Cadillac's 2020 XT6 is the brand's third new luxury SUV in four years. 
 -  Photo courtesy of Cadillac.

Cadillac's 2020 XT6 is the brand's third new luxury SUV in four years.

Photo courtesy of Cadillac.

Driving the 2020 Cadillac XT6 brings to mind a question that will be endlessly debated: Is it an SUV?

In some ways, an identity crisis could be an advantage, since the XT6, like a clever politician, can be whatever you project on to it.

Structured, Flexible Luxury

Let's start with what it's not: It's not as big as a Cadillac Escalade, nor is it a crossover utility vehicle like a Cadillac XT5, Toyota RAV4, or Honda CRX. It's definitely not a station wagon, although the body style looks like a smooth-shaped inflated one. It can seat seven passengers, like an SUV, but forget about putting adults in the third "kiddie" row, as you could in a Suburban or Escalade.

What we can conclude is the XT6 rides like a luxury sedan, provides a mid-level height that allows for smooth upward entry and downward exit, and hints at the heft, strength, and bulk of a full-size SUV. In sum, it checks all the luxury boxes.

So while you and your passengers could indulge in transgressive discussions about vehicle identity, the XT6 will pamper and please and try to be all you want it to be. The XT6 tested came with all available options at a price tag of $71,585.

Whatever you can picture in a vehicle, the XT6 has it: Multiple charging ports for Android and Apple smartphones; cooled and heated front seats; air ionizer; security cargo shade; 14-speaker Bose system; customizable three-zone climate controls; high-definition vision camera with wash; universal tablet holder; odor and particulate cabin filter. If a vehicle bears all those amenities, you can be assured it gets the big ones right.

The 2020 XT6 offers plenty of interior amenities for drivers and passengers. 
 -  Photo courtesy of Cadillac.

The 2020 XT6 offers plenty of interior amenities for drivers and passengers.

Photo courtesy of Cadillac.

Detailed Safety and Tech

This micro-padded level of detail is supported by a sophisticated technology suite that will mostly delight the generation that grew up with potty training apps. The rest of us need to finally read the instructions. Cadillac has improved upon its earlier generation CUE technology that confused drivers with its expected poking, pawing, and pressing from refined piano fingers.

While Cadillac puts a priority on safety, some of the features were a bit, shall we say, hyperactive. The rear cross traffic alert several times flashed on the camera screen, but there were no vehicles, pedestrians, or cats behind us. The safety alert vibrating seats seem to look for any excuse to jiggle, massage, or goose the driver, leaving you to figure out why, why, why: Was it a passing bird? Did I stray onto a lane marker? Am I too close to the car ahead, behind, next? Is it an incoming drone? Stop harassing me! And every time you turn off the engine, the dashboard screen alerts you to check the rear seat: Again, why? A gift package? My lunch bag? A carjacker?

However, the panoramic rear back-up camera, along with an above-vehicle view, ease all parking experiences and ensure a chauffeur or fleet driver has no excuse for at-fault scrapes and fender benders. These are the type of safety features indispensable to providing duty of care and reduce insurance liability.

As to cargo space, if the third seat is up, you will only get 12.6 cubic feet, enough for one airport passenger's bags. With it down, you beat out any luxury sedan, with plenty of room for two luggage sets and golf clubs. Darkened windows and a cargo screen maintain trunk-like privacy.

The XT6, with ample leg- and head-room, rolls ready as a viable alternative to the dwindling, downsizing sedans in America. If Cadillac chooses it as part of limousine/livery program, the XT6 would ride as a worthy successor to the outgoing XTS sedan and the CT6 sedan. Whether for an executive driving alone, or being chauffeured, the XT6 creates a sense of abundant personal space enhanced with plenty of attributes to enjoy sailing the open road, or sitting stuck in the congested urban one.

Now after spending some quality time with the XT6, what would I call it? I'll say it's a teen-age, but not baby, Escalade. It could grow up and fill out a little, but why bother. I hope that clears it up.

2020 Cadillac XT6 Specs:

  • Engine: 3.6L V-6 (310 hp, 271 lb.-ft.)
  • Transmission: 9-speed automatic
  • Fuel Tank: 22 gal.
  • Fuel Economy: 20 mpg combined
  • Rear leg room: 39.1 in.
  • Cargo capacity: 78.7 cu.-ft. and 12.6 cu.-ft. with all seats up
  • Basic Warranty: 4 yr./50,000 miles