2013 Cadillac XTS
Cadillac is getting into the bracket business.
It has nothing to do with the NCAA’s March Madness basketball tournament. It has everything to do with validating the company’s self-proclaimed—and once widely accepted—title as “the standard of the world.”
With the decision to deep-six its mid to large rear-drive STS model and the full-size, front-wheel drive DTS sedan, which was aimed at the codger cohort, Cadillac was left with only the in-between though successful CTS, which is offered in coupe, sedan, station wagon and high-performance CTS-V versions.The CTS competes in the mid-size luxury class. To bump bumpers against the spread of offerings from BMW, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz and Audi, Cadillac needed to broaden the lineup—in effect, to bracket the CTS.
This it is doing with two all-new cars: the 2013 XTS, a large sedan intended to appeal to the same older buyers as the DTS as well as tentative newcomers, followed by the compact ATS, which will pursue younger customers who might otherwise gravitate toward the 3-Series BMW, Audi A4, Lexus IS and Mercedes C-Class.
All of this remains to be sorted out, but the effort begins with the introduction of the 2013 XTS, which straddles the upper classes. In some ways, it competes against other mid-size luxury cars; in others, it goes wheel to wheel with larger luxury barges.
It unquestionably is a big car, three inches longer than the less expensive Chrysler 300, with about the same interior volume. The XTS has slightly smaller passenger space but a bigger trunk. It is marginally smaller than its DTS predecessor.
Its size gives it a more nimble, less ponderous presence. Though not an all-out sports sedan, it attacks curving roads at speed with balance and little body roll. The performance is aided by Cadillac’s magnetic ride control, which tightens shock absorbers in response to steering inputs and road conditions. Straight-line tracking is solid and true, and the hydraulic power steering delivers respectable if slightly numb feedback.
The XTS comes equipped with front brake calipers by Brembo, a manufacturer of race-worthy binders. It also enhances its sporting credentials with a manual-shift mode for the six-speed automatic transmission, controlled by large buttons on the back of the steering wheel.
Under the hood is a 3.6-liter V6 engine (there’s no V8) with direct gasoline injection and variable valve timing. It delivers 304 horsepower, good enough for a zero-to-60 sprint off the line of 6.8 seconds, according to Cadillac’s tests. Top speed is governed at 136 miles an hour. EPA city/highway fuel economy, on regular gasoline, works out to 17/28 for the front-drive version and 17/27 with all-wheel drive. Premium fuel is not required.There are four trim levels: Standard, which comes only with front-drive, and Luxury, Premium and Platinum, available either with front drive or optional all-wheel drive, which adds $2,000 to the sticker price.
Prices start at $44,995 for the Standard and climb to $61,080 for the AWD Platinum. The test car was a front-drive Premium, with a starting price of $54,505 and, with a dual sunroof, had a bottom-line sticker of $55,955.
In keeping with its luxury orientation, the XTS has a classy, artistically creative interior with brushed aluminum and piano black accents, set off by soft-touch leather surfaces and polished wood. The front seats are deep and supportive, with multiple power adjustments and manually adjustable thigh supports.
Rear seat comfort for two is first class, with deep seats, generous knee space and adequate headroom, as long as you’re not taller than about six feet. The XTS also will be sold in China, where cars in its category often are chauffeur driven. As is usual in most cars these days, the center seating position is an unforgiving perch that straddles a big floor hump.
Unusual in a luxury car, the rear seatbacks not only have a fold-down center armrest and a pass-through for skis, the seatbacks fold down to increase cargo space. However, it should not be needed often because the trunk has a yawning volume of 18 cubic feet.
A jarring interior note was the flimsy shade for the sunroof. Following a current cliché among luxury cars, it is translucent, allowing copious amounts of hot sunlight into the interior. Sunroof shades should be opaque.Cadillac’s CUE system—it stands for Cadillac User Experience—is standard on all models. It features an eight-inch screen in the center stack, and enables the user to employ voice recognition as well as touch controls and proximity sensing to perform a variety of high-tech functions.
There’s also an optional graphic instrument cluster on a video game-like flat screen that can be configured four ways to display different information.
Together with CUE, the systems are likely to prove befuddling to the XTS’s expected 60-something customer base, although it should appeal to younger newbies.
So to enable owners to learn all that technology in the privacy of their homes, each XTS comes with an Apple iPad, which duplicates the onboard systems, and is loaded with tutorials and other information that would ordinarily be found in an owner’s manual. In addition, Cadillac will maintain help desks accessible through the OnStar communications system.