By on March 7, 2019

Image: GM

Americans gain two new domestic midsizers for the 2020 model year, and both of the premium crossover rivals take a different approach in how they propel their human cargo.

The Cadillac XT6, which debuted in Detroit in January and hits dealers this summer, adopts front-drive architecture; the 2020 Lincoln Aviator goes a different route, donning Ford’s rear-drive CD6 platform. It’s V6 power only for both, though Lincoln will slap on a potent plug-in hybrid system for added power and expense.

While pricing lines up closely on the bottom end, Lincoln has the edge.

A base XT6 Premium Luxury FWD retails for $53,690 after destination, Cadillac announced today, placing the three-row vehicle $1,495 above the starting price of an Aviator Standard. Perhaps RWD is an additional perk for some buyers?

All XT6 trims carry the same powertrain: GM’s trusty 3.6-liter V6, good for 310 hp and 271 lb-ft of torque, paired with a nine-speed automatic. Lincoln chose a Continental-sourced twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 for its new ride, mating it with a 10-speed automatic. Output is an even 400 hp and 400 lb-ft.

Sadly, the XT6 isn’t yet on Cadillac’s build and price site, though the automaker did say all-wheel drive comes standard on the XT6 Sport, which starts at $58,090 after destination. Buyers can outfit a base Aviator with AWD for the after-destination sum of $54,695. While base model (well, “Premium Luxury”) XT6 buyers can also add AWD, the automaker hasn’t revealed that particular trim’s price.

As we told you already, the availability of a 450 hp, 600 lb-ft hybrid drivetrain and Black Label trappings pushes the Aviator’s price ceiling to within striking distance of the Navigator flagship (and stratosphere), surely beyond the borders of the XT6’s price envelope. Automakers are always glad to take whatever extra cash you have in your account.

GM

It’s on the lower end where much of a vehicle’s volume lies, and here is where Caddy and Lincoln will really do battle, searching for bragging rights. Neither vehicle forgoes a high level of standard content. Both XT6 and Aviator boast a healthy list of standard safety features, including automatic emergency braking, though the Aviator’s touchscreen (10 inches) beats the XT6’s 8.0-inch unit.

Cadillac’s base model wins in the wheel size challenge with standard 20-inchers. However, depending on the condition of the roads in your area, this may not be a selling point. The GM vehicle also carries the automaker’s Rear Seat Reminder, a feature not available on the Lincoln.

As for that starting price, at least one full-line GM dealer thinks it might be too high.

Speaking to the Detroit Free Press, Lynn Thompson, co-owner of Thompson Motor Sales in Springfield, Missouri, said, “Will (XT6) sell at that price? I’m not sure. With pricing it seems like everything’s gotten so high and analysts are saying that prices have gone up so much it’s hurting new vehicle sales. We’re seeing it too. Our used car sales are doing real good, but new is suffering.”

Thompson noted that, through the end of February, his store’s Cadillac sales were down 2 percent. In contrast, GMC sales rose 10 percent.

[Images: General Motors]

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57 Comments on “Premium Price War: 2020 Cadillac XT6 Starts Above Rival Lincoln Aviator...”


  • avatar
    mmreeses

    Since I had to look this up as it isn’t mentioned in the article—-supposedly the XT6 is 198.8 inches. I’d call that full-sized, but that’s just me.

    And so I’d label the XT6 as the XT7 to be consistent against the Q7, which is ~200 inches.

    Unless somehow Cadillac imagines fielding an XT7, XT8, and XT9

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Kudos to the Detroit Free Press for that bit of reality.

  • avatar
    Lichtronamo

    I saw the XT6 at the Chicago Auto Show. IMO, to say its underwhelming looking is being charitable. The Aviator is exceptionally better looking and comparable with X5/X7 and GLE in appearance, as well as the more FWD looking Q7 or XC90. The XT6 isn’t even as attractive as the Buick Enclave. Get ready for the incentives! And as good as the Lincoln looks, both they and Cadillac need to be realistic and understand that they do not sell “luxury” in the same class as BMW, MB, and to a lesser extent Audi. Both Lincoln and Cadillac need to adopt the Lexus start-up strategy (as Hyundai has with Genesis) of more car for less money.

