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2021 Cadillac XT6 Review

The 2021 Cadillac XT6 luxury midsize 3-row SUV/crossover is modern, capable, arguably attractive, relatively affordable, and comes with many great features. That’s the good news. The bad news is that XT6 is not exceptional, which is a bit of a disappointment considering Cadillac had a lot of time to check out the competition before launching it last year.

It shares a platform with the Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse, and GMC Acadia. And that’s fine. These vehicles all have plenty of passenger space. The XT6 represents the highest level. And even though its range only consists of three versions, each one has its own particular appeal. 

What’s New for 2021?

A new Luxury trim becomes the XT6’s entry-level model, bringing the total number of trims to three. Wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration is fitted as standard throughout the range. A new design of 20-inch alloy wheel is available for the top Sport trim. Dark Moon Blue Metallic, Wilder, and Infrared Tintcoat are fresh exterior paintwork choices. See the 2021 Cadillac XT6 models for sale near you

What We Like

Comfort in all three rows

Competitive pricing

Several standard driver aids

Arguably stylish

What We Don’t

Sport trim has handling upgrades, but no more muscle

So-so power levels

No hybrid alternative

Limited luggage area

How Much?

$48,990-$58,190

Fuel Economy

In entry-level Luxury trim, the 2021 XT6 has a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine making 237 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. This engine is linked to a 9-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel-drive (FWD) is the standard setup, all-wheel drive (AWD) is optional.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates fuel consumption at 21 miles per gallon in the city, 27 mpg on the highway, and 23 mpg in combined driving (FWD) or 21 mpg city/26 mpg highway/23 mpg combined (AWD).

Premium Luxury and Sport versions have a naturally aspirated 3.6-liter V6 engine developing 310 horsepower and 271 lb-ft of torque. Once again, a 9-speed automatic transmission is in the picture.

Premium Luxury has front-wheel drive as standard and all-wheel drive with a single-clutch rear axle as an option. Sport trim has a model-specific torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system with an electronic twin-clutch rear axle as standard.

EPA fuel consumption estimates for this engine are 19 mpg city/26 mpg hwy/21 mpg combined (FWD) or 18 mpg city/25 mpg highway/21 mpg combined.

Towing capacity is 1,000 pounds with the 4-cylinder engine, 4,000 pounds with the V6.

Standard Features and Options

The 2021 Cadillac XT6 luxury SUV comes in Luxury, Premium Luxury and Sport trim levels. Adding all-wheel drive as an option to the lower two trims costs $2,000.

The new-for-2021 Luxury trim ($48,990) has the 4-cylinder engine and seating for seven. Standard driver assistance features include forward collision warning with pedestrian detection and low-speed automatic emergency braking, following distance indicator, lane-keeping assistance/lane departure warning, Safety Alert driver’s seat, front/rear parking sensors, and a high-definition rearview camera.

Also included are 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic on/off LED headlights, LED daytime running lights, powered sunroof, roof rails, heated side mirrors, capless fuel filler, keyless entry/ignition, active noise cancellation, tri-zone automatic climate control, self-dimming rearview mirror, simulated leather upholstery, leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated/power-adjustable front seats (8-way for the driver, 6-way for the passenger), powered liftgate, universal garage door opener, 8-inch infotainment touchscreen, wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration, two Type-A USB ports, four Type-C USB ports, Wi-fi, satellite radio, and an 8-speaker Bose audio system.

Premium Luxury ($53,790) brings the V6 engine, 20-inch alloy wheels, self-dimming drivers-side mirror, hands-free tailgate operation, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, rain-sensing wipers, leather seating surfaces, heated/power-adjustable steering wheel, driver’s-side memory settings, exotic wood interior trim, wireless smartphone charging, and a vehicle alarm.

Sport ($58,190) has its own torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system, a sport-tuned adaptive suspension, and 20-inch alloy wheels. Other than these items, the main differentiators are blacked-out exterior elements and carbon-fiber interior accents.

A DVD-based rear-seat entertainment system with dual 8-inch screens and two pairs of wireless headphones is offered in all trims, as well as a programmable Teen Driver key.

Premium Luxury and Sport are eligible for a greater number of extras. A Platinum package brings semi-aniline leather upholstery, a simulated suede headliner, and an adaptive suspension for the Premium Luxury version.

An Enhanced Visibility and Technology package includes a head-up display, rearview camera mirror (with washer), 360-degree camera system with a recording function, rear pedestrian alert, and automatic parking assistance with braking.

