This story is not about the Cadillac Escalade. But it would be remiss not to acknowledge it.
Why? Because for two decades now, Escalade has singlehandedly represented the automotive pinnacle of American luxury, grandiosity, and opulence. Cadillac’s flagship nameplate carries three spacious leather-wrapped rows of excess on its enormous, truck-based frame. In certain circles, it stands for nothing less than the ultimate in success.
But on the other hand, the Escalade has always been much more than some families need or want, even if they have six to seven members and a budget for finer things. Plus, its equally large carbon footprint is becoming an Achilles heel among the eco-conscious crowd.
Enter the XT6, the mid-size three-row crossover that completes Cadillac’s SUV lineup and creates a more right-sized option with little compromise—including third-row headroom that’s best in class.
When shopping this nameplate, the first detail that comes to the fore is the lack of a traditional entry-level model. Instead, buyers select from two roughly equivalent choices: Premium Luxury (from $60,998) or Sport (from $63,798).
Each has the same engine equipped, a naturally aspirated 3.6-litre V6 that produces 310 horsepower and 271 lb-ft of torque. It saves fuel in highway cruising by deactivating two cylinders to run more efficiently. This is matched to a nine-speed automatic transmission and, in Canada, standard all-wheel drive.
The list of standard equipment is stout and includes heated and ventilated power-adjusting front seats, a heated steering wheel, 20-inch alloy wheels, power-folding third-row seats, a long list of safety technologies, and a hands-free power liftgate. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity are included—the latter being surprisingly difficult to find in luxury vehicles—plus an in-car WiFi hotspot can be added to an OnStar subscription.
Performance-minded drivers will find that the Sport model is the standout here, with its extra cost being duly justified by systems such as active damping for a smoother ride from the suspension, a twin-clutch all-wheel drive system that provides torque independently to each of the rear wheels on demand, and active yaw control for improved cornering performance. Quicker steering, a more responsive throttle, and more aggressive shift points set the Sport’s on-road feel apart, along with its high-gloss black finishes and clear glass taillights for a distinct exterior look.
Both models have the option to add Cadillac’s rear camera mirror system, which uses an exterior-mounted camera to provide a backward-facing view that can’t be obstructed by passengers or cargo. A night vision infrared display, 14-speaker Bose premium audio system, and improved interior finishes such as premium leather seating and carbon fibre or glossy wood inserts are also available.
For those who don’t feel that the German brands speak to their personalities but the alternatives have been lacking, the XT6 heralds the arrival of a new option for three rows of well-equipped and right-sized luxury.
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