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To a historian, the Turnpike is one of the last great expressions of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, and surely one of the most enduring. …
To a historian, the Turnpike is one of the last great expressions of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, and surely one of the most enduring. To the 15,000 people who built the first 160 miles in a shade less than two years, it was a gigantic project squeezed into an impossibly short timetable.
Today, to more than 200 million motorists and truckers a year, it is a highway that offers savings in time, fuel, and vehicle wear.
In their rush to get to the next exit, it’s likely that most of those travelers today consider the Turnpike to be just another road. Yet, when the first stretch of 160 miles from Carlisle to Irwin opened on Oct. 1, 1940, it was absolutely unique in American transportation. It was the nation’s first superhighway, forming the blueprint for creation of the federally sponsored Interstate Highway network – 43,000 miles of multiple-lane, divided, limited-access roads that American motorists very much take for granted today.
“In an era of jet travel, magnetic levitation trains, and eight-lane interstates, it’s hard to imagine the curiosity and pure marvel generated by what is today commonplace,” wrote Frank Cozzoli, a staff writer of the Harrisburg Patriot and Evening News. “People were so enamored with the highway, they actually drove it for no reason at all, often stopping at the modern service plazas, treating themselves to ice cream at the Howard Johnson’s fountain, and then returning home.”
Designing and building the Turnpike was a massive undertaking. Ground was broken on Oct. 27, 1938, on a 10-mile stretch near Newville, Cumberland County, that would involve excavation of 850,000 cubic yards of earth and rock. The contract amount was $458,058 – a sum that today would buy a very small bridge. L.M. Hutchison of Mount Union, who was an APC officer at that time, submitted the lowest of 23 bids.
First concrete was poured on Dec. 13, 1938, on the foundation of an eight-foot reinforced concrete culvert near Newville. Two days later, Walter Jones and Turnpike Chief Engineer Samuel W. Marshall addressed APC’s convention in Harrisburg. One of the other speakers discussed “German Highways,” a reference to the Autobahn system after which the general Turnpike design was patterned.
With such a short deadline for construction, time was too precious to design the project in its entirety before work began. Because the PWA was scheduled to go out of existence in mid-1940, the Turnpike Commission was supposed to have the highway substantially complete within 20 months (later extended). Within a year of the groundbreaking, some 1,100 engineers were at work grinding out design plans while construction was already underway on sections already contracted.
By working two and three shifts, with huge spotlights blazing through the night in some of the most rural areas, the 155 contractor firms completed the job in 23 months. The design standards were striking for that era – no grade was steeper than 3 percent; no curve was sharper than 6 degrees (and all were designed with spiral easements and superelevation); and 110 miles of the 160-mile total was on straightaways.
Each lane was 12 feet wide, with a 10-foot-wide grass median strip. Seven tunnels, averaging a mile each, were constructed as the means of avoiding the climb over the Alleghenies. Not only did they keep the motorist off the foggy mountaintops, but they also sliced the accumulated climb from 13,000 feet, via U.S. Route 30, to just 3,990 feet.
The historical importance of the Turnpike was obvious even as it was being built. George Briner of Carlisle went to work on a Turnpike crew, driving a petroleum truck, soon after graduating from Dickinson College with a degree in history. “I just wanted to say I worked on the first superhighway,” he said. “I didn’t care what job I did.”
The project was not without its share of incidents. There were labor troubles between established unions and local people who wanted Turnpike jobs in Somerset County. Twenty-one sticks of dynamite were found under a bridge in Bedford County, and some sabotage of equipment was reported. Fights sometimes broke out in the workers’ camps. And at least 19 workers died in construction accidents, four of them in August 1939 in a rock fall inside Laurel Hill Tunnel.
Finally, the great road that everyone was calling the “Dream Highway” was completed. It was opened Oct. 1, 1940 at 12:01 a.m. Because of partisan political considerations, no special ceremonies were held.
Along the highway, 10 service plazas offered travelers Howard Johnson’s food and Esso gasoline. An immediate success, the Turnpike handled an unbelievable 27,000 vehicles on the first Sunday it was open, and 30,000 the second Sunday. In its first year the road carried 2.4-million vehicles, compared to the Commission’s own estimates of 1.3 million and the U.S. Bureau of Public Roads’ pessimistic estimate of 261,000. The 2.4 million annual vehicles that traveled in 1940- 41 represents about 4 days worth of traffic in recent pre-pandemic traffic volume levels. Probably the most striking aspect of the Turnpike’s opening was that it cut an arduous, six-hour drive across Pennsylvania’s mountains via the winding, hilly William Penn or Lincoln Highways to about 2-1/2 hours for the fastest motorists.
