2013 Cadillac XTS

2013 Cadillac XTS 2013 Cadillac XTS
First Drive Review

The Lincoln Town Car is no more. The Cadillac DTS is dead. Luxury, as defined by big, floating cars designed to isolate six occupants from reality, is extinct. The world has moved on, and there’s no stronger evidence than the replacement for the DTS, this new XTS.

By Brougham, DeVille, and Fleetwood standards of yore, the XTS isn’t exactly big. At 202 inches, it casts a longer shadow than the defunct STS, but a shorter one than the departed DTS. Built on the same stretched version of the Chevrolet Malibu’s Epsilon platform as the Buick LaCrosse and the upcoming Chevrolet Impala, the XTS is as big as GM cars get these days. (There will be larger Cadillacs soon, on a new platform called Omega.) Starting with Malibu-sized bones means that the XTS isn’t very wide, but the 111.7-inch wheelbase does provide a livery-ready backseat with good legroom. Livery customers also will like the deep 18.0 cubic-foot trunk and the $44,995 base price.

CUE the Gadgets

Back-seat riders will miss out on playing with the CUE infotainment system, which debuts on the XTS. Standard on all trim levels, CUE consists of a big touch screen in the center stack that houses audio, climate, phone, and navigation controls. (The digitally displayed gauge cluster on the top two trims is involved, too.) CUE also can be used to alter vehicle settings, use apps such as Pandora internet radio, or access GM’s OnStar telematics system. Clearly modeled after Apple’s iPad—one of which, in fact, will be given to buyers—CUE is graced with quick responses and a logical menu setup that makes it a lot less obtuse than the conceptually similar MyFord Touch system. There’s also haptic feedback—touching the screen or any of the capacitive controls below it results in a subtle vibration that lets you know you’ve “pushed” a “button.” We would like to have seen a redundant seek button for the radio, but beyond that, we found that CUE manages a lot of different tasks without too much confusion. With so much new technology to learn, we’re glad Cadillac has left the turn signals and shifter alone. CUE might prove daunting for older buyers, but it comes in the grand GM luxury tradition of power-assisted everything and tech like the marvelously named Twilight Sentinel automatic headlamps.

Indeed, while technology has always been an integral part of the big Caddy experience, we were more surprised by the XTS’s competent handling. Magnetorheological shocks provide ride smoothness without any float. Quick-ratio steering (2.6 turns lock-to-lock) and short sidewalls for both the 19-inch (Standard, Luxury, Premium) and 20-inch (standard on Platinum, optional on Premium) wheels give the XTS prompt responses; the downside is the occasional harsh impact. The variable-effort power steering is light to the touch, but also graced with some semblance of feel. Strong front brakes provided by Brembo are good enough for V-series Cadillacs. In either front- or all-wheel-drive form, the XTS has poise. It’s not overtly sporty, but the chassis offers control and confidence that bucks big-Caddy traditions.