2023 Cadillac XT6 Review

Christian Wardlaw, Independent Expert | Sep 08, 2022

Introduction - Find the best Cadillac deals!

Cadillac was one of the first luxury brands to slap its nameplate on an SUV (1999 Escalade), and just five years later, the company added a midsize 3-row crossover to its lineup (2004 SRX). But when the second-generation SRX shrank in size and seating capacity, Cadillac went a decade without a replacement for that original 3-row SRX, finally following it up with the XT6 in 2020.

Built in Spring Hill, Tennessee, on the same assembly line as the GMC Acadia, the 2023 Cadillac XT6 is smaller inside than you might expect. Likely, that's to ensure the XT6 won't encroach on Escalade territory. Prices support that hypothesis, starting at just over $50,000 and rising to nearly $80,000 with all the bells and whistles, where it tucks in just below the base Escalade.

Cadillac makes few changes to the XT6 for the 2023 model year. With Premium Luxury and Sport trim levels, the infotainment system includes a standard navigation system, and both ventilated front seats and heated rear seats are standard equipment. Three new paint colors also debut. Otherwise, the XT6 is essentially the same as when Cadillac introduced it three years ago.

What Owners Say About the Cadillac XT6 - Find the best Cadillac deals!

2023 Cadillac XT6 Premium Luxury Black Front Quarter View

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

The Cadillac XT6 competes in the Upper Midsize Premium SUV market segment. According to data collected from verified new-vehicle buyers for the J.D. Power 2022 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study, 56 percent of new Cadillac XT6 buyers are male (vs. 63 percent for the segment), and the median age of a new XT6 buyer is 62 years (vs. 56).

As part of the APEAL Study, owners rated the XT6 in 10 primary categories. Listed below in descending order, you'll find their preferences, from their most favorite thing about the vehicle to their least favorite:

  • Exterior styling
  • Driving feel
  • Feeling of safety
  • Powertrain
  • Driving comfort
  • Interior design
  • Setting up and starting
  • Getting in and out
  • Infotainment system
  • Fuel economy

In the 2022 APEAL Study, the XT6 ranks sixth out of 12 Upper Midsize Premium SUV models.

What Our Independent Expert Says About the Cadillac XT6 - Find the best Cadillac deals!

Our test vehicle had Premium Luxury trim, which lives between the Luxury and the Sport in the 2023 Cadillac XT6 model lineup. It came with the following options:

  • Platinum package
  • Technology package
  • Driver Assist package
  • Super Cruise package
  • Premium headlights
  • Second-row captain's chairs

These upgrades brought the test vehicle's price to $71,665, including the $1,395 destination charge.

Getting In and Getting Comfortable

2023 Cadillac XT6 Premium Luxury Interior Front Seats

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

Open the blandly attractive XT6's driver's door and you'll find a similarly inoffensive interior that isn't up to par concerning its design, componentry, and technological sophistication. The pricey Platinum package adds premium semi-aniline leather to all three rows of seats and a set of extra-plush floor mats. With the Jet Black cabin color, you get an unusual but appealing gold weave interior trim. Otherwise, the XT6's switchgear is reminiscent of any other General Motors (GM) product, albeit with added refinement and sophistication.

Furthermore, in a segment where consumers increasingly expect fully digital instrumentation, every XT6 comes with analog gauges separated by a digital driver information center. In addition, the touchscreen infotainment system measures eight inches across diagonally, which is small by modern luxury vehicle standards. The XT6 also employs Cadillac's joystick-style electronic transmission shifter, which increasingly looks like it belongs in a museum dedicated to 20th-century video gaming. The gloss black, touch-sensing climate control panel imparts sophistication but is mounted low and suffers from glare, making it harder to use.

Comfort levels are good, thanks to the Premium Luxury trim's newly standard heated and ventilated front seats and heated second-row seats. The test vehicle's plush, semi-aniline leather looked, felt, and smelled great, and the heated, power-adjustable steering wheel's thick rim was a pleasure to grip. General Motors knows how to make air conditioning that can seemingly freeze steaks, and that's true of the XT6's triple-zone climate control system. However, the XT6 is unavailable with a front-seat massage function, which you can find in other models in the segment.

The test vehicle had optional second-row captain's chairs, reducing the XT6's practical seating to four people since you're most likely going to keep the third-row seat folded down most of the time to create usable cargo space. The captain's chairs slide forward and back, and they provide plenty of room for adults in their rearmost position. Third-row accommodations are poor and best reserved for children.

Storage space is adequate and includes a tray underneath the center console that is difficult to see and access while seated. Generally speaking, the Cadillac XT6 isn't as large inside as you might expect, so if you need a genuinely roomy luxury crossover SUV and want to buy a GM product, I recommend looking at the bigger Buick Enclave Avenir.