By the time Pennsylvania’s initial toll-road expansion ended, the system reached 470 miles in length. More was planned, but the passage of federal legislation in 1956, creating the toll-free Interstate Highway system with its 90 percent federal funding guarantee, put an end to toll road growth. The Pennsylvania portions of Interstate 79, I-80, I-81, I-90 and part of U.S. Route 15 (Harrisburg to Gettysburg) all were proposed in legislation as Turnpike extensions before the Interstate Act came along.
Today the Turnpike continues its legacy of innovation in the ground-transportation industry with a modern-day mission to operate a safe, reliable, customer-valued toll road system that supports national mobility and commerce. Recent advances include designing and building award-winning facilities and structures; investing in wider and smoother roadways; and providing traveler benefits such as All-Electronic Tolling, innovative smartphone apps, and a dedicated 24/7 customer safety and response team.
To learn more about the PA Turnpike’s deep history, please visit https://www.paturnpike.com/about-us/turnpike-history.
This article, written by Dan Cupper, a Harrisburg-based transportation writer, appeared in Highway Builder in 2015 and has been edited and updated to reflect current Turnpike history.
With every automotive event schedule generated by Carlisle Events, the Carlisle Auctions brand is represented. America’s Automotive Hometown …
With every automotive event schedule generated by Carlisle Events, the Carlisle Auctions brand is represented. America’s Automotive Hometown auction house presents four amazing annual options for its passionate customer base. Two of those events take place in conjunction with Spring and Fall Carlisle respectively at the Carlisle Expo Center, while two other auctions are held in Lakeland, Florida at the SUN ‘n FUN Expo Campus. Auctions have grown in size and have been enhanced in presentation, but at the end of the day, it’s an auction house working with sellers to offer buyers a variety of options for purchase. This process is one of four elements: buyers, sellers, consignments, and the venue/logistics that goes into an event.
Recently, Director of Auction Operations Tony Cline sat down with me and All About Cars to discuss what goes into the consignment and auction process and how his team goes about picking prime lots for their events.
Q: Has your consignment process been the same since you started with Carlisle Auctions in 2012?
A: No. As our auctions continue to grow and gain traction, our consignment process has continued to evolve, much to the delight of everyone I’ve talked to over the years.
Q: Do you have to be a certain age or have a certain credit limit/level of income to be able to bid and buy on a vehicle?
A: There is nothing in the Vehicle Code which prohibits a minor individual from owning a motor vehicle. Unfortunately, car finance isn't an option for anyone under 18, as you're not allowed to sign a credit agreement until the age of 18.
Q: How many people does it take to staff an auction and what are some of their responsibilities?
A: We have about 75-100 staffers working an auction. Their jobs vary, but positions include checking in consignments and bidders, registering bidders in person, the title department, auction block staff, drivers, security, and those that handle post-sale.
Q: What kinds of lots are accepted? Is it just classic muscle or are there more options than that?
A: Our auction house considers and accepts a variety of options. This includes American classics, European sports cars, Detroit muscle, hot rods, and even customs.
Q: When do vehicles start arriving for the auction and what are the steps for preparing them to run across the block?
A: We start to accept consignments the Monday of auction week. Owners who have consigned vehicles to our auction are responsible for having their consignments cleaned and details. We also have detailers on-site who can be contracted for their services if need be.
Q: So, is it only cars that you accept as a consignment?
A: No. We have accepted non-automotive consignments, but more so, we do accept Jeeps, SUVs, Vans, and trucks. We’ve found that trucks are incredibly popular and as such, have incorporated an all-Truck hour into the first day of each of our auctions.
Q: Ok, so Carlisle Auctions takes consignments and sells cars in person, on the phone, or online. Is there anything about your auction house that makes it unique?
A: Absolutely! We are the ONLY auction house to offer a FREE UNLESS SOLD guarantee on lots 25 years or older. This guarantee means that if a particular consignment of that vintage does not sell after our marketing and promotional efforts, the consignor gets their consignment fees refunded to them. We are also family oriented, in that we are family owned and operated. That means in turn, we do our best to treat everyone as family, not just a number on a run sheet.
