2013 Cadillac XTS Platinum HD Video Review

Luxury cars were created because civilization is not always civilized. There will always be a market for keeping the cold cruel world at arms length.  The new 2013 Cadillac XTS will certainly do the job.  It’s largest four-door they make now.  The sleek sedan replaces both the formal (and long-in-the-tooth) DTS and the sportier STS.  For those who go back to when Cadillac used actual names, we’re talking DeVille and Seville.

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Where does XTS fit in the luxury world?  Some believe that the large XTS should go up against the German flagships Because the small ATS competes directly with BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C Class, .  Not really.  The Caddy starts at around $45,000 and rises to the as-tested price of $62,300 when fully loaded with all-wheel drive.  The BMW 7 Series starts at 74 large, the Mercedes S Class 92K.  Pricewise, most will be cross-shopping 5 Series and E Class.

Don’t Think It Competes?

The GM folks understand it’s going to take time for their recent efforts to be recognized.  It’s been a while since the Wreath and Crest boys pumped out “standard of the world” products.  But now that it’s beginning to happen, buyers owe it to themselves to check in on Cadillac.  I mean, if you’re spending over 40 grand on a car, it’s wise to research the competition.  XTS is a very good value, not to damn it with faint praise.

XTS gets some good stuff.  All models get standard magnetic ride control and Brembo brakes up front.  I’m driving a top shelf Platinum model with self-leveling suspension in back, all-wheel drive, and loads of technology to keep everyone safe.  Jimi Hendrix and Prince fans should dig the purple interior stitching.  But the best part of the XTS package is that it does not pretend to be European.  With a softened version of Cadillac’s Art & Science design language, it’s proud to show off its American attitude.

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On CUE

Every luxury brand has its interface, Cadillac’s is called CUE or Cadillac User Experience which uses two different LCD screens.  The center console unit is haptic, meaning you get a little bit of vibration feedback when you touch it.  The second one replaces the gauge cluster.

To begin with, drivers can choose from four different gauge layouts.  Once selected, each can be customized by inserting navigation graphics or sound system info into different areas of the layout.  I was able to rig up my preferences without cracking the owner’s manual.

The controls below the console screen for the sound system and HVAC are also touch sensitive with the same bump-back feedback as the monitor.  If you’re comfortable with a smartphone, it’s easy to customize CUE and set the car up the way you want.  Fingerprints happen, Cadillac politely throws in a cleaning cloth so the touchscreen and piano black surface stay neat.

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The high-res console screen enters a simplified graphic mode when left alone.  Reach toward it and it wakes up to offer a full menu of choices.  Overall, the touch quality is not as smooth as an iPhone or iPad, but the actual interface itself is pretty good.  My biggest complaint is that the “gauge cluster” doesn’t look like one, it’s a computer screen (albeit a good one).  Insist on real luxury-grade gauges?  XTS is not your ride.  Also, there is no volume knob for the Bose sound system, just a touch sensitive bar.  I have no problem with it, others might.

No. You Can’t Have a V8.

The only engine is a direct-injected 3.6 liter V6 making 304 horsepower and 264 lb-ft of torque @ 5200.  It is not turbocharged and doesn’t really need it.  The exhaust note is a deep powerful whisper that fits perfectly with XTS’s mission.  Pass on the Haldex all-wheel drive and this Cadillac is a front-wheel drive vehicle (it’s based on the same architecture as the Buick LaCrosse).  Gearshifts are smoothly done by a six-speed automatic.  Do it manually with steering wheel paddle shifters if you’d like.

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Drizzly weather has returned to the Northwest, making drivers appreciate all-wheel drive.  With excellent traction, 0-60 spools up in just under seven seconds.  That’s plenty quick.  Do I even have to say XTS is library quiet?  The hydraulic steering has a light effort, not a lot of road feel here.  XTS’s fuel economy of 17 city, 27 highway is respectable for the size and it drinks standard grade gasoline.

The suspension is set for comfort but it doesn’t bob and roll the way most would stereotype a Cadillac.  Magnetic ride control instantly firms up or softens the proper shock absorbers to keep the body motion in control.  It’s a unique American dynamic that’s never floaty.  The only complaint I have about ride quality is that sharp bumps can get through, but that’s common with lower profile tires. The Brembo brakes do a great job of scrubbing off speed.

