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Cadillac Steve Carlisle describes GM's plans to go to electricity
Mandi Wright, Detroit Free Press

The new Cadillac 2019 XT6 family SUV is a subtle response to a bold challenge. Possibly too subtle.

Designed to win luxury buyers who might otherwise choose an Acura MDX, Audi Q7 or Volvo XC90, the new Caddy SUV has its work ahead. In extensive conversations with the XT6 development team, I have not yet heard any significant claim that it is "first", "more" or "better".

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A 2020 Cadillac XT6 Sport at the 2019 North American International Auto Show held at Cobo Center in downtown Detroit on Tuesday January 15, 2019. (Photo: Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Press)

The XT6 seems to be a perfectly nice vehicle, but offers little to win over buyers who were no longer willing to buy a Cadillac. That is a missed opportunity in a profitable and growing vehicle segment that was waiting for a disruptive brand to submerge and establish a new standard.

"Perfectly nice" will not do it. Cadillac is a challenging brand for luxury SUVs with the ability to carry the family with three rows of seats. It does not have an electoral district integrated in this segment. To be successful, Cadillac must convince buyers that they have not been considering it. "Nice" will not get you there. "First", "most" and "the best" may not even do it, but they are a beginning.

The new look of Caddy

The new image of the XT6 is a point of sale, said Mark Reuss, president of General Motors and head of global product development and Cadillac. It breaks with the angular and somewhat technical aspect that Cadillac used for almost two decades.

"First someone must enter the car," Reuss said when I expressed skepticism about the XT6's ability to win new buyers. "The new design is really important."

The XT6 is the first Caddy with the appearance, which combines the vertical race lights and the turn signals of the brand, with rounded lines, more modern, and narrow and horizontal front and rear lights.

The new image will take the brand through its first generation of high performance electric vehicles. We will see it below in a new sport sedan and the large Escalade SUV that will be launched later this year. The badault on the brand's electric vehicle begins in 2022.

Plus: Cadillac presents the XT6 in Detroit

Plus: Cadillac shows the photo of his first electric car of the future.

"We're right in the middle of doing something really different for Cadillac in dynamics and how we position this vehicle," Reuss said. "We will be more in line with what Cadillac meets the expectations of customers, first, with design and execution, safety, prices and value."

That suggests that Cadillac believes that the price of the XT6 will be a pleasant surprise when it is announced in the spring. The SUV will be at dealerships this summer.

"A Cadillac needs to be a vehicle that you expect to drive every day," Reuss said.

More comfortable and quiet.

I'm looking forward to discovering for myself. Every new Cadillac I've driven for years has been in or near the best in its clbad in terms of handling, and GM engineers comment on the new suspension. Like the food at a restaurant that everyone praises, you can not judge the quality of driving and handling a vehicle until you experience it yourself, but the product development experts promise that the XT6 will have a more comfortable trip and Silent than the previous SUV Caddy.

I hope to discover it in a long and good journey, but the problem with the subjective affirmations of comfort and handling is that everyone does it. They get lost in the clutter and static of advertising. That's why the "first", "best" and measurable "mosts" are important, especially for a new vehicle.

"The XT6 is in a highly competitive market segment that is filling up," said Autotrader executive badyst Michelle Krebs.

Journalists get to take pictures of the Cadillac XT6 2020, a new three-row SUV, at the Garden Theater during the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Sunday, January 13, 2019.

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Members of the media can take a close look at the Cadillac XT6 2020, a new three-row SUV, at the Garden Theater during the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Sunday, January 13, 2019.

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Members of the media can take a close look at the Cadillac XT6 2020, a new three-row SUV, at the Garden Theater during the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Sunday, January 13, 2019.

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Members of the media can take a close look at the Cadillac XT6 2020, a new three-row SUV, at the Garden Theater during the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Sunday, January 13, 2019.

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Members of the media can take a close look at the Cadillac XT6 2020, a new three-row SUV, at the Garden Theater during the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Sunday, January 13, 2019.

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Members of the media can take a close look at the Cadillac XT6 2020, a new three-row SUV, at the Garden Theater during the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Sunday, January 13, 2019.

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Members of the media can take a close look at the Cadillac XT6 2020, a new three-row SUV, at the Garden Theater during the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Sunday, January 13, 2019.

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Steve Carlisle, president of Cadillac, presents the Cadillac XT6 2020, a new three-row SUV, at the Garden Theater during the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Sunday, January 13, 2019.

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GM president Mark Reuss talks to the company's CEO, Mary Barra, before the new Cadillac 2020 XT6, a new three-row SUV, is presented at the Garden Theater during the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Sunday, January 13, 2019.

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GM emphasized the headroom and comfort for the third row of rear seats, and that the XT6 offers practical features such as the folding electric seats of the second and third row, all-wheel drive and steering for the models sports, night vision, Bose audio of 14 horns and an adaptive suspension.

Unfortunately, it lacks the innovative Cadillac Super Cruise feature, the only truly hands-free system for on-road driving. Super Cruise is a game changer that shows why automakers are so high on autonomous vehicles, but Cadillac will not implement it on the full line of models until the 2020 model year, this fall. The fact of having advanced a few months could have attracted a crowd of neighbors to see something special when the first XT6 of the block stopped in its driveway.

Because the arrival of a new Cadillac should be special.

Plus: Better than you can imagine: 2,300 miles "driving" a semi-autonomous Cadillac

Plus: 7 things I learned driving with Cadillac Super Cruise

Contact Mark Phelan: [email protected] or 313-222-6731. Follow him on Twitter @mark_phelan

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