2023 Cadillac XT6 Cadillac User Experience Infotainment System Review

2023 Cadillac XT6 Premium Luxury Interior Dashboard

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

Once upon a time, the Cadillac User Experience (CUE) infotainment system was a travesty. Today, it is a model of simplicity and intuitive design, and in the XT6, all it lacks is as large a touchscreen display as you'll find in the SUV's rivals.

In the XT6 Luxury, the CUE system includes:

  • 8-inch color touchscreen display
  • Bluetooth
  • Wireless Apple CarPlay
  • Wireless Android Auto
  • Connected services and apps, including access to a Wi-Fi hotspot
  • SiriusXM 360L satellite radio
  • Teen Driver technology that can monitor vehicle usage by young drivers and produce a driving report card to the XT6's owner
  • Natural-voice recognition
  • Six USB ports
  • Eight-speaker Bose premium sound system

Move up to the XT6 Premium Luxury or Sport, and CUE adds:

  • Navigation with real-time traffic alerts
  • Wireless smartphone charging
  • 14-speaker Bose premium sound system

The CUE system is essentially the same as what you'll find in other GM products and is effortless. Though the 8-inch touchscreen is small, it supplies crisp and clean graphics, supports swipe and scroll functions, and provides a quick response to inputs. Better yet, the voice-recognition technology is excellent, accurately interpreting commands and responding with fast, accurate results.

If you're not comfortable using voice commands or the touchscreen to operate the CUE system, a set of physical controls resides on the center console. As is true of similar executions in BMW and Mercedes-Benz models, you'll need to memorize their locations and functions to use them without distraction. Also, they take up valuable real estate that Cadillac could have instead dedicated to more storage space. Cadillac also provides a few controls on the steering wheel, but those with a metallic background are difficult to read during the day.

The test vehicle had the 14-speaker Bose Performance Series premium sound system, and like so many things about the Cadillac XT6, it's good but falls short of greatness.

What It's Like to Drive the 2023 Cadillac XT6

2023 Cadillac XT6 Premium Luxury Black Side View

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

With Luxury trim, the XT6 has a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine making 237 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, delivered to the front wheels through a 9-speed automatic transmission. The Premium Luxury and Sport use a more satisfactory 3.6-liter V6 engine generating 310 hp and 271 pound-feet of torque.

All-wheel drive (AWD) is optional for the Luxury and Premium Luxury, standard on the XT6 Sport. The Sport employs a unique dual-clutch AWD system that can distribute power to either side of the drive axles and transfer it between the front and rear wheels. The more basic technology offered as an option with Luxury and Premium Luxury trim simply transfers power from the front wheels to the rear wheels when necessary. Both AWD systems offer front-wheel-drive (FWD) or automatic AWD settings and Tour or Sport driving modes.

Expectedly, the Cadillac XT6 Premium Luxury proved to be quick, quiet, and comfortable in the urban and suburban environments where it will spend most of its time. The test vehicle's adaptive damping suspension did a great job soaking up speed humps and bumps while smoothing out rumpled pavement, and Cadillac expertly suppressed unwanted powertrain and suspension noise. Better yet, the XT6 is easier to drive and park than Cadillac's behemoth Escalade, and it comes with surround-view and rearview camera mirror systems to improve outward visibility.

Unexpectedly, on the twisty mountain roads near Malibu, California, the test vehicle's adaptive suspension, 20-inch wheels wrapped in all-season tires, precise steering, and responsive brakes made the XT6 feel secure and trustworthy while driving it with enthusiasm. It's not necessarily fun to drive because the XT6 Premium Luxury isn't tuned to encourage this kind of driving. However, it's not soft and sloppy, either, which was a pleasant surprise.

In addition to a more sophisticated dual-clutch AWD system, Cadillac fortifies the XT6 Sport with Brembo performance brakes. Drive this version of the SUV in its Sport driving mode, and it might put a smile on your face. But I can't state that for sure.

Cadillac Super Cruise Review

2023 Cadillac XT6 Premium Luxury Super Cruise

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

Every 2023 Cadillac XT6 includes the advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS) that you've come to expect in a modern luxury SUV. A Driver Assist package adds adaptive cruise control, enhanced automatic emergency braking that works at higher vehicle speeds, reverse automatic braking, and a seat-belt-tightening system. A Technology package is also available, and among other features, it equips the XT6 with rear pedestrian detection, a surround-view camera system, and a semi-autonomous parking-assistance system.

Speaking of semi-autonomous driver-assistance technology, Super Cruise is available on the 2023 Cadillac XT6. This option pairs the SUV's adaptive cruise control and lane-centering assistance systems to create a hands-free driving technology that works on approved, limited-access highways across the United States and Canada. It uses a sophisticated driver monitoring system to ensure that you remain attentive and ready to take complete control of the SUV at a moment's notice. So, while you don't need to hold the steering wheel, you can't instead check email, scroll through social feeds, or watch movies when Super Cruise is active.

