Cadillac: Whisper-quiet interior contributes to an enjoyable first-class ride

The XT6 has room for up to seven people spread across three rows of seats (or six people with the optional second-ow bucket seats).

the XT5, with the rear rows folded forward. With the third-row bench in use, there's not a great deal of stowage space to be had in the XT6.

Similarities between the two models carry through to the interior where the two dashboards differ only slightly. The XT6's unconventional gear changer takes some getting used to since you toggle, rather than shift, your selections. Beside it, a rotary dial controls the various functions (i.e. infotainment, navigation, etc.) displayed on the 8-inch touch-screen.

The XT6 scores points for its supportive yet cushy seats and a whisper-quiet interior that contributes to an enjoyable first-class ride.

Pressing the starter button brings to life a 3.6-liter V-6 that's common to the XT5 and a number of other General Motors vehicles. It's rated at 310 horsepower and 271 pound-feet of torque. A nine-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters directs power to the front or, optionally, all four wheels.

Fuel economy is pegged at 18 mpg city, 25 mpg on the highway and 20 mpg combined.

According to Cadillac, it takes 6.9 seconds to launch the XT6 to 60 mph from rest. That's reasonably rapid for a vehicle weighing in the 4,400 to 4,600 pound range, not that it will matter much to most buyers. But the available power is plentiful and comes on seamlessly. The smooth-shifting transmission also reacts quickly and always seems to be in the right gear, no matter the speed or the throttle position.

Although front-wheel drive is standard with the $54,300 (including destination charges) base Premium Luxury trim level, most buyers will likely opt for the $2,000 all-wheel drive. Either way, you get tri-zone climate control, leather upholstery, power liftgate, power-folding third-row seat, panoramic sunroof and an eight-speaker Bose-brand audio system, to name just some of the standard goodies.

The XT6 Sport adds blacked-out grille and trim, carbon-fiber interior fittings, heavy-duty cooling system, dynamic (constantly adjusting) sport suspension and a twin-clutch rear axle. This feature allows all available torque to be directed to either outside wheel when turning (known as torque vectoring).

Options for the Premium Luxury and Sport include automatic parking assist, trailer hitch guidance (the XT6 has a 4,000-pound towing capacity), reverse automatic braking, head-up information display and an infrared night-vision camera that can detect and track otherwise unseen people or animals beyond headlight range.

For families with kids and/or for people requiring more cargo room, selecting the XT6 over the XT5 might be the smart play, especially when the only Cadillac wagon larger than the XT5 used to be the Escalade.

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