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Comparison: 2020 Cadillac XT6 vs 2020 Lincoln Aviator

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Auto123 sends into head-to-head battle two big luxury Americans. Here is our comparison of the 2020 Cadillac XT6 vs the 2020 Lincoln Aviator.

For years, GM and Ford's luxury divisions have been trying to reinvent themselves, with mixed results. Yet with each generation of new products, the brands’ top brass tell us that they've found the formula the beat the Germans at their game. Here are the two most recent attempts in a segment that is unforgiving of the slightest error.

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2020 Cadillac XT6

Cadillac XT6 2020, trois quarts avant
Photo: D.Boshouwers
Cadillac XT6 2020, trois quarts avant

No sense beating around the bush: the XT6 left us lukewarm. At best. The base of the vehicle is the one used for the Buick Enclave and Chevrolet Traverse, but in a shorter format like the GMC Acadia. The styling follows the trend of the brand's latest models with a tapered silhouette that also translates into the slender configuration that offers a unique look typical of Cadillac.

You also have the unique signature of the inverted L-shaped rear vertical taillights found on all the brand's SUVs and standard 20-inch wheels (21-inch optional) that make a nice statement. The physical aspect of the vehicle is its best asset.

Read our Review of the 2020 Cadillac XT6

Imperfect cabin
As soon as you’re aboard, you know this vehicle doesn’t measure up to German competitors available in the same price range. There isn’t the same attention to detail like you find in a BMW, Audi or Mercedes-Benz. The wood or carbon fiber trim are fake, and while you have visible stitching throughout the cabin, it's machine-made and frankly you get the same kind of detail in a Kia Sorento or a Hyundai Santa Fe for much less.

2020 Cadillac XT6 Sport, interior
Photo: Cadillac
2020 Cadillac XT6 Sport, interior

All models will sit 6 or 7 occupants and include a touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and integrated internet with wireless smartphone charging. A host of driver assistance features are available, including automated emergency braking, lane assist and blind spot monitoring as standard. There's also an optional peripheral vision camera system that provides a bird's eye view of the vehicle, making tight manoeuvers and avoiding obstacles easier.

Run-of-the-mill mill
Under the hood of the XT6 sits the 3.6L V6 found in upwards of half of General Motors' SUVs - a somewhat disappointing reality in a model its maker wants to position as exclusive. Lincoln, in contrast, took the trouble to build a new engine when it introduced the new Lincoln Continental, and that 3.0L, 400-hp turbocharged V6 has also found its way into the Aviator.

Power is honest with 310 hp and the 9-speed transmission does a good job. But just knowing that you can buy the same powertrain at a lower price in another model might discourage many buyers. In Canada, all-wheel drive is the only configuration offered.

2020 Cadillac XT6 2020, rear, lights
Photo: D.Boshouwers
2020 Cadillac XT6 2020, rear, lights

Uninspiring drive
Driving leaves much to be desired. Among the good news, the quiet ride is worth mentioning. The available space is good, but far less than the Aviator. The third row of seats will be better suited for children than adults. Behind the wheel, handling in the Luxury version is more comfort-oriented with a softer suspension and steering that, in our opinion, is a little too light with little road feel. But the biggest problem lies in the fact that you don't feel anything special behind the wheel. We're entitled to expect more from a Cadillac product, otherwise why else would you ask for a starting price of over $60,000.

2020 Lincoln Aviator

2020 Lincoln Aviator, three-quarters front
Photo: D.Heyman
2020 Lincoln Aviator, three-quarters front

The first-generation Aviator made a short-lived appearance on our roads between 2002 and 2005. For 2020, Lincoln is giving this model another chance with a more convincing iteration. To begin with, this time Lincoln offers a more convincing look. You can see some of the Navigator in the grille design and overall styling, which is also inspired by Land Rover's beautiful Velar. It's a very successful design.

Larger than the XT6
As you get on board, you notice two things. Space for occupants is more generous, especially in the second and third rows, and the quality of workmanship is far ahead of the Cadillac XT6. When the seats are upright, the Aviator offers best-in-class cargo space behind the second row.

The SUV also gets all the driving aids you'd expect from a premium vehicle, plus more exclusive features such as Queue Assist, which includes adaptive cruise control with auto brake, lane departure warning technology, and a traffic signal recognition system that scans speed limit signs to adjust vehicle speed and avoidance steering assist that helps the driver avoid a collision with a stopped or slower vehicle ahead by providing steering assistance.

Read our Review of the 2020 Lincoln Aviator

Specifications of the 2020 Lincoln Aviator

2020 Lincoln Aviator, interior
Photo: D.Heyman
2020 Lincoln Aviator, interior

You also have the available Revel Ultima 3D audio system, which helps recreate an authentic concert hall experience by enveloping occupants in rich, superior sound from 28 speakers throughout the cabin.

Other features include a compatible cordless phone charging mat located in the front centre armrest, which also features a storage bin for multimedia devices. Multiple in-cabin power outlets and a standard Wi-Fi access point keep everyone connected, no matter where they go. Available as an option is innovative key phone technology that allows owners to lock and unlock doors, open the trunk and most importantly, start and drive the vehicle without a traditional key.

