Visually, the XT6 hasn’t changed much since I last found myself behind the wheel of the 2020 model. The SUV looks great with its angular exterior and the distinctive vertical LED light signatures on either side. For the 2023 model-year, there are new Latte or Rosewood metallic paint colors and optional 21-inch wheels for Sport trim levels. Standard Brembo brakes will also be available with red calipers. Although the Premium Luxury model has no such changes, it is notable as the sweet spot of the XT6 lineup.

3.6-liter V6 engine

The entry-level XT6 Luxury is powered by a 2.0-liter, turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine. Its 237 horsepower & 258 poundfeet are adequate. However, I would recommend you to switch to the Premium Luxury model with the more powerful V6 engine. It is a better match for this long, 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 reliable performer that can handle heavy traffic and is quiet on the highway as well as passing power. The V6 isn’t anything to be proud of, but it doesn’t draw attention too much to itself, which is good for a comfortable SUV like this. 

Both engines come standard with a nine-speed automatic transmission and front wheel drive. However, you can have an optional on-demand allwheel drive for Luxury or Premium Luxury trims or torque-vectoring Sport Control for the Sport model. An optional drive mode selector allows the XT6 to be tuned for different conditions such as Sport, Snow/Ice and, for AWD models. However, I don’t believe most drivers will ever need the Touring setting.

The V6 gets an EPA estimate of 21 mpg on regular gasoline. This breaks down to 19 mpg in the city and 26 mpg at highway for front-wheel-drive, or 18 mpg in the city and 25 mpg at highway for all-wheel-drive. The four-cylinder with more efficiency is estimated to get 23 mpg combined (21 city, 27 highway, 21 cities, 26 highway for FWD or all-wheel drive), but it consumes more premium fuel. According to the EPA’s cost calculation tools, the I4 is more costly to operate annually than V6.

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The XT6 comes standard with 18-inch wheels. Premium Luxury (pictured), increases to 20s with up 21-inch wheels.

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Cadillac Super Cruise

The 2023 XT6 is now available with Cadillac’s most advanced driver-assistance technology — but with a catch. The new Super Cruise system costs $2,500 and is the first generation to offer hands-free highway steering. 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.

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Color-coded steering wheel lights indicate Super Cruise’s state: Green for hands-free, blue for manual control and red means grab the wheel immediately.

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A stacked driver-aid suite

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.

Cadillac User Experience

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.

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The 8-inch Cadillac User Experience tech isn’t flashy, but it’s intuitively organized and easy to use.

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The 8-inch Cadillac User Experience tech isn’t flashy, but it’s intuitively organized and easy to use.

Antuan Goodwin/CNET

An interesting choice

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.