Other options include heated/ventilated front seats, heated outboard second-row seats, second-row captain’s chairs (reducing the body count to six), cabin air ionizer, navigation, adaptive cruise control with stop/go, and an upgraded 14-speaker Bose sound system.

Sport trim can also be ordered with 21-in alloy wheels.

Safety

The 2021 XT6 has seven airbags, electronic traction control, anti-lock brakes, forward collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assistance/lane-departure warning, front/rear parking sensors, high-definition rearview camera, OnStar and Cadillac Connected services, passenger sensing system, Safety Alert Seat, and a tire pressure monitoring system.

Optional safety features include adaptive cruise control with stop/go, automatic parking assistance with braking, automatic seat belt tightening, enhanced automatic emergency braking, night vision, rear pedestrian alert, 360-degree camera system/recorder, and a rear camera mirror with a washer.

Behind the Wheel

Some other luxury midsize crossovers also kick off their ranges with turbocharged 4-cylinder engines, like the Audi Q7 and Mercedes-Benz GLE 350. However, both of those examples are more powerful than the XT6’s and still don’t exactly set the tarmac alight. The XT6’s 3.6-liter V6 delivers decent power and the 9-speed automatic transmission does a good job of keeping the engine in the right rev range.

On dry public roads at speeds below 45 mph, it’s hard to tell the difference between the top two trims’ all-wheel-drive systems. Higher speeds and more challenging conditions like rain and snow give an edge to the Sport version.

Sport trim’s adaptive suspension delivers a stiffer ride than the Premium Luxury’s regular setup. Styling differences between these two trim levels and the contrasting driving experiences will be a matter of taste and budget, but the Sport would still be the enthusiast’s choice.

With either engine, the cabin is quiet, even under heavy throttle. The interior is more than pleasant and has some clever storage spots. There’s plenty of room in the second row for adults, and the third row is accessed easily by a one-handed flip of the second row.

The center console has an ingenious slot that houses a wireless device charger. A jog/shuttle rotary controller in the center console is for the infotainment system and the 8-in color touchscreen on the dash.

There are 12.6 cubic feet of luggage space behind the third row, not much compared with the competition. But folding down the second and third seating rows reveals a considerable 78.7 cubic feet of maximum cargo volume.

Other Cars to Consider

2021 Lexus RX LLexus’s most popular crossover now offers a longer variant with a third row.

2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE Class — An absolutely superb luxury midsize SUV. This fresh generation has an optional third seating row. 

2021 BMW X7 — The biggest BMW ever built has three rows of seating as standard. It’s pretty much a stretched X5.

2021 Audi Q7 — Appreciably pricier than the XT6, but brimming with Audi style inside and out. It’s also highly capable.

2021 Lincoln Aviator — Up on power over the XT6, but not much more expensive. Spacious and sumptuous.

2021 Genesis GV80 — An all-new luxury SUV this year, with the usual Genesis formula of abundant features at keen prices.

2021 Volvo XC90 — Gorgeous cabin, arguably great exterior styling, plenty of standard safety features, hybrid version offered.

2021 Buick Enclave — Shares a platform with the XT6, but offers the chance to enter the luxury class at a lower price with simpler standard features and options.

Used Cadillac Escalade — For massive interior space, plenty of cargo capacity, a thundering V8 engine, and monumental presence, a used Escalade can be acquired for the price of a new XT6. Check out Cadillac’s certified pre-owned (CPO) program.

Questions You May Ask

How does the 2021 Cadillac XT6 compare with the Lincoln Aviator?

The Lincoln Aviator costs a bit more than the XT6 in Luxury trim, but it has more horsepower as standard. There’s also a plug-in hybrid model. However, the XT6 has a larger 3rd-row seat. Both vehicles offer similar levels of active and passive safety features, most as standard equipment.

Where is the 2021 Cadillac XT6 built?

At General Motors’ plant in Springhill, Tennessee.

Is there a V performance version of the XT6?

No. The closest the 2021 XT6 comes is the Sport trim, with a sport-tuned active suspension, quicker steering, and a torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system for optimum cornering ability.

Autotrader’s Advice

Although the Premium Luxury version is tempting, it’s approaching the price territories of more desirable alternatives. The Luxury trim is the most affordable, yet still has all the XT6 style. Find a Cadillac XT6 for sale

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