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Cadillac Adding Torque-Output Badges to Its Cars in Units Americans Won’t Understand

Automobile logo Automobile 3/13/2019 Alisa Priddle
a car parked in front of a building: 2020-Cadillac-XT6-reveal-front-side-view.jpg

In a somewhat strange move, Cadillac will add badging to its vehicles that denote the amount of torque the engine produces, but in newton-meters.

a close up of an oven: Cadillac XT6 400 badge© Automobile Magazine Staff Cadillac XT6 400 badge

The move starts with the new 2020 Cadillac XT6, which has a 3.6-liter V-6 engine that pumps out 310 hp and—in U.S.-friendly units—271 lb-ft of torque. But in newton-meters, the torque rounds out to 400—so a badge that simply says 400 will be affixed to the rear of the crossover. All badges will be three digits and round the torque output to the nearest 50.

a car parked on the side of a building: 2020-Cadillac-XT6-rear-three-quarter.jpg© Motor Trend Staff 2020-Cadillac-XT6-rear-three-quarter.jpg

Starting with the 2020 model year, badging for vehicles with a turbocharged engine will have not only the torque number but also the letter T. A 350T badge was cited as an example to be used on an upcoming model, perhaps one planned to be unveiled next month at the New York auto show.

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To further complicate things, V performance models will not use the badging, in part because the number is too large, Cadillac says. The CT6-V, for example, with the 4.2-liter twin-turbo Blackwing V-8 engine generates 550 hp and 627 lb-ft of torque or 850 Nm.

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Cadillac is on a mission to electrify the lineup going forward which will require another badging decision but it has not been made yet, Cadillac president Steve Carlisle said. To that end, a change was needed to move away from displacement-based badging, Cadillac says. "When we have EVs, we won't be talking engine displacement anymore. We'll be focused on torque and output," Carlisle said.

Cadillac says the torque-based badging is designed to give customers a clear understanding of the power differences across the lineup as diverse types of powertrains are brought online. Cadillac cites its status as a global brand for using the metric number for its new badges, as metric units are the standard in most every market outside the U.S. In addition to the U.S., Cadillacs are sold in Canada, Mexico, China, Japan, Korea, Europe, Russia, and the Middle East.

A couple years ago, Audi moved to a similarly odd badging system that it based on powertrain output in kilowatts; the new badges were applied in Europe and other markets but not the U.S.

a boat sitting on top of a car: Cadillac EV SUV teaser© Motor Trend Staff Cadillac EV SUV teaser

Cadillac has been named the lead brand for GM's electric-vehicle push. The first pure electric vehicle for the brand is due in 2022 and will be followed by a full family of vehicles in relatively quick succession, as many as one every six months which is the current launch cadence for the brand's future vehicles. Some will be new nameplates, some will be new generations of existing nameplates but with electric power. With the exception of special vehicles, names will likely continue to be alphanumeric.

The XT6 is a new nameplate for Cadillac, and is a three-row, seven-passenger SUV that slots between the XT5 and Escalade. It starts at $53,690 and goes on sale this spring.

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