On The Road

Review: New Cadillac SUV, BMW sedan make the grade

Mike Hagerty/Special to the Town Crier
The Cadillac XT6, above, and BMW M340i, below, include plenty of high-end features and offer an array of options.

Cadillac XT6 Sport AWD offers power & elegance

Cadillac buyers who wanted a three-row SUV but didn’t want the super-sized Escalade have had to look elsewhere. There was a big gap in size and perceived prestige between the Escalade and the XT5.

That’s over now.

For 2020, Cadillac has the XT6, a right-size, handsome, three-seat SUV that fits right in between those two.

The 2020 Cadillac XT6 has the angular good looks of the Escalade but rides lower and looks a bit less boxy. In fact, to my eyes, it’s a bit more elegant than the Escalade, which is due for a redesign next year.

There’s plenty of power under the hood, courtesy of the 310-horsepower, 3.6-liter V6 engine. Mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission, the XT6 Sport – an all-wheel drive version I drove for a week – gets a respectable Environmental Protection Agency fuel economy estimate of 17 mpg in the city and 24 on the highway. And all-wheel drive versions of the XT6 are fitted with a larger gas tank – 22 gallons instead of 19. That works out to 528 miles of range, which means a trip from here to Los Angeles would still leave you with a quarter-tank of gas.

And the XT6 is a terrific machine for that kind of long-range road tripping. There’s plenty of room for people and things – all placed amid luxurious surroundings – and a wide range of comfort and convenience features, and a whisper-quiet ride.

The base price of the XT6 Sport is $57,095, which is only $2,000 more than the 2019 XT5 Sport I recently reviewed. And the XT6 comes with a lot of standard equipment, including an 8-inch touchscreen, voice recognition, heated steering wheel, hands-free liftgate, power-folding third-row seats, teen-driver mode, front and rear park assist, following distance indicator, forward-collision alert and rear cross-traffic alert.

Premium upgrades

The tester also had some extra-cost options: • Platinum Package (semi-aniline leather seating in all rows, leather instrument panel, console and door trim, microfiber-suede headliner, premium front and rear floor mats): $3,700

• Enhanced Visibility and Technology Package (rear camera mirror with washer, 8-inch color gauge cluster including driver personalization, automatic parking assist with braking, rear pedestrian alert, HD surround vision, head-up display, surround vision recorder): $2,350

• Night Vision: $2,000

• Driver Assist Package (automatic seat-belt tightening, adaptive cruise control, enhanced automatic emergency braking, reverse automatic braking): $1,300

• Red Horizon Tintcoat paint: $1,225

• Cadillac User Experience with embedded navigation, phone integration and 14-speaker Bose Performance Series audio system: $1,000

• Comfort and Air Quality Package (heated rear outboard seats, ventilated driver and front passenger seats, air ionizer): $750

• Premium headlamp system: $700

• Smart towing: $650

• Security cargo shade: $75

With the $995 destination charge, the bottom line on the window sticker read $71,840. Not cheap, but this is Cadillac. That’s only $6,000 more than the smaller XT5 Sport’s as-tested price.

I’m not one who advocates going bigger just because you save money (think meal deals, buying in bulk, etc.). You should get the car you want and that serves your needs the best. Even so, if I were in the market, I’d seriously consider stepping up to the XT6.

The 2020 BMW M340i SedanBMW M340i delivers on performance promise

If you’ve ever wondered why the BMW 3 Series sedan became a thing – it’s the engine.

Or it was.

It had a silky-smooth inline six-cylinder, capable of propelling BMW’s small (now mid-size) sedan quickly with seemingly endless reserves of both torque and horsepower. You would pin the speedometer, lose your license, or both, long before you ever felt you needed more from under the hood.

As technology has evolved and fuel economy has become a matter of law, automotive engineers have found they can achieve that kind of power from a 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. And BMW has adopted them in the 330i. It’s a fine engine – among the best of its type. But it doesn’t have the same feel, the same sound as that glorious BMW straight 6. If you want that in 2020 – and can’t quite justify the leap to the hardcore twin-turbo 425-horsepower M3 – you want the BMW M340i.

The M340i is a single-turbo 3-liter inline six making 382 horsepower and routing it through an eight-speed automatic transmission. BMW says it will get you from a standing start to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds, and I have no reason to doubt that time. You’ll absolutely feel the difference between this and the 255 horsepower in the 330i.

Fuel economy is reasonable for this level of performance: an Environmental Protection Agency-estimated 22 mpg city and 30 highway.

It’s more than just the engine, though. The M340i comes with a lot of goodies from the M division to enhance that power. They include driving dynamics control, brake fade compensation dynamic stability traction controls and start-off assist.

There’s a good deal of non-M-specific standard equipment as well, such as a 10.25-inch touchscreen, 14-way power front sport seats, variable sport steering and Wi-Fi hotspot.

Options aplenty

Which brings us to the base price. Again, with all the above standard. $54,000.

Yes, that’s a chunk. And as they say in the late-night commercials, “But wait. There’s more.”

Our test vehicle came with several extra-cost options as well, including the $500 Driving Assistance Package (Active Driving Assistant Pro, Active Blind Spot Detection and Lane Departure Warning), the $1,700 Drivers Assistance Pro Package (Extended Traffic Jam Assistant), the $1,400 Premium Package (heated steering wheel, heated front seats, head-up display) and the $2,100 Executive Package (automatic high beams, Icon Adaptive LED with LaserLight, Parking Assistant Plus, Gesture Control).

With the $995 destination charge, the bottom line on the window sticker reads $67,070.

Now, I could, with justification, point out that a chunk of what BMW charges extra for (Apple CarPlay, blind-spot detection, lane-departure warning, heated steering wheel, automatic high beams, ambient lighting, wireless charging) can be had at no charge in any number of Japanese and Korean cars with price tags half that of the M340i.

But then I drove it.

Man, it’s good. And if you don’t take apart the cost of the parts but look at, feel and enjoy the M340i as a whole, you end up realizing that anything close to its performance that costs less is only “close to its performance.” A compromise.

From the first BMW I ever drove (a friend’s 1972 2002tii), the one thing it’s always been better at is its no-compromise cars – the ones that simply set out to deliver on a promise of performance, solidity (it’s like driving a bank vault that moves like a race car) and experience. And the 2020 BMW M340i absolutely does that.

Mike Hagerty has been writing about cars since 1997 and is vice-president of membership for Western Automotive Journalists. Read more of his reviews on his website (tirekicker.blogspot.com) and follow him on Twitter (twitter.com/mikehagertycars) and Facebook (facebook.com/mikehagertywritesaboutcars). He co-anchors the KFBK Afternoon News in Sacramento.

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