If looks could thrill. SUVs are intended to make a style statement, but Cadillac’s 2023 XT6 clearly missed that memo. From the front, this mid-size SUV looks handsome enough, with its aggressive narrow headlamps and plethora of creases; you’ll look in vain for a curve nose-on. At the side, it’s just a solid block of Tennessee metal, while the rear taillights look like they were grafted on from a completely different vehicle. The car looks best from the front quarter angle, combined with large alloy wheels and a bold paint color. In more neutral shades, it appears too slab-sided and dull.

Lots of space if you travel light. You can fit seven people in the XT6, but our preference is for the six-seater configuration. Here, well-spaced center-row captain’s chairs tip forwards to reveal a reasonably wide and accommodating third row. There’s less than 30 inches of legroom in the back, which is a full ten inches less than middle-row occupants receive. Even they will be envious of the more comfortable front seats, which are also heated on all models. Synthetic leather is fitted to base Premium models, helping to keep their sticker price just below $50,000, while upping your budget to $56,200 accesses mid-range Premium Luxury’s real leather and power-folding third row. We certainly wouldn’t advocate dropping as much as $80,000 on a fully loaded XT6 – for that money, superior European rivals are available.

The downside to this generous (if surprisingly narrow) cabin lies in a triangular cargo area measuring just 11 cubic feet. That’s poor in a car intended to haul half a dozen passengers. Ironically, dropping people off at the bus stop transforms the XT6 into a serious load-lugger, with almost 80 cubes once the second and third-row seats are lowered. If you decide to keep your passengers on board, they’ll appreciate the high roofline and generous glass area, if not the rather dull cabin design. There’s no wow factor here, and even though higher trims try to add some points of interest with nicer materials, the overall effect is dated and disappointing.

2022 Cadillac XT6 Interior

Choose your engine carefully. It seems a curious decision to drop a 235 hp two-liter engine into a vehicle weighing around 4,400 lb, even if that engine is turbocharged. You don’t even benefit from impressive fuel economy, with combined figures of just 23 mpg. That’s a couple of mpg higher than the returns from the 3.6-liter V6, which supplies 310 horses through a nine-speed automatic transmission to the front wheels. AWD is an option, but it has an annoying 2WD mode that can easily be forgotten about as conditions deteriorate.

At least you’ll be comfortable while you slither around looking for the AWD button. Every XT6 rides very well, and you don’t need to specify optional adaptive dampers to appreciate the car’s supple ride. Even bigger wheels don’t ruin the party, as they do on other SUVs. The inevitable trade-off comes in terms of handling, with this heavy, soft-sprung car failing to impress when the steering wheel leaves the center position.

Safety first. There’s a lot to discuss regarding safety, most of it positive. Firstly, the XT6 has received high scores from both the NHTSA and IIHS. Every model has active lane control, blind spot monitoring, and automatic emergency braking, while you can add a surround-view camera system and adaptive cruise as options. Speaking of which, we love Caddy’s Super Cruise highway driving assistance, but multiple other extras have to be added before you can specify it. What should be a $2,500 upgrade ends up costing almost four times as much, though it’s still a superb addition for regular freeway commuters.

Final thoughts. The XT6 isn’t a heart-warming product. It doesn’t do anything in new or exciting ways, it’s not much of a driver’s car even in Sport trim, and the cargo capacity is dismal when fully loaded. It’s expensive to fuel, and desirable options like Super Cruise end up costing a significant percentage over and above the car’s total price.

If that’s not enough to put you off, this is a comfortable and refined way to transport six people (or seven at a push). The bigger V6 engine is perfectly mated to a slick-shifting transmission that suits the lazy nature of this softly-sprung SUV – it’s a great car to be driven in. Add in generous safety kit and a solid crash test record, and there’s a lot to admire.

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