tall upright LED running lamps, plus the now-iconic even taller vertical brake lamps in the rear.
The very big Cadillac emblem is surrounded by a lot of plastic busywork on the grille.
The look on the Premium Luxury model is further sussed out with big, glossy alloy wheels — $2,100 worth of optional 20-inchers added for more impact — plus understated Galvano chrome window, roof and body trim. A Sport Design model subs in a different black grille, black trim, clear taillight lenses and up to 21-inch wheels.
But does it all look like a somewhat fancier Chevrolet, especially in the Garnet Metallic brown paint job I had on my test vehicle? I’m going to say yes, with some conditions added to that statement.
Power is provided by a variant of the family’s 3.6-liter V-6, here producing 310 horsepower and capable of operating as a four-cylinder under lighter power demands. A nine-speed automatic transmission also adds to the buttery feel, and in my travels, it averaged 25.3 mpg, which bettered the window sticker numbers even with AWD.
Despite a platinum package, which added the electronic chassis damping and performance-level suspension, I was occasionally made aware of the somewhat hollow feel and sound I got over broken pavement on side streets. Mine could be switched between two-wheel drive and AWD modes, and even the sport mode switches on the AWD, which I think is an interesting move.
We look to Cadillac mostly for the quiet opulence of the interior and here, again, it’s pleasant but not sock-blowing, with a mix of distinctive and totally mundane bits. In terms of functionality as a three-row vehicle, it was telling to me that the third row was completely obscured by an awkward quasi-tonneau-styled, soft-fabric, sorta-folding tent kind of thing that made it a challenge to load larger objects and left me totally confused about actually raising those two small third-row seats. Power seat movement controls could be easily accessed from the second and third rows, but about the only creature comfort that far back was a single USB outlet on the wall of the cabin, plus roof air vents over the second row.
Second-row seating in the meantime is comfortable and features that Cadillac-styled flat-bottomed approach, with semi-aniline surfaces and a microfiber suede headliner, part of another $4,900 in optional upgrades.
It’s blacker than black in the Jet Black color choice interior, though I got a little bit of color with some copper-tinted carbon fiber-esque trim and some very splashy aluminum covers for the Bose Premium Plus speakers.
The rest is just, well, understated, especially as most of the control surfaces are totally blacked out at rest and only lit up after starting the engine. They’ve added a new, wiggly navigation and control input rotary knob which you can scratch out letters upon, which is somewhat helpful, and the dash and center stack oddly focuses on a strange, stitched-leather hole of curious size, into which I do not know what was supposed to be placed. There’s an upright cellphone recharger slot and space underneath the whole console, big enough for a purse or a laptop.
The improved electronic instrument panel is positively gigantic but oddly laid out, and a cool, $2,000 added feature was a full-blown night-vision screen, which used thermal imaging but also required you to stare at it, not out the windshield — perhaps useful for avoiding nocturnal moose strikes.
Andy Stonehouse’s column “Mountain Wheels” publishes Saturdays in the Summit Daily News. Stonehouse has worked as an editor and writer in Colorado since 1998, focusing on automotive coverage since 2004. He lives in Greeley. Contact him at email@example.com.
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User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
Superlatives kind of fall flat when you’re dealing with the most powerful mass-production truck ever built, but the monster that is Ram’s TRX edition of its 1500 pickup is an amazing, ridiculous and impressive achievement.