Think about Cadillac sport utility and the first image that comes to mind might be the Cadillac Escalade, the mothership of General Motors’ premium brand, the full-size behemoth that is doing just fine, thank you, its iconic status reinvigorated through its latest in-yer-face iteration.
But with so many competitors vying for the luxury ute market, you just can’t have too many SUV choices. So, Cadillac also engineered a fleet of crossovers to replace the old SRX series. They first unveiled a midsize 5-passenger XT5 in 2015, then dialed down with a smaller, compact 5-passenger XT4 a few years later, and, most recently, added the slightly larger than midsize XT6.
The XT6 (or Crossover Touring 6) expands on the original XT5 concept with extra room and an added third row, enabling 7-passenger seating while still providing an intermediate size and price choice to slot between the XT5
and the Escalade
The XT6 lineup starts with a Luxury trim level ($57,998) featuring the technologies and trademark Cadillac content you’d expect in a premium product while, under the hood, an entry-level 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine makes 235 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. And all XT6 models in Canada come standard with a 9-speed automatic and all wheel-drive (AWD).
But, moving up to the next step on the trim level ladder, not only adds a more powerful naturally-aspirated 3.6-litre VVT V6 engine, making 310 hp and 271 lb-ft of torque, it also allows for a same-priced choice between two different style and content flavours - a more traditional Premium Luxury model ($62,698) with all the expected brightwork and exotic woodgrains, or the Sport model ($62,698) with more contemporary and darkened styling, tested here.
For the same money, the Sport seems the better deal, coming not only with cosmetic add-ons - unique front and rear fascias, 20-inch Sport wheels, blackened accents on the window surrounds, grille and roof rails, tinted tail lamps and carbon-fibre interior decor - but also adding functional performance tweaks that include a Sport Control AWD system, Chassis Damping Control, sport pedals and flappy paddles, a Performance Suspension with driver select modes, and Brembo Performance front brakes with red accented front and rear brake calipers.
The Cadillac XT6 Sport is a handsome beast, a relative road rarity set apart from the competition thanks to Cadillac’s sharp-edged design and familial vertical DRL and tail light stylings, dressed here in Satin Steel Metallic, the only no cost paint shade, although seven other optional colours ($900-$1,395) are available.
Slip inside and relax in an elegant cabin with the right amount of dark stitched leather surfaces offset by the carbon-fibre style trim, glossy piano black finishes and chrome and metallic highlights. The interior design is understated, not exactly daring, but the instrumentation is sensibly laid out with a multitude of control choices, via touchscreen, the console control rotary dial or steering wheel buttons. The HVAC system offers buttons and rockers but you still have to access the touchscreen for some mode choices. And I’d still kill for a radio-tuning knob.
Stab the start button and the 3.6-litre engine spools up to provide plenty of power for everyday driving needs, streaming 310 horses through a smooth 9-speed automatic transmission controlled by GM’s Electronic Precision Shifter. Not everyone is a fan of this latest shifter but it’s really just a matter of getting used to it. Power and driving dynamics are also controlled through four mode selections - Tour (FWD for fuel economy), AWD, Sport and Offroad settings. This powertrain includes variable valve timing, Active Fuel Management that switches to V4 operation under cruising and a standard Auto Stop/Start system, all to benefit fuel economy, although my real world 14.5L/100km (comb) average was well off the official 13.1L/9.5L/100km (city/hwy) rating.
When Cadillac introduced the 7-passenger XT6, the first line in the promotional material stated that “every seat is the best seat in the house”, which makes for a nice tag line but, as is the case for most vehicles this size, the XT6 is roomily comfy for four, a do-able squeeze for five with the handy option of the third row for occasional overflow, best suited for half-pints and yoga aficianados.
The smallish 357-litre cargo space with underfloor storage expands to a more usable 1,220 litres when the third row is powered down by buttons located in the back or by the second row. Fold flat that second row as well, for 2,229 litres or cargo room, and you are ready for yard sales and fully loaded runs from the reno store.
A large barge makes for smooth sailing and while the XT6 may not have the mass, presence or gravitas of the full-size Escalade, it does have that long haul, smooth driving feel while the Sport’s suspension tweaks keep it taut in the twisties.
Our as-tested XT6 Sport has too many techs to list here, many of them included standard but some available in the $13,585 packages and options list. I could do without some of those options. The optional black alloy wheels ($3,675) accent the darkened Sport styling nicely but an aftermarket set would cost half the price. And hands-free Super Cruise ($2,875) may appeal to some for its novelty but it will come more into its own in future generations. But, then again, if saving money is your focus you could also browse GM’s XT6 siblings - the Chevrolet Traverse, Buick Enclave and GMC Acadia.
The 2022 Cadillac XT6 tested here is only in its third year of production so expect only minor changes for 2023 models, along with an inflationary $1,500-$2,200 increase in price, depending on trim selection.
There’s no official news of any XT6 electrification for North America although a 48V mild hybrid version is available in China and, following the launch of Cadillac’s 2023 Lyriq EV
model, there are rumours that the XT6 might be replaced by an EV in 2025.
2022 Cadillac XT6 Sport
: three-row, seven passenger midsize-plus crossover ute
: 9-speed automatic, AWD
: 3.6-liter VVT V6 engine (310 hp, 271lb-ft of torque)
: 13.1L/9.0L/100km (city/hwy). As tested 14.5L/100km (comb).
: 357 litres; 1,220 litres behind second row, 2,229 litres behind first row
: 1,814 kg (4,000 lb)
: 2022 Cadillac XT6 Sport $62,698, as tested $78,583