Q: Are there any “must have’s” on your end from a consignor to better their odds of selling at a Carlisle Auction?
A: Photos and details! When a seller makes the commitment to consign with us, we urge them to offer multiple quality photos and as much detail as possible on their consignment. In conjunction with our marketing team, we actively work to promote every consignment by way of social media, video, and advertising on the pages of some of the largest and most popular trades magazines and websites. These photos and details help tell the complete story of the car to prospective bidders/buyers.
Q: Is there a warranty or anything similar if a vehicle leaves the lot and there’s an unexpected issue with the vehicle?
A: All vehicle are sold AS IS - WHERE IS!
Q: What happens if a vehicle doesn’t sell?
A: All unsold vehicles return home with their owners.
Q: Does the vehicle have to be moved immediately following the auction, and does Carlisle Auctions assist with any arrangements?
A: Vehicles need to be picked up within four (4) days of the final sale day. Carlisle Auctions will recommend professional transport companies.
So…there you have it. Obviously, there’s a lot that goes into putting together a classic and collector car auction, but Tony Cline and his Carlisle Auctions team are seasoned pros in their field and are ready to talk with you today! Call Carlisle Auctions at 717-960-6400 to make your commitment for an upcoming auction and be sure to visit CarlisleAuctions.com to review consignments, register to bid, and more!
Finally, remaining 2022 auction dates are as follows: Spring Carlisle Collector Car Auction (April 21-22), Fall Carlisle Collector Car Auction (September 29-30), and the Lakeland Fall Collector Car Auction (November 11-12).
Coming up this summer, Tony and I connect again on how he and his team slot confirmed consignments so that each day runs and flows smoothly for his staff as well as those who are buying, selling, or simply watching the event in person.
When you come to a car show at the Carlisle PA Fairgrounds or an auction for that matter at …
When you come to a car show at the Carlisle PA Fairgrounds or an auction for that matter at the neighboring Carlisle Expo Center, things appear to be ready to go once you get there, right? If only it were that simple. While car events primarily span April through October in Carlisle, there is day to day prep work that goes into making everything look as ready as possible for you when you arrive. Recently, I had the chance to connect with Carlisle Events General Manager and Director of Facilities, Scott Amig. Our conversation was brief, but as part of it, Scott explained what goes into prepping the grounds and making them “show ready” for you!
Q: When do you start getting ready for a show season?
A: Car show season prep starts in January and moves fast through March for the maintenance staff.
Q: What do you do during that three month span leading up to April and Spring Carlisle?
A: At the start of each year we begin the preventive maintenance on all our equipment. We bring it (the equipment) to the maintenance shop and begin pre-season service. This includes 50+ golf carts, nine vehicles, mowers of various size, tractors, pressure washers, blowers, weed whackers, a back hoe, skid loader, etc. We do this so they are all ready to go for the season.
Q: There has to be more to it than just prepping the gear? What else do you do?
A: The maintenance team also starts on projects for the year. For 2022, this included, building a shed for Gate 3, building the new EMS station, adding a cool down room to Building T, correcting lighting issues, updating lighting in areas, and repairing and painting bleachers.
Q: Not every day is so cold in the winter that your team can’t be outside. On those days, what do they do?
A: You’re right. So…as winter progresses, the guys are on the grounds on warmer days. When they can be outside, they are checking space markers, fixing bad spots on the grounds, checking buildings for roof leaks, painting space marks, fixing roadways, hanging signs, and much more to prepare the grounds for show season.
Q: After the first three months and once you know the equipment is functional, then what?
A: Once we roll into March and April, it is full blown show prep. The entire fairgrounds get all the water turned back on, which means putting all hardware back together and addressing any leaks. We turn off water heaters and boilers when it’s cold, so we fire those back up too and start getting ready to go for the food stand cleanings and inspections.
Q: There are more than a few buildings on grounds. What does your team do with them?
A: All the buildings get cleaned and prepped for the shows. Our staff and friends of Carlisle sometimes use our indoor space to store items in the winter months. All of those items must come out as we work to prepare the buildings.
Q: What other things does your team work on or work with?
A: Benches, bleachers, bike rack, ticket booths, picnic tables are all items they work with and work on. They spend days on end placing them for the season. They prepare the bathrooms by cleaning them and painting them where needed. Supplies are also inventoried, ordered, and then stocked throughout the fairgrounds.
