Cadillac already has a three-row SUV — so why make another one?
Probably because Cadillac buyers want a different kind of three-row SUV — one that's almost as big and nearly as roomy as the one Cadillac already has in the lineup.
But not nearly as expensive.
Until now, the Escalade was the only Cadillac that could accommodate more than five people. It's also the most expensive Cadillac, with a base price of $75,195.
That's a price only a few people can afford — even Cadillac buyers.
The new XT6 gives buyers room for more people at a price more people can handle.
What It Is
Cadillac's newest and almost-biggest SUV.
Technically, the seven-passenger, three-row XT6 is a crossover SUV, meaning it's more carlike than trucklike under its skin.
The Escalade — which is a cousin of the Chevy Tahoe — is based on GM's half-ton truck architecture. It has body-on-frame construction and comes standard with a big (6.2-liter) V-8 engine. It has truck-type four-wheel drive with low-range gearing. It can also tow as much as 8,100 pounds.
The XT6 has an integrated body and frame — unibody construction, like most cars — and is front-wheel drive, with an all-wheel-drive system available. It does not offer low-range gearing, and it comes with a smaller, 3.6-liter V-6 engine and a lower 4,000-pound maximum towing capacity.
But it also comes with a much lower price: $52,695 for the Premium Luxury trim with front-wheel drive, topping out at $57,095 for the top-of-the-line Sport trim with all-wheel drive.
Yet it has just as many seats — and almost as much room.
The XT6 is a new model, just added to Cadillac's roster.
It has three rows for buyers who need them — for about $20,000 less.
It's not as hulking as the Escalade.
It's newer than the Escalade, which hasn't been significantly updated in about five years.
What's Not So Good
It has less capability than the Escalade — especially towing.
It's almost as thirsty as the Escalade, despite having a lot less engine.
Like the Escalade, there's surprisingly little room behind the third row.
Under the Hood
All XT6 trims come standard with a 3.6-liter, 310-horsepower V-6 engine, paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission and either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.
Interestingly, Cadillac continues to stick with larger engines, rather than smaller, turbocharging ones, to make power.
XT6 competitors like the Audi Q7 and Mercedes GLE-Class come standard with four-cylinder engines that are turbocharged to make up for their lack of displacement. But the turbo increases stress on the engine and adds more parts to the vehicle — both of which could lead to more expenses down the road.
Also interestingly, the XT6's 3.6-liter V-6 engine uses only slightly less gas than the Escalade's enormous — and enormously powerful — 6.2-liter V-8, which makes 420 horsepower and manages a not-bad (for that much engine) 14 mpg city and 21 mpg highway.
The all-wheel-drive XT6 only manages 18 mpg city and 25 mpg highway.
On the Road
Though it's nearly as long as the Escalade — 198.5 inches versus 203.9 — the XT6 has a shorter hood, which makes it feel like a smaller, more maneuverable vehicle.
It is definitely a much lighter vehicle — by about 1,500 pounds.
That's a difference you'll notice, especially in the curves.
Although the Escalade rolls along like a George Pullman sleeper car once you're out on the highway — and pointed straight ahead — all that weight (5,856 pounds versus 4.411 for the XT6) sloshes around in the curves. The problem is magnified by the Escalade's 8 inches of ground clearance, versus 6.7 inches for the XT6.
Being almost 1,500 pounds lighter also explains why the XT6 is nearly as quick as the Escalade, despite having an engine only slightly more than half the size. The Escalade gets to 60 mph in about 6.1 seconds, while it takes the XT6 about 6.8 seconds — a difference discernible only by the stopwatch.
At the Curb
The XT6 hasn't got the brutish presence of the Escalade — but that's probably something many would-be buyers would rather avoid.
And it has the room — not just the rows.
With its third row folded flat, the XT6 has 78.7 cubic feet of cargo space, which is not quite as much as the Escalade's 94.2 cubic feet, but it's close. And the XT6's third row is roomier than the Escalade's because of the XT6's crossover architecture and lower floorpans.
Step-in height is lower, too, easing entry and exit.
Both of these utes don't have much room behind their third rows, though: 12.6 cubic feet for the XT6 and just 15.2 cubic feet for the Escalade.
This limits how much stuff they can carry when they're carrying a full load of people.
While crossovers are common, the Cadillac's available infrared night vision system is pretty uncommon. A rearview mirror with a built-in, closed-circuit view of what's behind you when you're backing up is standard.
There are six USB ports, 4G in-car Wi-Fi and a wireless phone charging pad.
The Bottom Line
If you need the room but don't want to pay the price, now you don't have to!
Eric's new book, "Don't Get Taken for a Ride!" is available now. To find out more about Eric and read his past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.