In its latest attempt at reinvention, Cadillac has created a trio of admirable sedans — the ATS, CTS, and CT6 — cars that challenge or beat the competition on their own terms, and do so with audacious exterior styling rendered in a distinctly American idiom.
“I guess we had so many priorities and had to decide what’s the most important thing,” says Andrew Smith, Cadillac’s executive director of design. “We decided to approach this one from an interior perspective, to do things like provide ease of use for owners, upgrade the infotainment, and allow time for ourselves to learn lessons from the launch of XT4.”
The XT6 doesn’t exactly break any new ground within the segment, but that’s not necessarily a criticism. Though huge from a sales perspective, the two-box crossover category is not the industry’s leader in beauty or innovation.
“Our biggest challenge was giving the vehicle a character that works on this scale and platform,” says Smith. “We want to make sure all of our cars feel different. We didn’t want it to be a mini Escalade. No one wants a mini anything. But we wanted to give it Escalade presence, but in scale. So it’s this combination of nice, and aggressive. I’m convinced we will sell more than we think we’ll sell.”
Maybe he’s right, and we definitely don’t see this vehicle cannibalizing sales of the Escalade. People who want a bold Cadillac can still get that one, and will have a brand new option later this year, we expect, when a new Escalade is released.
The car’s interior has a similarly dissonant feel to it, bifurcated between successful and less successful design traits. The packaging is quite clever. Working from the short-bus version of GM’s three-row crossover platform that underpins the GMC Acadia, instead of the nine-inch longer one beneath the Buick Enclave and Chevy Traverse,
“We came back from all the market research we did, and we realized that we are developing plenty of SUVs. Each must have a clear role,” says Smith. “By pushing up the roof and pushing out the track, we could maximize interior space, and allow us to make sure the size was right for easy entry and exit to the third row. This is what the customer is looking for in this segment. Internally, we defined the customer as a woman who is CEO of everything.”