2023 Cadillac XT6 Side Crash Test Reveals Insufficient Protection for the Rear Passengers

2023 Cadillac XT6 Side Crash Test 13 photos
Photo: IIHS
2023 Cadillac XT6 Side Crash Test2023 Cadillac XT6 Side Crash Test2023 Cadillac XT6 Side Crash Test2023 Cadillac XT6 Side Crash Test2023 Cadillac XT6 Side Crash Test2023 Cadillac XT6 Side Crash Test2023 Cadillac XT6 Side Crash Test2023 Cadillac XT6 Side Crash Test2023 Cadillac XT6 Side Crash Test2023 Cadillac XT6 Side Crash Test2023 Cadillac XT6 Side Crash Test2023 Cadillac XT6 Side Crash Test
Bridging the gap between the unibody XT5 and truck-based Escalade, the XT6 has been recently tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Even though it's been rewarded with the 2022 Top Safety Pick+ accolade, the three-row crossover fares poorly in the updated side test.
The nonprofit organization started the side test program back in 2003. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also tests new vehicles for side impact protection, yet the federal agency's test was developed in the early 1980s.

Given these circumstances, the IIHS determined that the NHTSA's test doesn't assess the risk of head injury from impact with taller vehicles. Think pickup trucks and mid-size utility vehicles like the Ford Explorer and Honda Pilot. As a result, the nonprofit organization developed a barrier with the height and shape of a pickup truck's front end.

That was 2003. Come 2021, the IIHS improved this test with a heavier barrier that sits closer to the ground than before. Why? Because modern SUVs and trucks are heavier than their 2003 equivalents. How heavy is the redesigned barrier? According to the IIHS, it's 4,200 pounds (1,905 kilograms) compared to 3,300 pounds (1,497 kilograms). The speed at which the barrier strikes the vehicle has also been upped by 6 mph to 37 mph (60 kph).

Last but certainly not least, the honeycomb surface of the barrier was redesigned to bend around the driver-side B pillar on impact, thus creating depressions in the front and rear doors of the vehicle in a similar fashion to a real pickup truck or sport utility vehicle. Founded by insurance groups in 1959, the Arlington-based Insurance Institute for Highway Safety uses four ratings for the side impact crash test: good, acceptable, marginal, and poor.

2023 Cadillac XT6 Side Crash Test
Photo: IIHS
The 2023 model year Cadillac XT6 performed as intended in the original side test, although the IIHS couldn’t give it anything other than poor in the updated side test. The only reason the XT6 flunked it comes in the form of torso injuries recorded by the rear passenger dummy, which is the size of a small woman or 12-year-old child as opposed to the average-sized male dummy in the driver's seat.

The IIHS uses a smaller dummy out back due to a high probability of submarining in the moderate overlap front crash test. More specifically, the lap belt rides up onto the dummy's abdomen, thus increasing the risk of abdominal injuries. The organization's updated moderate overlap front crash test sees 40 percent of the vehicle's frontal area (i.e., the driver-side area) strike a deformable barrier at 40 miles per hour (64 kilometers per hour).

The XT6 passed this test with flying colors, although the headlights were deemed acceptable due to the low beams creating some glare. The seat belt reminders and LATCH child seat anchors were rated acceptable as well. Considering that the XT6 is up for a ground-up redesign on the C1XX-2 platform of the 2024 model year Chevrolet Traverse and GMC Acadia, there's no denying the next-generation Cadillac XT6 will fare a little better.

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About the author: Mircea Panait
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After a 1:43 scale model of a Ferrari 250 GTO sparked Mircea's interest for cars when he was a kid, an early internship at Top Gear sealed his career path. He's most interested in muscle cars and American trucks, but he takes a passing interest in quirky kei cars as well.
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