Of all the premium luxury SUVs you can buy today, the Cadillac XT6 is definitely one of them. It's not the best, but you could certainly do worse. For 2023, however, Caddy has a particularly compelling trick up its sleeve that makes the XT6 a more compelling option in this highly competitive class: the addition of Super Cruise hands-free highway assist.
Visually, the XT6 hasn't changed much since I last found myself behind the wheel of the 2020 model. The SUV is as handsome as ever with the automaker's angular aesthetic and hallmark vertical LED light signatures at either end. Updates for the 2023 model year include new Latte and Rosewood metallic paint colors, optional 21-inch wheels for the more agile Sport trim level and standard Brembo brakes with red calipers for that same spec. This Premium Luxury model showcases exactly none of those changes, but is noteworthy as the sweet spot in the XT6 lineup.
The entry-level XT6 Luxury is powered by a 2.0-liter, turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine. Its 237 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque are adequate, but I'd recommend bypassing this trim entirely in favor of the Premium Luxury model with its torquier V6 engine, as it feels like a better match for this 198.8-inch long, three-row SUV.
Cadillac's 3.6-liter LGX V6 -- shared with other GM SUVs, including the GMC Acadia and Chevrolet Blazer -- makes 310 hp in this application as well as 271 lb.-ft. of torque. It's a solid performer with good passing power and smooth, quiet operation around town and on the highway. There's nothing to write home about, but the V6 also doesn't draw attention to itself, which is fine for a comfort-focused SUV such as this.
Both engines are offered with a standard nine-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive, but can be had with optional on-demand all-wheel drive for Luxury and Premium Luxury trims, or torque-vectoring Sport Control AWD for the Sport model. A drive mode selector allows the XT6's performance to be tuned for different conditions, including Sport, Snow/Ice or, for AWD models, Off-Road mode, but I don't think most drivers will ever need to switch out of the default Touring setting.
The V6 receives an EPA estimate of 21 mpg combined on regular gas, breaking out to 19 mpg city and 26 mpg highway for front-wheel drive or 18 mpg city and 25 mpg highway for all-wheel drive. The more efficient four-cylinder is estimated at 23 mpg combined -- 21 city and 27 highway, 21 city and 26 highway for FWD or AWD, respectively -- but sips more expensive premium fuel. That means the I4 is more expensive to operate annually than the V6, according to the EPA's cost calculation tools.
The 2023 XT6 is now available with Cadillac's most advanced driver-assistance technology -- but with a catch. The new $2,500 Super Cruise system is still only the first generation of the hands-free highway steering assist and not the latest Super Cruise 2.0 tech capable of automatic lane changes or hands-free towing, as seen on the new Escalade and Chevy Silverado. That means that the XT6 also won't get the recently announced update for use on undivided highways.
That's a bit of a bummer, but Super Cruise 1.0 is still a very impressive piece of technology. On the over 200,000 miles of North American highways laser-scanned by GM, Super Cruise can be activated to provide automated steering, braking and acceleration to a preset speed, keeping the SUV centered in its lane while the driver relaxes hands-free. The Level 2 driver-aid tech requires the driver's attention to operate, so an infrared camera on the steering column makes sure their eyes stay on the road. Look away for too long and the XT6 will ask you to pay attention -- first by flashing red lights on the steering wheel, then with audible alerts -- before eventually handing control back to the human in the hot seat.
Super Cruise works as well here as it did when it debuted back in 2018 on the CT6 sedan, rounding bendy highway segments confidently and reacting predictably to changes in traffic. However, the larger XT6 feels like it crowds the left edge of the lane, which makes it difficult to get truly comfortable in the heavy traffic situations where the tech would be most useful. Admittedly, the lanes around my neck of the woods are a touch narrow, but I'd love it if a future version of Super Cruise allowed me to tweak or trim lane-keeping margins on either side.
Before even getting to Super Cruise, the 2023 XT6 boasts a modern suite of driver-assistance technologies, though many of the best features are bundled into packages at additional cost. The SUV comes standard with forward-collision mitigation with pedestrian detection and a following distance indicator that helps prevent unintentional tailgating.
Stepping up to the $1,300 Driver Assist package adds more robust forward automatic emergency braking, reverse braking assist and automatic seat belt tightening. Upgrade again to the $2,350 Technology package to add a surround-view camera system with onboard digital video recording, rear pedestrian detection, automated parking assist and a rear camera mirror.
That Technology package also swaps in an 8-inch digital instrument cluster and adds onboard navigation to the standard 8-inch touchscreen Cadillac User Experience (CUE) infotainment. CUE is essentially a reskin of the excellent GM Infotainment 3 software with a smartphone-like icon-based interface that has an easy, intuitive learning curve. The system makes use of OnStar LTE Services for features like connected destination search, integration with onboard apps like Spotify or Amazon Alexa, and user profile syncing between vehicles, and which works best when the data subscription is maintained beyond the initial trial period.
Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard with wireless connectivity for drivers who prefer to stream their apps from a smartphone and a snug wireless phone charger integrated into the center console keeps the handset charged on the road.
The 2023 Cadillac XT6 starts at $48,790 for the base front-drive Luxury spec, including the $1,195 destination charge. I'd recommend starting at the Premium Luxury trim level with its better V6 engine and optional Super Cruise, starting at $54,190 or $56,190 with all-wheel drive.
My example has nearly every option listed above and a $5,000 Platinum package upgrade that adds, among other creature comforts, premium leather and an adaptive suspension. (Mine also includes a $50 credit to compensate for the lack of heated rear seats due to supply-chain shortages with a provision for a retrofit once parts stock returns to normal levels.) The bottom line, as tested, sits at $72,790.
The XT6 is a quiet and comfortable cruiser with a solid suite of standard cabin tech and optional driver aid options. But overall, it feels like a middle-of-the-pack player when stacked against the formidable competition in this price range, including the BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class and Acura MDX -- any of which would deliver a better overall driving experience. That said, the addition of Super Cruise this year shakes things up significantly. Even without the latest and greatest generation of the tech, the Caddy is now the only vehicle in its class that can go hands-free at high speed. That makes the 2023 Cadillac XT6 at least one of the most interesting vehicles in this class.