When sitting in the new 2013 Cadillac XTS you cannot help but be impressed. This new Cadillac is GM's latest entry into the full size luxury market. Bigger than the current CTS and a tiny bit smaller than the outgoing DTS model, the XTS seems to well positioned size wise. The only choice in engines is the 3.6L V6 engine with either front or all wheel drive. With the new XTS Cadillac is hoping to compete with Lexus, Mercedes and other big name luxury brands. A fully loaded XTS will set you back well over $60,000. Walking around the car you notice the styling has an elegance about it. Everything seems to flow very well and there are many nice details such as brake calipers with the Cadillac script on them. It is also worth noting that our Platinum trim level test car had Brembo brakes, a feature that you would expect on a performance car.
On the inside you feel like you need to take the time to touch all nice materials on the interior. From the ivory colored soft material on the doors to the stitched black leather on the dash. The headliner and window pillars are covered in a suede material that reminds you of Mercedes Benz products that cost $50,000 more. Front seats are exceptionally comfortable for any size of driver and they have adjustment to move in virtually any direction. Sitting in the driver seat one of the features that stands out is the LCD screen gauge cluster. Cadillac has completely eliminated analogue gauges and gone with a high-resolution screen. The screen is very easy on the eyes and can be reconfigured according to the information that is important to the driver. Even under bright sunlight the screen is easy to view.
Like most luxury cars the front seats are heated as well as cooled. Sitting behind the driver there is plenty of room even if the seat is far back. The rear seats have their own climate zone for added convenience. All three of the back windows have retractable sun shades. The two on the doors are manual (you pull them up and latch them), while the one for the rear window is electric with the controls up front over the driver's head. When the XTS is put in reverse gear the rear sun shade automatically drops down for improved visibility. Open the truck and you are greeted with a huge amount of cargo space. The XTS has one of the largest trunks of any car built today.
The XTS features Cadillac's new CUE(Cadillac User Experience) infotainment system. Infotainment is the new term for a computer system that controls media, radio navigation as well as many other features of the car. The CUE system is easy to use for the most part with large easy to understand icons and simple menus. However no high end infotainment system is easy to master right away and the CUE system is no exception. After first turning the vehicle on it took about two minutes just to figure out how to turn off the radio. There are so many features in the CUE system that there will be a steep learning curve for most users that are new to it. Perhaps the best feature of CUE is the interface for the navigation system. Zoomed all the way out you are shown a three dimensional view of North America with raised portions for terrain such as the Rocky Mountains. If you want to zoom in or out you can do it by way of a iPad like pinching gesture. The system is very intuitive, and one does not have to think about how to give it a command. It looks like Cadillac may have borrowed a few Apple engineers for the design on the CUE system.
There are far fewer conventional buttons than you would expect on the inside of the XTS. All radio, heating and ventilation controls are either controlled though the CUE touch screen or by way of touch sensitive areas on the centre stack that are back lit to look like buttons but in fact are all one seamless piece with no moving parts. When you touch a control such as the heated seat button there is a subtle vibration on the console to confirm the system has received the command.
One the road the XTS is what a large luxury car should be: quiet, composed and powerful enough to perform daily functions like merging and passing. The 3.6 L V6 engine does not provide very vigorous acceleration but it does the job, especially taking in to account the size of the car it is pulling around. Our XTS was the all wheel drive model that gets the "4" suffix. The all wheel drive system performed remarkably well in a wet skid pad test. The all wheel drive system launches the big Cadillac from a stop with almost zero wheel spin under hard acceleration on wet pavement. The XTS' all wheel drive system will also change power distribution to improve cornering when necessary.
The ride on the XTS is a little firmer than you might expect but very comfortable. When cornering the large Cadillac does exhibit some reluctance and body roll but it does the job well enough for a car of this size. The steering has an excellent feel to it that can only be described as luxurious. It requires almost no effort to turn the wheel but it does not feel too light or slushy like many older Cadillacs felt.
The XTS has all of the latest in collision avoidance technology. Front and rear park sensors, back up camera and blind spot alert as well as lane departure warning and forward collision alert. What makes the XTS unique is the manner in which it alerts you to an impending collision or vehicle in your blind spot. As well as a light or sound warning the XTS has 4 zones in the driver's seat that will vibrate according to the location of the hazard, front, back left or right. The end result is a system that makes you feel integrated with the vehicle not just an operator of it. Overall Cadillac must be given credit for putting the XTS on the cutting edge of luxury car technology.