The Cadillac XT6 launched in 2022 and felt like an also-ran in the premium three-row crossover segment.
The 2023 Cadillac XT6 returns with new life thanks to a new feature that might just be compelling enough to elevate the XT6 into driveways and onto highways: A hands-free driver-assist system known as Super Cruise.
The 2023 Cadillac XT6 checks in with a TCC Rating of 6.5 out of 10. Not only does it come up short against direct competition such as the Audi Q7 and Lincoln Aviator, it trails less expensive competition like the Hyundai Palisade and Kia Telluride. Ouch.
But if you’re an Uber dad, the Super Cruise addition might change the calculus. Here’s how.
Hit: Super Cruiser
Finally, the Cadillac XT6 can be optioned with GM’s fantastic hands-free driver-assist system dubbed Super Cruise. It costs $2,500 but requires Premium Luxury or Sport trims, sorry Luxury-trim buyers. GM has set the bar with Super Cruise in terms of hands-free driving technology and solidly put Ford’s BlueCruise (and Lincoln ActiveGlide) in second place with its superb lane-keeping ability, smooth moves, and use of technology hardware. Opting for Super Cruise instantly makes the XT6 a more relaxing road trip vehicle than nearly every other three-row family hauler on the market, including those from Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo. The system takes the stress of slogging through holiday traffic or crawling along during rush hour by removing what feels like 80% of the work, enabling you to eat a cheeseburger.
Miss: Super Cruise 1.0
Despite the hardware being the same as other vehicles with Super Cruise, the XT6 runs an older platform with a different electrical architecture. Newer vehicles run on what’s referred to as a VIP architecture, which stands for Vehicle Intelligence Platform, whereas the XT6 uses hardware known as Global A. This translates to it being (nearly) locked in time and not able to keep up with other, newer, vehicles that feature Super Cruise in terms of software updates. The XT6’s Super Cruise system received an additional 20,000 miles of map data via an over-the-air update last fall, bringing the map data total to 220,000 miles. But other, newer, Super Cruise-equipped vehicles received an extra 180,000 miles of map data for a total of 400,000 miles. Further, older vehicles like the XT6 probably won’t ever gain lane-change capability, towing capability (while using Super Cruise), or other future features.
Hit: The right ingredients
On paper the XT6 has the right features to make it not only competitive, but also desirable. In an era where everyone slaps a wall of screens on the dashboard, the XT6 sticks with sharp easy-to-read analog gauges augmented by an 8.0-inch touchscreen information system with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto along with wireless smartphone charging. Expected features such as heated and cooled seats, a head-up display, and even night vision are all onboard. Cadillac equips the XT6 with hard buttons and a knob for key infotainment functions that might be relegated to touch-sensitive buttons or a touchscreen in competitor vehicles. My loaded Premium Luxury tester rang in at $74,315 and included niceties such as semi-aniline leather, a leather-wrapped dashboard, adaptive shocks, and fancy illuminated door handles. That’s priced similarly to an Audi Q7 and BMW X5, but did I mention Super Cruise?
Miss: The wrong mixture
Despite having all the right things on paper, the XT6 simply doesn’t feel as nice as the sum of its part. Its humdrum roots shine through in the wrong places. Its proportions look squished and stubby compared to its larger Escalade sibling, or even the Lyriq electric crossover. Those Chevrolet Traverse underpinnings can’t be hidden by LED light pipes. None of this, despite the semi-aniline leather, feels or looks upscale. It kind of looks like an afterthought. That’s probably because it could’ve been better since Cadillac planned to base it off the rear-wheel-drive CT6 platform with premium engine options like a twin-turbo V-6 or even a Blackwing V-8.
Hit: Packaged for the family
The reality is the XT6 matches competitors like the Audi Q7 in terms of packaging. The front row is the best place to be, but the second-row captain’s chairs come close with 39.1 inches of legroom that comfortably fits most adults. The third row has 30.0 inches of legroom, but it’s somewhat narrow due to the rear suspension packaging. Adults won’t fit there for long, and kids will be fine for trips around town. Cargo space behind the third row is a mere 13.0 cubic feet. And while it failed to imprint a strong impression prior to the availability of Super Cruise, my kids adored the elastic band around the rear seat belt clips that made it easier to click in.
Miss: Questionable quality
The XT6 feels solidly screwed together. But each and every time I’ve been in one there’s been a thing, and it’s never a good thing. The last XT6 I drove had a 9-speed automatic transmission with recurring 1-2 and 2-3 gear-shift shudders. This 2023 model with over 9,000 miles on the odometer had lumpy shifts that lacked the kind of polish expected in a luxury car, and it almost seemed like the transmission was tired. To make matters worse, there was consistent whine from the rear end at speeds over 45 mph, and the tailgate plastic surrounding the rear window was wavy as if it had deformed from heat over the summer. None of this inspires confidence in a luxury vehicle or would be found in an Audi. It wouldn’t even be found in a 2023 Hyundai.
While the right ingredients are here, the XT6 still fails to be a compelling vehicle in the competitive set. But for road trippers, the availability of Super Cruise just might make it compelling enough.
2023 Cadillac XT6 Premium Luxury AWD
Base price: $49,940 including $1,395 destination
Price as tested: $74,315
Powertrain: 310-hp 3.6-liter V-6, 9-speed transmission, all-wheel drive
EPA fuel economy: 18/25/21 mpg
The hits: Super Cruise available, easy-to-use technology, family-friendly packaging
The misses: Super Cruise isn’t standard, lumpy transmission, narrow third-row and cargo space, inconsistent proportions and feel
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