Don't Be Confused When You See These Numbers on the Backs of 2020 Cadillacs

16Cadillac_CT6_AC_01.jpg photo by Angela Conners

Cadillac announced today that it will add additional numbers to the trunk lids of most of cars and SUVs beginning in the 2020 model year. In addition to the model designation (like CT6 or XT4), you’ll now see a three-digit number and possibly a letter on the other side of the trunk lid. The number represents the torque output on each Cadillac’s powertrain, whether it’s gasoline or electric (Cadillac will build no hybrids, according to brand President Steve Carlisle). It will also designate whether the powertrain is naturally aspirated, turbocharged or electric.

Related: 2020 Cadillac XT6: 3-Row Caddy Crossover De-Escalates From Escalade

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Here’s the trick: The torque output is given in metric newton-meters rounded to the nearest 50 — not pounds-feet, the figure the vast majority of Americans are familiar with. Thus, the new 2020 XT6 SUV, with its 3.6-liter non-turbocharged V-6 that makes 271 pounds-feet of torque, will go by XT6 400. The XT4 and its standard turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 258 pounds-feet of torque would be the XT4 350T. The CT6, with three different engines, will go by CT6 350T, 400 and 550T (if the sedan survives possible discontinuation, which Cadillac says it’s seriously investigating). Cadillac wasn’t yet ready to say how it labels its forthcoming electric vehicles, and V series high-performance models will only receive a “V” badge, not numbers. 

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As to why Cadillac chose newton-meters instead of pounds-feet, Carlisle cites the brand’s increasingly global presence (read: China). From a pure stratification standpoint, it makes sense: Engine displacement as a measure for vehicle designation is fast on the way out as internal combustion engines are downsized, turbocharged and, in many cases, eventually replaced by electric powertrains. We’ve already seen Tesla do something similar by differentiating its models in battery capacity and range (Model S P60, P80, P100D). Cadillac has opted to stratify by torque output instead. 

The new naming system will debut on the 2020 XT6 crossover, which arrives in dealers later in 2019.’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

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Detroit Bureau Chief Aaron Bragman has had over 25 years of experience in the auto industry as a journalist, analyst, purchasing agent and program manager. Bragman grew up around his father’s classic Triumph sports cars (which were all sold and gone when he turned 16, much to his frustration) and comes from a Detroit family where cars put food on tables as much as smiles on faces. Today, he’s a member of the Automotive Press Association and the Midwest Automotive Media Association. His pronouns are he/him, but his adjectives are fat/sassy. Email Aaron Bragman

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