I wasn’t sure if I’d see the Cadillac XT6 in person, even though I assigned myself the story when us editor types divvied up our coverage of this year’s Detroit Auto Show.
You see, I asked to be added to the media list a little late, and was told the event would be at capacity. But a journalist doesn’t let little things like “fire codes” stand in the way of his story. So I showed up a little late and used my Midwestern charm to get in the door. In a very polite way, I crashed the party.
Which is what Cadillac is doing, in a way.
The XT6 officially broke cover while I was making my way across Michigan, and pics cropped up on social media. As did derision from journos. Paraphrasing: “It’s an expensive Hyundai Palisade!” “It’s front-wheel drive and expects to compete with Audi and BMW and Volvo?” “Man, it’s boring — Cadillac needs something snazzier than this.”
Even at the event, another journalist sidled up to me and said something like, “where was this two or three years ago?”
Cadillac, then, has crashed the crossover party, arriving late and trying to get in the door.
Wearing the equivalent of a tasteful yet plain suit, the XT6 will be powered by a 3.6-liter V6 expected to make 310 horsepower and 271 lb-ft of torque. All-wheel drive will be available (standard on the Sport trim), and the V6 will pair with a nine-speed automatic and offer cylinder deactivation. It will ride on 20- or 21-inch wheels.
Slated for production in Spring Hill, Tennessee, Cadillac has loaded the three-row XT6 with a lengthy list of available content, including: Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, an updated version of Cadillac User Experience, navigation, in-car wi-fi hotspot, satellite radio, wireless cell-phone charging, rearview-camera with remote wash, rearview-camera mirror with remote wash, night vision, a trailer-hitch guidance system, head-up display, all the usual safety and driver-aid systems (adaptive cruise control, forward-collision alert, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, etc.), hands-free liftgate, NFC phone pairing, heated and cooled front seats, heated second-row seats, heated steering wheel, keyless entry, and something called adaptive remote start.
The third row of seats folds down with power, and the second row can be folded via remote.
Seen up close, the XT6 doesn’t exactly excite, but I do like the Cadillac grille and headlight treatment. Otherwise, the peanut gallery is on to something — the boxy XT6 is a bit of a letdown from a brand that has taken chances with design in recent years. Maybe “art and science” wasn’t for you, but Cadillac can’t be accused of not trying. Even the XT4 is an attempt at excitement, even if you don’t think it succeeds.
On the other hand, does the well-heeled family give a whit? For some, the long list of available features will be enough, and the Cadillac name still carries some cachet. There will be some in the private-school carpool lane who don’t need a BMW or Audi badge to feel good about themselves, and some of these folks may find the Escalade too flashy.
And that may be the biggest downer about the XT6. Not that it’s a bit anonymous, but that Cadillac probably could’ve gotten away with it two years ago.
Unless one is trying to sneak in, it’s harder to make a grand entrance if you’re too late. You need more pizzazz in that case, and the XT6 appears to lack it upon first blush.
That said, final judgment only occurs from behind the wheel. This Caddy still has time to schmooze. But until then, it’s the quiet party crasher, not the fun one.
[Images © 2019 Tim Healey/TTAC]