All-wheel-drive is standard in the XT-6, but for the Sport trim it adds torque vectoring for more precise cornering. Photo: Cadillac

What you should know: 2020 Cadillac XT6

It took awhile for the brand to realize that the Escalade isn’t for the masses

If the automotive world is nearing its peak in the broadly based utility-vehicle segment, the product planners and designers at Cadillac must have missed the memo.

Slotted between the five-passenger XT5 and the eight-passenger Escalade, the XT6 has room for up to seven souls spread across three rows of seats (or six people with the optional second-row bucket seats).

The XT6 uses the XT5’s platform and is therefore built at the same Tennessee plant, along with the GMC Acadia. Although the distance between the front and rear wheels is identical for both Caddys, the XT6 is about 23 centimetres longer, six centimetres wider and 7.5 centimetres taller.

The XT6 even looks like the XT5, with an understated front-end design. The XT6’s roofline slopes to a lesser degree than the XT5’s, and the liftgate is more vertical, which helps provide third-row riders a reasonable amount of headroom and anti-claustrophobia side glass. Similar to the third rows of competing models, in the XT6. adult-sized occupants sit close to the floor with their knees pointing toward the ceiling.

The squared-off shape means 25-per cent-greater cargo capacity than the XT5, with the rear rows folded forward. With the third-row bench in use, there’s not a great deal of stowage space to be had in the XT6.

Similarities between the two models carry through to the interior where the two dashboards differ only slightly. The XT6’s unconventional gear changer takes some getting used to since you toggle, rather than shift, your selections. Beside it, a rotary dial controls the various functions (i.e. infotainment, navigation, etc.) displayed on the 20-centimetre touch-screen.

The XT6 scores points for its supportive, yet cushy seats and a whisper-quiet interior that contributes to an enjoyable first-class ride.

Pressing the starter button brings to life a 3.6-litre V-6 that’s common to the XT5 and a number of other General Motors vehicles. It’s rated at 310 horsepower and 271 pound-feet of torque. A nine-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters directs power to the front or, optionally, all four wheels.

Fuel consumption is officially pegged at 13.5 l/10 km in the city, 9.7 l/100 km on the highway and 11.8 l/100 km combined.

According to Cadillac, it takes 6.9 seconds to launch the XT6 to 60 mph (96 km/h) from rest. That’s reasonably rapid for a vehicle weighing in the 2,000-kilogram range, not that it will matter much to most buyers. But the available power is plentiful and comes on seamlessly. The smooth-shifting transmission also reacts quickly and always seems to be in the right gear, no matter the speed or the throttle position.

Among its key features, the $64,100 (including destination charges) base Premium Luxury trim level has all-wheel-drive, tri-zone climate control, leather upholstery, power liftgate, power-folding third-row seat, panoramic sunroof and an eight-speaker Bose-brand audio system.

The XT6 Sport lists for $66,900 and has a blacked-out grille and trim, carbon-fibre interior fittings, heavy-duty cooling system, dynamic (constantly adjusting) sport suspension, and a twin-clutch rear axle. This feature allows all available torque to be directed to either outside wheel when turning (a.k.a. torque vectoring).

Options for the Premium Luxury and Sport include automatic parking assist, trailer hitch guidance (the XT6 has a 1,820-kilogram towing capacity), reverse automatic braking, head-up information display and an infrared night-vision camera that can detect and track otherwise unseen people or animals beyond headlight range.

For families with kids and/or for people requiring more cargo room, selecting the XT6 over the XT5 might be the smart play, especially when the only Cadillac wagon larger than the XT5 used to be the Escalade.

What you should know: 2020 Cadillac XT6

Type: All-wheel-drive midsize utility vehicle

Engine (h.p.): 3.6-litre DOHC V-6 (310)

Transmission: Nine-speed automatic with manual-shift mode

Market position: The XT6 joins a lengthy list of premium midsize utility vehicles that are fitted with three rows of seats and come with an assortment of luxury and safety items. Until the XT6’s arrival, it was either the XT5 or the Escalade.

Points: Design is the epitome of understated elegance. • First-rate interior appointments. • Standard V-6 delivers acceptable power but an XT6-V with a twin-turbo-V-6 would likely be a desirable option. • This is the one to get if the size and expense of a Cadillac Escalade is not to your liking.

Active safety Blind-spot warning with cross-traffic backup alert (std.); active cruise control (std.); emergency braking (std.); pedestrian detection (std.);

lane-keeping assist with lane departure warning (std.)

L/100 km (city/hwy) 13.5/9.7; Base price (incl. destination) $64,100

BY COMPARISON

Audi Q7

Base price: $73,400

Well-priced model with standard AWD and an available 333-h.p. V-6.

Volvo XC90

Base price: $63,300

Volvo’s largest utility vehicle uses turbocharged I-4 engines with up to 400 h.p.

Acura MDX

Base price: $54,400

Popular model comes with a wealth of content. Hybrid version is available.

If you’re interested in new or used vehicles, be sure to visit TodaysDrive.com to find your dream car today!

-written by Malcom Gunn, Managing Partner at Wheelbase Media

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The dash layout is similar to the XT5’s, including an electronic gear selector that takes some getting used to. Photo: Cadillac

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