By Brian NormileMarch 3, 2022
Cadillac’s three-row XT6 SUV hasn’t really undergone any significant changes since it debuted as a 2020 model. Power choices are either a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder (introduced as the base engine for the 2021 model) or 3.6-liter V-6, both paired to a nine-speed automatic transmission, and buyers can choose from either front- or all-wheel drive. We recently drove a V-6-powered 2022 XT6 Premium Luxury, the model’s most luxurious trim, to see how it stacks up a few years after our initial drive. Aside from genuine sticker shock in response to our test vehicle’s nearly $71,000 price, the XT6 didn’t leave much of an impression among our four editors who drove it.
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Driving the XT6
With the 310-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 under the hood, this XT6 is the most powerful available in the lineup, but we’ve been clamoring for a more powerful engine option since the XT6 debuted. We’re still waiting. There’s adequate power, certainly, and the nine-speed automatic does a good job of kicking down when called upon, but there really isn’t much going on from any sort of performance perspective. Managing Editor Joe Bruzek called the experience “pedestrian,” and I’m inclined to agree; under hard acceleration, the V-6 can be loud and unrefined, unbecoming of a luxury SUV.
Ride and handling aren’t much more interesting, either. “Ride quality is comfort-oriented overall even with the 20-inch wheels and tires on our test vehicle,” according to Senior Research Editor Mike Hanley. “Our XT6 also had the Platinum Package, which includes an adaptive suspension. Especially rough pavement disturbs the sense of calm in the cabin, but for the most part, the XT6’s ride quality is composed and refined. The XT6 doesn’t care much for corners, though, and the driver’s seat doesn’t have much side bolstering to keep you in place.”
If you’re looking for a comfortable, calm ride from A to B — and that’s not a bad thing — the XT6 has what you seek in spades. But if you want even a dash of excitement or a drop of hot sauce with your meal, look elsewhere. It’s hard to find a truly fun three-row SUV, but the Acura MDX drives well, and the Genesis GV80’s twin-turbo 3.5-liter V-6 provides more power than the XT6’s naturally aspirated one.
Luxurious Materials, Aged Tech Inside
Hanley felt the XT6’s interior delivered on its luxury promise, though third-row passengers get shorted.
“The Platinum Package wraps the interior in rich materials like semi-aniline leather upholstery and a microfiber headliner, which joins swaths of wood trim. The premium materials are befitting our XT6’s premium price tag, and they carry through to the second row. Trim quality drops a bit in the third row, where there’s more hard plastic surfaces.”
“While competent and of decent quality for the price (base price, here), the interior was stylistically uninteresting,” countered Bruzek. “I know this gets into a gray area of subjectivity, but the colors, style and materials were all very bland and traditional. And that’s somewhat of a bummer considering the exterior’s aggressive and muscular styling.”
I’ve had similar issues with other Cadillac interiors, and they continue here; it may be nice inside, but it left me and Bruzek unimpressed. And lest you think Cadillac interiors can’t impress us, the larger Escalade’s interior is a key reason it’s a repeat winner of our Luxury Car of the Year award.
Interior tech was also a sore spot. An 8-inch touchscreen display was once an impressive piece of technology, but it seemed small and dated to both me and Hanley. “The XT6’s tech features seem especially far behind what’s in the Escalade full-size SUV,” according to Hanley. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are nice-to-have features, however, and unlike in many other vehicles, I never had issues with the XT6’s wireless phone charger keeping my iPhone 12 charged while in its case. The sleeve-style charger is very effective, if a bit awkwardly designed.
We had mixed feelings about the XT6’s head-up display, too. While we were fans of the information displayed and that it remained visible while wearing polarized sunglasses, Bruzek noted “the light-colored dashboard reflected on the windshield, making the HUD appear like a giant black square on the windshield. The contrast of the HUD against the light dashboard color was very distracting. Solution: Choose a darker interior color.”
The XT6’s third row isn’t roomy enough for adults, though the available USB-C ports are a nice touch. The two-seat third row may be better left folded down for additional cargo space; Hanley pointed out that “the third-row backrest is powered in Premium Luxury trims, which makes switching from extra passenger to extra cargo duty easy.”
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While Hanley pointed out that the interior materials matched our XT6’s price, that $70,965 price tag is too much to swallow when considering the vehicle on a whole.
“I thought this would have been a competent car at $60,000,” noted Bruzek, “but the $70,000 asking price of our test car put it in the ‘nope’ category pretty easily.” Cars.com’s national inventory showed new 2022 XT6s with a median listing price of $59,891 in February. Our test vehicle came with seemingly every option — $14,775 in total, including the $5,000 Platinum package, $2,350 Technology Package and more. Options add up quickly.
It’s also worth noting that at more than $70,000 as equipped, our XT6 was close to the starting price of its Escalade big brother. Whether that closeness actually exists in today’s market is a different matter — as of this writing, the median price for a 2022 Escalade Luxury on Cars.com is currently $81,515 — but a base Escalade might be more appealing than a loaded XT6. Even if you’re not considering a larger (and more expensive) SUV, the XT6 isn’t a very exciting or interesting choice — and that seems to be intentional on Cadillac’s part.
When we first drove the XT6, we called it “unremarkable” before we deemed it “good enough.” With so little altered since 2020, the first conclusion still holds: The XT6 is a thoroughly unremarkable SUV, But in just its third year, it’s not really “good enough” anymore, not in a growing segment with such strong competition.
Cars.com’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with Cars.com’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of Cars.com’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.
By Aaron Bragman and Joe BruzekSeptember 1, 2016