2013 Cadillac XTS sets new bar for luxury
By JEFF TAYLOR For Sun-Times Media August 10, 2012 2:28PM
2013 CADILLAC XTS
ENGINE: 304-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6
TRANSMISSION: six-speed automatic
DRIVETRAIN: all-wheel drive
FUEL ECONOMY: 17 city/26 highway
BASE PRICE: $55,810
AS TESTED: $58,430
Cadillac boasts that its all-new 2013 XTS sedan is the most technologically advanced production car in the brand’s history and it is correct. The XTS punches other luxury cars in the mouth with its technology prowess, drivetrain smoothness and spacious, futuristic luxury interior.
I spent some time in Cadillac’s newest — and largest — luxury sedan (STS and DTS are gone) to get the latest picture on how Cadillac is going after a new generation of luxury buyers.
The XTS exterior design has a longer, sleeker design than the current CTS. Cadillac calls it a “more efficiently sized package” compared to recent Cadillac sedans (DTS) that had a traditional large look.
Chrome exterior pieces, illuminating door handles, standard HID headlamps, adaptive forward lighting (Premium and Platinum models), 19-inch polished wheels and 20-inch polished aluminum wheels with polished finish and chrome inserts really pop on dark-colored cars.
On the inside the XTS’ interior achieves some double takes as the instrument panel and interior trims are exclusive Cadillac pieces that contribute to a luxury/modern look that bears zero resemblance to other GM sedans. Seats are supportive and richly trimmed in contrasting, ultra-soft leather. There is plenty of passenger space up front, but there is a surprising amount of space and comfort in the rear.
The centerpiece of the XTS interior — and single biggest highlight — is the Cadillac User Experience, a standard touch-screen system that leap frogs all currently available infotainment systems. CUE features several industry firsts, including capacitive-touch control with proximity sensing, haptic feedback, gesture recognition and natural voice recognition — features similar to those on iPads, tablets and smart phones.
Only Premium and Platinum XTS models include navigation and premium audio, which really maximize your experience. I received an extensive demonstration of all the features of this new system, but you won’t have to spend hours to learn CUE, and Cadillac will even dispatch a technician if you need/want additional instruction.
There is an extensive list of features, but the icons on the large screen are big and bright, the fade feature prevents distraction and all the controls/steps simply work better and offer more than competitors’ systems. The audio functions work well, including music station/search. Bluetooth connectivity allows seamless address directions from the navigation system and the nav screen can be routed in front of the driver to really reduce distractions, especially in unfamiliar urban locations. CUE integrates with the 12-inch reconfigurable gauge cluster (Premium, Platinum), offering several instrument panel displays that really help keep your eyes focused forward.
Another plus is front passenger seat recognition, which allows your passenger to use CUE’s full features while the car is in motion. With music, phone navigation, voice recognition and vehicle monitoring, the CUE system is unsurpassed in ease of use while reducing driver distraction.
Under the hood, all XTS models get a 3.6-liter 304-horsepower V-6. Cadillac says that lightweight features like a composite intake manifold and integrated cylinder head/exhaust manifold design help shed 18.5 pounds of weight for greater efficiency and a more favorable front-to-rear weight balance.
During testing the 3.6-liter delivered plenty of instant smooth power without a lot of racket. The horses are directed via a Hydra-Matic 6T70 six-speed automatic transmission with a tap-shift control that added a touch of sportiness.
While the XTS competes against the Audi A6 and BMW 5 Series sports sedans, it’s more like a Mercedes-Benz E-Class or Lexus ES 350 type of luxury cruiser. The test car was an all-wheel-drive version with Haldex technology that included an electronic limited-slip differential splitting torque between the rear wheels.
Additional highlights include HiPer Strut front suspension and standard magnetic ride control real-time damping. HiPer Strut is based on the MacPherson strut front suspension design and Cadillac indicates it offers more linear and communicative steering through improved camber control. It also improves impact isolation on bumps and rough surfaces and reduces torque steer.
As for acceleration, I hit 60 mph in less than seven seconds.
The 2013 Cadillac XTS is a well-executed luxury sedan poised to significantly move the needle upward if consumers embrace and master the game-changing CUE infotainment system.
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