Comfortable
We have high praise for the general comfort level. The perfectly positioned seats with active movement function, also available as an option, adjust in 30 different ways and offer a massage function and extra lumbar support, features that make driving very pleasant. The materials are generally of high quality with an abundance of leather and fine materials, the only exception being the hard, unsightly plastic that covers the bottom of the doors.

2020 Lincoln Aviator 2020, trunk
Photo: D.Heyman
2020 Lincoln Aviator 2020, trunk

As mentioned, the base powertrain comes from the Continental and includes a 3.0L turbocharged V6 mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission; it produces 400 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque. The hybrid version uses the same basic powertrain but with a 13.6-kilowatt-hour battery pack. Engine performance then increases to 494 horsepower and 630 lb-ft of torque - respectable figures.

On the road, the driver has a choice of 5 drive modes (for the non-hybrid model) to suit weather and road conditions. Standard modes include Normal, the eco-friendly Conserve, Excite, Slippery and Deep Conditions for rougher roads such as off-road getaways.

Our air-suspension-equipped tester added an impressive level of comfort and also included a feature called Road Preview, which uses the forward-facing camera to monitor the next 50 feet of road ahead, detect height changes between 2 and 8 inches and adjust the suspension accordingly to mitigate uncomfortable shocks. This feature combined with the air suspension makes for a great ride.

2020 Lincoln Aviator, logo
Photo: D.Heyman
2020 Lincoln Aviator, logo

Conclusion
As you’ve probably surmised by now, this here head-to-head is a lopsided affair. The XT6 is not a bad product, it just doesn't live up to the brand's expectations. The Lincoln Aviator, meanwhile, suffered all manner of growing pains before it was even released on the market, including problems with the transmission, electronics, seatbelt design, etc. that resulted in numerous recalls. I should add these types of in-development growing pains seem to be a chronic issue at Ford. And yet, despite all that, the Lincoln Aviator is a more-compelling SUV from all points of view.

Lincoln Aviator 2020 / Cadillac XT6 2020, avant
Lincoln Aviator 2020 / Cadillac XT6 2020, avant

Advantage Cadillac XT6

The XT6 does have in its favour more-modern exterior styling that will appeal to a certain clientele happy to pay a more-affordable price.

Advantage Lincoln Aviator

The Aviator offers more-powerful engines, along with a hybrid option. Its interior is better designed and executed, with superior-quality materials. It's more comfortable and Lincoln finally manages to let you forget the SUV is based on an Explorer, more or less.  This while the XT6 looks like a better-equipped Chevrolet. The Lincoln also offers much more generous trunk space.

Similarities

In terms of warranties and lower price range, we’re even-steven.

Verdict

Lincoln is to be commended; it took years and years for it to conceive a product that would find a receptive market niche, and the Aviator is that kind of product. Cadillac will have to trudge back to the drawing board and get down to work…  again.

2020 Lincoln Aviator / 2020 Cadillac XT6 2020, profile
2020 Lincoln Aviator / 2020 Cadillac XT6 2020, profile

2020 Cadillac XT6

We like

Excellent soundproofing
Good-looking
Well-managed space inside

We like less

Fit and finish not up expectations for the brand
Small third row
Unresponsive steering

2020 Lincoln Aviator

We like

Comfortable air suspension
High quality audio system
Powerful engines

We like less

Expensive options
Complicated technology
Heavy weight

Lincoln Aviator 2020 / Cadillac XT6 2020, trois quarts arrière
Lincoln Aviator 2020 / Cadillac XT6 2020, trois quarts arrière

Specifications

... 2020 Cadillac XT62020 Lincoln Aviator
 Transmission9-speed auto10-speed auto
 DrivetrainAWDAWD (3.0L T)
 Fuel consumption (city)13.5L/100 km13.7L/100 km
 Fuel consumption (highway)9.7L/100 km9.7L/100 km
   Hybrid
 Fuel consumption (city) 10.9L/100 km
 Fuel consumption (highway) 9.6L/100 km
 Fuel tank83 L76.5 L
   68 L (hybrid)
 Engine  
 TypeGasGas
 Output310 hp400 hp
 Torque171 lb-ft415 lb-ft
 Cylinders6 cylinders6 cylinders
 Displacement3.6 litres3.0 litres turbo
   Hybrid
 Output 494 hp
 Torque 630 lb-ft
 Cylinders 6 cylinders
 Displacement 3.0 litres turbo electric
    
 Capacity  
 Cargo Space357 L to 1,220 L518 L to 2,200 L
    
 Dimensions  
 Length5042 mm5062 mm
 Width1963 mm2090 mm
 Height1775 mm1768 mm
 Wheelbase2863 mm3025 mm
    
 Warranty4 yrs/80,000 km4 yrs/80,000 km
    
 Pricing$60,998 to $63,798$69,000 to $81,000
    
    

 

2020 Lincoln Aviator / 2020 Cadillac XT6, rear
2020 Lincoln Aviator / 2020 Cadillac XT6, rear