Cadillac has been in the midst of a “renaissance” for nearly two decades, but it’s a turnaround that has never quite taken hold, especially in the home U.S. market where sales took another 1.1% dip last year.
The big problem has been the lackluster success of the marque’s sedan models, something that is leading to a sharp cutback over the next couple years, with the CTS and ATS models effectively being consolidated and the flagship CT6 set to vanish by the end of 2019.
The real test for Cadillac comes on the light truck side of the ledger where it has fared a bit better. The new XT4, its smallest SUV, has been a solid hit since its autumn launch. And now, Caddy is pushing upward, with the all-new XT6 that will essentially replace the CT6 sedan as its premium offering.
(Caddy CT6 among six GM sedans to go away in 2019. Click Here for the full story.)
Making its debut at the North American International Auto Show this week, the XT6 could become one of the most important products to flow out of the Caddy pipeline in years. It’s unlikely to match the smaller XT4 in terms of volume – though it will carry a significantly higher price tag and profit margin. Critically, it will serve to set a tone for the brand and prove that Cadillac is capable to adapting to the rapidly changing U.S. luxury market where even competitors like BMW and Mercedes-Benz have had to shift resources away from traditional sedans like the 7-Series and S-Class.
“The first-ever Cadillac XT6 delivers a compelling blend of spaciousness, safety and convenience features for customers who thrive on doing it all,” said Steve Carlisle, who became Cadillac president last year after Johan de Nysschen was forced out. “It joins the all-new XT4, which has soared to the top spot in its segment, our global best-selling XT5 and the iconic Escalade to accelerate the brand’s global growth, with a spirit that is uniquely Cadillac.”
(Click Here for a review of the Cadillac XT4.)
As you’d expect, the XT6 picks up on some of the familiar Art & Science design cues first seen with the launch of the original Caddy CTS sedan for the 2003 model-year. There are the slim, vertical head and taillights, with a massive, upright grille boasting a large version of the latest take on the Cadillac crest.
It’s a three-row model with a power-fold back row and an easy tip-and-slide middle row meant to make it easy for even adults to clamber into the back.
“Every seat is the best seat in the house,” said Carlisle. “From luxurious appointments, comfort and convenience to premium sound and technology features, every passenger gets an optimized experience.”
While the big Escalade will remain the brand’s true flagship, the XT6 will really set the tone as it goes up against competitors like the Acura MDX, the Infiniti QX60, the three-row version of the Lexus RX – and the all-new Lincoln Aviator that will serve much the same role for that struggling domestic luxury brand.
(Click Here to check out the new Lincoln Aviator.)
Like most of its competitors, the 2020 Cadillac XT6 will be offered in both front and all-wheel-drive configuration and the automaker says it will offer both “Premium Luxury and Sport models (with) more customized looks with unique exterior and interior distinction.”
The Sport model, a release adds, “features a Sport Control active twin-clutch AWD design that helps enhance the driving experience with active yaw control. Sport models also feature Continuous Damping Control active handling and a faster steering ratio that is tuned to support a more enthusiast-level driving feel, with increased feedback and greater overall responsiveness.”
The ute is expected to offer buyers several different powertrain options over its lifecycle. Whether there will eventually be an electrified version is uncertain, but a V-Sport option, with a twin-turbo V-6 likely topping 400 horsepower, seems likely. And the primary powertrain will be the 310 hp V-6 borrowed from the current XT5 crossover-utility vehicle. It will be paired to a nine-speed automatic.
In keeping with market trends, the new Cadillac XT6 will be loaded with high-tech comfort and safety technologies.
That includes a new mode system with four driver-selectable options that will adjust a variety of vehicle functions.
Significantly, Caddy is again updating the Cue infotainment system. It already added a volume knob on the XT4 to replace the unloved touch-sensitive slider originally used. Now, it is adding what it describes as a “rotary controller with new job functionality” that sounds a fair bit like BMW’s iDrive and the Audi MMI interface. It will, of course, retain voice and touchscreen controls.
As you’d expect, features like a power liftgate, remote start and wireless charging are on the list, as is NFC, or near-field, phone pairing which makes the process virtually instantaneous with the right phone.
The XT6 also gets night vision and an advanced version of active cruise control. What’s surprising is that the crossover does not make available the Super Cruise system introduced on the CT6 a year ago. Many experts have dubbed that the most advanced semi-autonomous system on the market. Word has it the technology will be added in a year or so, but we’ll have to wait for confirmation. That said, few expect Caddy to walk away from SuperCruise considering parent General Motors has become a major player in the race to build fully autonomous vehicles.
Add a broad suite of standard advanced driver assistance systems, or ADAS, such as forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot detection and more.
The new 2020 Cadillac XT6 will be produced at GM’s Spring Hill, Tennessee assembly plant and should reach showrooms this coming spring. Pricing will be announced closer to the on-sale date.
(Light trucks continue to gain traction as sedans, coupes fade. Click Here for a look at January’s U.S. sales numbers.)