Behind the Wheel

2021 Cadillac XT6 Review: The good, the bad, and the overpriced

The 2021 Cadillac XT6 has familiar familial design attributes, inside and out.

Photo courtesy of Cadillac

When people shop for a new SUV, especially a premium one, they're looking for style and sophistication as well as good seating, a modern infotainment system, and excellent safety features. Cadillac hits most of those checkboxes right on the nose with its 2021 Cadillac XT6. But all that gleams under the spotlight is not a star.

The Cadillac XT6 is mostly unchanged for the 2021 model year. That's both good and bad. The three-row SUV suffers from the sameness factor that many General Motors SUVs do and along with other weighty issues.

The face of the SUV features the same styling cues as the Cadillac XT4 and XT5, which slot lower than it in the company's lineup and the interior is much the same. Sort of a "if you like one Cadillac SUV you'll probably like them all" scenario going on here. That includes the less-then-premium dashboard and infotainment system surfaces.

2021 Cadillac XT6The dashboard of the 2021 Cadillac XT6 is outfitted in less-than-premium materials.Photo courtesy of Cadillac

2021 Cadillac XT6

The 2021 Cadillac XT6 's upgraded engine option is a 3.6-liter V6 power plant that comes paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission in the Sport and Premium Luxury trim levels. It's powerful enough to get you going with ease and the tranissmision smoothly shifts through the gears.

The all-wheel drive-enabled XT6's biggest struggles are in terms of drive dynamics. The tester XT6 Sport felt too heavy for its frame. At 4,690 pounds the Sport model is the SUV's heaviest variant, by about an NFL lineman. In the XT6, the weightiness came from the mid-rear, where the SUV's AWD mechanics would be located. This made the XT6 less dynamic at nearly every turn from roadway to parking lot.

Small item storage in the XT6 is not ideal, but rear cargo space is better than average. A power liftgate is standard and power-folding third-row seats make reconfiguring the area easy.

The 2021 Cadillac XT6 offers a good amount of rear cargo space.Photo courtesy of Cadillac

The Cadillac XT6 is a good vehicle for its target audience, but it could be better. While there are high points, like the comfortable seats that can be equipped with heating in the first two rows, the low points are mainly when the XT6 is considered versus the competition. Other premium SUVs, like the Acura MDX, have far more comfortable and plush seats.

Another plus is that adults can fit in the third row of the XT6. This is something that older midsize SUVs struggled with but has become more common in recent years with the emergence of the Kia Telluride, Subaru Ascent, and Hyundai Palisade, as well as the redesigned Highlander. However, the XT6 still has less head-, leg-, shoulder-, and hip room than many of those models, in all three rows.

There's nothing cutting edge about the tech in the Cadillac XT6 and that's okay. It's not the Escalade. What is there is perfectly suitable compared to the XT6's main rivals. The main pain point is the SUV's infotainment screen, which is smaller than other offerings in the segment and can appear crowded with information, or lacking information, depending on the use case scenario.

2021 Cadillac XT6The 2021 Cadillac XT6 has seating for up to seven. Here, it's configured for six.Photo courtesy of Cadillac

All Cadillac XT6 models come with automatic emergency braking, forward collision alert, following distance indicator, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, following distance indicator, a high-definition rearview camera, Safety Alert Seat, and IntelliBeam headlights with rear park assist. Premium Luxury and Sport models also get lane change alert with blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert as standard.

As in the XT5, the XT6 struggles with its lane keeping assist and departure warning technology, which rarely reads the lines until the vehicle is well over them, even in excellent driving conditions (new pavement, fresh lines, bright but not glaring sun). At night, just "fuhgetaboutit", as they say in any number of Martin Scorsese films.

The 2021 Cadillac XT6 starts at $48,990. General Motors loves to get buyers to add on packages and equipment to up the price of their model. All-in, the XT6 Sport tester Cadillac leant for this review had a MSRP of $70,570 after $13,375 in options were tacked on. That's a steep price to pay for this SUV. For that amount of money, it should be better.

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Performance luxury SUV

The Cadillac Escalade-V starts at almost $150,000

The Escalade-V gets a $149,990 starting price

Cadillac

Cadillac teased an ultra-powerful Escalade-V a while back, and now we have all the details. The 2023 SUV will feature a supercharged 6.2-liter V8, plenty of luxury, and a stout six-figure price tag.

The 2023 Escalade-V comes with a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 that makes 682 horsepower and 653 pound-feet of torque. It features a hand-built design and shares much of its underlying engineering with the CT5-V Blackwing. It's paired with a ten-speed automatic transmission and full-time active four-wheel drive.

2023 Cadillac Escalade-VUnder the hood, there's a supercharged 6.2-liter V8.Cadillac

Cadillac gives every Escalade-V air ride adaptive suspension and magnetic ride control. The driver can customize the suspension and feel using the SUV's selectable driving modes. The system can also raise or lower the ride height by to .8 inches, and the SUV comes with a launch control system that helps it get off the line with explosive speed.

Inside, the Escalade-V builds on the top trim of the standard SUV with zebra wood accents, massaging front seats, and a heated steering wheel. It's got the same amazing tech, too, with a curved OLED display that runs the length of the dash, navigation, voice commands, wireless Apple Carplay and Android Auto, an augmented reality navigation system, and a 36-speaker AKG Studio stereo. Cadillac Super Cruise is available.

2023 Cadillac Escalade-VAn extended ESV variant is also available. Cadillac

The 2023 Cadillac Escalade-V goes on sale this summer. Starting pricing lands at $149,990, and Cadillac offers an extended-wheelbase ESV version of the high-performance SUV.

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Lincoln will not make a performance variant to compete with Cadillac.

Lincoln

TheLincoln Navigator and Cadillac Escalade have been duking it out at the top of luxury SUV rankings for decades, but there’s one area of the Caddy’s development that Lincoln won’t touch. In a recent interview, a company executive told Ford Authority that it has no plans to create a performance variant of the Navigator to compete with the upcoming Escalade V from Cadillac.

2022 Lincoln NavigatorThe new Navigator features several upscale touches and excellent tech. Lincoln

That means the Navigator will stick with the powertrain it’s carried for years, which is a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine that makes 440 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque. It’s paired with a smooth ten-speed automatic and either rear- or four-wheel drive. While there’s more than enough power to get the hulking Lincoln moving, it’s not a powertrain that inspires excitement or engagement, and though beefy, it’s tuned much more for comfort and quietness than drama.

Though more than adequate, those specs are a far cry from the numbers we expect from the Escalade V. The full-size bruiser from Cadillac is expected to get a supercharged 6.2-liter V8, similar to the unit seen in the CT5-V Blackwing and Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. We don’t know power numbers yet, but the engine should deliver horsepower and torque numbers in the high 600s.

Cadillac Escalade VThe Escalade V will be massively powerful. Cadillac

That Lincoln is taking a different approach isn’t surprising. The automaker has already announced its intention to go all-electric, so pouring more time and resources into creating a performance gas-powered SUV isn’t in line with its goals. Company executives have also expressed a desire to avoid imitating rivals, so the decision to leave a performance Navigator behind is not surprising.

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