High Tech Protection

XTS can be had with blind spot warning, cross path detection, and adaptive cruise that matches speed to the vehicle ahead.  There’s collision warning too.  Cadillac’s lane departure warning system is unique.  Wander over a lane stripe without signaling and the seat will vibrate on the appropriate side of the cushion to get your attention.  It could tempt some people to stop using their blinkers.  Behave…

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Creep too close to anything front or back when parking and the vibrating seat warns as well (along with a graphic in the gauge screen).  The folks at Cadillac say that a new Driver Assist Package will include automatic front and rear braking at low speeds, plus braking as part of the collision warning system.  If you have a problem bumping into things, wait until late in 2012 to buy.

The Inside Story

XTS gets the best interior Cadillac has ever done.  Details are all nicely coordinated right down to perforated leather on the dash and elegant door releases that fit fingers perfectly. Platinum models get a full leather clad instrument panel.  The Bose sound system has a great spatial quality about it and to load tunes or charge phones, there are two, yes, two USB ports and an SD card slot.  There’s also Bluetooth audio streaming.

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Seats are just right, not too firm or squishy and they have loads of adjustments.  Use remote start on extremely hot or cold days and the chairs heat and cool appropriately and automatically. The panoramic glass roof adds a bright ambience.

Illumination is especially well done in the cabin, nice that Cadillac continues the stylish light piping into the back door panels.  There’s a light show for the exterior too, puddle lamps are crisp and bright plus the door handles are illuminated.

My passengers seem to be impressed by the remote glovebox release but it could just say a lot about my friends.  Drivers will appreciate the crisp configurable heads up display that shows, speed, tach, sound system info, and navigation prompts. Pretty handy and safe.

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For Those Being Driven

Now that Lincoln Town Car is out of production XTS seems to be destined for livery service.  Leg, knee, and foot room are generous as expected.  Overall, headroom is down by an inch, hip room’s down by two over DTS but two full sized executives will be supremely comfortable back here.  Three average adults will be fine.

There are loads of nooks for storage, sunshades for the side and back glass, heated seats, a third climate control  for the rear (with fussy controls) and two power ports (one a 110 household type outlet).  There are even side torso airbags good since VIPs will be riding here.  In short, it has everything to make a guy feel like Donald Trump except a massaging seat and hair stylist.

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The trunk is nicely trimmed with storage under the floor.  There’s only a tire repair kit unless the optional spare is ordered (really, buyers will most likely use OnStar and roadside assistance).  Hinge arms are covered so they don’t scrunch luggage.  The trunk is deep enough for a couple sets of golf clubs.  If TP is your thing, seven packs or Kirkland brand bath tissue will be no problem.  And that’s before using the ski pass through or split folding back seat.

It’s a Looker

XTS is over five inches shorter than DTS, two inches slimmer, and two inches taller, though it looks lower.  Even standing still it appears to be jumping out of the starting blocks.  It’s very sleek and contemporary.  Platinum models get satin finish on most of the metal exterior trim but the big cowcatcher grille remains very, very shiny.  I like the slight nod to Cadillac tail fins of the past with raised tailamps and the center brake unit integrated into a V-like spoiler.

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Of course GM never comments on future product but everyone believes they are developing a Cadillac flagship model on the rear-drive Omega platform.   That will bring the brand into competition with the S Class, 7 Series and Lexus LS.  Maybe it’ll spawn a big coupe like the Mercedes CL or BMW 6 Series.  Or maybe it won’t.

For those who insist on comparing XTS to S-Class, 7 Series and A8, it doesn’t offer the silky ride quality and gravitas the expensive Germans have.  The Caddy is much more affordable though and it can be argued that the CUE tech interface is as good or better than anything out there.  The composed and civilized XTS offers a unique position in the luxury car market, and looks good doing it.

FULL GALLERY BELOW.  AS ALWAYS, STILL PHOTOS ARE PROVIDED BY THE MANUFACTURER, MOVING PICTURES ARE SHOT BY TOM.

2 Comments

  1. 68mlo says:

    I can’t help it…I really like this car! It’s the first big Cadillac to really have a sense of genuine style. And that interior is absolutely fantastic. Ah, if I only had the funds. :)

  2. Facepalm says:

    The best XTS review out there. Every other video review of it I’ve seen has been rather brief or lacking in details for whatever reason, but this one is very comprehensive and after watching it I feel like I’ve learned so much about this Caddy.
    And the banter with Evil Twin just keeps getting better and better.
    Thank you for the awesome review, Tom!