Cadillac Hits a Boston Homer with the 2020 XT6

(All photos: Clifford Atiyeh/NEMPA)

When Cadillac relocated and welcomed new management in April, we knew the company would look to NEMPA as a key partner in its public relations strategy. The luxury division, which five years ago separated from General Motors to Manhattan, had kept as much distance from our journalists in Boston as it did from its own colleagues in Detroit. Today, we’re breathing fresh air from Michigan. Cadillac is refocused and doubling down on its product. But above all, the Cadillac team led by GM veteran Michael Albano is putting people first.  

A packed room greeted Albano and a fleet of XT6 models at NEMPA headquarters last week to launch Cadillac’s first large crossover in 10 years. While the original SRX set a trend for sporty performance SUVs when it debuted in 2003, seemingly nothing Cadillac sold could escape the Escalade’s shadow. Now that Cadillac has a trio of crossovers—the compact XT4, midsize XT5, and three-row XT6—the automaker is at the core of the American market. “We’re back,” Albano said, describing how Cadillac SUV sales have been up 27 percent in the Boston region since last year.

The 2020 XT6 is a six- or seven-passenger crossover with crisp, clean styling and impressive handling—two traits that Cadillac has perfected over the past decade. At $54,695 to start, the all-wheel drive XT6 comes with a suite of driver assists, automatic heated steering wheel and front seats, three-zone climate, panoramic moonroof, wireless charging, power-fold rear seats, and a hands-free tailgate as standard. A 310-horsepower V-6 and a nine-speed automatic transmission hustle the XT6 in any situation, including up to 4000 pounds in tow.

Cadillac PR chief Michael Albano and XT6 lead engineer Joel Hofman receive a surprise souvenir from NEMPA headquarters.

While the XT6 brims with technology, Cadillac engineers prioritized everyday practicality and comfort—including real adults in the third row. In many SUVs, the third row is generally just for kids.

“Not all of them have a third-row seat designed around adults,” said lead XT6 engineer Joel Hofman. “We did. You can have great numbers, but if they don’t feel good, they don’t mean anything.”

Hofman said his team shot for Cadillac’s “signature ride character,” a balance of plushness and road feel that’s hard to achieve. In the Premium Luxury trim, brake-based torque vectoring and standard steel springs do the job, with adaptive dampers optional. Drivers who prefer tighter control can select the Sport trim, which features a retuned adaptive suspension, faster steering ratio, mechanical torque vectoring, more aggressive shift tuning, and larger 21-inch tires.

Either version of the XT6 offers impressive features like the LED matrix headlights, which unfortunately due to U.S. regulations are deactivated. Hofman said that when the U.S. does legalize these headlights, Cadillac will be prepared to let owners experience their full power (and as they stand in normal operation, they’re exceptional). Night vision is available and can alert the driver of pedestrians and animals. The CUE infotainment system is fast, capable, and full of cloud-based services like voice recognition, driver profiles that can migrate from vehicle to vehicle, and an app store than can even let XT6 owners buy a Dunkin Donuts coffee on-screen.

With competitive prices, the XT6 should have no trouble making friends in New England as buyers discover its capability and refinement. Count us among them.

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