Pedro Arrais review: A Caddy for the downsizing set

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Many of Cadillac’s customers are downsizing, so the luxury brand is following the market with the introduction of the XT6, a three-row SUV/Crossover that offers six or seven-passenger seating (depending on the configuration).

For many years, Cadillac was content to keep producing the full-size Escalade, but customers kept telling the company that, while they enjoyed the ability to pack in the passengers, a full-size vehicle with a thirsty V-8 can be excessive these days.

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Size-wise, think of the XT6 as a midsize-plus, smaller than the Escalade but larger than its smaller brother, the XT5. The new model sits on a platform shared with the XT5 and the Acadia (a longer-wheelbase version underpins the Chevrolet Traverse and Buick Enclave).

Price-wise, the XT6 logically falls in between its two brethren, with a base of $60,998 for the Premium Luxury and $63,798 list price for the Sport, the only other trim level.

I drove the latter, with a few options.

When you park the XT5 and XT6 side-by side you will notice the latter has a more traditional flat roofline and a longer overhang. These two elements translate to the extra row of seats and a boost in cargo capacity.

While the overall look can best be described as boxy rather than stylish, the shape undeniably offers the most efficient package when it comes to people and cargo capacity.

While the XT6 is 137 millimetres shorter in overall length than the Escalade, it still boasts 145 mm more legroom for the third-row passengers (there is a mere 2 mm difference in legroom for second row passengers, in the Escalade’s favour).

If you put both rows of seats down, the Escalade wins hands down, but with them both up, the XT6 only trails by 55 litres.

I can go on, but it looks like Cadillac did its homework (and then some) on packaging to give the XT6 appealing attributes for people who want to downsize and not give up too much capacity.

Conversely, it offers buyers an in-between option when their current vehicle is bursting at the seams.

While it may share humble components with lesser Chevrolets under the skin, when you get into the cabin, you will forget its humble beginnings.

Cadillac has been in the luxury game for decades, and the interior reflects their experience in their craft. The materials are a cut above, with quality appointments at every turn.

You can choose between traditional luxury, or in my case, a Sport-themed interior, with carbon-fibre instead of wood trim.

The driver’s eight-inch driver information centre is clear and there is a wealth of information that you can call up, including a choice of information displayed in the Head-Up Display.

One thing new is a washer system for the rear camera - a feature that is sure to please Canadian drivers in the winter.

One option that is available is a Night Vision package that uses infrared technology to identify and highlight pedestrians or large animals from their heat signature at night. Although the option is $2,300 alone, you may be forced to accept other extra-cost options to get it (in the sample build I was using, it would have added $13,680 to the vehicle’s configuration).

There is only one powertrain available, a naturally-aspirated 3.6-litre V-6 mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission and an on-demand all-wheel-drive.

The engine, shared with the XT5, produces 310 horsepower and 271 pounds-feet of torque. In day-to-day driving the engine hardly makes itself known, with whisper-quiet operation.

If you want to explore the limits of its power, prepare to put up with a bit of din intruding into the cabin, especially if you switch to manual mode and push the engine in its higher rpm’s.

Despite a curb weight in excess of 2,100 kilograms, the XT6 feels confident and controlled when tossed about on the back roads. Credit has to be given to the adaptive suspension (standard on the Sport and optional on the lesser model) and a twin-clutch rear axle that distributes torque side to side as needed.

Some of that cornering prowess also goes to the vehicle’s 235/55 R20 rubber.

When driven sedately the XT6 also rewards a light foot with fuel consumption in the range of 13.5 in the city and 9.7 on the highway. Engine stop/start is standard.

Among SUVs, three-row seating is a growing segment of the market. When it comes to luxury offerings, the Cadillac shines against established competitors such as the Audi Q7, BMW X5 or Mercedes-Benz GLE. The Europeans may score higher as driver’s cars, but the XT6 prevails because it is thousands, and even more than $10,000 in one case, less than all of them, making it a better value overall.

THE SPEC SHEET

Type: Midsize-plus three-row SUV/Crossover, front engine, all-wheel-drive

Engine: Naturally-aspirated 3.6-litre V-6, 310 hp at 6,600 r.p.m., 271 lb.-ft. of torque at 5,000 r.p.m.

Transmission: Nine-speed automatic

Dimensions (mm): Length, 5,042; width, 1,963; height, 1,775; wheelbase, 2,863

Curb weight (kg): 2,127

Price (base/as tested): $63,798/ $72,238 (includes $2,100 freight and PDI and $100 AC tax)

Options: Metallic paint $900, enhances visibility and technology package $2,705, engine block heater $195, hitch guidance with hitch view $750, navigation (with Bose audio system) $1,250, floor liners $355, cabin filter $85.

Tires: 235/55 R20 on alloy wheels

Fuel type: Regular

Fuel economy (L/100km): 13.5/ 9.7

Warranty: Four years/80,000 km new car, six years/110,000 km powertrain and roadside assistance

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