2013 Cadillac XTS Review
By Kirk Bell of MSN Autos
For the first 90 or so years of its existence, Cadillac was known for building large, luxurious automobiles. Those big old Caddies from the 1950s, '60s and '70s were cool and the pinnacle of luxury at the time. But by the '90s the brand was viewed as an example of everything wrong with the American auto industry; that is, its cars were too big, too inefficient and not reliable. Cadillac became a bit player in the luxury-car game.
The automaker experienced something of a renaissance in the new millennium, though, thanks to the quality and sportiness of the midsize CTS. It's one of brand's most popular models as well as the only domestic entry that can truly compete with the top European and Japanese entry-level luxury cars. It offers Cadillac style and luxury in a performance-tuned car that doesn't kill you at the pump.
For 2013, Cadillac is returning to its large-car roots with the XTS. While we don't see the XTS making as much of an impact as the CTS — mainly because it doesn't offer the driving dynamics of its main rivals like the CTS does — we do think its luxurious nature and stable, controlled ride will appeal to anyone looking for a luxury ride that is somewhat nimble and a joy to drive.
The $58,160 Platinum trim is loaded, adding a panoramic sunroof, 20-inch wheels, and a Driver Assist package with adaptive cruise control, front and rear automatic braking to avoid low-speed collisions, and automatic collision preparation.
Under the Hood
The XTS is offered with front- or all-wheel drive. The AWD is a Haldex system with an electronic limited-slip differential that transfers power front to rear and side to side along the rear axle. Environmental
Space up front is generous. The seats are soft enough to be comfortable and firm enough to prevent fatigue on long trips. They have lots of travel, so even tall drivers will have plenty of legroom.
Tall folks will be comfortable in the back, too, thanks to a lengthy 40 inches of legroom. The rear seat is well contoured as well, making the XTS one of the more comfortable cars for up to five passengers. The trunk has a spacious 18 cubic feet of space, which is one of the largest on the market, and split-folding rear seats increase the cargo hold's versatility.
When the Driver Assistance or Driver Awareness packages are added, the XTS comes with a safety alert driver's seat. It vibrates on the left, right, or both sides to warn drivers of potential dangers, such as front or rear obstacles, drifting from the chosen lane, traffic crossing behind, or when approaching traffic too quickly. The system works well, but we wonder if drivers will always recognize which potential hazard it is indicating.
The XTS is equipped with Cadillac's new Cue (Cadillac User Experience) control system, which achieves the goal long sought by luxury automakers of virtually eliminating buttons in the dash. The system features an 8-inch touch screen in the center stack that handles most of the entertainment, communications, navigation and climate controls. Only the volume control and some frequently used climate functions are separate, located on a touch panel below the screen. Cue reacts to voice commands as well.
Cue is also available with a 12-inch reconfigurable instrument cluster that is driven through a 5-way controller on the right side of the steering wheel. It has four screen choices, and each can be programmed with all kinds of tidbits, including trip computer, navigation, entertainment and phone info. The screen has digital depictions of analog gauges and can be as simple or as complex as you like it.
We found Cue to be one of the better advanced control interfaces on the market. The touch feedback lets you know if a control was indeed pressed. Cue reacts quickly to driver inputs, and we like the iPad-like drag-and-drop functionality to move icons and pinch-and-stretch feature to zoom in or out. Our only complaint: The downward click on the 5-way controller isn't very responsive.
On the Road
In addition, the XTS uses GM's HiPer Strut setup in the front, which eliminates torque steer and improves steering feel. And at the rear, it has GM's H-arm suspension, which improves ride quality and reduces road noise, and air springs that control the ride height.
The result of all this technology is a car that doesn't ask to be driven aggressively but doesn't complain about it, either. The suspension firms up in corners and stays supple over bumps, creating a smooth ride and less body lean than this car would have naturally. The car tracks through corners quite well, and only begins to push forward in turns when driven very hard.
GM's 3.6-liter V6 is the lone engine, and it's a good one. It feels strong off the line. The engine works well with the 6-speed automatic transmission, kicking down responsively to provide highway passing punch.
Right for You?
(As part of a sponsored press event, the automaker provided MSN with travel and accommodations to facilitatethis report.)
Kirk Bell has served as the associate publisher for Consumer Guide Automotive and editor of Scale Auto Enthusiast magazine. A Midwest native, Bell brings 18 years of automotive journalism experience to MSN, andcurrently contributes to JDPower.com and Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com.