The 2020 XT6 is Cadillac’s all-new three-row crossover. Cadillac photo

Cadillac XT6 represents turning point for GM’s luxury brand

Getting the funk out

2020 will be an important for year for Cadillac. GM’s legendary luxury brand has had a couple years of floating around trying to find its identity. They’re in a bit of a funk. They’ve rearranged their naming convention, dropped cars from their product line and even moved their headquarters from Detroit to New York City. Some of this has led to success and some has not. For example, Cadillac announced that they will, once again, get away from alpha numeric names for their products. For that, I salute them. For 2020, they launch an all-new midsize SUV that they need to succeed.

My tester is this brand new XT6. You might’ve seen an aggressive ad campaign for it along with some product placement of this vehicle in several TV shows. Cadillac is doing right by this vehicle, but does it really accomplish what it needs to? Does it bring back some of the Cadillac mojo?

The styling of the XT6 is a homerun. It lacks a little bit of the edge that I grew to like and appreciate from Cadillac’s cars like the CTS and ATS which are discontinued. So perhaps this indicates the new look for Cadillac.

If that’s the case, I’m OK with that as the XT6 is gorgeous. The grille could be a little more dynamic, but otherwise the LED headlights are both distinctive and stylish. The back side is attractive with dual exhaust pipes showing a bit of Cadillac’s aggressive side, as does the rear spoiler. All in all, the XT6 shows that Cadillac is maturing, but shows it has a modern look with mass appeal. That’s not easy to accomplish from a design standpoint.

I have to judge the performance of the XT6 for what it is and not for what it isn’t. As noted, I was a huge fan of the CTS and ATS. Those were aggressive cars with a lot of off-the-line performance. The XT6 is not quite that. But the 3.6-liter V6 engine does produce 310 horsepower so once again, Cadillac has developed this SUV to be just enough. It’s not aggressive, but it’s not pokey either. The nine-speed automatic transmission is outstanding and redeems this SUV’s overall performance. With all-wheel drive, it will be an excellent vehicle in varying road conditions and perform well as a family vehicle or daily driver.

Inside, the XT6 is everything you expect a Cadillac to be. Although billed as a seven-passenger, the SUV is lacking in comfort for those passengers asked to sit in the third row. My tester came with second-row captain’s-style seats which means it’s only a six-person vehicle. But that means more shoulder room and more legroom for those in the second row.

Generally, the XT6’s touchpoints are outstanding. This SUV doesn’t have the over-the-top luxury of the Escalade but it’s certainly better than a Buick. Some of GM’s identity crisis with Cadillac is trying to give this brand more distinction and separating itself from Buick and even high-end GMCs. The XT6 accomplishes this, mostly.

And it better as it comes at a price. My tester, which was the Sport trim, had a standard vehicle price of $57,095. With options and packages, my tester had a final MSRP of $71,840.

Herein lies GM’s struggle with the Cadillac brand. Other than the name, you have to really blow the consumer away with such a high-priced vehicle. I’m not sure they did this with the XT6. Time will tell if the consumer agrees with me.

For fuel economy, the XT6 is a little disappointing, too. It has an EPA rating of 17 mpg/city and 24 mpg/highway. In a week’s worth of driving I averaged just over 20 mpg.

Cadillac attempts to have mass appeal with this oh-so-important XT6. That’s a big task that usually leads to being too safe. The XT6 straddles that line of being too conservative, but does just enough to make this an appealing luxury SUV that might bring Cadillac out of the funk it’s been in.

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