    • 0 avatar
      wooootles

      For a while, Cadillac has adapted the “start-up” strategy on the Cadillac CTS (and CTS-V): price it closer to a 3-series, then size it close to a 5-series.

      Then Johan decided to jack up the pricing structure to make it “more competitive” with the Germans. Or something backwards like that.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        Johan et al were trying to play perceived value games.

        Some things seem more valuable if you pay more for them, regardless of the actual utility (Veblen goods). Really expensive handbags are an example of this. Cadillac wants to be an example of this.

        But, nobody brags about how much they spent on their Cadillac, at least not during my lifetime. Nobody thinks that a more expensive Cadillac is necessarily a better Cadillac. Cadillac’s brand just isn’t strong enough to flip price theory on its head.

  • avatar

    Right, so the Aviator is rear-drive, cheaper, and has 90 more horsepower. It’s also subjectively better looking than this Telluride type mess.

    Cmon Cadillac.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      +1 the Lincoln is the better bet for all these reasons. It is also not like Cadillac discounts much more than Lincoln.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      No kidding.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Agreed 100%, but everyone thought the same thing about the Navigator, and the Escalade more than held its’ own.

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        That isn’t the mystery to me. Not everyone is cut out to be a Ford customer. You have to be willing to say things like, “this is my sixth F250, and every one of them has suffered complete brake failure from broken brake lines!” True story. I’m about two beers away from putting the idiot’s contact information on here with his quote.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus

          That post explains a lot. Have another 8 beers and tell us all about how the million or so people who buy an F-Series each year have constant problems and only tell you about it.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            If vehicles were as unreliable as Todd proclaims then it would be coin-flip odds on making it to work 5 days in row without your ride puking its guts everywhere and the roads would be lined with the smoldering husks of anything that isn’t a Land Cruiser or a ’96 Camry.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        Right, but that was when Ford swept the market with the then-new Navigator, and Cadillac responded with an Escalade that was quite literally a Yukon Denali with the badges swapped (same bumpers, lights, wheels, and everything). Ever since then, the Escalade has gotten incrementally better.

        Meanwhile, Ford created the segment (full-size luxury BOF SUV) and then sort of gave up trying, until the excellent 2018 Navigator. Now, I’d say they’re back on par with one another in terms of quality. Although it will take Lincoln a bit of time–and probably some standalone dealerships–to catch up in terms of sales.

    • 0 avatar
      Hydromatic

      Even the Telluride looks more like a Cadillac than the actual Cadillac. I hate to get all DW about this, but the XT6 is a swing-and-a-miss from GM.

      • 0 avatar
        threeer

        Hydromatic…this. The Telluride (and cousin Palisade) look infinitely more upscale than the XT6. The XT6 looks like GM just did enough to say they have a vehicle in the class, but nothing more.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      That’s just it. I think it’s a case of:

      Cadillac mentality — let’s just create something that’s cheap to make, but that’s styled well-enough and that “ticks all the boxes.”

      versus

      Lincoln mentality — let’s invest in a product that’s actually *good* and worthy of our badge, and then hopefully reap the rewards long-term.

      I do not think that GM even considered the Aviator (especially because it hadn’t been revealed in its entirety) when creating the XT6. I think they figured out that they needed a product in this segment, and that creating a tweaked C1XX variant was the quickest way to do it. I suspect the XT6 will be successful in garnering or retaining customers—because, let’s be real, real-life people aren’t nearly as discerning as we enthusiasts claim to be—and that GM will see no need to improve, doing much the same damage to the Cadillac brand as it did with the original Seville.

  • avatar
    SV

    Given how underwhelming it is I figured the XT6 would start at a solid discount vs. the Aviator. In Jalopnik parlance, that price is solidly crack pipe. Forget the Lincoln, this is nearly five thousand dollars more than an RX350L, which is a much closer match on paper.