Q: The grounds itself has a bunch of permanent fence line, but isn’t there a bunch of temporary fencing used for events too?
A: Yes! Fencing will be put up for the Spring show as well as at the Carlisle Expo Center as part of the auction. We also check out all grounds lighting, roadways, showers, and electric lines/outlets. It’s our goal to view and review every aspect of the grounds and its inner workings so that when our valued customers show up, it feels like they never left. We hope this yields a pleasant experience this year and for every future visit to Carlisle too!
Scott and his crew are the backbone of everything that happens at Carlisle. You may not notice first-hand what they do, but if you do see them in action, be sure to take a second and thank them for all their hard work! Be sure to check out CarlisleEvents.com to learn more about upcoming events, register for a show, become a vendor, or purchase discounted spectator admission tickets.
Register to Show at Carlisle
Purchase Discounted Spectator Admission Tickets
Become a Vendor (click and scroll)
The familiar ‘ding’ on my iPhone told me I had a message. With a reflex we’ve all come to know, I immediately looked at th …
The familiar ‘ding’ on my iPhone told me I had a message. With a reflex we’ve all come to know, I immediately looked at the screen and saw “Say it isn’t so!” I thought, OK, the Mecum January Kissimmee Auction must oﬃcially be over and now they’ve started promotion on Glendale.
I was right. The well-oiled machine of Mecum Auctions had just announced that the Hooked on Vettes collection of Corvettes and original neon signs was crossing the block soon, all at no reserve. A number of people who have visited my collections over the years recognized the Hooked on Vettes collections were those of Texas-based Michael Brown.
Since that message arrived on my phone, I’ve had a great many like it from friends and acquaintances I’m pleased to have made through both the Corvette community and the Road Art community. (Not to be excluded are other such aficionados who collect and sell ‘automobilia,’ ‘petroliana’ and other terms tied to the love of all things past having to do with cars and driving, among other topics of the 20th century.)
After ‘say it isn’t so’ came a long line of questions that simply asked ‘Why?’ That’s understandable, of course. When anyone has achieved some degree of visibility through sharing information and personal visits to a collection that was many years in the making, it’s only human to wonder why one would just wake up one morning and decide to liquidate everything. Of course, it wasn’t quite that spontaneous.
I’ve said many times over the years that I could trace my love of Corvettes back to a time long ago when I was in high school in a small southeast Oklahoma town. In that fall, GM unveiled the 10th anniversary version of America’s only true sports car, the 1963 Corvette. But this was not just any Corvette. This was a seismic shift in the design of the car. It was the first year the headlights were hidden. (they would stay hidden for well over 40 years!). It was the first year that a buyer could choose between a convertible and a coupe. And, of course, it was the first and only year of the infamous split rear window. The design was breathtaking. The car appeared to be moving, even when it was sitting still. It became the object of my 16 year-old dreams.
I certainly never saw one in Hugo, Oklahoma. But I saw photos and not ever really thinking it would happen, I said, ‘Some day.’ Well, that day actually came to me…22 years later. A small want ad in a suburban Dallas newspaper caught my eye; a silver ’63 coupe with black interior and a 327/340hp engine was on the market for the princely sum of $16,000. I took a deep breath, and then I took out a loan. That life-changing moment for me was 37 years ago.
During the ensuing decades, I’ve made many trips half way across the country to Corvettes at Carlisle every August. Initially, I had no Texas friends in the Corvette hobby. I wasn’t a member of any clubs. I just heard that if you’re into Corvettes, you go to Corvettes at Carlisle. I made many lifelong friends there and those associations led to some remarkably fun and lasting projects, television shows and documentaries, all related to Corvette. Trips to Funfest, Bloomington Gold and Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals exposed me to additional friends and associations.
Where did the years go? Recently, I said goodbye to one of my life’s favorite objects, as a truck pulled away with my ’63 Corvette and a dozen other companion Corvettes that have comprised the Hooked on Vettes collection. Trailing close behind were several other 18-wheelers carrying well over 150 carefully-crated original neon signs I’d acquired over the past couple of decades or so.
During the nearly four decades since I bought the ’63, I’ve owned at least one of each of the eight generations of Corvette. The only generations not represented in my collection now are C4 and C5. The C8 mid-engine? It’s an amazing car! I’ve loved them all.
And the neon signs? Initially, I bought a few non-collectible neons to simply adorn the walls of the Corvette garage I broke ground on in 2006. But I soon ‘got into’ neons and that passion took on a life of its own, as evidenced by the sheer number of signs which were in a vacant home we own next door to our primary residence.
