The new Cadillac XT6 presents a conundrum. It has adept handling, decent performance, a silky smooth and quite ride, a large dose of standard features and it presents a good option for those wanting a third-row crossover without all the bulk. Yet, cheaper materials, build issues and a lackluster interior cast doubt on the worthiness of its price tag.

The new XT6 slots itself under the big-boy Escalade, which has now outlived the careers of many of the rappers who flaunted one in their early 2000s music videos. The XT6 still offers three rows of seating, but without the bulk of the Escalade and its associated cost.  

The XT6 comes either Sport or Premium Luxury trim. Luxury models, unsurprisingly, focus on comfort and amenities like wood trim and a chrome grille, while Sport, get ready for this, focuses on driving characteristics.

Sport models come standard with all-wheel drive (optional in Premium Luxury), black exterior highlights, active yaw control and active dampening. Another active feature is a twin-clutch that can adjust power between the left and right rear wheels.

Sport models do live up to the designation. Despite its heft, the XT6 is well-composed through corners and body roll is practically non-existent.

All models are powered by a 3.6-liter V6 offering 310 horsepower and paired with a 9-speed automatic transmission. The naturally aspirated power plant provides decent acceleration with 271 of torque, and response times are relatively swift at cruising speed. Under acceleration, the engine also gives an enjoyable growl.

The transmission is obviously tuned for economy runs. It quickly charges to its high gears to offer 20 combined mpg (17 city/24 highway). But it is so velvety smooth in the process, it isn’t an annoyance. Putting the XT6 in sport mode or using the paddle shifters will keep the revs a bit higher a bit longer if needed. Sport is one of four driving modes along with economical and comfort focused “tour,” and all-wheel drive and off-road setups.

Around town and on the highway the XT6’s active dampening levels out uneven roads and delivers a supremely comfortable ride. Outside noise is also well screened, with only a touch of tire noise coming from the optional 21-inch wheels.

Buyers will have to shell out for those larger wheels, but the XT6 offers a large helping of creature comforts and safety features as standard.

Forward collision alert, automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist, rear cross traffic and blind zone alerts highlight standard safety features. Some available safety options include adaptive cruise control, a rear camera mirror, head-up display and automatic parking assist.

Standard creature comforts include leather throughout, 8-way adjustable power front seats, a sunroof, power folding third row and tri-zone climate control.

The XT6 starts at $53,690 with Sport trim tacking on a little over $4,000 to that price.

My tester was loaded with options, including $3,700 for premium leather seating and door trim, and the Technology Package that included an 8-inch digital instrument cluster and added safety features like surround vision and a head-up display. Also fitted was GM’s Night Vision system, Driver Assist Package, second-row folding captain’s chairs, heated seats throughout and other add-ons. In all, the loaded XT6 came in at a hair over $73,000, which is around the asking price for a well-equipped mid-range Lincoln Aviator, perhaps the XT6’s most direct rival.  

While features can warrant that price point, it is brought into question on some areas. For instance, there are still plenty of hard plastics and some cringe-worthy panel gaps in the cabin. The exterior styling makes the XT6 one of the better looking 3-row offerings, but the interior lacks any eye-catching features apart from golden-hued carbon fiber trim. It is handsome but still missing a wow-factor.

For everyday usability, the XT6’s infotainments system is intuitive and features a rotary controller along with the touchscreen. The controller also features Cadillac’s “jog” function with acts like a joystick to navigate displays on the 8-inch screen.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, wireless charging and 4G Wi-Fi hotspot are all standard. The XT6 also comes with two USB ports in each row.

The center console is narrow but deep and added storage space up front is available under the center console and in cubbies in the doors. Cargo room is limited to 13-cubic feet behind the third row, but that figure expands to a commodious 43-cubes with the third row folded flat. Conveniently, both the middle and rear row are power folding from the rear of the XT6.

Space for passengers is ample in the front and middle row captain’s chairs, and the third row is suitable for adults. Those of average height will have their knees up against middle row seats, but not awkwardly so, and there is enough headroom to keeps necks from scrunching. Because the rear row essentially sits above the wheel wells, seating width is decreased, so back row passengers should be prepared to get familiar with one another.   

The third row also sports a nice feature in stadium-like seating, which allows rear passengers to see through to the front of the cabin.

The XT6 hits a lot of the right luxury buttons, including a sumptuous and quiet ride, plenty of amenities and nice performance. It is also quite spacious without being overly cumbersome. But a look around the cabin with its panel gaps, cheaper materials and so-so styling dampens the XT6 overall.

I like the XT6, but I am not looking to buy one. 

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