    GM’s parsimony with respect to standard safety features seems to have paid off so far, so we’ll see how this latest cynical strategy to shore up their profits works out. Up until now anything vaguely SUV-shaped tends to fly off the lots regardless of the value equation but as the market grows ever more saturated I wonder if that will change.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      The RX also has a third seat that’s basically not usable.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Well, the other issue is that GM really boxed itself in with the Enclave, which was heretofore the company’s nicest three-row crossover. And, although larger, the Enclave needed to cost considerably less than the XT6.

      Hence, the XT6 is extremely overpriced.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    On the surface, this doesn’t look like much of a contest. Then again, how many people got on here to say Navigator would clean the Escalade’s clocks? Turns out, the Escalade had its’ best year ever, and outsold the Lincoln by over two to one. Go figure.

    Given a choice between A) the Caddy, and B) the Lincoln, I know what choice I’d (C, None of the above), but we’ll have to wait to see what the market says.

    (By the way, I suspect the Caddy’s FWD architecture might make it a better people/stuff-hauler than the Lincoln.)

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      Fair point, but the Escalade is an established name ate. These are both new, so I think Lincoln will win.

      As someone earlier said, as the market gets more saturated people will be more discerning and not just buy any SUV because it is an SUV.

      • 0 avatar
        EBFlex

        ” but the Escalade is an established name ate. These are both new”

        Pretty sure the Aviator is a recycled nameplate.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus

          And that has what to do with his point? These are both new entries into the segment at roughly the same time. The Lincoln has distinct advantages and somehow Cadillac thinks their Acadia clone is worth more because it has 90 less hp and a cheap interior.

          Sales of the Navigator have increased significantly over the past year and are continuing to rise. Cadillac has increased incentives to ward off the assault. Anyone who drives both will likely buy the Lincoln.

          • 0 avatar
            jack4x

            The Escalade at least has the 6.2L as a selling point for those who care about such things. The Navigator interior is unquestionably nicer, but a V8 still matters to some.

            The XT6 will have no such killer app compared to the Aviator, and I don’t think it will have anything close to the same success as big brother.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            The Escalade ended the year up about 60%, John.

            http://www.goodcarbadcar.net/2011/01/cadillac-escalade-sales-figures/

            Surprised the heck out of me, that’s for sure – I’m no fan of this kind of vehicle, but the Navigator’s slick as hell, and I figured it would have taken a piece of the Escalade’s sales. Clearly that didn’t happen.

            I think the Aviator is probably the better vehicle; I’d certainly choose it over the XT6 if that’s the kind of vehicle I had to have. But people are unpredictable. You never know. I bet the XT6 will appeal more to people who need to haul kids and stuff, and that’s not an inconsequential piece of this market. We’ll see. Just don’t be surprised if the Caddy doesn’t bomb.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    Lincoln = all new

    XT6 = warmed over Traverse

    Thanks, but no thanks. Truly, GM is beyond pathetic sometimes.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      No other Ford brands sell a version of the Aviator?

      Wait, I seem to remember something called the “Explorer”…

      I’d say both brands are guilty of selling warmed over versions of non-luxury vehicles here.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        That doesnt take away from his point that you could buy a slightly different version of the Cadillac at your local GMC dealer for going on 3 years now, whereas the Aviator is new (and not just a new version of an existing vehicle).

        From the looks of it, and the comments by those who have seen both, it’s clear that the platform (as well as the interior and powertrain) for the Aviator was designed with a premium vehicle in mind from the start, as opposed to Cadillac adding some lipstick and $10k to the sticker of a cheaper vehicle with the same engine.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          “That doesnt take away from his point that you could buy a slightly different version of the Cadillac at your local GMC dealer for going on 3 years now, whereas the Aviator is new (and not just a new version of an existing vehicle).”

          I don’t think that’s a particularly relevant point. I don’t even think anyone will care (if they even know) that the XT6 is related to the other C1XX vehicles, nor that the Aviator shares a platform with the Explorer. And they especially won’t care that the XT6’s platform isn’t brand-new.