Every book tells a story. Every life does, as well. As I turn the pages to a new chapter in my own life, I’ll admit some degree of sadness to see my many acquisitions go. But it’s time they find a diﬀerent home and I hope the new owners will enjoy each car and each piece of memorabilia as much as I have. And equally as much fun as ownership has been, so to was the chase and the acquisition of each.
I’m well past what most consider to be ‘retirement age,’ but I have no intention of retiring. I’m moving on to some projects I’m already excited about. It’s unlikely that I’ll ever build another collection of anything to the extent the Corvettes and Road Art became. But have I owned my last neon sign? Have I bought my last Corvette?
Not on your life!
Caption: 1930 Ford Model A owned by Natalie Bolea of Coraopolis, PA
Every year in the Steel City of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a different sort of steel comes together at the David Lawrence Convention Center in downtown area. While the Steelers didn't make it past round one of the NFL post-season this year, the locals still had something to get excited about by way of the annual Pittsburgh World of Wheels car show that happened January 21-23. This was the 61st edition of this annual event that brings together not only automotive enthusiasts from the greater Pittsburgh area but also the greater east coast.
We at Carlisle Events attend this event to connect with many of our industry friends, clients, builders, and vehicle owners. This year was no different with a wide array of vehicles that we hope to see at our events later this year. Friday at the event allowed us to get a head start on the east coast car show season and see many of these awesome vehicles below. Check out our coverage below and as always feel free to share this with your peers and friends.
Our friend John Sbrigato of Millstone, NJ brought out the Hemi Hearse and the Red Baron. John brought us the Dragula and Batmobile at last year’s Carlisle Ford Nationals. The Red Baron and Hemi Hearse were huge hits at World of Wheels. Who remembers these TV Cars?
Caption: The Hemi Hearse owned by John Sbrigato of Millstone, NJ
Caption: The Red Baron owned by John Sbrigato of Millstone, NJ
Aaron Buck of Pottstown, PA brought out this radical 1936 Ford Pickup that has been transformed into this custom slammed beast!
Chrysler products did dominate a good portion of this year’s World of Wheels. Many familiar names brought out a piece or more from their collection. Friend of the Chrysler Nationals, Bill Woessner, brought out a great collection of Dodge Charger R/T’s. Check them out below!
Caption: Bill Woessner of Gibsonia, PA and his Dodge Charger R/T
Caption: Bill Woessner of Gibsonia, PA and his Dodge Charger R/T
Caption: Bill Woessner of Gibsonia, PA and his Dodge Charger R/T
Caption: Bill Woessner of Gibsonia, PA and his Dodge Charger R/T
Caption: Bill Woessner of Gibsonia, PA and his Dodge Charger R/T
Floyd Furr of Nokesville, VA brought out this resto-modded 1967 Plymouth GTX, check it out:
Check out a few more Chrysler products from the show as well:
Caption: Shane Crozier of Pittsburgh, PA and his 2018 Dodge Charger
Caption: John Borgen of Gibsonia, PA and his 1970 Plymouth Superbird
Caption: Ralph Patsch of Houston, PA and his 1963 Dodge 330
Hailing from Kewaskum, WI, Michael Beal brought out this killer 1933 Ford using a Factory Five body. Take a look under that hood and some of the subtle touches all around the car:
Awesome Ford’s dotted the show as well, check out these that caught our attention.
Caption: Jeffrey Lakes Sr of Bridgeville, PA and his 1972 Ford F-250
Caption: Fred Birch of Franklin Park, PA and his 1964 Ford Fairlane
Caption: Bobby Crouch of Pittsburgh, PA and his 2014 Ford F-350 Platinum
Caption: Total Image Autosport’s 2022 of Pittsburgh, PA and their 2022 Ford Bronco
Caption: A good showing of Fords from the PA Hot Rods group.
Caption: Jason Faux of Clinton, PA and his 1995 Ford F-350
Caption: Tyler Davidson of New Brighton, PA and his 1997 Ford F-350
Now this next one was quite a surprise to see out in the wild! The 1991 Ford F150 PPG Indy Pace Truck Concept was ahead of it’s time. Designed by McLaren Performance Designs with the powerplant from Jack Roush, PPG spent over $250,000 to build this for the Indy Car Series. Rumor has it, this truck may make an appearance on the Spring Carlisle Auction Block.
