Cadillac’s new XT6 plays the numbers game

When 367 gets rounded up to 400.

You remember Pinocchio, right?  He’s that fictional wooden puppet whose nose tends to grow when he tells the occasional white lie.

Well, after a week behind the wheel of Cadillac’s brand new XT6 three-row SUV, I’m petitioning for this $55-grand-and-up cute-ute to be renamed. I reckon it should be called The Pinocchio.

It’s not because the Caddy boasts an overly-lengthy snout; it’s actually quiet a nice beak. Big Cadillac shield grille. Slender LED headlights. Head-turning vertical LED blades for daytime running lights.

No, the Pinocchio bit refers to the shiny chrome numbers on the rear tailgate. The bit where it says ‘400’.

The first time I saw the badge I was frankly puzzled. As far as I could tell, nothing about the car relates to 400. Not power – the silky-smooth 3.6-liter V6 under the hood packs 310 horsepower and 217 lb-ft of torque.

I checked the spec sheets, and no 400s in any measurements either. Maybe the number of hours it takes to hand-stitch the leather seats? Or the number of fluid ounces of water in the washer bottle? No.

After a bit of Woodward and Bernstein-style sleuthing, I discovered that the 400 actually refers to the amount of torque the V6 cranks out. In obscure European Newton Metres.

But even this is a big ol’ white lie as the torque number – in Newton Metres – is actually 367. So where does 400 come from? Cadillac says it simply rounds-up the number to a nice round 400.

Seriously? And I’m six-foot-three with six-pack abs.

I know, I know. No big deal, right? But to me, it’s just a little cheesy. A case of Cadillac’s marketeers trying just a little too hard.

But try hard they must as this new XT6 is way late to the three-row crossover ‘game’. Established stars like Volvo’s XC90, Acura’s MDX and Infiniti’s QX60 are hard to fault, while Lincoln’s brilliant, all-new Aviator beats them all on design, power and performance.

That said, the Caddy does have a lot going for it.

Space for one. That tallish roofline ensures no shortage of headroom inside. Even in the third row. Opt for the huge panoramic glass sunroof – standard on the Premium Luxury model I’m driving – and the entire cabin gets flooded with light.

While a second-row, three-across bench seat comes standard, the individual La-Z-Boy captain’s chairs are worth the extra $800. I love how they can slide back to give real limo-like legroom. They make it easier too for kids to get back to the third row.

Talking of which, there’s decent kneeroom back there – even for adults – making the XT6 a proper six or seven-passenger people hauler.

As you’d expect of a Caddy, the materials and fit and finish are excellent. That said, there’s a lot of brittle-feeling hard plastic around, and the quality of the leathers doesn’t match up to what you’ll find in Hyundai’s remarkable new Palisade three-row SUV.

Out on the road, the XT6 is a fine all-rounder. That Teflon-smooth 3.6-liter V6 coupled to a responsive nine-speed automatic delivers athleteic performance and swift passing.

Front-wheel drive is standard on the XT6, but to me it’s well worth the $2,000 it costs to upgrade to all-wheel drive. Greater peace of mind, more dynamic handling. And better for extracting yourself from that muddy ball-field parking lot.

Through the curves, the Caddy’s nicely-weighted steering feels precise and talkative, while the 20-inch rubberware at each corner grips like chewing gum under a table.

For 2020 the XT6 comes in two flavors – there’s a sporty XT6 Pinocchio, sorry Sport, starting at $57,095, or the Premium Luxury, like our tester, from $52,695. Add a few options with either, and it’s not hard to get to $70,000.

Buying one without that silly 400 badge? Priceless.

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