          I think they’ll care whether or not the XT6 feels like a luxury car versus the competition. Which it won’t.

          • 0 avatar
            dwford

            The problem the XT6 has is the Enclave. It’s bigger, as luxurious, and way cheaper. The Acadia is smaller and cheaper, but not as luxurious, even in Denali trim. So 2 good options right in the same showroom. The XT6 has none of the street cred of an Escalade, so its doubtful anyone would come to the Cadillac showroom looking to be a baller in an XT6, so the more practical shoppers (old white people) who show up at the local Cadillac/Buick/GMC dealer will see better values beside the XT6 in the showroom.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            You guys assume the Enclave – and Buick – sticks around. I wouldn’t bet the house on that. If Buick went away, it’d free Cadillac up to either move downmarket, or offer more downmarket products to go along with the high-priced stuff, like all its’ competitors do.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            How many Cadillac/Buick dealers do you guys know?

            I know a few Chevrolet/Cadillac dealers… I know of a few Buick/GMC/Chevrolet dealers… I don’t know any Cadillac dealers that aren’t hooked up with Chevy.

            If GM had universal stores this would be a problem, but I don’t see it that way.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            My impression is that as you get into bigger cities, and especially as you move east, there are more standalone Caddy stores.

            Here in greater Denver, there are four dealers – two are standalones, one is a Cadillac/Chevy “autoplex” with separate facilities on the same property, and the other is Caddy/Buick/GMC.

            Bark wrote an article not too long ago predicting the demise of Buick, and based on the half-a$$ed product mix they’ve got these days (yes, I know you like the Regal wagon, but you get my point), I don’t think he’s that far off base.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            @Freed

            I think Buick is kind of “half-a$$ed” too… I’ll bet my Uncle thought that in the 70s but he still drove his “Buick by Opel” in those days. ;-)

            I think that Buick will either die or become the first GM brand to go ALL CUV.

            FYI my local Buick dealer is doing OK selling Sportbacks but fairly lightly optioned. (Cloth seats FWD) And largely snagging the former Grand Am/Alero/Verano customer.

            They’re also doing ok selling Envisons but only to that nice little old widowed lady at church who needs something larger than the Encore her sister drives.

  • avatar
    dwford

    Cadillac has been playing the WTF?? pricing strategy for a while now. Remember the $75k ELR (twice the price of the Volt for essentially the same car underneath). They really figure that if people see Cadillacs priced like German luxury cars that people will assume they are comparable. It doesn’t work like that.

  • avatar
    jimble

    Nice looking Subaru you got there, Cadillac.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I don’t understand why Cadillac leveraged an expensive RWD-based platform on a slow-selling sedan (the CT6), and one that competes with such not-quite-flagships as the RLX, S90, and Q70L…which is a sorry and unprofitable class in which to be. Not only that, but the CT6 is Omega’s sole application for the moment. They’ve not confirmed whether the upcoming CT5 will use the Omega architecture.

    Anyway, why not take Omega (which had to have cost *at least* as much as the Aviator/Explorer’s CD6 architecture) and use it to create a genuine sub-Escalade luxury SUV with better proportions? Or did they figure it was cheaper to generate some quick cash by using the C1XX platform, tweaking a few dimensions, and cutting and pasting the dashboard from the XT5?

    Either way, this may be short-term profitable, but it will probably damage the Cadillac brand in the long run.

    • 0 avatar
      dwford

      Excellent point. Maybe that platform won’t make a good crossover. But it does ask the question why GM spent so much money to create that platform that is barely selling.

      The XT6 is nothing more than a zero effort cash grab, which is made even more terrible by being 10 years late. Then they have the nerve to price it higher than the Aviator, which Lincoln obviously put a lot of work into. I truly don’t understand what buyer could make the case to buy the XT6 over the competition, other than blind loyalty. Especially when you have a larger, cheaper, but comparably luxurious Enclave sitting in the same showroom.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        Yeah. At least Ford is using CD6, which must have cost a boatload to engineer, on vehicles that are actually profitable. Also, I hear that CD6 can simultaneously support transverse-FWD and longitude-RWD applications, meaning that it’ll probably be in everything midsize and larger…which justifies a lot of should-be-RWD vehicles.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Could be they wanted a FWD platform to maximize utility, and that’s not an inconsequential thing to lots of buyers in this particular market.