Super Cruise is an impressive technological achievement. Though other automakers offer similar systems, few feature highway-speed operation, and none of the XT6's direct competitors can match this offering. However, during testing on various freeways in the Los Angeles area, the limitations of this technology were on full display.

Super Cruise is at its best when the Cadillac XT6 travels at higher speeds on relatively straight freeway sections in light traffic conditions. Slower speeds, narrower lanes with inconsistent curve lane markings, and heavier traffic all present challenges that make the technology difficult to trust, in turn heightening a driver's stress level. I found that in some situations, Super Cruise simply wasn't safe to use, partly because of the delay in recognizing when other vehicles cut into the gap between the XT6 and traffic ahead.

Beyond these challenges, driving into the early morning or late afternoon sun caused Super Cruise to disengage and require me to take control of the vehicle. Also, the technology sometimes could not see the lane markings on the road ahead, prompting a rapid transfer of responsibility.

I think Super Cruise is an impressive accomplishment. But I'm unconvinced that it's anything more than a novelty in its current form. Ostensibly, the point of these semi-autonomous, hands-free driving-assistance systems is to reduce stress and the potential for a collision. However, Super Cruise, and other systems like it, frequently has the opposite effect.

2023 Cadillac XT6 FAQ - Find the best Cadillac deals!

2023 Cadillac XT6 Cargo Space

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

How much cargo space does the 2023 Cadillac XT6 have?

Behind its third-row seat, the Cadillac XT6 offers only 12.6 cubic feet of cargo space. You'll want more than that, so fold the 50/50 split-folding rear seat flat to leverage 43.1 cubic feet of space. Maximum volume with both back rows of seats folded down measures 78.7 cubic feet.

Does the 2023 Cadillac XT6 get good gas mileage?

Official EPA fuel-economy ratings for the Cadillac XT6 are 21 mpg in combined driving with the V6 engine and 23 mpg with the turbocharged 4-cylinder. Whether you choose FWD or AWD, the ratings are the same. During testing, the XT6 Premium Luxury AWD averaged 19.5 mpg while driven in its automatic AWD and Tour settings.

Is the 2023 Cadillac XT6 safe?

Based on crash-test results from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the Cadillac XT6 is a safe SUV. The 2022 model received a Top Safety Pick+ rating from the IIHS and got maximum 5-star ratings in every NHTSA test, plus a 4-star rollover-resistance rating.

How much is the 2023 Cadillac XT6?

At the start of the 2023 model year, Cadillac XT6 prices range from $49,990 to $61,490, including the $1,395 destination charge.

What are the 2023 Cadillac XT6 competitors?

In the J.D. Power 2022 Initial Quality Study (IQS), the Cadillac XT6 ranks highest in the Upper Midsize Premium SUV segment. The BMW X6 and the BMW X5 are the next highest-ranked models.

In the 2022 APEAL Study, the BMW X6 ranks highest in the Upper Midsize Premium SUV segment. The Genesis GV80 and the Porsche Cayenne are the next highest-ranked models.

Other competitors to the 2023 XT6 include the Acura MDXLincoln Aviator, and Volvo XC90.

Independent Expert Opinion - Find the best Cadillac deals!

2023 Cadillac XT6 Premium Luxury Black Rear Quarter View

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

The Cadillac XT6 exists to plug the hole in the company's lineup between the smaller 2-row XT5 and the legendary full-size Escalade. It succeeds at this mission with a blend of attractive design, quality materials, expected refinement, practical technology, high safety ratings, and decent driving dynamics.

Similar to how XT6 owners convey their experiences with this Cadillac to J.D. Power, I found very little wrong with the SUV aside from its relatively useless third-row seat, and a shortfall between the test vehicle's observed gas mileage and the official EPA fuel-economy rating.

Still, though the XT6 leads its segment in Initial Quality, it lacks the traits that elevate other models to the head of the class when it comes to emotional satisfaction. And those missing ingredients make the 2023 Cadillac XT6 more of a well-crafted appliance than a genuinely desirable vehicle.

Christian Wardlaw is a veteran digital automotive journalist with nearly 30 years of experience in test-driving vehicles. He has held editorial leadership roles with Edmunds, J.D. Power, the New York Daily News, and others. In addition to JDPower.com, his work has appeared in numerous new- and used-car buying guides, newspapers, and automotive industry trade journals including Autotrader, Capital One Auto Navigator, CarGurus, Kelley Blue Book, WardsAuto, and more.

The opinions expressed in this review are the author’s own, not J.D. Power’s.

No portion of these reviews may be reproduced, distributed, publicly displayed, or used for a derivative work without J.D. Power’s written permission. © 2022 J.D. Power

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