Cadillac XT6 review: the Cadillac XT6 Consumer Reports bought for our test fleet

The Cadillac XT6 is an all-new luxury midsized SUV with three rows of seating, upscale interior appointments, and an understated exterior.

So far, we think it’s a perfectly pleasant companion for commuting and road trips. But this Cadillac hasn’t demonstrated any reason for buyers to choose it over key competitors, which include well-established players such as the Audi Q7 and Lexus RX L, and even fresh newcomers from mainstream brands, such as the Hyundai Palisade and Kia Telluride.

We bought a Premium Luxury model, which Cadillac says will likely be the most popular version of the XT6. These are our first impressions of the car we bought before it enters our testing regimen.

What we bought: 2020 Cadillac XT6 Premium Luxury AWD
Powertrain: 310-hp, 3.6-liter V6 engine; 9-speed automatic transmission; all-wheel drive
MSRP: $54,695
Options: $6,825, which includes rear-camera mirror, high-speed automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, reverse automatic braking, 14-speaker sound system, heated rear outboard seats, cooled front seats, six-passenger configuration
Destination fee: $995
Total cost: $62,515

What We Like So Far...

The XT6’s interior integrates technology seamlessly without any of the frustrations we found in recent Acura, Lexus, and Mercedes-Benz models, where the controls can be confounding. The dashboard is uncluttered, with only a touch screen in the center and buttons and switches for climate control beneath. We appreciate that drivers can also use a rotary controller between the two front seats to make selections on the screen.

The exterior is unassuming, with a boxy shape and big windows that help with visibility. Active safety features such as low-speed automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot warning, and lane-departure warning come standard.

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Both of the XT6’s rear rows fold easily, and the third row comes with a quick power-folding feature that’s controlled by a switch inside the cargo area. Both rows get USB Type-C charging port and the second row has its own climate control. There’s plenty of shoulder and headroom in the back row, although legroom is tight. Another nice touch: The rear console-mounted cupholder sits on sturdy metal rails so it will hold up to kicks from flailing feet in the second row.

Even though it’s smaller than the full-sized Cadillac Escalade, the XT6 is still a big car. We found that it handles like a much smaller vehicle, without any of the lean that drivers of many three-row SUVs can experience when making sharp turns. We had no issues maneuvering it into tight parking spaces, either.

Power delivery from the V6 engine and nine-speed automatic transmission combination was predictable at all speeds, and the powertrain doesn’t lurch in the way that some vehicles—especially those with turbocharged engines—can in stop-and-go driving.

The cabin does a good job reducing wind and road noise, but that's to be expected in a vehicle in this price range. Our testers found the XT6’s ride to be mostly smooth on a variety of road surfaces, although it struggled to mask the larger bumps or potholes it hit.

2020 Cadillac XT6 interior

What We Don't...

The XT6’s engine definitely makes itself known inside the otherwise-quiet cabin. We heard its snarling tenor note every time we accelerated from a stoplight in suburban traffic or asked for power to pass on the highway. That excess engine noise gave some drivers the incorrect impression that the Caddy was struggling to accelerate. A little more sound dampening between the engine and cabin would add a lot more luxury feel.

The driver’s seat is short on side bolstering, and some drivers found it an uncomfortable fit no matter how much they adjusted it. The curvature of the rear door cutout hampered access to the third row, and limited legroom in the second row was another issue for a few testers.

We had a few other minor criticisms. Some frequently used steering-wheel-mounted controls are hard to reach; the steering wheel can block some of the dashboard displays; the rear windows don’t have a one-touch up feature; the driver’s seat lumbar adjustment doesn’t move up and down; and the exterior doors don’t unlock based on proximity alone—they require pushing a button on the handle.

Overall, our biggest complaint about the XT6 is that it lacks the refinement to justify its luxury price. A fully loaded Kia Telluride retails for just under $48,000. By comparison, the XT6 starts at just under $53,000—plus an extra $2,000 for shoppers who choose all-wheel drive. Options drove the cost of ours up to $62,515. We’d have a hard time justifying spending that much money on an SUV that doesn’t deliver any significant value over its less expensive competitors. 

What We'll Keep an Eye Out For

After a week of mostly highway driving, we observed fuel economy of about 21 mpg on the trip computer. The EPA rates the XT6 at 18 city/25 highway, which is less than the Kia Telluride’s rating of 20 city/26 highway. Our full road test will include a precision fuel economy test.

The XT6 shares a lot of its underpinnings and components with the Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse, and GMC Acadia. CR has praised the practicality and driving ability of these vehicles, but they have had low reliability ratings. How the XT6 will hold up over the long term remains to be seen.

An optional fancy camera-based rearview mirror promises a wider-angle view, but we had trouble getting used to the camera feed it displayed where our eyes expected to see a reflection. These kinds of mirrors are becoming more popular on trucks and SUVs, so we’ll see if we like it better on longer road trips.

Shoppers who are in the market for a three-row luxury SUV from an American manufacturer should wait until we share our first impressions of the all-new Lincoln Aviator, which is a direct competitor to the XT6. We plan to purchase one soon. 

CR's Take

We’re already impressed with the XT6's uncomplicated interior and agreeable handling. Despite being late to the three-row luxury midsized SUV party, Cadillac showed up with a solid, albeit unremarkable, contender.

The XT6’s competition is so fierce, however, that this Caddy’s few flaws really stand out. Its level of refinement doesn’t quite match its price, either, which makes well-appointed mainstream competitors a better value.

2020 Cadillac XT6 rear