      But I think Kyree’s right – this was a way to quickly push something into a niche they needed to be in.

      • 0 avatar
        dwford

        I don’t think it matters if it’s FWD or RWD based, it’s more that the XT6 seems like a lazy, quick design, which is ridiculous since Caddy is 10 years late to the segment and considering the competition.

        I’m really shocked that GM didn’t price it better once the Aviator came out. Surely they were embarrassed to release the XT6 considering what Lincoln did with the Aviator.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Fellas, Cadillac isn’t a premium brand. It’s barely a mid-lux brand. Pricing it 30% above where it should be isn’t fooling anyone but those fooling themselves in Cadillac ‘leadership’.

    “It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong.”

    – Thomas Sowell

  • avatar

    The XT6’s styling is a mess. From the front the XT6 is over-styled, and from the side it is woefully bland. Styling wise it gets the worst of both worlds. In one of those rare cases the Lincoln wins here hands down. However, in this market segment good taste does not always win. Don’t be surprised if the XT6 becomes a hit like the equally vulgar Escalade. I am always amazed that the over-priced Escalade continues to be a hit despite pretty poor reviews. Consumer Reports pretty much ranks the Escalade at the bottom of its SUV list.

  • avatar
    SC5door

    Cadillac certainly did a bunt with the XT6, it’s a rush job to get something out to market without regard for anything else coming to market. I guarantee the pricing on this is to try and recoup tooling costs as quickly as possible.

    Lincoln on the other hand finally understands that they need to move away from Ford. They didn’t do it on the Continental, they sorta “got it” on the Navigator, they finally get it on Aviator. It’s very good on the inside—the materials are rich and I don’t know of anything that is shared with the Explorer with the major exception of the powertrain and basic platform—but no sheetmetal and it uses a Lincoln specific suspension. (They even use a new Lincoln specific headlight switch)

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    I’m no Lincoln lover, I’m no General Motors hater. In fact I’d love nothing more than for them to dominate the auto market.

    With that said, Lincoln is going to clean up here. The Aviator is styled fantastically. Has presence. I bet it will drive better and ride nicer and feel more expensive. Of course if GM throws $30k on the hood alll bets are off.

    GM has, unfortunately, been highly disappointing lately. This new crossover looks like another mailed in effort. Like the XT4. Like the new Silverado. Close American factories on top of that. It isn’t winning any points with me. Ford and their moronic CEO is struggling hard to win this race but I feel like Ford might actually be accomplishing things in spite of itself. GM just feels like they’re sliding into old GM again. Go cheap, mail it in, tell me about how profitable something is, which works for awhile until people start realizing they’re paying way too much for mediocrity. Silverado will reap huge profits for a few years until consumers start realizing for the same money they can get a far better truck from Ford or FCA.

    And so I think this will happen here. GM will do well for awhile. Until people realize their money goes a lot further at the Lincoln dealer.

  • avatar
    tomLU86

    Lots of good points by the commentariat.

    It looks bland, reminiscent of a 2010-2017 Traverse.

    They “phoned it in”.

    Rather disappointing.

    On the other hand, Ford seems to have difficulty getting things going.

    These players, one overpriced, and one that takes a while to get up and running, are arriving just as the party is ending….

    Demographics, interest rates, lots of cars coming off-lease, overly high transaction prices….these are the headwinds coming that are going to end the party any day now…

    And of course, GM and Ford have whacked their lower-priced offerings (FCA’s were not credible, so FCA’s move made sense for FCA)

  • avatar

    20 inch wheels on what is a family truckster ?

    Cue the arguments “why can’t you miss potholes”.

    What possible reason could there be ? Make the ride more “jiggly” ?

    I’m sure the wheel and tire is a $1200 day.

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