Here’s a slightly different Ford that is totally on another level (pun intended). Check out this 1936 Ford Sedan overlanding build from Jason Rodz by Ludwin of Fort Johnson, NY:
One truck that caught our eye was this 1946 Chevrolet Cab Over Engine dubbed the “Lowcoe”! Take a look at the 12 Valve Cummins sitting behind the cab!
Speaking of GM products, check out “Lil Sassy” the Cavalier here. Who wants to go for a pass in this!?!
Caption: Robert Biery of McCandless, PA and his 1974 Pontiac Trans Am
Caption: Josh Hillard’s 1966 Chevrolet Chevelle
Caption: Ron Spadafora of Reading, PA and his 1956 Sedan Delivery
Caption: Denny Mascari of Allison Park, PA and his 1957 Chevrolet Nomad
Caption: Ian Stowe of Pittsburgh, PA and his 1965 Cadillac Sedan Deville
Caption: Marc Hansen of Chester Springs, PA and his 1955 Chevrolet Hardtop
Caption: Pro Comp Customs and their wicked 1969 Pontiac GTO
Caption: Luke Yianlouis of New Kensington, PA and his 1969 Buick Riviera
Caption: John Schiavone of Beecher, IL and his 1969 Chevrolet Camaro
One killer 1941 Willy’s Pickup Gasser from Charlie Source of Findley Lake, NY:
Pittsburgh Car Scene also showed up in force with a great showing of Import’s from their group. Check them out below:
Speaking of Imports, our friends at Super Car Workshop / Super Car Restoration normally bring a selection of Chevy Novas and Camaros to World of Wheels, this year they brought something a little more buggy. Check out their two VW Beetles they just finished up in time for the show.
Caption: Colleen Hughes of Latrobe, PA and her 1979 VW Beetle
Caption: Shelly Cooper of Clymer, PA and her 1975 VW Beetle
Check out some of the other Imports that caught our eye as well below!
Caption: Jennifer Mance of McKees Port, PA and her 1991 VW Cabriolet
Caption: Ty Kimmick of Mount Pleasant, PA and his super clean WRX. Don’t forget we are celebrating the Impreza at the Import and Performance Nationals this year in May.
Caption: Mandy and Kurt Emigh’s awesome 2000 BMW 353 ready for autocross! Don’t forget BMW is a celebrated marque at the Carlisle Import and Performance Nationals in May.
Caption: Vincenzo Girone of Pittsburgh, PA brought out his 1993 Mazda RX7, check out that bay!
Stop back here on All About Cars next week for an all new article about the Cunningham Corvette formerly owned by Lance Miller. In the meanwhile, learn all about what we have coming up in 2022 at CarlisleEvents.com.
Last year, Cadillac introduced the Crossover Touring 6, or XT6 to its crossover and SUV lineup. XT6 is the largest vehicle in the XT series, …
Last year, Cadillac introduced the Crossover Touring 6, or XT6 to its crossover and SUV lineup. XT6 is the largest vehicle in the XT series, slotted as a mid-size, between Cadillac’s XT5 and the full-size Escalade. Produced in GM’s Spring Hill, TN plant, the XT6 shares its wheelbase with the GMC Acadia, Cadillac XT5 and Chevrolet Blazer and sits on the same platform as the Buick Enclave.
For 2021, the XT6 enters its second year with a new Luxury model that expands its reach to more customers and completes the brand’s signature Y-trim strategy, which also includes Premium Luxury and Sport models.
New for 2021 are a Luxury trim model with new standard-for-the-trim 2.0-liter turbo engine rated at 237 hp; Wireless Apple CarPlay7 and Android Auto8 connectivity; new 20-inch wheel design for Sport models and new exterior color options: Dark Moon Blue Metallic, Wilder and Infrared Tintcoat.
The new-for 2021 XT6 Luxury trim kicks off the range with 18-inch alloy wheels, heated side mirrors, powered sunroof, roof rails, LED headlights, tri-zone automatic climate control, seating for seven, active noise cancellation, self-dimming rearview mirror, heated/power-adjustable front seats (8-way for the driver, 6-way for passenger.
With Cadillac marketing it as a “mid-size-plus,” the three-row family crossover centers on a luxurious, adaptable and connected cabin complemented by responsive handling and a comprehensive suite of standard and available safety technologies.
