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FIRST LOOK: Cadillac unveils 2020 XT6 and future EV plan

XT6 bolsters Cadillac SUV lineup, and addresses customer shift from sedans

Published: January 14, 2019, 2:30 AM
Updated: January 18, 2019, 1:19 AM

2020 Cadillac XT6

DETROIT– In keeping with the market surge of utility vehicles, Cadillac revealed its latest production SUV entry in the all-new, 3-row XT6, as well as a glimpse of its upcoming EV architecture.

2020 Cadillac XT6

The unveilings took place at the Garden Theater in Detroit, a day ahead of the formal media day opening of the 2019 North American International Auto Show in Detroit (NAIAS). It was a coming home party of sorts for Cadillac, as its headquarters shift back from New York to Detroit at the beginning of April.

No name or specific details were presented about the brand’s first EV; just an image was shown with colour verbally painted by Cadillac, with president Steve Carlisle saying, “it will the height of luxury and innovation while positioning Cadillac as the pinnacle of mobility.”

Future Cadillac EV

Cadillac will carry the torch as GM’s lead electric brand. A new electrical architecture that can be flexible for cars and utility vehicles, as well as across various drivetrain configurations, will roll out once the current plan of three more new or redesigned Cadillacs are released every six months leading up to 2021. Cadillac will also design its own battery packs, allowing for flexibility based on vehicle and customer needs.

Attention then turned to the XT6, which bolsters Cadillac’s SUV lineup, while addressing the customer shift away from sedans, as well as its own restructuring – the recently-announced discontinuation of the ATS, CTS, CT6 and XTS sedans. The mid-size SUV will be given a 2020 model year tag and slotted between the XT5 and Escalade.

2020 Cadillac XT6

“In 2017, Cadillac only covered 60% of the market segments that really matter to Canadians, and now with the XT6, 90% of those still-growing segments are covered,” explains Hoss Hassani, managing director, Cadillac Canada.

Even though its CT6 flagship will soon be disappearing, the overall sleek look – originating from the Escala concept – carries on in the new XT6. The theatre setting showed off its sloping roofline, vertically-emphasized LED headlights, classy chrome grille, and shiny dual exhaust that exudes both a sharp and sexy vibe.

2020 Cadillac XT6

The 2020 XT6 comes in two forms: Premium Luxury and Sport. Both provide distinct interior and exterior touches with the option of customization. The former takes on a more chic design language featuring bright Galvano exterior accents on its grille, side window moldings and roof rails, as well as red taillight lenses; while the Sport comes off as more aggressive thanks to darker accents to its grille and roof rails, along with available 21-inch wheels.

As for its interior space, the two trim levels differ with Premium Luxury using exotic wood decor, while Sport gets carbon fibre. The rest of its insides show off what we’ve already seen in the smaller XT5, such as an open-flowing horizontal design language, an 8-inch infotainment screen, digital climate controls located below, and bulkier gear shift.

2020 Cadillac XT6

It’s not all copy and paste, as evidenced in the XT6’s rotary infotainment controller. A similar keypad is installed in the XT4 crossover, but in this case, a new jog function is new to its setup (and a first for Cadillac). According to Cadillac, the system allows users to tilt the knob, like a joystick, for easier screen navigation. It’s also designed to complement hard buttons and steering wheel controls.

The other major difference is the size and inclusion of a third row of seats. To make life easier for families, the back row is easy to get in-and-out, thanks to standard power-folding push buttons that perform most of the work without the need for any yanks or pulls. If in need of extra space to access the third row, a remote fold-down for the second row adds to the ease-of-use with a tip, pitch, and slide feature.

2020 Cadillac XT6

Powering the XT6 will be Cadillac’s 3.6-litre V-6 engine rated at 310 hp and 271 lb-ft of torque (the exact ratings of the XT5) mated to a new 9-speed automatic transmission featuring a next-generation Electronic Precision Shift. Regardless of trim, all XT6s come with standard all-wheel drive (AWD), but the Sport model has its driving experience further enhanced through an active twin-clutch AWD design with active yaw control. Cadillac also made mention to the Sport model exhibiting a faster steering ratio with more responsiveness, feedback and agility on roads.

Given the attention to Cadillac leading an EV future, it was a surprise to see no electrified powertrain for the XT6, but Hassani points to a plan in place.

2020 Cadillac XT6

“There is a timeframe, but we have to distinguish between electrified and electric vehicles. Through this new EV platform, Cadillac and General Motors are talking about electric vehicles, not electrified. That’s where we see the shift happening, just like it was from Chevrolet Volt to Bolt.”

Another noticeable omission was Cadillac’s SuperCruise hands-free driving technology. In an announcement prior to the NAIAS, Cadillac mentioned that it would spread throughout its lineup starting in 2020. So, it looks like we will have to wait for an updated SuperCruise in two years time.

2020 Cadillac XT6

On top of having six USB ports (two for each row), other technologies available in the XT6 are 4G LTE Wi-Fi, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, 15-watt wireless charging, natural address entry in updated navigation, Teen Driver programming, and user profiles that can be stored in the Cloud for use in other GM products that happen to be properly equipped.

The 2020 Cadillac XT6 hits dealerships in mid-2019 when it attempts to make a dent into the ever-growing pool of 3-row SUVs, which includes the Audi Q7, BMW X5, Lexus RX L, Lincoln Aviator, Mercedes-Benz GLE and Volvo XC90.

2020 Cadillac XT6

Pricing is expected to be released closer to the launch date with a starting price most likely hovering around the $50,000 mark.