The 2021 XT6 is loaded Caddy-style, with a comprehensive suite of standard and available driver assistance and safety technologies, along with generous cargo capacity. XT6 is outfitted with the latest Cadillac user-experience items featuring intuitive controls including a rotary controller with new jog functionality. Additionally, the vehicle’s 9-speed automatic transmission offers four selectable driving modes, and both the Premium Luxury and Sport models offer customers available customized looks with unique exterior and interior distinction.
Some may call it boxy and others call it simple elegance, but XT6 architecture carries Cadillac’s look and big windows for good visibility. XT6 is large and high and measures 69.9 inches in height, 77.3 inches in width and 198.5 inches in length on a 112.7-inch wheelbase, with a 6.65-inch ground clearance. Curb weight goes from 4362 lbs. to 4690 lbs. depending on trim and drive configuration, and XT6 can trailer 4000 lbs.
Inside, XT6 plays on Cadillac’s elegant, upscale demeanor with wide surface lines and simple interfaces. Distinctive trim and interior colors exude the Premium Luxury and Sport models. Premium Luxury models are trimmed with exotic wood decor, while the Sport features performance-inspired carbon fiber trim.
Available comfort features help ensure that all passengers have a luxurious experience in every seating row, including Cadillac’s first Bose® Performance Series sound system with 14 custom-tuned speakers delivering immersive, powerful audio throughout the cabin. Additional available features include semi-aniline premium leather-appointed seating; Cadillac’s in-vehicle air ionizer; automatic heated/ventilated front seats and heated second-row rear outboard seats, and a standard automatic heated steering wheel.
Not as roomy as one would expect, the XT6 cabin provides only 39.8 inches of front headroom, 39.1 in row two and a child-worthy 37.2 inches in row three. Legroom follows at a good 41.2 in row one, 39.1 in the middle seats and only 29.5 inches in the tight third row. Shoulder room stretches out to 58.3, 57.4 and 53.5, but hip room gets really snug in row three with only 39.5 inches, after 56.1 in front and 55.7 in the middle seats.
XT6 power comes from one of two available engines. Premium horses come from a 3.6-liter V-6 direct-injection VVT engine with auto stop/start. Mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission, the system delivers 310hp and 271 lb-ft of torque. In Front-Wheel-Drive, the engine is rated at 18mpg/city and 25mpg/highway, and in All-Wheel-Drive, the EPA estimate is 17/24.
New is the 2.0-liter turbo that gets 21mpg/city and 26mpg/highway. The inline-4 engine is good for 237hp an 258 lb-ft, of torque.
The quiet cabin remains hushed even when accelerating with ease while passing, and handling is similar to that of a smaller vehicle. The ride is cushioned well and smoothes out road irregularities, but steering is vague and times, and severe turns result in noticeable body waver.
While passing is powerful, track tests were slow, but steady, with a hand-timed 7.3-second zero-to-60mph sprint and a 15.7-second quarter-mile.
From a safety perspective, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has given the XT6 a five-star rating and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named it a Top Safety Pick+, that agency's highest honor. A host of driver-assistance features are available. Automated emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, and blind-spot monitoring are standard, while more advanced features such as adaptive cruise control and night vision are available as options.
The 2021 Cadillac XT6 in AWD Luxury trim starts at $51,790 with the 2.0-liter turbo engine. Premium Luxury and the 3.6-liter engine starts at $56,190 and the Sport trim starts at $59,490 in AWD (only) with the 3.6 and a few cosmetic and other minor additions. My test Premium Luxury XT6 in AWD added Dark Moon Blue Metallic paint for $625. Adding Jet Black Semi-Analine Leather Seating surfaces and real-time damping suspension and Reverse Automatic Braking was part of a huge package add-on included in the Platinum Package ($5000), The Technology Package the rear camera mirror with washer($2350), the Driver Assist Package ($1300) and the Comfort and Air Quality Package ($750). The Cadillac User Experience with Navigation ($1000) and heated rear outboard seats ($500) were added to the options and packages that put an additional $11,250 onto the price. Destination charges of $1195 put the vehicle price at $66,870, but discounts and cash options are available.
> Visit www.CarlisleEvents.com for more on the automotive hobby.
Mike Blake, former editor of KIT CAR magazine, joined Carlisle Events as senior automotive journalist in 2004. He's been a "car guy" since the 1960s and has been writing professionally for about 30 years. </I>
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